VANUA LEVU AND TAVEUNI  (con't)                                                


Viani Bay is a large bay situated at the south-eastern end of Vanua Levu. There is a plantation at the head of the bay where Jack Fisher, the owner of the area, lives.

August 16, 2005
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at Viani Bay and just as we were trying to anchor the rain poured down, making visibility impossible. As soon as we backed down on our anchor we knew were were in coral.

We took the dinghy to shore to find Jack Fisher, who has befriended yachties for years and provides all sorts of services to cruisers. We found him hard at work, clearing some property but he immediately stopped what he was doing to visit with us. We gave him some kava and he loaded us up with papaya and banana.

We met the other people in the anchorage including a New Zealand couple on Ylva, whose names were Vicky and Chris (yes, a strange co-incidental combination of names, but ones we will not forget).

Since Vicky and Chris were extremely experienced divers they offered to team up with Gord on a dive, accompanied by Jack Fisher, who would show us the location of the sights.
August 17, 2005
Diving the Rainbow Reef
Jack rowed out to the boats bright and early and we decided to all take Ylva out to the reef and pull our 3 dinghies behind. Jack brought his nieces with him, Tiara age 7 and Lydia, age 8. They were such cute little girls and very well behaved as we motored out toward the infamous 32km long Rainbow Reef. There are many dive sights on Rainbow Reef and we were making the "White Wall" and the "Purple Wall" our eventual destination.

I must say it was somewhat nerve-racking anchoring the yacht so close to the pounding reef and we were glad we hadn't taken our boat. Once secure, we got in our dinghies and motored to the outside of the reef. Gord, Vicky and Chris got their gear on and jumped in disappearing below the surface. Lydia, Tiara and I snorkeled but the shelf was uninteresting.

The strong current made the dive unsuitable for a beginner but proved to be a wonderful adventure for Gord, Vicky and Chris, all very experienced divers. The Purple Wall displayed an array of soft and hard coral, all shades of purple. After swimming through a cave, they immerged onto the Great White Wall finishing their tank of air.

Vicky and Chris have 5 tanks on board and generously agreed to give Gord one of their tanks so they could all go on another dive. This time we took Ylva around to the outside of the reef and anchored on a sandbar. The dive was on a point, and turtles, a huge array of fish and a gigantic shark were spotted.

After we returned to the anchorage, Jack helped us to unwrap our chain from around the coral bombies and we tied up to a mooring ball in front of Jack's house.



August 18, 2005
We awoke to pouring rain, the anchorage pretty much socked in so thought that we would cancel our plans to take Ascension to Taveuni with Jack. We had agreed that he would come with us across the straight and watch our boat and dinghy while we boarded the bus to the Waterfalls.

However, 7 am, there was Jack in his little boat with Tiara and Lydia, all set to go! He was optimistic that the rain would stop soon. We motored across the channel, Jack (pictured right) knowing exactly where the track through the reefs were. It was still drizzling when we approached Taveiuni but our spirits were lifted when a group of dolphins escorted us into the bay, jumping and showing off for us.

Riding the local bus
We got anchored and took the dinghy ashore in time to board the local bus which had open sides protected with just a flap of canvas to keep the rain out. Lydia and Tiara sat in front of us and gave us lots of information about Fiji along the way.

We suffered a very jarring ride as the bus bounced over the continuous series of humps preceding every village we came to. Locals got on and off the bus and we were the only non-Fijians for most of the ride.

Almost 2 hours later we arrived at Bouma Park Visitors Centre where we parted with $8 each and prepared to hike through the intermittent drizzle. The girls enthusiasm made it all okay though and after about 15 minutes walking down a lovely manicured path, we reached the first waterfall.

Two beautiful Waterfalls
The waterfall cascaded about 24m forming a natural swimming pool of clear water at the base. Tiara was immediately ready to jump in but we than decided to continue to the next waterfall first and return later for a swim.
It was quite a climb up a never ending flight of steps through the rainforest, crossing a river (with the aid of a rope), and continuing about 1 hour to the second waterfall. Along the way we took a lunch break. At the second waterfall, we took a break sitting on the slippery rocks and enjoyed the scenery.


