07/28/2013, Sawa-i-lau Island
We rolled in a beautiful bay here in the Southern end of the Yasawa Island called Sawa-i-lau Island. Known for it's caves and amazing rock formations, google it. Amazing place.
We've made really good time coming West from Savusavu. The moment Kath felt she was good enough to travel, we slipped out, first day to Nadi Bay on Vanua Levu, 37 miles, negotiated the reefs well. Second day similar time at sea but Gildo caught a good sized Yellow Fin Tuna, fabulous. I taught him to head & clean the fish, then straight into the freezer. We had tuna steaks nicely cooked at Yadua Island last night. Yadua is off the SW Coast of Vanua Levu and the closest place to here that I could find , trying to avoid an overnighter. We met Adam Strannan on Yadua & he visited us, we toasted Scotty & he gave us some wine & some fabulous Wagu steak that we had on the BBQ tonight (He is on Silvertip, a 120 footer that we all have worked on, small world, nobody else for miles) This of course was after sashimi yellow fin tuna, yum.
We got up a bit earlier today and left abt 0830, we had a downhill run with winds up to 22 knots & moderate seas, mostly dry on board. We did 52 miles & averaged 7.5 knots, really good. Also, Capitano hooked & landed another yellow fin tuna, he cleaned and it's in the freezer too.
Kath still not 100% but getting there, she ate well tonight for a change.
We'll have an easy day here tomorrow & enjoy the local village, looks to be a school here too.
Quite different, very dry, very few trees on the main Island. Villages look good though, some thatched huts at least.
07/24/2013, Namena, Kubulau, Savusavu
Katie, Kathleen, Gildo & I had a lovely sail up to a fascinating Island
called Namena or sometimes referred to as Namenalala. It is a small island
and quite remote, surrounded by a large beautiful reef and we found out is
privately owned by a couple in Philledalphia, go figure?
The island is the only protected breeding colony for the red footed booby's
(abt 200 pairs nesting in the trees) and because the Booby's are there, so
are the Frigate birds, and lots of them. We got in late in the afternoon (
as mentioned prior ) and were secure on the mooring in this rugged
anchorage. I was up early in the morning to the sound of the birds and the
amazing view of between one & two hundred frigate birds soaring over the
island, just cruising so gently in the updraft, barely a movement. These are
very majestic birds.
A hot day so the sun canopy was over the boom & snorkelling was in order. A
pristine reef system with giant clams, lots of colourful corals, anenomies
and abundant reef fish, some quite large. Katie tried Logan's underwater
camera & we look forward to the result. We spent a lot of time in the water
& when we got back on board, we were all searching for shade ( after the
storm ) A walk on the beach & the land revealed mature trees and lots of
young birds, down covered, nesting and getting ready to fly. A nature
paradise really, above and below the water.
We sailed to another reserve in the Kubulau (Koom-boo-lau) region which has
a very strong Eco awareness. We were all ready for a steady nights sleep (
no rolling ) so had a great dinner of Tuna sashimi & coral trout superbly
cooked by our imported Italian chef, very nice indeed.
We came back to Savusavu yesterday on a beautiful beam reach with Katie at
the helm, steady 7.5 to 8 knots and she is showing her sailing style for
After some boat organising & shopping at the market, Katie left today after
a fabulous visit, what a treat for me is all I can say. Thanks to all of
those that made this possible (& kept it quiet) but especially to Katie
herself. I am so proud of our girls, sailed 1500 miles with Bob & now this.
Marg here for a month too, all good.
We plan to head towards the Yasawa Group tomorrow if Kathleen is feeling
better, a rumbling tum poor woman, lucky she's a Wilson!
