Thursday, June 20, 2013

FIJI - Savusavu

As we left North Minerva Reef on June 16th with strong winds on the beam, we made for a fast day's sail under a double reef main, triple reef head, and storm staysail. The night was blustery with near gale force winds. Jordan was out on deck a few times through the night making minor sail adjustments and making sure everything was secure.

About 15 nautical miles from Savusavu (Fiji), we finally ran out of wind. We had been having a great sail right up till then. Around midnight, we dropped all sails to lay ahull so that we could enter the harbour safely during dawn's daylight. At 03:00, we started to slowly motor in, arriving at the mouth of the inner harbour at 05:15 June 20th where we drifted until the sun came up.

The harbour was small and there were about 40 boats there, most on mooring balls or at anchor. We tied up to a mooring ball at the Copra Shed Marina (S16°46.689' E179°20.033') at 07:15. The Marina arranged for the officials with their insouciant manner and schedule to come out to the boat for an easy check in.

The small town of Savusavu is located on Vanua Levu Island, the second most prominent of the 333 islands of tropical Fiji.

Fiji is predominantly populated by indigenous Fijians (mainly Melanesians and Polynesians) and Indo-Fijians. The Indo-Fijians came from India as indentured labourers in 1878 to work in the sugar cane fields. Today they are very much a part of the culture, and sari shops, temples, and curry houses are regular fixtures. Ethnic tensions still exist but are not visible to tourists. The government has experienced some upheaval here over the last few years with actual, yet mild coups.

Motley village architecture

Close to where we moored, we could see a wreck on the shoreline. There are a couple of stories making the circuit as to what happened to this boat. Were the folks aboard causing problems with the Fijians or did their propane tanks explode? The death of the couple is all very mysterious.

Tragedy in paradise

We were also close to hot showers, laundry facilities, and restaurants that made our dinghy ride the shortest yet. Many places served excellent and inexpensive curry dishes. We could also see the hot springs nearby...

Steam from the hot springs

One afternoon, we attended a talk given by a well-known sailor, Curly, who explained all the dangers of sailing around Fiji waters. The waters here are lousy with reefs and you should never sail at night except perhaps where the reefs are well marked (not very frequently though). There are usually a few boats lost each year and many others with stories of going on the reef but managing to extract themselves.

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