23 September 2012 | Port Denarau Marina
Even before arriving in Fiji we were a little apprehensive: We heard Navigation is a challenge, A must do Kava experience each Island before being able to enjoy each bay - apparently it is like anchoring in someones back yard, you just can't do it without permission.
12/9/2012: Our first stop "The Royal Suva Yacht Club" anchorage, smooth check in process, friendly Custom, Health and Quarantine staff, Custom's advise on Channel 16 once anchored to contact The Royal Suva Yacht Club, they then proceed to arrange a time the authorities will be boarding your boat a charge of $60 Fijian dollars from RSYC for this service is payable, worth it, efficient and painless.
13/9/2012: Next Stop Suva City, what a fantastic experience, a bustling metropolis of shops, an abundance of Indian outfits to satisfy your bling fetish, all the usual arts and crafts markets, the local Fijian bowls are a definite must buy on my shopping list just to decide from the many varieties. The cost of food is so affordable (on par with Mexico) of course you have plenty of Indian cuisine to choose from, as well as asian and local Fijian, but all the regular foods/fast foods from home are all here. Most of all we have been pleasantly surprised with the smiling faces and genuine friendliness of all who live here.
The Suva Yacht Club staff are a welcome surprise, cannot do enough for you. A basket of washing, wash/ dried and delivered on the same day, $20 Fijian Dollars (approx $11 Aud). The drinks and food are consistently good and very affordable. Modern comfortable club and dining room.
14/9/2012: Whilst in Suva we spent 1/2 day exploring "Cola-I-Suva Forest Park" about 15 min taxi ride from Royal Suva Yacht Club. It was a relaxing walk, young green foliage, waterfalls and swimming holes, plenty of places to sit and relax along the way. We walked out of the Park and across the road where we enjoyed an Indian lunch at the Raintree Restaurant afterwards with Trevor and Jo from SV Malarki.
15/9/2012: A final Suva Shopping stop this morning : After lunch we pulled up anchor and headed to a bay an hour away " Tradewinds anchorage" a few moorings supplied but after local knowledge advising the ones left were for smaller vessels we anchored. Good holding, muddy bottom. We chatted with a cruiser off Zeupher who was full of valuable local information. We went ashore with friends off "Malarki" (Trevor and Joanne) to the Novotel Resort (formerly Tradewinds Hotel) and shared a cocktail and dinner looking out at our boats anchored and the amazing lush green hillside.
16/9/2012: Malarki and Red Sky headed off to "Beqa Island" the next day, light winds, but sunny skies Yeh! It bloody rains a lot here. We entered the reef pass with no problem, good wide opening. After perusing one side of the island decided to head around to Vaga Bay, arriving late in the afternoon and rainy, we braved not going ashore to see the chief till morning.
17/9/2012 : Around 10am, we took our Kava in and presented it from the both boats as it was a huge bundle, lollipops for the kids were a big hit also. The woman and children walked us around to the Chiefs house and we were introduced to everyone along the way. The woman showed us some crafts and jewellery, Joanne pointed out some had stickers "made in china" oops.....hence we didn't buy any. Trevor from Malarki had memorised the greeting to the Chief when offering the Kava, it impressed the 71 yr old Chief and we all sat and listened as he performed a chant, being morning we presume we did not have to drink Kava. His son sat behind us and joined in the conversation and later toured us around their village and gave us permission to explore their bay. Later we headed out into our dinghies and picked up a mooring to do some snorkelling, only to hear people yelling out to us from shore and encouraging us to come and see them. We were told we could not snorkel there unless we paid $10 fijian per person, as it was a private resort. No money no snorkelling....headed around the next bay and had snorkel without any problems, nothing too impressive, but good to get wet.
18/9/2012: We had a lazy day onboard, plenty of rain to keep us indoors and I am recovering from a flu - rest, movies and reading the best policy. We purchased a Vodafone internet stick from Suva and a phone card with internet access, it works well in Suva and is intermittent in Bega Island, but better than nothing.
19/9/2012: Yesterday afternoon around 2pm we dinghied into shore to collect the chief's son Tony who we pre-arranged with earlier to escort us to the Fire Walking around the point at The Uprising Beach Resort. The locals don't miss much, we were coming into shore and someone was onshore yelling directions for the best landing, onshore a Fijian named Sero escorted us to Tony's Hut only to find they were having a Kava Ceremony with about 20 or more guests inside his newly completed hut, O Oh! we were a little worried they ushered us inside and made us sit, Bula Bula welcome from everyone shaking your hands and smiling widely. Thank goodness Tony relieved us from his guests and organised Sero to replace him as our tour guide for the afternoon, Phew! dodged the Kava yet again.
