Day 88, Year 2: From The Blue Lagoon to Sawa-i-Lau

Day 88, Year 2: From The Blue Lagoon to Sawa-i-Lau
Date: Saturday, July 21, 2007
Weather: Overcast, Clearing in Late Afternoon; Winds E 15-20, Gusts to 28
Latitude: S 16 degrees 50.849 minutes
Longitude: E 177 degrees 28.003 minutes
Location: Sawa-i-Lau, Yasawa Group, Fiji

Our morning in the Blue Lagoon was overcast, but still pleasant. We went to shore to walk on the beach and we were met by a little boy with his baby bottle of milk. He looked to be about two years old. I was fairly sure he didn’t understand English, so we just played in the sand for a few minutes without talking. We then met his family. His mother told us to ask him his name. We did and he replied. He told us that he is Peter and that he is two years old. He was very cute. We found out from
his grandmother that we were supposed to do sevusevu. She actually went into her home and came back with a color-printed sheet explaining that we should do sevusevu here and that we could order fresh bread. This is so different from the non-commercial side of Fiji, but still it is beautiful. Mark had read somewhere that it was customary to do sevusevu, but it looked like there was only a resort on the beach so we didn’t take the kava in with us. Mark went back to Windbird to get the kava and
Steve and I walked toward the south end of the island where two large Blue Lagoon cruise ships had pulled in this morning. We were greeted with a sign saying, “No Entry Beyond This Point. Private Land.” It seems that the Turtle Island Resort on Nanuya Levu and the Blue Lagoon Cruise Line basically own the Blue Lagoon. We did walk through the Nanuya Island Resort to the point on the north end of the island and then walked on the path leading to the other side of the island. After watching the
movie: The Blue Lagoon, I was glad I didn’t see any cannibals on “the other side.” We did meet a couple of women from New Zealand from the sailboat Ivory Quays. We talked about our passages from New Zealand and found that they used Commander Weather out of New Hampshire. They were advised not to leave the week we left, but to wait a week. They had a glorious passage, and hearing the story made us feel sad that we hadn’t used Commander for this passage. Next time.

On our way back to Windbird, we decided to stop by a very large catamaran in the anchorage. We were very curious as to why it had two large satellite domes. We met the owner, Mike Yaw, his daughter and her husband, and their two children. We learned that one dome is for high-speed internet and the other is for television. Mike is a single-hander and is circumnavigating the world in his boat Good News. He started in France about eight years ago and will be going home by way of South Africa.
He is taking the boat to Cairns in Australia at the end of this season and we talked to him about joining the Sail Indonesia Rally next July. He actually had interest in this and we gave him some information. Mike graciously invited us to see the inside of his boat and we were all amazed. The boat is huge and has every electronic device you can imagine, including air conditioning that was running. There was a very large flat screen TV in the main saloon, and a TV with remote controls in each
of the three sleeping quarters. The stateroom was on the port side of the boat, along with a full-sized upright double-doored refrigerator and freezer, an automatic washer/dryer, and a bathroom with a separate shower room almost as large as our aft stateroom. I asked his daughter if she realized that all people sailing around the world weren’t this well equipped, and she laughed and explained that she has to tell her children this all the time. We should have brought them over to Windbird to see
how the rest of us live, but we were in a bit of a hurry to move out to Sawa-i-Lau. We hope to keep in touch with Mike, and will probably see him again somewhere along the line. He knows Jonah on Araby and a few other boats that we have met along the way, so we really enjoyed sharing stories about friends.

We left the Blue Lagoon around noon and made our way north to Sawa-i-Lau. Just before we left, we got a call from Miami inquiring about the Blue Lagoon anchorage. They had just left Sawa-i-Lau and were coming our way. We were just leaving the Blue Lagoon and heading their way. But they were coming down on the east side of the islands and we were going north on the west side. It was another windy day, but the passage was unevently–just scary because there are reefs everywhere and there just
aren’t really good paper charts for this area and the electronic chart is off and we had no tracks of other boats to follow. Regardless, we arrived safely in the natural bay formed between Nacula and Yasawa islands. We made our way to the east side of the bay to the tiny island of Sawa-i-Lau and set anchor in deep water and a good 25 knots of wind. There was one other boat in the anchorage when we arrived, and while we were in the anchoring process, the yacht Christina arrived.

