Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mamanuca Islands Fiji and Kauai's North Shore

We have been fond of saying things like, “You are welcome to visit us, but you only get to choose the place OR the date, not both.” Our cruising style firmly requires not to have any set dates, because they tend to create a lot of stress when trying to keep to them amid constantly changing weather. Of course cyclone (hurricane for you northern hemi dwellers) season is one of those dates that is not too flexible, at least it is a month long target. However, there is always an exception to the rule and we found ourselves committed to be in Nadi, Fiji to catch a flight to a close friends wedding on 4 October 2012 (Chris as groomsman for a close undergraduate friend, Matt Gehrke). Since we bought the tickets while in Samoa, our cruise track and timing decisions have been shadowed by a set date putting a bit of a squeeze on our time. So yet again, we continue to struggle with not having enough time to explore as in depth as we would like. Realistically though, if we want to keep our goal of reaching Australia this season, it has been important to keep pushing, and we realize that we have been amazingly lucky to fit in as much as we have. Several times thus far in Fiji, we have both felt the Universe aligning for us allowing safe weather passage, more time than we thought in several areas, catching up with some super fun fellow cruisers, and yes, even making our pre-chosen flight date. We are so grateful for everything we were able to do and see and recently have felt like some guardian angel was helping to align moon, stars, and planets to allow us to see and do so much.

Our trip to Hawaii, though difficult to arrange and expensive, was marvelous and totally worth it! Admittedly it was a whirlwind and we didn’t fit as much in as we had hoped (such as daily yoga, visiting yoga friends in Kapaa or visiting our frequently utilized HAM station that is based there), but it was truly special to be able to part of Matt and Carmen’s beautiful Kauai wedding, and Shawn even caught the bouquet. Of course Chris caught some great Hawaii surf with Matt and all the fun surf friends that showed up from far corners of the world for the wedding. In addition, besides Shawn finally succumbing to a cold, as we laid over in Honolulu we were able to visit Chris’ grandmother and his father Dave, mail 2 boxes of our collected souvenirs back to the mainland, as well as drop a package full of gifts for folks on Fanning Island off at the Kwai (it showed up when we were down there and is headed back again in the next few months). Shawn even managed to fit in a Bikram Yoga class the day before we flew back to Nadi, Fiji.


It sure takes a lot less time to fly from Fiji to Hawaii than to sail from Hawaii to Fiji- 12-hrs and you get a day back versus 6 months and so many unique irreplaceable experiences! Of course, we also lost the day again flying back across the date line. And we were actually lucky to be let back into Fiji, because apparently we were supposed to visit immigration before we left to get permission to come back in with what they consider a one-way ticket. It is so hard to follow all the rules and we really do try. Regardless, they allowed us back in and Tao was fine after her 10-day rest. We flew in just a few days after a beautiful weather window for heading west (which both Convivia and Britannia took to Vanuatu), so we gladly resigned ourselves to enjoy a little bit more of Fiji while awaiting the next window. We spent the next 4-days at Vuda Marina recovering from our vacation from our cruising lifestyle as well as preparing the boat by implementing some sewing projects (including Drifter and weather cloth repair and making a tiller cover), filling propane, and adding diesel for the first time since we left Hawaii in May (only 15-gallons!).

Saturday 20 October we motored out of Vuda, Chris wrestling with our “drunken” autopilot Captain Tilly, and then had a nice upwind sail approximately 10-nm SW to Musket Cove in Malolo Island, during which Chris played with his new GoPro camera and Shawn somehow managed to get quite sunburned in an overcast but summer Fiji day. A week quickly passed by in the safe anchorage, packed with at least 30 boats each night. We met several fun people, talked to other cruisers that also await weather windows (many toward NZ), went to BBQ’s on shore, and generally enjoyed the safety of the deep anchorage as a low pressure system passed south of Fiji. One day, we even adventured in Tao out of the reefy protection to Namotu Island at the outer edge of Viti Levu’s reefs, where Chris surfed a small swell and we both enjoyed some clear water snorkeling. Unfortunately, winds picked up to make the anchorage a lee shore and we had to make haste out of there in the early afternoon back to Musket Cove, but a few days later Chris was invited to dinghy over again for some more stellar surf. 

After spending a few nights anchored in a bit shallower (37-ft versus 58-ft) “secret spot” that Chris found after rowing around in Fatty, we grabbed a mooring for a few days in hopes of being able to check out with a group bound for NZ. We took the opportunity to deep clean Tao and remove Rocky in preparation for offshore passage. Unfortunately the outer island checkout fell through for our time-frame, so we reattached the anchor and sailed 20-nm downwind to Lautoka to formally check out of Fiji on our own schedule, during Fiji business hours of course. Although we would love to visit all of our friends in Vanuatu, we feel the need to make westward tracks to stay ahead of cyclone season. So far the weather window looks great for the approximately week long passage from Fiji to New Caledonia. If the weather window closes, we’ll have the option to duck into Noumea for some protection. If the window stays open, however, though we would love to explore there as well, we may bypass New Caledonia and continue on to our goal for this season: Brisbane, Australia!

1 comment:

  1. Aloha guys - we're in Hanalei till 11/4, wish we'd had some overlap. Best 'o luck on the next passage!

    Bill & AMO