Well we've clocked up a week in Savusavu and it's getting a little old. A big storm has been plaguing all of Fiji since last Sunday. We tried valiantly on Wednesday to go out to a nearby island, Namena, which is about 15 miles away. We found seas of up to 4 metres and confused ones at that and winds gusting 35 knots. We jointly decided that it wasn't a wise decision and then Tony had to put the harness on to get the stay sail to tack properly so we could return. The crew were fantastic. Katie, who was feeling a little seedy, took the helm and steered brilliantly while Tony did his work on the foredeck. We were out for about an hour. We came back in and anchored off the Jean -Michel Cousteau resort. It was still a bit stormy but we were able to swim (first time in over a week for the old crew and first swim for the newbies). Katie and Tony went for a snorkel but the visibility was very poor so we gave up on that. Katie, Kath, Gildo, Tony and I went for an evening walk and ended up having drinks at the Cousteau Resort. Our fruit drinks were delicious but we passed on the $F 27 cocktails. It's a beautiful place but we didn't feel particularly welcome (scruffy yachties?). However, we did get a small taste of what people who can afford accommodation that costs $1000 a night have access to. The plan for today was to take two taxis to Labasa, a sugar cane town about 2 and a half hours away. We'd been working on all sorts of ways to get there: local bus, rental vehicle (not big enough)and local taxis. We had Arif and one of his taxi driving colleagues all set up to take us this morning but Katie woke up with a bad head. So I stayed back to keep her company and the others canceled Arif and rented a 5 seater vehicle. Their plan was to have lunch at an eco lodge outside of Labasa. They are due back soon so we'll leave that story for another day. The good news is that Katie slept for a few hours and woke up feeling better. The highlight of our day was a shower on shore (cold, as the hot water had run out but it was still lovely). We're now back and I'm making muesli and Katie is catching up on correspondence. All's well but tomorrow Lisa, Rob and I fly back to Nadi... We spend the night there and then fly out Sunday (afternoon for me and evening for them). It's been a wonderful trip.
Well, We've now got our crew of 7 and all slept relatively well (a little cool, Kathleen & Marg needed not one but two sarong/lavalava blankets).
The birthday surprise for Tony went amazingly well, though in the lead up to it he was getting pretty annoyed that Mum & Lisa were trying to have them hang around Savusavu on Sunday all day while he wanted to rent a car and drive across the island. In the end they had to say they had there was a mystery guest coming for lunch - to which he asked if they couldn't just come for breakfast, or if they had to come for lunch could they get rid of them after an hour so they could head off?? Mum in the end had to say 'just trust me', so he grumpily complied.
Mum & Lisa collected me from the tiny shack of an airport (unfortunately a cloudy flight so didn't see much) and we then proceeded to wait with anticipation for Dad & Rob to come in from the boat and join us for lunch. I sat with my back to the door, my rainjacket on with hood up and a handwritten message on a scrap of paper taped on my jacket with the luggage tag tape which said "Happy birthday, Tony. Surprise from Marg, Jan, Kath, Kris, Roger, Marsha, Chris, Yvonne, Gildo and Wylie". He still didn't get who it was until I turned around and he melted. We've captured in on video. He was overcome with emotion and kept saying "I couldn't have had a better present!". So well-done team, thanks for keeping it a secret and for helping to make it possible.
Meanwhile we sit in the rain and listen to the winds buffeting the boat and think about the German man who was at dinner who said outside the reef was like Cape Horn. Our plan to go to an island about a 3 hour sail away has been shelved as the seas would be too uncomfortable. So, hopefully, Tony's coupling will arrive today. He'll pull the boat apart and we'll go to a nearby rain forest/nature reserve. We'll drop off another couple of bags of laundry to the magic fairy, Siteni, who will wash and dry (dry? a pretty unknown concept in our boat world, we do clammy really well, but not dry) them.
So unfortunately my tan is not getting any better yet, and despite having been here for over 3 days I haven't had a swim!! (jumping into this harbour is not too tempting, and there's enough wetness coming from above...) But great to see & catch up with everyone, and I'm sure the sun is just around the corner - I am the daughter of an eternal optimist after all!