Since it was already late in the afternoon, we rushed to the south shore of Yasawa island to the village of Nabukeru to do sevusevu and to see if we could visit the caves on Sawa-i-Lau today. We learned that there is one chief shared between Tasmaua and Nabukeru villages, and that we could do sevusevu with one of the chief’s spokesmen in Nabukeru. A young man took us to the spokesman’s home where we did sevusevu. The spokesman was a young man named Cagi (Thangee). His eleven year-old son, Kulai,
and five year-old daughter, Litia, were there for the ceremony, and afterwards the eleven year-old asked if I would like to buy shells. I have been hoping to find more nautilus shells and he said that he had a couple. He went to get the nautilus shells and came back with two and with his mother, Lavi. We took pictures and bought shells, and then went in search of Ben who has the key to the gate you must pass through to get to the caves. The young many who had met us when we arrived, Sione, went
with us. He found Ben and Ben gave him the key, so off we went. The village has built concrete steps that lead up from the beach. We climbed the steps and entered a metal door that has been built at the entrance to the main cave. You get into the water in the main cave and can then swim to the far end and go into a very small opening that leads to a second cave. Sione told us that the underwater cave was on the opposite side of the cave, and then he went outside to wait for us. I found the
cave and went in a short distance, bumped my head, and came back out. In the end, Steve was the only one who had the nerve to go all the way into the second cave, but Mark and I enjoyed the crazy sounds he made to let us know he had made it through. We all then enjoyed the beauty of the light entering the main cave through a natural skylight and bouncing off the water and the limestone walls. It really is a beautiful spot.

On our way to the cave, we stopped at Windbird to get our snorkeling gear and we invited Sione aboard to see our home. We talked a little about the movie, The Blue Lagoon. Much of the Brooke Shields version of this movie was shot here in Sawa-i-Lau and Sione asked if we had a DVD copy of it. I told him we did, and he asked to borrow it. Steve brought up the point that we might get into some trouble with the village elders for lending him a movie with nudity in it, but I just told him not to tell
the minister. Steve joked by saying that Sione is the village minister, but I guess we will really find out who he is in the morning. We plan to attend church and then do some low-key snorkeling in the afternoon. Unless things change, we will leave here on Monday morning and head south as fast as we can go. We have packed a lot into Steve’s time with us here in Fiji, but we have a few more things we want to do before he leaves on Thursday night.

070721 Day 88 Yasawa Group, Fiji–The Blue Lagoon
070721 Day 88 Yasawa Group, Fiji–Sawa-i-Lau Arrival and Cave Dive

Day 87, Year 2: From Drawaqa Island to the Blue Lagoon

Day 87, Year 2: From Drawaqa Island to the Blue Lagoon
Date: Friday, July 20, 2007
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day; Winds E 15-20
Latitude: S 16 degrees 56.690 minutes
Longitude: E 177 degrees 21.964 minutes
Location: The Blue Lagoon, Yasawa Group, Fiji

Well, we made the decision to move “a lot north” instead of just a little north, and tonight we find ourselves in the Blue Lagoon. After watching 1980 version of “The Blue Lagoon” last night, I decided that I just had to see the Blue Lagoon and the cave at Sawa-I-Lau. We started our day in the Tokatokauna Pass, but once again we did not get to swim with the mantas. It was very windy today and we had to hold on to the dinghy rope and drift snorkel through the pass. Otherwise, we were afraid we
would get washed out to sea. It felt like we were flying through the water, but I enjoyed the sights along the way. Today I found one family of Orange-striped Anemonefish (the ones with the turquoise vertical stripes) and I saw purple and blue bird-nosed wrasse that I haven’t seen before. But no mantas. So after two drifts through, we returned to Windbird and snorkeled the reef in our anchorage. By noon, it was time to move out, so we took off and made the decision to try and make it all the
way to the Blue Lagoon. The winds were with us for the first half of the trip and we were flying, but then we had to turn into the wind and start the motor to bash our way to the islands. The Blue Lagoon is on the west side of Nanuya-Sewa. The Lonely Planet calls this Nanuya Lailai. Just to the immediate south is Nanuya-Levu, home of the exclusive Turtle Island resort. Matacawalevu island is to the west with Sese Village, and Tavewa island is to the northwest. Tomorrow, weather permitting,
we will go further northeast around Nacula island to Sawa-I-Lau. This little island is on the southeast point of Yasawa Island.

