Fiji, first impressions

After completing the entry formalities on Thursday we went ashore for some pizza and beers and then had an early night. The next morning we were woken up very early by someone knocking on the hull. Seathan got out of bed and mumbled, “If this is someone trying to sell necklaces it won’t be his best day! There better be a good reason!” And there was. Our neighbour was stern to and parallel to our boat and close to hitting us. We were both on mooring buoys but because it was dead calm, the boats had started drifting in irregular patterns. Disaster averted. We moved the boat and got on with our day. There was a bit more paperwork to complete on Friday; we applied for a cruising permit that will allow us to explore all areas including the outer islands. Fiji has more than 300 islands of which about half are inhabited and we wanted to get permission to visit all of it.

The turnaround was pretty fast and we got our cruising permit the same afternoon. We decided three nights in Savusavu would be enough and it was time to go and find some turquoise water. Seathan and I went to the local market to stock up on fruit and vegetables while the boys joined the local children for Saturday Optimist sailing class in the bay.

Savusavu is a small town with one main street, a couple of supermarkets, a hardware store, a fruit and vegetable market, a petrol station, several restaurants, etc. The atmosphere on Saturday morning was buzzing. Busloads of people from nearby villages were dropped off to do their weekly shopping. The market was a joy to shop at. No haggling, no pushy sales techniques, all the prices nicely advertised (and very cheap) and such friendly locals. Especially the native Fijians are such smiley and happy people. About half of the population in Fiji is ethnic Fijian and around 40% are of Indian descent. They were brought here by the British to work on the sugar cane plantations and their cultural influence is very noticeable.

We also bought some kava root. Even though we have a cruising permit, every time we anchor near a village we have to offer the local chief some kava root and ask his permission to stay. A welcome ceremony called “sevusevu” then follows whereby the kava root is prepared into a drink and shared around. We have yet to experience this!

After a lovely meal out on Saturday night to celebrate our friend Bruce’s birthday, we left early on Sunday morning to sail to a nearby island. There was a lovely breeze and we dropped anchor in some turquoise water a couple of hours later near Namena island. This lagoon inside a reef is a nature reserve with a small resort. Everything was destroyed by cyclone Winston and the island was left looking rough and ravaged. We enjoyed a lovely swim and snorkel and the next day continued to Naigani Island where yet again we anchored inside a reef and enjoyed some turquoise water. Same destruction and not much left of the palm trees and banana trees that once stood here. It’s pretty horrible to imagine what it must have been like when the cyclone raged over. The corals seem pretty much intact though and we saw some beautiful fishes when we went snorkeling.

After two nights we are ready to weigh anchor again and continue south to Viti Levu, which is the main island.

goodmorning Savusavu!

kids enjoying being on land again

Saturday sailing class

the local market, great fruit and veg

stocking up on kava root

essentials sorted: beer, gas and kava root

Bruce’s birthday dinner

Namena island, ravaged by Winston

Naigani island, or what’s left of it

sundowners on the beach

not a bad view!

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