Reviewing our trip (at least what I have done posts for), we initially cleared out of Suva and headed for Beqa Island slightly south of Viti Levu. From there it was on to Denerau/Nadi to pick up some parts that had been sent to us. Our next destination was the Yasawa group which runs north/south to the west of Viti Levu. Unfortunately, to get there, under the mysterious rules of Fiji Officialdom, we first had to clear in and out of Lautoka on the west coast of Viti Levu. The rule seems to be that you must stop at each port of entry along the way, clear in and report your ongoing voyage plan. No matter that you are cleared into the country and have obtained cruising permits for all the island groups you intend to visit. I say the “rule seems to be” because Denerau/Nadi is an international port of entry and home to the international airport – but you can’t clear out from there – you have to go to Lautoka.
Oh well. Lautoka, as you may recall, was the scene of the “go fast” dinghy ride for the Customs Officer – the Official Warning instead of fine because we were “remorseful” that Suva Customs had not given us a necessary piece of paper.
Then it was on to the Yasawa’s – Waya and Somo Somo being our favorite spots. We continued north along the group on the west side for protection from the trades and stopped at various spots. There were some spots (caves and grottos) that we wanted to go to but couldn’t as the weather was against us.
Our next stop had to be Levuka on Ovalau – an island well down the east coast of Viti Levu – for – you guessed it – Customs. Once around the northern tip of the Yasawas, it was a heavy two day slog directly into the waves and 25 knots of wind. At the end of the first day, we put in to Yadua island for the night. We had a pleasant evening with Chris, a UN worker who was traveling the world on his boat and had spent a lot of time in Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Good stories over rum and cokes.
The next day was more slogging. The entrance to Levuka is a very narrow reef passage marked by two markers on either tip – one was missing. As an aside, you can’t rely on lights and markers here – they are frequently gone or are not operational. The other guiding feature was an unusual range – align the church steeple with an inverted triangle on the hillside behind. Good enough, except that the hillside marker was very difficult to see. The harbor itself is was completely exposed to the prevailing winds and there was a lot of surge over the reef. The only anchorage put you on a lee shore.
We deployed the dink and Steve wnet to deal with Officialdom, Deb went to get a quick look at the town which has a distinctly British feel to it while I watched the boat. Then it was back on board, hoist the dink and make ready for sea in the event we had to make a hasty departure.
The flopper stoppers got a severe workout. You can see from this shot just how much water they displace when counteracting roll.
The next morning at first light we were showing Levuka our stern headed back north with the wind aft of the beam headed for Namena and better things.