We love our inflatable boards! 🌴⚓️🏄🏻
We were very happy to put our feet up that evening after our hike on Waya Island. The problem with being a sailor is that your legs simply don’t get enough exercise and that 3.5-hour climb certainly gave us a good workout. The calm day turned into a windy night with gusts of up to 35 knots. For the first time ever we had to reset anchor as Rehua had started dragging a few hundred metres. Yes, we should have put more chain out before sunset; yes, we had thought about moving to the other side of the bay. But we didn’t… All of a sudden we noticed the wind coming onto the beam, we switched on the instruments and realised we were in 23 metres of water with only 30 metres of chain out (we had anchored in 8 metres). Oops. We were drifting into the open sea, with lots of reefs behind us. Quickly, all hands on deck (Tyrii was an absolute superstar crew), we lifted the anchor and navigated back to our original spot. After successfully resetting the anchor (and letting out a lot more chain) we all happily went to bed. The next morning we left Waya Island and set sail for Malolo Island, about 30 miles away. We were in need of some fresh fruit and veg and also arranged to meet up with Toucan. We left in a lovely breeze and admired the rocks on Waya island we had climbed the day before as we sailed past. A few hours later and the wind totally dropped. We saw a small sandy island in the distance and Aeneas asked if we could stop for a swim and snorkel. Why not! We dropped our anchor in the turquoise water and put on our masks and snorkels. Heaven! But not for long… Soon after we started snorkelling, a speed boat turned up and dropped a bunch of tourists off on our “private” sand-spit, setting up parasols and chairs. Time to go! We weighed anchor and continued to Malolo island, navigating around the top through the reef system. We arrived in Musket Cove before dark and admired another beautiful sunset from the shore. Just a perfect day…
We’re still in the Yasawas and stopped off at Waya island. This stunning island reminds us of the Marquesas and even Bora Bora with its rugged hills, beautiful beaches and lagoons. Waya has natural springs that percolate up through the volcanic rock. So no water restrictions here and that is also the reason it has been settled for thousands of years. Our first stop was an anchorage in front of a small resort where we watched the Fijians celebrate the impromptu national holiday on Monday in honour of their first Olympic gold medal. After a short ceremony the afternoon was filled with volleyball games on the beach.
Yesterday we continued to Yalobi village. Together with Marce and Jack from Escape Velocity we went ashore to ask the chief permission to anchor here and were welcomed as soon as we landed our dinghies on the beach. We handed over our bundle of kava root in the chief’s house and a short ceremony followed. Lucy, the chief’s wife (and we later found out, the real “chief” of the village) took us around the village for a tour and also showed us the school. The children sang us a few happy welcoming songs (check out the video tab on our blog). Later in the evening we were invited to come and drink some kava. The village was all dark – no electricity or solar power – and we sat in the chief’s house with a few torchlights to see what was happening. The roots of the kava plant were ground into powder and mixed with water in a large bowl. After the ceremonial clap we could drink our coconut shell of kava and then had to do another three claps when it was empty. This supposedly intoxicating muddy coloured drink tasted OK and we didn’t really feel any effects (although we slept really well that night).
This morning we decided to go for a hike (as suggested by Lucy) to admire the view from the top. Hiking unguided across the island is normally not allowed but we managed to convince the chief that we were fine and had a GPS tracker and a map and wouldn’t get lost (we didn’t). So after a 15 minute dinghy ride to the other side of the island we set off on a two hour climb which included muddy paths, rocks and other obstacles but the view was SO worth it (check out the 360 video). Another hour and a half to get back down and our legs were jelly! Luckily we had arranged some lunch at the bottom and it was waiting for us alongside a cold well deserved beer!
From the Blue Lagoon we sail north to the Sawa-i-Lau caves. It’s a short 10 mile sail and we anchor inside this quiet bay. First stop is the village to present our kava root as a gift to the chief and ask his permission to anchor, swim and snorkel in the bay. This tradition called “sevusevu” is part of Fijian culture and the accompanying ceremony has remained intact for millennia. This chief however didn’t seem too bothered with ceremony. He accepted our bundle of kava root and told us we were free to walk around the village, visit the school, anchor in the bay, snorkel and swim and visit the caves. And it was the famous Sawa-i-Lau Caves we really came here for. We dinghied over to the caves and were welcomed by one of the guides. From the entrance of the first cave there is a small underwater tunnel to go through (which Aeneas only after some encouragement agreed to do). Once in the second cave there is no light from above and a network of connected caves and tunnels make it a spooky place. There were further tunnels to swim through but they were all much longer and some even require scuba gear. It was a cool experience and we are glad we went but have to admit that the caves in Tonga were more spectacular and they were free too…
The Yasawas are a chain of islands and surrounding reefs that make up Fiji’s western border. They are mostly high, grass-covered islands with picture perfect white sandy beaches. The British navigator William Bligh was the first European to sight the Yasawas in 1789, following the infamous mutiny on the HMS Bounty. The islands were not charted until 1840 and unfortunately today’s charts are still notoriously inaccurate. And there are coral reefs everywhere. Great for snorkelling and diving but always a danger when navigating. Especially when the charts are so unreliable. According to our trusted navionics charts we were right on top of a reef when in reality we were in 20 metres of water. Luckily we were using an app with google earth pictures overlay to make sure we knew where the reefs really were. And of course eyeball navigation is a necessity too, the kids and I always keeping an eye ahead from our positions on the bow.
