14th September – Day 14.

SY Saphir -
Jeff & Doreen
Wed 28 Sep 2022 23:35

17:45s 177:23e

We had a fantastic overnight sail until approx. 02.00 when as suspected the wind went very light and started to head us at which point the engine went on. The sunrise over Vitu Levu at about 06.00 was as always impressive but more so because we were coming to the end of the passage.

After going through the pass in the reef to the west of Vitu Levu called the “Mololo pass” we continued motor sailing for a couple of hours and arrived in the anchorage off Port Denerau at 09.30. We were hoping to get into either the marina or on a bouy that they have adjacent to the marina but there was no room at the inn! It is a bit of a pain because there is a long dinghy ride from the anchorage to the port and due to the wind a very “wet” dinghy ride back.

We contacted the marina via VHF to enquire about clearing customs and received a call back a short while later instruction me to take the dinghy in to collect a person from Immigration and health. When the man from immigration saw the size of the dinghy he said we can clear immigration in his office!  The lady from Health was a bit more game so off we went back to the boat. She was not the smallest lady in the world but had a great sense of humour which was a good job because she was soaked through by the time we got there. After filling in some forms (which we could have easily done on the dock) we all got back into the dinghy to go to immigration, customs and bio-security back at the port.

The lady from health had a tumble getting out of the dinghy and ended up on her backside sprawled with legs in the air in the bottom of the boat. I just raised my eyes because normally it is Doreen who would do something like that!! Doreen thought it was funny that it was not her for a change and fortunately the lady from health thought it was funny as well! Welcome to Fiji!!

The customs, immigration and bio-security consist of three men sitting in an office alongside each other. After a lot more form filling and playing musical chairs going from desk to desk, we had cleared customs and immigration so only bio-security left and we were in. Slightly disconcerting was the fact that the bio-man was coughing and sneezing all over the place and with Covid still a threat in Fiji, even though they claim it isn’t, we tried to stay as far away as possible.

His job is to make sure we are not bringing in anything to Fiji that might harm their environment. Eg. You are not allowed to bring in any fresh produce at all, no tinned meats unless they have originated from New Zealand or Australia and a whole host of other rules and regulations. His first statement was that he had to inspect the boat, his next question was where is it? When realised we were in the anchorage his final question was how big is our dinghy? After we told him it was quite small and it will be wet suddenly he did not need to inspect our boat! Work that one out! So after filling in another host of forms we had to go back to the boat and bring our two bags of rubbish with the small amount of fresh produce we had left and a few “token” tins of our meat and give it to him for “safe” disposal.

After all of this we were “in”, however we still had to get a cruising permit from another lady in the office next door. And I thought the Galapagos was bad! We have to do all of this again in Australia…..

The rest of the day was spent re-stocking and getting some essentials. A short taxi ride to the main to of Nadi allowed to us to get some fresh food, local sim cards, some clothes to smarten ourselves up for the regatta and finally and perhaps most importantly stock up the somewhat depleted bar. After returning to the marina and getting some fresh water, minor boat parts from the chandlery and some final bits of food at the local supermarket we were ready for a drink and dinner.

After a successful and somewhat busy day we got back to the boat around 20.00 and went to bed for the first full night’s sleep in 2 weeks which is always a great feeling. The next day we were off to Musket Cove and a regatta which certainly would need to energy to get through!!

Jeff & Doreen - Saphir