A 5 min dinghy ride around the point, and we were onshore chatting with the local fijians, who were dive instructors/ workers on the island filling us in on good dive and snorkel places. Sero was eager to show us the resort and guide us to a table to have a beer....a pleasant place to stay with 20 or so guests, one guests happily shared photo's of dive's whilst holidaying on the island and the coral and fish were amazing, can't wait to see some of that. A couple of beer's later and Sero obviously thoroughly enjoyed it as he let go a huge burp practically in Trevor's ear and not perturbed one bit just kept on smiling and swallowed the last drop, I started to uncontrollably giggle, but refrained myself as he was a gentle soul and I didn't want to offend him.
Jo & Trevor booked their shark dive for Friday morning....we opted to pass and will enjoy their photo's and stories. Around 4.30pm the ceremony began for the Fire Walking, a fire had been smouldering for 7 hours and we were told the Fijian story of how this tradition came about. Apparently only done on Beqa Island: The story goes, an eel was caught buy a fisherman and to prevent from being eaten he suggested and explained how to Fire Walk and this would provide wealth for their tribes, hence the eel was set free and the custom of Fire Walking still continues. The men sang as they uncovered the large fire wood to reveal the hot rocks smouldering underneath.....they scattered the rocks and and chanted, then proceeded to walk, stand, pose on the rocks for our entertainment, CHECK OUT THE PHOTO'S of the Fijian men and myself showing off our feet, theirs being extremely rough and tough soles compared to my lilly white ones. SV Malarki invited us to continue the fire walking theme into the evening sharing a CHILLI Dinner - great company and perfect end to the day.
20/9/2012: Next morning we chose to head to "Yanuca Island" about a 1 hour sail away - known for its beautiful beaches and famous surf spot Frigates Passage. It certainly lived up to it's picture postcard beaches and blue lagoon water. Unfortunately Murphy threw a curb ball on our arrival and our anchor windlass decided to slip and struggle when our first anchor attempt failed....John spent most of the beautiful sunny day on deck trying to fix it and then having to pull the anchor up by hand bit by bit and re-anchor. John almost reached exhaustion diving to see if anchor had taken, re-anchoring yet again, more diving and finally a holding in sand, and a quick adrenaline boost for John to get out of the water as a shark was hovering around him obviously attracted by all his thrashing and diving. A lot of cursing was projected at that anchor....sundowners and a beautiful sunset was a welcome relief.
Disappointing we missed perfect conditions knowing the weather report showed a rainy week ahead.....bugger! Oh and we managed to avoid Kava yet again, even though we did have a visitor from the village call on the boat, John explained our problem and asked if it would be ok for tomorrow, which was fine, Malarki should be joining us then and we can experience together. As I finish typing the rain is pelting down yet again, some burst of lightning and thunder, our fingers crossed the anchor holds. Thank goodness a short lived storm and we are still safely anchored at Yanuca.
21/9/2012: Rainy overcast day greeted us after a solid night sleep, calm anchorage and no dragging - happy sailors. A few jobs needed doing, wetsuits on, scourers in hand, time to scrub the waterline, not an easy task with the wetsuit keeping you buoyant and the current dragging you back, swallowing water as you go......miss my Matty he was good at helping with these jobs... John cleaning the hull with the hooker....big tick for the day.
22/9/2012: Around 7am we rendevez-vous with Malarki and are heading out the Frigate Passage pass for "Likuri Island", Robinson Crusoe Island Yacht Club, which is a small coral island near the passage into Likuri Harbour ,Viti Levu. Flat calm water, very little wind, sunny skies were with us most of the day. The weather greeting us on entry to Likuri Island around 3.30pm was heavy skies and imminent rain. We spoke to Robinson Crusoe Island on Channel 10 advising our approach and they sent an escort to guide us between the reef. It appeared to be quite a wide entrance, waves crashing on the reef either side is always a daunting site. A smooth entrance and anchored by 4pm in flat calm conditions. The resort radioed us on our approach asking if we were joining them for dinner and fire dancing at 7pm after a full day cruising to your destination a treat to have a night out and get off the boat. What a fantastic night, traditional costumed Fijian's smiling and fire twirling on the beach to greet new guests arriving from the mainland, non stop entertainment all evening, from Kava ceremony to seeing how they prepare their hungy and non stop dancing and entertaining. A smorgasbord served meat/chicken and vegetables all very tasty. Drinks, ice-cream, food and entertainment cost us $100 fijian for the night. Awoke to a heavy fog lying over the mountains and flat calm conditions, such a treat to be in calm anchorages. Heavy skies are with us for most of the week.
23/9/2012 : We arrived at Port Denarau Marina and are now berthed in a modern facility, opposite the Hilton Hotel Resort and surrounded by all the home comforts we have not had for a while....what a treat, big smiles on our faces.