After arriving at Savusavu on 22nd May we initially just enjoyed being on land…and in Fiji. Enjoyed the kick-back friendly little town, surrounded by lush tropical jungle, exploring the market and town, an across island bus trip to Labasa, conversations with locals, fresh fruit for brekky and debriefing with other arriving yachties.
For a few weeks we weren’t able to get far from where we landed in Savusavu – back and forth a few times to a nearby reef for snorkelling and a change of scenery. We prepared to leave a few times, but rough seas and strong winds were against us (and lots of other sailors and fishing boats), so we weren’t able to go. It was cruisy in Savusavu and in fact we were a bit daunted by the renowned difficulty of cruising in Fiji – you know reefs – good for snorkelling, not good for hitting with boats. Paper and electronic charts are poor and inaccurate, so we’ve done lots of talking and soaking up local knowledge for anchorages we might like to stop by and waypoints through narrow reef systems. We have our bundles of waka (kava) to present to local village chiefs for ‘sevusevu’ (ceremony where visitors to seek acceptance into a Fijian village) and a rough plan of the route we’d like to take for our now seemingly little time in Fiji. We will enjoy where ever we get as it all looks amazingly good.
So we left Savusavu on 4th June and anchored about five mile away, at Passage Point, hoping that the wind would drop off and give us a window to head east out to Taveuni, Qamea and beyond to Vanua Balavu in the Lau group. The forecast was for the wind to remain strong and the sea rough so we were prepared to see if we could tack (bash) into it or if not give up on trying to head east and head back to Savusavu or further south-west.
On the morning of 5th June we left the shelter of our anchorage and the protection of Savusavu Bay. We entered a rough sea with 20 knot SE winds, so it wasn’t long before we decided Taveuni was too difficult and changed our course to south west and Namena Island. Actually it has been hard to ‘give up’ on getting to the Lau Group and we kept open the possibility of maybe getting there later, by watching for a break in the predominant Easterly trade winds.
We entered Namena through the torquoise reef waters off the Namena Marine Reserve which surrounds the island. We spent a few days at Namena with excellent snorkelling off the back of the boat, with beautiful fish and coral, turtles, sharks and bird life.
From Namena we sailed to Makogai. There we met a band of beautiful kids and village head Kameli who generously welcomed us into their village. We spent about five days there, all of us enjoying the people, the island and spectacular snorkelling and we found it hard to say goodbye.
We are tonight in Levuka, the old capital of Fiji. We plan to leave at first light tomorrow to hopefully catch a window of lighter variable winds to attempt to head East to Vanua Balavu in Lau.