We hung around Savusavu for 6 days. The New World supermarket had just opened and though prices were not much different from the M&H, we found some items we had not previously found in Fiji. Funny how something like Table Water Crackers can get you excited! We bought some chicken wings that looked nice and had a wing night on the boat. We had learned a few things from our previous trip and tried to improve on how we provisioned. We bought more vegetables and fruit and restocked our beer and wine supply. No need to buy fish.
We pondered our next destination, south to the Lau Group or west to the Yasawas? The weather forecast was setting up for a nice sail south with a north-easterly. We caught up on emails and waited for a weather window to move.
We met up with Steve and Michelle on Citrus Tart. They were heading to Fulaga (pronounced “Fulanga”) in the Southern Lau Group, about 180 miles south east. Bob and Joyce on Chara had mentioned they were going there, leaving from Paradise Resort on the next window. The planned departure date sounded like Friday, August 7th. It would be nice to have company on such a leg, so we decided on Fulaga.
With permission from the Copra Shed Marina, we moved the boat to the “fuel dock” for the night before heading out. Monty topped up the fuel tanks with the jerry cans of diesel delivered by the gas station. Monty walked back to borrow a hose from Waitui Marina as our hose has the wrong fittings for the Fiji taps. As the water in Savusavu harbour is not the cleanest, it was nice that we could get our water tanks full with tap water.
Steve and Michelle warned us to be careful about leaving the boat, as there had been a break-in a few weeks before. So we locked the boat when we left for dinner. We intended on joining other cruisers for an Indian curry dinner at the Waitui Marina but, when we arrived at 645, the little restaurant was packed and the buffet table only had a few scraps left. We headed back to the Copra Shed and had dinner at the small cafe where we could keep an eye on the boat.
Monty noted earlier in the evening that there was a hot spring venting under the fuel dock. Wow, was it hot on the boat overnight!
We headed out at 0600 and weaved through the boats in the harbour with Monty on the bow. It was still quite dark. As we passed Cousteau Resort, we saw that Citrus Tart had already left. We spotted her mast rounding the point. We raised the sails and headed southeast at 130 degrees with a good easterly breeze.
At 0815 we had 2 strikes again! One got free and Monty brought in the other, a mahimahi again. Our fridge and freezer were full, so Monty decided not to fish any more not this leg.
We enjoyed a fairly fast overnight passage, making 8 knots much of day and night with a double reefed main and reefed jib. The waves were into us or abeam, and got up to 3 metres but it was not that uncomfortable. As we got closer to the Southern Lau in the wee hours of morning, the winds dropped and it started to rain. It was nice to have the rain wash some salt off the boat! We were not in a hurry, so we ran one engine to make some progress. We wanted to arrive at the pass at Fulaga around noon, at high water slack and the sun, if there was any, behind us.
We met up with Citrus Tart and Chara close to the island. The weather started to break a bit so Citrus Tart, who only draws 70cm, proceeded through the pass. They called us to say it was not that difficult to see the reefs and the current was not strong. We circled with Chara for a half hour longer waiting for the tide to get a bit higher. They proceeded in and we followed a good distance back.
We slowly motored to the sand spit anchorage weaving around wave-eroded limestone islets. Coordinates had been radioed to Citrus Tart by their buddy boat, Sel Citron. Nice to be able to listen in on the VHF, like an old party line!
With Monty directing me from the bow, we worked our way to the spit anchorage. Eyes on the bow and visibility are critical here because the charts are often wrong. We had OpenCPN and google earth charts on the laptop at the navstation, but I had to stay at the helm and respond to what Monty told me to do. What I had in front of me on the screen showed us sailing over an islet which was kind of scary! Monty looked back at me and said, “Trust me, I am a trained professional!”
We all dropped our hooks in the large bay next to a long sandy beach with eroded limestone islets surrounding the lagoon. Our boats were surrounded by a long sand beach, palm trees and limestone islets!
We had a little celebration of our first overnight passage with just the two of us on board and then had a nap!