Friday June 27, 2008
LikuLiku Bay, Fiji
We have been in contact with some of our friends who did not leave New Zealand when we did because they were were either not ready yet, or were not comfortable with the weather forecast for that week (which was really very good). Hard to believe, but one month later only one of the 20 or more boats waiting in New Zealand has been able to leave to make the passage up to Fiji or Vanuatu(and that boat apparently had a terribly difficult passage). There has just been one storm system after another between New Zealand and here – so if we had not left when we did we would still be in New Zealand – one month later! We knew that it was hard to find a good weather window for the crossing, but this is even stranger than we had expected. We would have been so frustrated by now.
We are currently anchored outside the Blue Lagoon Resort in the Yasawa Island Group of Fiji. Blue Lagoon is a wonderfully protected anchorage surrounded by several relatively small islands (Matacawa Levu, Nanuya Levu, Nanuya Lailai, and Tavewa Islands in case you were interested). It is named after the Brooke Shields movie which was shot here in 1980. Each island has one or two resorts on them, but we have not gone to any of them yet. There is one resort that is very exclusive (Turtle Island Resort) and costs about $5,000 a night. We are not allowed to go onshore there – but, we don’t feel the need to. We actually have a more beautiful view from the boat than any of the resorts have.
Three days ago we left Navadra Island for Likuliku Bay of Waya Island. We did the passage to Waya Island with “Vera”, but without “Wombat of Sydney”, who had to return to the big town of Lautoka to fix their generator. We have had to motor between anchorages most of the time in Fiji rather than sail because there are so many uncharted reefs around. It is much easier to avoid hitting a reef if you are motoring and don’t have to mess around with sails. Too bad, as it is in theory a wonderful place to sail. It is just a little too hair-raising to know that you can be sailing along in 60 meters of water one minute and up against a 2 foot deep reef the next. The charts for Fiji are only partially accurate – and with this type of adventure you need perfect accuracy. So all of our “sails” are done with the engine on and Laura sitting high up on the mast to look out for reefs as Mark steers.
The anchorage at Likuliku Bay looked exactly like a picture perfect postcard of what Fiji should look like. When we pulled in there were 6 other boats in the anchorage (which is a lot around here) the water was calm and clear and wonderful. Plus, the Octopus Resort was on the shore with a bar and restaurant. The Australian manager of the the resort was extremely hospitable. After a beach walk with Michael and Britta and some Fiji Bitter beer, we enjoyed a delicious and plentiful Indo-Fijian curry supper at the resort. After dinner, it was a bit hair-raising to get the dinghies off the beach and through the shallow reef to get back to our boats in the dark as there was suddenly some surf running. As we neared Sabbatical III we could see that she was rolling back and forth like a pendulum. During the three hours we were on shore, the ocean swell had found it’s way into Likuliku Bay. It was not a good night as the swell was constant and large. Everything loose on the boat rattled and we nearly had to hang on to our berths while trying to sleep. When we peeked our heads out in the morning, we saw that all the boats were leaving and “Vera” called us on the VHF suggesting we leave in 15 minutes. Surf was crashing on the reef behind us and rollers were breaking on the beach where the evening before we had landed our dinghy with ease. These were conditions for surfers, not boats at anchor.
Leaving Likuliku Bay in the morning is not advisable since the sun is in your eyes when looking for coral reefs, but with a swell like this we all just wanted to leave. We headed for Drawaqa (yes, no ‘u’ after the ‘q’) Island which seemed well positioned to have smoother waters. A two and one-half hour sail brought us into another pretty bay but without a good place to anchor. We headed north to a bay at the south end of Naviti Island but it was also too exposed to ocean swell. We were tired and hot but decided to stop wasting time looking at other nearby bays and instead headed for the one place that we knew was protected, Blue Lagoon, more than three hours away.
We arrived sunned-out at Blue Lagoon at 3 pm and promptly took naps. There is no roll in Blue Lagoon, and like the rest of the Yasawa Islands, it is very beautiful. There is good snorkeling, gorgeaus views in all directions from the lagoon,plus long sand beaches for walking.
Our position is
South 16 degrees 56.6 minutes
East 177 degrees 22.0 minutes
Love, L and M