Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A short cruise in the Mamanucas

After getting several boat issues squared away, we decided to take a short cruise through the neighboring island group, the Mamanuca Islands. Sieg and Barb on Sorceress, along with their friend Chuck, joined us on the first leg. And I need to mention here that Chuck very kindly brought us some boat parts from the US, which really helped us to get out of the marina. The Mamanucas are one of the most intensely touristic parts of Fiji, but it is still relatively pristine compared to most parts of the world. The resorts are small and low-key. Our first stop was Musket Cove, on Malolo Lailai Island. The anchorage is protected but the water is 20m deep, so we picked up a mooring instead of dropping the hook. For about US$10, we became members of the Musket Cove Yacht Club, which entitled us to shoreside privileges such as showers and use of the resort's salt water pool. We enjoyed walking around the island every morning, a peaceful change from our morning walk at Vuda. Along with a number of fine homes, we came across this pretty chapel on the hill overlooking the resort. After riding out a 40-knot windstorm, it was time to move on. Sorceress headed east, bound for Savusavu. It might be the last time we see her. But Inca soon arrived, with Aaron and his two new crewmates, Ali and James. We made a plan to cruise north in company with them. Our first destination was only a short ways away, the small lagoon at Mana Island, which was well protected from swell, but wide open to the wind, still blowing pretty strong after the previous low pressure system of a few days ago. Vicki did a great job conning us through the winding passage through the reef. We dinghied ashore and explored the resort. Vicki even won some money playing bingo at poolside. The next day we had a nice sail north to Navadra. There was enough wind that we only needed our genoa. We managed to stay ahead of Inca until she raised her mizzen. She is a fine looking 58-footer, designed by Gary Mull. Navadra is my new favorite anchorage in Fiji. Of course we were lucky in that prevailing weather made for a calm anchorage. We've talked to others who have not had very good conditions there. But it is one of the few uninhabited islands we've seen with decent protection, beautiful beaches, and excellent snorkeling. In hindsight, we should have stayed longer at Navadra. But we elected to head north to the southernmost island in the Yasawas, Waya. While it has a beautiful skyline, somewhat reminiscent of the Marquesas, we found the anchorage to be rolly in these conditions. A stern hook gave us a good night's sleep, but we were more than ready to leave the next day at first light. Unfortunately, the winds were still blowing hard from the south, so we had a pretty tough beat for the first few hours, until we came into the lee of Viti Levu, at which point the winds died and we motored the rest of the way to Saweni Bay. This is a peaceful anchorage under most conditions, and we stayed 2 nights here. While the cows enjoyed walking the beach, we enjoyed walking the nearby country roads. The second day, we were happy to see David, Angelina, and Natalie steam into the anchorage on La Fiesta. We had met them briefly in Mexico, and again in Moorea in 2012. David kindly helped me sort out a few of the boat issues that were still unresolved. He tore down the autopilot gearbox, cleaned and greased the gears, and got it all back together and working. Nevertheless, we have a few more boat issues to address, so now we have returned to Vuda Point, where we will get the boat ready for passage to New Cal and on to Australia. We may still fit in a few more short cruises before then, as we will probably not leave Fiji for at least a month.


Cathy Ellis said...

Howdy amigos....gosh , such great photos....and your tropical adventures are so cool to enjoy while sitting in my hammock, here on temperate Orcas Island! Now that i know that this is your last tropical cruising on SV Southern Cross, i wish i had made the effort this season to join you... but too much to do here, carefree fun and not carefree chores....

See you in September, love Cathy

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark and Vicki! It's great to read your blog and catch up on your trip! It sounds like it has been a wonderful trip...and it is great to vicariously experience it through your pictures and notes. I'm sad to see that you are selling Southern Cross, but understand the desire for new chapters in life. We have been deep in the middle of life on land, but still visit the boat for cocoa and short sails. We hope to catch up in person when you are back in town! In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your trip!
Nancy and Cory