Coming to you live from Savusavu. We entered the bay this morning as the sun was cresting over Vanua Levu in bright shades of fire red and orange. The island came into view and was lush, rugged and a welcoming respite from the rolling swells we have been enduring. We fired up the engine about 2 miles out of Savusavu and the chopsticks held up while Ellie made her way into the very protected river. The river is full of yachts but we snagged what seemed like the last available mooring and are floating peacefully less than 40 yards from the Copra Shed Marina dock.
The Fijian officials boarded us in a procession of three separate visits. We had to clear health, biosecurity, customs and immigration. They were all friendly and after much paper shuffling and stamping we were officially cleared into the Island Nation of Fiji. We raised our Fijian flag and then promptly went in search of some food in town. We chowed down on some great Hindi food and washed it all down with Fijian Bitter beer, great tasting stuff.
As we strolled the busy streets of Savusavu I kept saying to Alyssa, “this is a crazy place.” It most certainly is. We are definitely not in Polynesia anymore. The people are distinctly Fijian and Melanesian mixed with a large Indian population. Almost all the women sport a huge Afro puff and the Indians are easy to spot in their gold trim and dotted foreheads. Everyone is incredibly friendly and gives out a hearty “Bula!” as we pass. The market is amazing and full of vegetables – Alyssa is in heaven and will be loading up tomorrow.
We have paid our fees and were granted a four month visa. After only a day here we sure want to stay much longer. We may be looking into our options further. Flat water, great food, friendly locals, amazing cruising, incredible scenery and low cost of living. We may have found a true paradise.
We have also been informed that our package is in Nadi and will be sent here early next week. We should have the engine back to 100% by the end of next week. Then we’ll look at the chart, pick an island and go exploring! In the meantime we plan to eat at every Indian restaurant in town.
Bula from Fiji!!!
Lewis & Alyssa
August 14, 2015
Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
The sun is slowly rising on day three of our passage and the silhouettes of Thitia, Mango and Tuvutha Islands are on the horizon. We have spent an exhausting and stressful night navigating through the awash low-lying reefs of the Lau Group. We were aiming for the Vanua Belavu Passage but the wind pushed us close to the Lakemba Passage to the south. We didn’t have waypoints for the Lakemba but it was three times as wide. The only other negative was that there was not a single palm tree to get a radar return off of. We checked all three of our chart sources and decided it was just as safe as the Vanua Belavu. It was a very nerve racking night as we used our electronic charts to thread Ellie through the reef-strewn waters. We were not able to pick up a radar signature at all until we were 30 miles into the reefs and we finally picked up Tuvutha Island and verified our charts were dead on accurate; that provided a big reassurance to know exactly where we were. I included our waypoints below for those following in our wake.
We’re still running downwind towards Savusavu Bay, 110 nm NW of our current position. We’ll take our time and plan to arrive off the point at first light. We’ll probably take a few jibes up the Koro Sea and come close to a few islands for some entertainment.
But now I need to get some rest. Time to wake up the reluctant Princess.
Cheers from Fijian Waters!
Lewis & Alyssa
August 13, 2015
17 42 S
179 06 W
Lakemba Passage Waypoints Used:
***USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ERRORS OR LIABILITY ARISING FROM ANY USE WHATSOEVER***
17 47.4 S, 178 18.5 W
17 54.2 S, 178 37.0 W
17 50.6 S, 178 53.4 W
17 41.7 S, 179 07.1 W
All is well out here. We have made great time thus far having sailed 195 miles since leaving early yesterday morning. We are halfway to Savusavu. We plan to be off Vanua Belavu (Lau Group) at sunrise tomorrow, transit the reefs and then sail overnight to Savusavu, arriving Friday morning at first light. We wish we could stop at Vanua Belavu, but the authorities require you to continue on another full day to Savusavu for clearance. Frustrating.
We slipped our mooring at 0430 Tuesday morning and transited the 8 miles out of Vava’u in the dark with the aid of lighted ranges, chartplotter and radar navigation. The only thing we worried about were whales but luckily we didn’t have any more close encounters. The chopsticks held up well and the engine purred and the temp stayed around 154 degrees. Once clear of the last few islands in Vava’u, we raised our sails, set the monitor windvane and tore off across the Pacific bound for the Fijian Islands. The past 30 hours have been very fast sailing with 20 knots on the beam. We were shooting for the well known Oneata Passage due west of Tonga but the wind would not allow it. It was too hard on the boat and we fell off to the north. We are now aiming for Vanua Belavu and will transit through the reefs of the Lau group just south of Vanua Belavu. There is an island to the south that we should be able to pick up on radar (Katafaga Island) to verify our position before threading the needle through the reefs. Once we put Katafaga to port we should be able to pick up Munia, Mago and Vatuvara before using the lights on the points of Rock Island and Vuna Reef to guide us towards Savusavu Bay. If someone can send us waypoints for the Vanua Belavu passage that would be a nice comfort. Also, check Google earth satellite images to verify all the reefs are included in the latest Navionics charts (you can view these charts online for free). We would need before midnight tonight.
The wind is forecast to continue clocking east, allowing us to put the wind on the quarter instead of on the beam. The leftover seas have been a but uncomfortable but are subsiding now. We’re hoping for the rest of the passage to be more pleasant.
If someone can send us info on the Vanua Belavu passage that would be greatly appreciated. If someone can look at this on Google to see if there is a reef there it would be much appreciated.
If we can’t verify some waypoints then we’ll likely stand off the outer reefs until first light and then sail through.
We’ll write again tomorrow morning while transiting the reefs of the Lau Group.
Lewis & Alyssa
August 12, 2015
On passage Tonga to Fiji
17 59 S
177 17 W
7.1 KTS SOG