Well here we are in the bustling metropolis of Savusavu. It's really just a busy little one street town with bakeries, internet shops, two grocery stores, freight companies, dvd stores, trinket shops, etc.. It is quite a yachtie hangout as there is a great marina with moorings and a restaurant/cafe, with showers, laundromat etc.. It is also a port of entry so boats can clear customs here. Tony has caught up with some of his new friends including the boat Batu (a couple from Reunion Island). The town is full of Indians which is a change from all the little villages we have been in contact with. We're still trying to figure Fiji out. Apparently 37% live below the poverty line but we suspect that these people live in urban areas (2/3s of the population). Those living in the villages have plenty of food. As an example of how fertile this place is even the spinach plant (belebele,) after you strip the leaves off you just stick the stalk back in the ground and it grows again. There are coconuts, papayas and breadfruit growing on trees. Taro and cassava grow easily underground. People seem pretty healthy although teeth are clearly a problem and no one wears glasses (don't need them? or can't afford them if they do?). There is internet connectivity everywhere, even when you least expect it. One of our hostesses in Vanua Balavu which is so far our most remote destination was on Facebook! It's really evident that Fiji is extremely dependant upon the tourist industry. There are resorts everywhere and they, of course, provide employment for a lot of Fijians. You can see how easily affected the economy is by the coups and the global financial crisis. Still can't work out exactly what the story on land ownership is. Fijian-Indians had not been able to own land but several Indian taxi drivers have told us they own their own homes and the land.
Tony is now dropping off the the laundry (luxury! at least we'll have one night without clammy sheets)and having a shower. Then we need to fill up the diesel which requires getting lots of containers filled and hauled out to the boat. He's got to fix the squeaky toilet handle and then if the coupling arrives from Australia fit that to the engine. Kath and Gildo arrive on Monday so we're going to have to tidy up our stuff to make room.
We're still enjoying incredibly comfortable temperatures and no mosquitos but no swims in this anchorage.
We had a wonderful day on Qamea Island ( these Islands are all due east of the Northern end of Taveuni )Marg, Rob & Lisa visited the local village and looked at the school etc, very lively, then we did a Tiki tour up the coast of Qamea, stopped and had a snorkel in a lovely bay, big pillars of fan corals and lots of fish. Both Rob & Lisa are getting much better & more comfortable snorkelling.
We then went on to an Island called Luacala which is owned by the Red Bull guy. Amazing houses, A frames on the ridge, stone houses on the cliff top above the reef, all bizzarre and a bit too much like Hollywood for us. Marg said " Hard to Port, lets get out of here " we negotiated the reef passage well and sailed into a lovely island just NW called Matagi. It is a true volcano top & we anchored right inside the crater, a very deep caldera with the North side blown out, steep walls, heavily wooded. Nobody else there, apparently yet another fancy resort hanging on the Western side but no sign, a lovely starry night & sheltered. I got up early and rowed ashore & climbed out of the caldera. I had to climb hand over hand up vines and roots of large trees but was rewarded with a lot of lovely vegetation & some large frogs along the way. Large buttressed trees, epiphites and all kinds of ferns and flowers, the place felt untouched really. I got on top of the hill to enjoy a pair of large red headed parrots playing around. After walking around the crater rim, I dropped back down to the bay via a stream bed, lots of vines and roots to hang on to, a lovely start.
We all snorkelled behind the boat, saw giant clams, many colourful corals and abundant fish life, Another lovely bay with big fan & tree type corals including anenomies and their protective fish, great colours there. Saw a large turtle as we were leaving.
We sailed around the top of Taveuni & caught two fish along the way ( Rob ) and are now only about 30 miles from Savusavu, our first real bit of civilisation for some time. We meet Kath & Gildo their on Monday so have some tidying up & re-provisioning to do. Well have a four day overlap which will be a hoot I'm sure. Three Wilson women together ? might need my earplugs !
My first time I've worn anything on my feet for nearly a month was today, don't care for it much. I'll try and stick with the Fijian way, barefoot.
Thanks all of you for your updates and on going support, we are nearly 3000 miles into this Pacific adventure so far & it's fabulous.