Mid-afternoon we got a call on the VHF from Christina. They left Drawaqa about an hour after us and went into Somosomo Bay at the top of Naviti island for tonight. That was our back-up, but we made for the Blue Lagoon. Just after talking with Christina, we got a call from George on Miami. He and Ute left Yadua and crossed the Bligh Waters for Sawa-I-Lau a couple of days ago. They made great time and saw no navigational hazards. None of us had waypoints or good charts of the area, so they were
braver than the rest. George says Sawa-I-Lau is really nice and we hope to see them there tomorrow.

After bashing our way into the winds for a couple of hours, we entered the pass between Matacawalevu and Tavewa around 4:30 PM. We had the sun behind us which is perfect, but we really had to watch and pick our way through the coral heads. The captain was very happy once we got to the anchorage. It is always very nerve-wracking to sight your way through coral. The Blue Lagoon beach is long and beautiful–one of the most beautiful beaches we have seen in the South Pacific. We didn’t go ashore
tonight, but we will go in early tomorrow morning to see what is here. The east winds are blowing a good 20-25 knots, but we are snug in this anchorage. I am just happy to have made it to the Blue Lagoon. How could we come to Fiji and not make it here?

070720 Day 87 Yasawa Group, Fiji–Drawaqa Anchorage to the Blue Lagoon

Day 86, Year 2: From Waya to Swimming with the Mantas

Day 86, Year 2: From Waya to Swimming with the Mantas
Date: Thursday, July 19, 2007
Weather: Another Sunny, Hazy Day
Location: Anchorage on West Side of Drawaqa Island, Yasawa Group, Fiji

It is interesting out here. None of our charts or maps agree on the name of where we might be, but we know we are in an anchorage on the west side of the small island just south of Naviti Island. We think the guide books might call this Manta Ray Island. On our chart it is called Drawaqa (Eld) Island, and on the C-Maps charts it doesn’t have a name. There is a small resort just north of us before you get to the Tokatokauna Pass and we think this is probably the Manta Ray Resort. The Tokatokauna
Pass is where you are supposed to be able to swim with manta rays, but we went there this afternoon at low tide and saw only beautiful coral and fish. Jans and Christina on Chistina are also here, and they tell us that we need to be in the pass two hours after high tide to see the mantas. So we will try that again tomorrow. Jenelle, the boat from Whangarei, New Zealand, is here as well. We all evacuated Likuliku Bay on Waya Island and moved here. We talked with Ranger, and they arrived in Likuliku
this afternoon just in time for the Thursday night seafood dinner at Octopus Resort. We keep missing each other by one day, but sometime next week we will reconnect.

This morning started with Julia and Bill Cook from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, along with their daughter coming to visit us on Windbird. Bill and Julia owned a commercial goat milking farm in Hawkes Bay, but Bill’s dream is to sail around the world. Julia is just not sure it is her thing. They wanted to see what a cruising boat really looks like. We had a great visit, but the anchorage was rolly and we had a surprise visit by the very poisonous sea snake that lives in these waters, so I’m not sure
Julia got the best introduction. The snake actually came up to the boat and flipped so that we could hear the noise. Very strange. We then took the Cook’s back to shore and picked up Helen Yard and Susie Garretson from Flagstaff, Arizona. Susie is retired and Helen is an ornithologist, now coffee distributor. Her business is call Toucanet Coffee and she is loving what she is doing. They were just interested in our lifestyle and wanted to come and see what yachties do on their boats. We had
a great visit with them, and then we took off for the next anchorage.

Christina left before us, but they stopped at the southern end of Drawaqa to snorkel. We went on to the anchorage and immediately got ready to snorkel. Christina arrived just as we were taking off in the dinghy, so went over to say hello. That’s when we found out that we probably weren’t going to see mantas this afternoon, but we continued on anyway. We didn’t see mantas, but we did see many, many fish, and I got by daily hit of anemonefish. I saw a family of Pink Anenomes, Dusky Anenomes,
and even a few of the anemonefish with turquoise vertical stripes. I just love watching these little guys. When we got back to the boat, I took off by myself to explore the reef along the coast in front of us. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera, but I saw an incredible sight. There were hundreds of convict fish (yellowish with black vertical stripes) hovering over the coral. The sunlight was bouncing off of them, and I think I missed the picture of the week. But at least I have the memory.

