Suva to the Western islands updated 02-07-19
25 June 2019 | Beqa island, Robinson Crusoe island, Noisali island
Johan & Francina Botha | Overcast, Sunny
We woke up this morning (25/6/19) in Suva harbour and it was wet. Raining off and on and we considered postponing our sail westwards. At 9:30 the weather cleared slightly and we let go of the anchor. I am unsure of the type of dirt in the Suva harbour, but I can tell you that a piece of the anchor chain is stained like gold. The anchor chain was very dirty and covered in mud. It was a time consuming process to clean the anchor chain whilst lifting it into the anchor locker. Finding our way out of Suva harbour was fairly easy because we knew what to look for, and we bought charts for the Garmin chart plotter. The wind was very light to start off and we motorsailed all the way to our Anchorage. The wind came up to 15 knots gusting @ 24 whilst inside Beqa lagoon between the coral heads. On our way we passed two wrecks on a Reef. The one is a fairly new and quite big yacht. We were wondering what had happened to them. Did they try to enter the harbour and the wind pushed them into the Reef, engine failure, negligence, or what was the cause?. Was this also their home like Ntombi is to us? The entrance to Beqa lagoon was also quite tricky. I will not trust paper charts to guide me in. The bearing is a conspicuous mango tree on a cliff. One lonely tree that God preserve to lead sailors safely through the pass, like he kept us safe on our journeys. We had to dodge the bommies (suspicious looking poles sticking out of the water) and coral heads once inside the lagoon. Luckily the chart plotter was fairly accurate and we could navigate to our Anchorage in Malumu Bay, a valley of Beqa island. In the valley is a resort and a few new houses that they are still busy building. One of the villagers came to visit us. I suspect he wanted kava, but we did not offer any. The rule is that you do not need to pay the chief with kava if you anchor at a hotel or resort. During our conversation it came to light that his uncle is working at the resort. He is using broken English with a very heavy accent. Maybe my accent is just as strong to him as his was to me. I realised that Fiji still has very remote areas and I wondered if the practices of a few centuries ago was still part of the current day. He eventually sold us 4 green coconuts. We laughed because he took a very long time to deliver them. Suspect that he went to his village, climbed the tree and cut them off for us. He might have spend more on fuel to deliver to us than what we paid for it. He left us all smiles and very happy. I struggled to open it at first, but my skills improved and the last one was fairly easy. The juice is apparently rejuvenating and very healthy. We had a quite night at anchor in the well protected Bay.
Early on the morning 26/6/19 we woke up to a beautiful view of lush green vegetation and some exposed rocks. There might be waterfalls during heavy rain. The wind forecast was for very light winds the first two hours, so we lifted the anchor to get out of the lagoon before the wind stars blowing to strong. We plotted our route out of Beqa lagoon the previous night and it was an fairly easy navigation. We exited into the Beqa channel, which has a very wide entrance.
We started off motoring, but the wind picked up to 18 knots whilst still inside the lagoon. We rolled out the headsail and started sailing. The wind was east south east at 17 to 24 knots gusting to 30. The crew somehow got the main halyard loose and it eventually wrapped itself around the furled headsail. She managed to use the boat hook to get it down. We hoisted the mainsail and when she hoisted the staysail, the boat hook landed in the water. The only casualty thus far and the lesson learned to safely stow away equipment before moving onto the next task. I thoroughly enjoyed the sail today. The wind was strong, but Ntombi sailed like never before, reaching up to 8 knots. When we approached the entrance to Sovi Bay, I did not feel comfortable with the Bay. It is basically a beach surrounded with coral. With the strong wind blowing, we might be blown onto the beach, because there is no space for sufficient scope. We decided to change our plans and continue to the next Anchorage, planned for a visit on Thursday. I am grateful for that decision because Likuri harbour offers a well protected Anchorage in front of the Likuri island. Robinson Crusoe resort on this small island greeted us with two boats with Fijian singing. As the evening progressed, they entertained their guests with folk songs, drums and Western music. The music is very load and can be heard on the yacht a couple of miles away.If you close your eyes and you think of the movie Jumanji, you will know what I am talking about. African drums, etc.
We had a very good nights rest. The water was flat and calm with no movement at all. The sound of the waves breaking on the Reef was very load at high tide in the early hours (2:00 am) of the morning. It reminded me of the sounds we heard from our flat in Richardsbay. After a light breakfast we winched in the anchor. And guess what? The anchor came out clean, no mud, except the golden stain from Suva harbour still on the one section of chain.
Although following my tracking line from entering the harbour was still scary. It was low tide and you realize how little space their is where the water has sufficient depth for Ntombi to pass through safely. The wind was 17 knots with .5 meter waves which made a very pleasant sail. I was even surprised with freshly baked pancakes. We planned to enter through the pass and sailed into the bay at Korobalavu. We however changed our plans and sailed to the next bay closer to Noisali Island. We dropped anchor and enjoyed a lovely afternoon, eating fried bread for dinner. Crew went for a swim in the warm water. She cleaned the rudder of the wind steering. It is unbelievable how much green hair were growing on it after a few weeks in the water. Once the rudder were tied outside of the water, she swam next to the yacht on the starboard side, cleaning some spots above the waterline. Suddenly I heard a very load " help me out" and she was at the back already out of the water. It was a blue jellyfish the size of a dinner plate swimming past her. A spectacular sunset was a very special painting from God to end our day.