Back to Chewink in FijiPosted: April 17, 2002
April 17, 2002 -- Back in Fiji!
We returned to Fiji just as the rainy season ended -- we hoped. The sailing season in the South Pacific is often better during the hurricane months of December to April. During the height of the southern winter (July, August) the winds can get quite strong and the weather a bit nasty as the strong highs and frontal systems swing off of Australia and make things uncomfortable as they sweep across the Southern Pacific. However, the hurricane season is very hot and rainy so the interim months as the seasons change is, in my opinion, the best time to cruise.
May 3, 2002
After two weeks of commissioning CHEWINK we motored to windward staying inside the extensive reefs in Bligh Waters and returned to Savu Savu, perhaps our favorite port in Fiji. There is a great open-air public markets with a lot of Indian influence thereby insuring we can regularly get items like tomatoes and lettuce -- something the Fijians do not eat. Fresh veggies, good seafood, and plenty of New Zealand ice cream - life can be good in Fiji. We did some catching up with boat chores here while we waited for RENEGADE and ALDEBARAN to arrive from New Zealand. We had not seen them since Tonga and were looking forward to seeing them.
June 1, 2002
With the boat up and running and the arrival of the New Zealand contingent we headed East to Viani Bay and spent the next month exploring the Northeast corner of Fiji -the rainiest part of this island group but the most interesting. Viani Bay, a large and well-protected harbor, is a destination for cruisers who have compressors aboard and really like to dive because this is where Jack Fisher lives. He is well known because he will ride in our dinghy to the reef and drop us in the water in the correct spot (2 miles offshore) and wait in our dinghy until we come up. He often tows several dinghies as we all dive and in over two dozen dives with him I never found him to be more than 50 feet away. We ate at his house, hiked with him, and talked a lot. There are two South Pacific Characters who have stood out amongst all others -Manihi in Fakarava (Tuamotus) and Jack in Viani Bay. Our friends caught up to us as we wandered east to the islands of Qamea and Laucala. Qamea is an incredible rugged island with three villages, no tourists, and a great harbor. Here we made friends with several families who took us hiking and diving over the period of four weeks. We had a lot of fun with this particular family and did a lot of activities with them, but occasionally had to move on to get some quiet time to ourselves. This can always be a danger in these cultures -they are so friendly that they tend to occupy your time almost too much. Fortunately, the island of Laucala is nearby. This is Malcolm Forbes' island and is spectacular. With the third largest airstrip in Fiji, many miles of roads and paths, and a lot of infrastructure, all on over 3000 acres this is an amazing place - all closed down except for a few caretakers. Luckily, they are friendly and let us walk ashore and generally wander around.
July 15, 2002
Back to Savu Savu where we tied CHEWINK to a mooring and returned to Maine for a family wedding for three weeks.
August 15, 2002
We finally made it to the Exploring Islands in the Lau Group. This is a beautiful collection of limestone islands with fjord like harbors. An amazing place very different than the rest of Fiji. It is a thrash to windward and the chiefs of this area do not like to give permission for the cruisers to be there, but it is a place well worth the effort to see. Luckily, the harbor is bullet proof with the high hills as the next three weeks of the high winds and rain kept us on the hiking trails. It became time to move to the West and find some better weather.
September 8, 2002
We have now begun to travel with an unruly group of cruisers on two interesting but different boats. DANCER, a 57' old Trip design built by Abeking and Rassmussen 36 years ago in superb shape and AQUILA, a Santa Cruz 52' also immaculately kept. With CHEWINK in tow they led us to several great dive sites. Scuba diving has become a major activity for us as we have lost the zeal to spear fish and really enjoy looking around. Most cruisers do not carry compressors, but it is a necessity if we are to dive in remote places and explore new terrain. Perhaps the most enjoyment is the other avid divers that you team up with. This year we were lucky to be with several different boats who were incredibly experienced and patient enough to let us tag along. Several of them have headed into the North Pacific Islands as the South Pacific reefs are bleached in most spots.
October 1, 2002
The western part of Fiji is a group of islands called the Yasawas. We had avoided these island because they are so touristy and windy - what a mistake on our part. These islands have some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. For a week were able to enjoy the incredible scenery and then the winds came back - it is not unusual for this part of Fiji to blow over 30 knots which combines with difficult navigation amongst the extensive reefs to seriously curtail much exploring by boat. As a result, we decided to drop down to Malolo Leilei, which is a gathering point for cruisers and re-bung the teak deck. After 16 years the bungs were wearing thin, but in general the decks are in great shape. (We now do not build teak decks with screws and bungs giving them much less maintenance.) All this is in preparation for our passage to New Zealand.
Nov 1, 2002 -- ready for another offshore trip?
Having not been offshore for over a year we girded up for the trip not realizing how rusty we are. Eric Urbahn and Chuck Steward flew in to join us giving us three circumnavigators and a North Pacific veteran aboard for the six day trip -- a bit of overkill, but we had a lot of fun together -- a good ingredient as we slogged to windward for 1100 miles. CHEWINK did her usual thing offshore -- fast passage, comfortable motion and few problems. I have not figured out how I can find so many things to worry about when she has carried us so well for 53,000 miles in safety.
Where to now?Previous Log Entry: Society Islands and Bastille Day!
Next Log Entry: New Zealand
Have questions or want to share experiences?
If you have questions about their voyaging, or would like to share similar experiences, email Cabot.
What is Cabot's Log?
The following log and pictures are from Cabot and Heidi aboard CHEWINK, their Lyman-Morse Seguin 49 which Cabot built in 1987 and has sailed more than 62,000 miles. The log follows them as they began their second circumnavigation in 2000 through their current adventures in the Caribbean.