Mark, Steve, and I are spending a quiet evening aboard Windbird. We are actually going to watch the Blue Lagoon video while we eat dinner. We are still debating whether or not we are actually going to make the trek north to the Blue Lagoon. Whatever we do, we will stay here to try and swim with the mantas and then move a little or a lot north.

070719 Day 86 Yasawa Group, Fiji–Leaving Waya Island
070719 Day 86b Yasawa Group, Fiji–Drawaqa Underwater

Day 85, Year 2: To the Top of Waya Island

Day 85, Year 2: To the Top of Waya Island
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Weather: Another Sunny, Hazy Day
Location: Likuliku Bay, Waya Island, Yasawa Group, Fiji

I missed my radio sched with Ranger this morning as we were already on our way to the top of Waya Island. We really missed talking with them, but hopefully we will catch them tomorrow morning and find out where they are headed. We took the dinghy into the resort at 7:45 AM and met the other ten people who were going to hike with us. Waya is a high island with a few different towering peaks. We were going to climb to the two highest peaks, and go all the way to the very top of one of them. Our
guide was Artu from the village of Naulawaki. He led us up the hill out of the resort and over to visit the village. We walked through and then walked along the beach until we reached the path that goes straight up, and I mean straight up the mountain. We climbed over 1500 feet in an hour and a half, and it was most challenging. It was more rock climbing than hiking, and often the only thing we had to hold on to was a little notch that we could use as a finger hold in the rock. I was definitely
the slowest in the group, and after many stops to catch my breath, I found myself at the base of the peak. The climb to the very top had to be achieved by wedging yourself between two rock walls with nothing to hold on to. Steve went up and even though the top was only about 50 feet above us, Mark and I decided to sit at the base. The walk down the mountain was almost as challenging as the walk up since we were walking on a vertical plane, but all of us made it down with no injuries. I was very
grateful for that. Artu, our guide, gave me the nickname of “grandma.” I asked him how to say that in Fijian, and it is “tai”–I liked that name. This is the second challenging walk we have been on in the past week, so I’m hoping for walks on nice flat, long white beaches for the rest of this week.

We were all totally exhausted when we returned to the boat. We had some lunch and the people from a sailboat that had come in yesterday came by to say hello. The boat is Jenelle out of Whangarei, New Zealand. Warwack and Lucy are a young couple with two little girls–one about 18 months and the other four years. They were actually in Riverside Drive Marina just after we left New Zealand and know many of our friends who were still there. They will be heading back to New Zealand at the end of
the season. After their visit, we actually took a nap. This is not something that we ever do, but an hour of rest felt really good. We then got ready to go snorkeling, but before we left we saw that yet another sailboat had entered the harbor. This was Christina from Sweden with Jans and Christina aboard. We got our snorkeling gear together and got in the dinghy to go over and say hello. On the way, another couple Mark had met last night came rowing over in a kayak. Bill and Julia, a couple
from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand came paddling over to say hello. They are here with their two teenaged children on holiday. Bill would really like to sail around the world, but Julia is not sure she knows enough about sailing to do this. We told them to come back after we returned from snorkeling to have a tour of Windbird. That didn’t happen today, but they are hoping to come out to visit early in the AM. We visited with Jan and Christina, and then went snorkeling. Just as we dropped our anchor,
Warwack and his two little girls came by our dinghy to give us pieces of Warwick’s birthday cake. They had three pieces for us and two pieces for Christina. What a nice gesture from a couple we had just met.

At 6:30 PM we went in to the Octopus Resort. We reconnected with Helen and Susie from last night, and I met Bill and Julia and talked to Julia about being a reluctant woman sailor. I assured her that those feelings change once you get out here. Tomorrow morning they are coming out to see the boat before we leave. Helen is also coming out, so tomorrow morning will be a busy time aboard Windbird. Still, we plan to leave and head either just north of here to swim with the manta rays or go all the
way to the Blue Lagoon. Or maybe we will do both in the same day.