After a few stops and a secluded overnight anchorage in North Manta Ray passage we continued to The Blue Lagoon. Yes, the one from the 1980 movie with Brooke Shields. They filmed in this stunning lagoon and after watching it one night we could recognise several locations. This picturesque and very well protected anchorage with turquoise water, white sandy beaches and swaying palmtrees has a few resorts but remains relatively underdeveloped. We joined a bunch of other cruisers and together took a walk to the other side of the island where we were told was a teahouse. After being rewarded with stunning views on the way we found the teahouse (a little shack on the beach) and it was open. They were serving tea, coffee and chocolate cake and selling shell necklaces and showed us the octopuses they caught that morning.
I had a go at baking myself by the way and made bagels for the first time. They were a lot of work but absolutely delicious. After making the dough they need to rise and then be boiled (that’s what makes them chewy apparently) before putting them in the oven. My first attempt was a success and I think we’ll be making more!
The sun is back and after a final day by the pool followed by a BBQ at the island bar we said goodbye to Musket Cove on Thursday morning. After nearly two fun weeks on the island we were ready to move and go explore some new places. On our way out we passed Google founder Larry Page’s yacht with all the toys onboard.One of the kid boats we hung out with are heading to Vanuatu today and we will hopefully catch up with them again in a few weeks. Seathan is keeping an eye on the weather and we’ll go as soon as there is another good window. It’s about 500 nautical miles from Lautoka (where we can clear out) to southern Vanuatu. In the meantime we will probably go explore a few more islands in the Yasawa group here in Fiji.
Right now we are in Denerau, one of the main tourist areas. Handy to pick up some supplies but not really somewhere we want to spend more than one night.We’re really here to collect a replacement solar panel. One of the new flexible panels we had installed in New Zealand unfortunately was faulty and not producing the required output so we’ve been sent a new one. It’s always tricky to get the paperwork sorted and we had to proof we are a yacht in transit and therefore exempt from import duty for items that are part of or fitted onto the boat. Anyway, after various emails and multiple forms the panel was ready for collection in Nadi airport yesterday. We hopped in a taxi and yes it was there waiting for us. In the evening we decided to head into Nadi town. We stopped in one of the recommended local curry places but were a bit disappointed. Perhaps we have been too spoilt in Auckland !
From the anchorage in Denerau we can see the big sleeping giant (referring to the shape of the mountain in the distance). According to Fijian legend people can continue to take things slow (“Fijian time”) until the giant wakes up. Apparently there is no word in Fijan for “tomorrow”. They don’t recognise that kind of urgency.😀 This morning we picked up a few supplies and as we walked past the Rhumba bar on our way to the jetty we saw the bar fill up with yachties, local workmen, marina workers and tourists. The rugby sevens were on and Fiji was playing the final against Great Britain. The atmosphere was full of expectation and everyone was cheering loudly every time Fiji scored a try. Seathan was the only GB supporter in the bar and was disappointed GB hadn’t fronted the winning Scottish team.
We saw Fiji win their first gold medal and felt lucky to be there! Well done Fiji 🌴🇫🇯🏉
The last few days have been very wet… So we stayed put in Musket Cove. There’s not much point trying to find a new lagoon or anchorage when the reefs aren’t clearly visible. Fiji is scattered with numerous reefs and corals and it is impossible to make an approach when you can’t see through the water. The charts in Fiji are notoriously inaccurate and many boats have ended up on a reef here. Not something we want to risk!
The boys have no complaints. There is a lot of motivation to finish school as quickly as possible in the morning and head to shore. There are two other kid boats to hang out with and also some kids who are holidaying in the resort. They have been invited to participate in daily kids activities including several art and craft sessions and have made little sailing boats out of coconuts and palm leaves, shell necklaces and palm leave baskets. And of course there have also been daily dips in the pool (never mind the rain, it’s still warm anyway) and sandcastle building at low tide.
I do feel sorry for the holiday makers who are here for just one week and so far had 5 days of non stop rain and cloud… We don’t mind a little pause from the sunshine. Our new rain catcher system works a treat and our water tanks are full to the brim in no time. Our boat is cozy and dry and this definitely still beats the Auckland rain! 🌴💦😎
It’s been a great week with lots of kids activities, trips to the pool, a treasure hunt, snorkeling trips, a walk around the island and of course a regular beer in the island bar. After saying goodbye to our friends on Toucan, a couple of kid boats turned up we hadn’t seen since Opua (Amelie IV and Perry) and it was a happy reunion! The kids all had a minecraft evening onboard Perry while the parents had sundowners next door onboard Rehua. Happy days!