Saturday, September 21, 2013

To the Yasawas

There's an old guy in Savusavu named Curly that makes money giving a weekly seminar about navigation in the Fiji Islands.  Don't get me wrong, Fiji is a challenging place but in my opinion, he embellishes the difficulty and makes everybody scared to venture out of the well defined cruising paths that he has mapped out or places that he doesn’t like for one reason or another.  This 'scary factor' helps him sell more seats for his seminars.  Curly briefs about 250 cruisers every year.

Some of the charts for this area haven’t been surveyed for over 100 years.  Not that a million year old reef would up and move but now with the accuracy of GPS and our electronic charts, hazards aren’t where they put them on a century old chart.  So you do have to use your eyes and read the water to move around here.  9AM to 3PM is best with blue sunny skies.  Reefs are not seen well with an overcast.

The Yasawa Group is west of the main islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.  The clouds are usually rained out by the time the tradewinds push them over the main islands.  The islands do cause gap winds in the 30 mile wide passage between them.  They act like a huge nozzle that accelerates the wind in and downwind of the pass.

From Yadua we could have waited for good winds to cross the pass to Viti Levu or gone more downwind and headed to the Yasawas.  Since Curly had everybody worried about the masses of uncharted reefs, we figured we would go where everybody else wasn’t. To the Yasawas.

We had a good track on the electronic chart of our arrival in to Watering Bay and there weren’t any really close passes to hazardous reefs if we went around the west side of Yadua.  So we left at 3AM in order to arrive at the first of the reefs to the east of the Yasawas before noon.  It would then be 3 more hours through the reefs to our first anchorage.

We had nice wind until the gap effect calmed down and then we had to motorsail.  We anchored at Blue Lagoon.  This is where the movie Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields was filmed in the ‘80s.  It was a well protected anchorage and we slept well but was more hype than Blue Lagoon.

Soso Village
Initially we were going to stay another day but knew there were better places so we headed out to the bay in front of Somosomo village on Naviti Island.  We went around the west side of the islands and on arrival, the north swell that had been with us outside the reef, hadn’t calmed down and was pushing right in to Somosomo Bay.  We made a 180 and headed to the bay on the south side of Naviti by the village of Soso.

The Kids
Don't know what this says but it was neat
In Soso we presented Sevusevu to the acting chief.  We were welcomed as members of the village as we had in Yadua.  They haven’t had a chief for 3 years since the last one died.  It has taken so long to pick one because of the infighting between the old chief’s family members.   The new chief will be inaugurated on October 10th.  We were invited to stay for the festivities but there is no way.
Moonrise over Soso Bay

Soso Church
The ladies that had taken us to the chief’s Bure (house) asked us to come back when we were done and look at some things they were selling.  They didn’t have much but we felt obliged to buy something.  However, one lady was selling small mats made of Pandamus leaves.  We had wanted something to mount the Tapa on that we bought in Samoa so we went back to the boat, brought the Tapa, and contracted for the lady to make us a custom mat.

Lunch with Joe and Lady
Booker and Emily
Instead of buying some tourist junk that we didn’t want, we asked the last lady that we hadn’t bought anything from if she would make us lunch when we came back the next day for the mat.  She initially didn’t understand but finally she understood that she was going to be ‘like a restaurant’.  She was overjoyed and made a nice meal of root crops with curried pumpkin and rice the next day.

Big winds pushing us toward the reef
The wind had switched more south and was blowing hard in to the bay so we had to find a new place.  This one was getting risky so we said our good byes and headed 5 miles south to a small group of islands that had a few resorts on them.  A helicopter had landed on the beach to pick up people when we were anchoring.  Things were nice there until sunset when the winds strengthened and switched even more south.  We had every alarm set to detect if the anchor was dragging and didn’t sleep very well. 
Monuriki Island - Castaway (Tom Hanks)

We met up with Lightspeed in Musket Cove
Swell from the north, winds from the south.  None of the anchorages were going to work out well here.  The next day we skipped going to Navadra and headed directly to the Musket Cove.


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