As you might already know, we spent winter in Fiji but that we have done twice before. This winter we decided to dedicate the whole cruising season to Fiji so that on our 3rd visit we would at last make it to the remoter areas – like the Lau Group.
After a quiet crossing – we waited for the right weather for a long time in Opua and finally got it a bit too quiet – and a beautiful stopover in Minerva Reef we arrived in Vuda Point Marina and checked in. We spent a while hanging around Vuda, Musket Cove and spent a lovely week with Gaylyn’s daughter Sam – visiting the Mamanuka and Yasawa Islands. Unfortunately some of the Mamanukas were off limits for us due to the Australian Survivor being recorded there. Just heard from Gaylyn Sam is having a good time watching the show now and seeing how it is all being put together.
Next we set off north following the west coast of Vitu Levu for two days – motor-sailing behind the reefs up to the northern most point of Vitu Levu where we anchored in lee of the the Island of Nananu-i-Rau.
The next day we crossed the Bligh Water to Nambouwalu on Vanua Levu in a beautiful south-easterly breeze that gave us mostly over 7 knots of speed on a 60° wind angle. Just before entering the reefs of Vanua Levu a beautiful Mahi-Mahi took our lure and we managed to bring it in. I still have the scars on my fingers where I attempted to haul him in hand over hand without gloves on..
We spent the night in Nandi Bay, where we had a nice Visit from some locals and set off early the next morning to make the Nasonsoni Passage on a slack high tide. We did not quite make it in time so the current washed us through the narrow channel with about three knots. The interesting part is the eastern exit. Here the swell of the Koro sea runs against the current and the waves run into the pass high and steep. Gaylyn who was keeping a lookout on the bow soon abandoned her exposed position as the bow was dipping dangerously deep into the waves. Luckily it was a rather calm day in the Koro Sea – you would not want to try it in big swells and east going current.
We headed on close reaching, just making it past the reefs into Savusavu.
Savusavu is a nice place. Plenty of cheap Indian & Chinese restaurants make it almost cheaper to eat out than to cook yourselves. Also there is a big cruising community and plenty of entertainment. It is one of these hard to get away from places, specially if you are going east like us, because you have to wait for the wind to go all the way around to the south or north, so you can sail to Taveuni.
It took two attempts to get to the Lau Group. The first time we made it to Viani Bay, spent some time with Jack Fisher and went snorkeling on the Rainbow Reef. For the first time I realized, how the rainbow Reef got its name. Due to the effects of the high island of Taveuni, that sends the moist air up high and gathers plenty of rain there Rainbows in sky almost constantly.
Our next stop was Taveuni – the Garden Island, where we wanted to do some hiking. Unfortunately Gaylyn slipped and fell while we were visiting the Water Slides and twisted her hip in a bad way. I just managed to help her back down the track with the help of a young Fijian who happened to be around to where our taxi would pick us up and get her back on the boat. The next morning her hip was completely seized up – even getting her to sit up or helping her to the restroom was a major endeavor and very painful for Gaylyn. We decided to return to Savusavu to get her hip x-rayed to make sure nothing was broken.
Again we had a good time in Savusavu, Gaylyn took a while to get up and running but after 4 weeks we were ready for annother attempt to conquer the Lau Group. The trip from Savusavu to Taveuni and even more so to the Lau Group cannot be undertaken in any weather. For the first part you want a nice southerly breeze with not to much eastery in it. That lets you beat to east against the wind which is a bit of a pain because it is usually rough and you are pounding into the waves. But the closer you get to Taveuni the more the wind usually comes around to the south so that most of the time we make it into the Somosomo Strait / Viani Bay in one tack. We also managed to haul in a beautiful mahimahi on the way.
To be continued