Returning to the first waterfall, the girls eagerly jumped into the icy water but Gord and I decided it was too cold for us. We were content just to watch them having such a good time.

By the time we boarded the bus to return to the boat, Lydia and Tiara were our best friends. Tiara had lost her father the previous year to a shark attack right in the bay that our boat was anchored in Taveuni. She decided that she should sit with Gord and snuggled up close. It was not long before she was sound asleep under his arm. We had very unusual looks from the Fijian women on the bus, who suddenly became overly friendly with conversation.

Local kids wave goodbye to our bus

Our timing was great because the rain came down in torrents almost as soon as we boarded the bus. At one point we were not sure if the bus would make it back as it slipped and slid along the muddy road. When we returned, Jack was waiting for us and we headed back to Ascension.

Fish for Everyone
Jack wanted us to fish but our usual squid-type lure was so worn out that it only had 2 threads of skirting left on it. Jack insisted that we use one of our Rapala lures that we had not tried since Mexico (unsuccessfully). We no sooner had it out when a beautiful Waloo hit. Once we brought him in, we put the line back out, only to catch a tuna a short while later! 

We have decided that this is a magic lure and will continue to use it for sure.

Back in the anchorage, we divided the fish amongst Jack and Ylva and all had a great fish feast that night for dinner.

August 20
Visiting the Dive Resort
We took the dinghy around the point to a tiny dive resort that could fill Gord's tank. While waiting for the tank, we walked along the beach there, returning to the resort just before the sky opened up and there was a major downpour. We had a drink and met the owners and other visitors staying at the resort. By the time we finally left though, the wind had picked up and the sea was extremely unsettled. We had the roughest, wettest, coldest dinghy ride back to the boat that we had ever had. It took a very long time to get warmed up and dry everything out after we got back.

That evening we had a great fish dinner on Ylva accompanied by curried pumpkin, roti and salad.


August 21
We headed out of Viani Bay behind Ylva. The wind right in our nose AGAIN!! The sun was shining so it was easy to see the reefs but we were unable to make any kind of a sail angle until we were way offshore.

We motor-sailed and made excellent time and caught a Mauimaui as a bonus. A big thrill was a visit from the Pilot Whales again. We also caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a humpback whale in the distance.

We contacted Magmel in the Suvasuva anchorage and found out that there were no mooring balls available so we chose to anchor about 4 miles out in front of the Cousteau Resort. Just as we were preparing the anchor there was a horrid smell, smoke came billowing out of the cabin and the engine ceased. We were drifting toward another boat but did manage to get the anchor down in time.

Investigation revealed that a bearing in the alternator had gone and cooked the alternator, stopping the engine. We did have a spare and Gord changed the part before it got too dark.

August 22
Made the 4 mile dinghy ride to Savusavu loaded with laundry, empty propane tanks, the burnt out alternator and a very long grocery list. Once our chores were done, we spent the evening with Endless and Magmel over Happy Hour at the Copra Shed (beer $1.80) then headed back in the blackness to our anchorage. Luckily Ylva had put a garden light on our boat for us and Billabong, who had just arrived kept an eye out for us.

Aug 24
Ascension wine in Ascension wine glasses on Ascension
After another dingy ride to town to check out, do some last minute chores, and pick up the alternator rebuilt for a spare, Chris & KT from Billabong came over for supper of fish, green papaya. They brought Ascension wine which we drank from the Ascension wine glasses they had given us in NZ (they came from Ascension Winery).
Aug 25, 2005
Snorkeled with Endless, Freya and Billabong. We were joined by Island Sonata who had pulled into the anchorage with Camira. It was sad farewells as Freya was heading back to Canada, Billabong, Island Sonata and Camira were heading north to the Marshall Islands.


Aug 26
Another lumpy upwind ride from Cousteau to Makogai. Wind up the nose, AGAIN. We have decided that everywhere in Fiji is upwind. You could circumnavigate an island and it would be upwind all the way around. Hoping for a clock or wind shift someday soon to put the tradewinds back on track.

We anchored near the village,  the site of an old Leper Hospital but transformed to a research station in 1979. There were ruminants of the hospital, outbuildings, church and homes that once supported over 6000 people infected with leprosy.

