Monday, July 22, 2013

Savusavu

Six days in Savusavu flew by. This was probably our favorite South Pacific port so far, considering comfort at anchor, services available, attractions, and cost. The Copra Shed marina had nice restrooms, showers, laundry, dining and shopping, and the moorings were only about US$5 per night. They handled our customs clearance and cruising permit, and provided a wealth of information.
Dining was so reasonably priced that we ate out every night we were here, except when Sorceress shared some of their dorado with us. Our favorite restaurant served flavorful Indian curries and some Thai dishes. The shops in town were very entertaining - maze-like aisles packed with an unimaginable variety of goods. One time in a store labeled "fishing supplies" we glanced up to see a rack of coffins overhead!

Perhaps the biggest treat was finding that Internet and phone are as highly advanced as in Mexico, and even more cheaply priced. For less than US$50, we got an Internet dongle for the laptop, Sim cards for the tablet and phone, and enough data and minutes to last us a month. Even the most remote islands have cell service, and all towns and roads have 3G.
Fiji is famous among cruisers for dangerous and often poorly charted reefs. So we invested a few hours and dollars in Curly Carswell's chartmaking seminar. He has sailed here for over 40 years and had a lot of valuable advice. He is also a colorful character. I loved hearing him open the morning cruisers' net (VHF radio) with a hearty "good morning, Savusavu!"

Based on Curly's recommendations, one of the things we needed to stock up on was yaqona, the plant root that is used to make kava, a mildly intoxicating drink that is very popular among Fijians. Outsiders must present a gift of yaqona to the chief of any village they wish to visit; we cruisers need to do this in order to anchor, swim, or fish in the waters adjoining any village. So we went to the "Grog Shop" and had several kilograms of roots divided into gift packages. Here's a picture of yaqona roots at the public market.

We had missed touring the botanical garden in Tonga, due to inclement weather, so we were very happy to join some other cruisers for a tour of Flora Tropica, a collection centered around palm species from all over the world, and featuring some endangered palms from Fiji and elsewhere. Plants (and animals) endemic to small islands are at threat of extinction by invasive organisms brought in by humans, so operations like this one play an important role in preserving our biological heritage.
Jim, the owner, gave us a very interesting explanation of each plant - its unique properties and uses. Their forms were so varied, it was hard to believe that they were all part of the same plant family. The tour wound its way among some beautiful landscaping, and we worked our way up a hillside to a beautiful wooden deck with a sweeping view of Savusavu Bay.
Another day, we boarded a deluxe intercity bus, far nicer than any bus found in the US, for a ride to the Waisali Rainforest Preserve, about an hour away. Unfortunately there was no ranger present when we got there, so we led ourselves along the steep but well-built trail, descending into a gorge filled with lush vegetation. At the bottom, we had lunch by a rocky stream, then worked our way back uphill. As at the botanical garden, we were enthralled with the beauty and variety of the plants growing here, so different from home.
Luckily there was so much to do, because the winds and seas were too rough to venture out. Finally, though, we got a "weather window" and set out to see some of what Fiji has to offer.

1 comment:

Julie Mac said...

Great to come across your blog. I found it via the Ericson forum discussion about the possibilities of blue water sailing.

Your posts are wonderful, inspiring and the pics are gorgeous. Hard for me to imagine a journey the length of yours!

My partner and I are contemplating purchasing an 89' E38-200 Ericson. Your boat seems to have been treating you very well. You must still have faith in her having travelled so far? As for us, we plan on sailing her around the Great Lakes, and one day make it down to Florida and the Bahamas.

Any surprises about your boat, or your journey in general?