070718 Day 85 Yasawa Group, Fiji–Waya Mt. Climb and Dinner at Octopus Resort

Day 84, Year 2: Finally Arrival in the Yasawas

Day 84, Year 2: Finally Arrival in the Yasawas
Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Weather: Another Sunny, Hazy Day
Latitude: S 17 degrees 16.641 minutes
Longitude: E 177 degrees 06.231 minutes
Water Temperature: 84 degrees F!!!
Location: Likuliku Bay, Waya Island, Yasawa Group, Fiji

We left Lautoka at 7:15 AM and arrived here in Likuliku Bay on the northwest coast of Waya Island by 1:30 PM this afternoon. We had to motor sail all the way here as winds were very light, but it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The passage along the west coast of Waya is spectacular as Waya is a high island with dramatic rock outcroppings. Once we arrived in the anchorage here in Likuliku Bay, we all wanted to jump in the crystal clear water, but we restrained ourselves and ate lunch
first and then went into the Octopus Resort here to check on the “local drill.” We met Chris and his wife who manage the resort and found that yachties are most welcome here. He explained that we did not need to present sevusevu in the nearby village as we are considered guests of the resort. We made arrangements to return for happy hour and dinner at the resort, and then headed back to Windbird to go snorkeling.

The three of us jumped into the water without dive skins and we found the water to be truly warm. What we saw of the coral today was okay, but not fantastic. We saw many fish but not the great numbers we are used to seeing. Still it was a wonderland under the water.

After snorkeling, we all got ready to go back to the Octopus Resort for dinner. We arrived and sat a little table. We had not been there long until a woman named Helen found us. She is recently divorced and is an ornithologist. Mark and I immediately thought that she was a great match for Steve.

Tomorrow morning we are joining a few people to walk to the top of the island. We then plan to snorkel the island. We will move north on Thursday to the Blue Lagoon.

070717 Day 84 Yasawa Group, Fiji–Lautoka to Waya Island

Day 83, Year 2: Arrival in Lautoka

Day 83, Year 2: Arrival in Lautoka
Date: Monday, July 16, 2007
Weather: Sunny, Hazy Day
Latitude: S 17 degrees 35.98 minutes
Longitude: E 177 degrees 26.54 minutes
Location: Lautoka, Viti Levu

I’ve decided that we are just too easy to please. No matter where we go, we love it. Lautoka is the second largest city in Fiji, and it is just a city with a huge wood mill and an even larger sugar cane mill. Both mills have lots of ugly black smoke rolling from them, so it is not the most beautiful anchorage we have ever been in, but we did enjoy our afternoon here. We arrived at 12:30 PM and got ready to go ashore immediately. We arrived at the same time as our friends Jean-Pierre and Colette
on Safina, so we all went to shore together. Our only reason for stopping here was to check in with Customs and get proper approval for visiting the Yasawa Islands. Unfortunately, Customs was out to lunch when we arrived, so we walked into town to have lunch. We had read about a place named Jolly Good where we could get fish and chips for $2.50. We found our way there and enjoyed the “best deal in town” lunch. Mark then went to find an internet cafe and Steve and I went to the vegetable market.
From the outside, it looked like most of the markets we have seen, but once we walked inside, I could immediately see that this market was a notch above others. It is a big open dome, like a stadium. It is all on one floor, and the ceiling goes up to a midpoint with lots of skylights. Most markets are a little dark and dingy, but not this one. Steve really enjoyed seeing the market and all of the wonderful food under roof and I was able to buy some fresh fruit and veggies for us. We then walked
to a store called Jack’s of Fiji. Jack’s is a US type store, very upscale, that has Fiji clothing and novelties. We actually had a great time shopping and then headed on up the street to find Mark. We hadn’t gone far before we found him and we hailed a taxi to take us back to the marina.

We took the food we had bought back to Windbird, and then started walking back into town to get fuel for the dinghy and to make a visit to the liquor store to refurbish the necessities of life. By the time we returned, it was too late to move to the anchorage south of here for the night, so we made the decision to stay put and leave early in the morning for Waya Island in the Yasawas. We are looking forward to white sand beaches and turquoise water. The search is on.

070716 Day 83 Viti Levu, Fiji–Vatia to Lautoka