Aug 27
RAIN, rain, rain in Makogai Bay. Confined to boat for the day.

August 28, 2005
There was a knock on the boat in the early morn. It was Ylva out for a paddle. They were anchored around the corner in front of the village and with the promise of calmer waters we moved the boats.

We soon found the chief and presented our kava. The men blessed the root and then the chief showed us around the aquaculture operation that raises clams and turtles for release back into the wild.

Workers at the research station. Note the size of the giant clams they raise.

Turtle Reserve
A young boy shows us a 2 year old Leatherback Turtle that doesn't want to be released into the sea as he keeps finding his way back to the pen. Donna holds a 2 weeks old baby.


Touring the Leper Colony
Since it was too late to walk all the way to the neighboring village, the chief offered to guide us part way and show us the leper colony on the way. it
was a really interesting walk through abandoned buildings that were the homes for lepers from all parts of the Pacific including New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, etc. They had a very functional community with water ducts, crops, and power.


Marv plays Tarzan and swings from the vines of a Banyan Tree.

Next day we all left the anchorage and headed for Naigani Island about a 5 hour sail away.


August 30, 2005
Sacred Bay
Despite a very windy passage with rough seas, we were able to sail the 20 miles to Naigani Island where we anchored in a pretty little bay. Since there were locals on shore fishing, we decided to seek permission to anchor. We met "Manoa" on shore who advised us that we were in a sacred bay. Because of it is habitat for thousands of small fish that swim the shoreline attracting Travali, the bay is offlimits to everyone, including other Fijians.

The traditional Kava Ceremony
We were led down a trail to the village about 20 minutes walk. We found the chief amidst a circle of local men obviously already into the kava. We presented our yaquona and thought we were going to get out of Fiji without having to partake in an actual sevusevu. But they insisted that we could not leave until the ceremony was completed.

I watched in horror as the chief mixed up a new batch of kava by squeezing the powder out of an old rag with his hands submersed in the muddy water. It was thoroughly disgusting. Then he dipped a common coconut shell into the skank and Marv had the first offering. You must clap once, then down the mixture completely. The men shout "Bula" and the chief dunks the coconut husk into the kava bowl for another helping. Gord was next, then Donna and finally my turn. 


Fuzzy lips!!!!

I asked for "low tide" which means 'not too much.' I clapped my hands, closed my eyes and downed the retched stuff. I could feel my lips go numb but that didn't help to eliminate the horrid taste not unlike what I would imagine dirty dishwater to taste like. I thought that would be the end of it but NO. We were advised that we could not get permission to anchor in the sacred bay, even for the night until we had another round.

Afterward, we were taken to visit the local craftsman who hand makes bowls for "Jacks Handicrafts" a huge outlet of Fijian high end crafts for tourists. He stopped his work to talk to us and unfortunately did not have any completed items on hand as he had just taken his stock to the resort.

He showed us the pathway to the resort and we took a walk through the jungle, escorted by a dog from the village. We soon reached the small isolated resort and wondered around the grounds before heading back to the boat.

August 31
More Goodbyes
Arrived back in Nana-i-Ra with Endless and Ylva. Reunion with Babalona and Freebird and fond farewells. Babalona will remain in Fiji and Freebird is headed to the Marshall Islands.

Sept 1
Endless remained in Nanau-I-Ra to do some repairs and we headed on the inside passage back to Lautoka. We anchored back in front of the sooty Sugar Mill which was convenient to provision and check-out.

We had planned to refuel and leave almost immediately but Gord came down with some sort of stomach sickness (maybe a result of the kava!) and the weekend was upon us, so our chores were postponed until Monday.

Sept 5, 2005

We checked out of Lautoka and left on passage for Vanuatu with Endless and Freefall. The conditions seemed favourable and we expected to be in Port Resolution, Tanna, in about 4 days.

Passage to Vanuatu
Our passage was a mixed bag of no wind to 30 knot wind, first SW, then SE, then NE then finally E. Lots of sail changes and combinations with our spinnaker finally giving us the best ride. It was a fast trip and we broke our daily run with a 170 nautical mile day as record by PAC NET. We actually probably sailed further as we had to jibe back and forth across the rum line because of the unfavorable wind direction.