After a wonderful time in Vanua Balavu, we sailed back to Savusavu. Though we had our lines out, we had no luck on the overnight passage. The harbour was very full but one of the marinas found us a mooring owned by the famous Curly, the fellow who runs the cruisers’ net and makes the lures we have been using.
We provisioned with meat, fruit and veggies. While in town, we met up with some other cruisers who were headed for a kite-boarding spot called Nananu-i-Thake on the north east corner of Viti Levu, Fiji’s “mainland”. Once we were out of the bay, we decided to head south to Makongai, about 50 miles southwest, to anchor for the night.
Ten miles out, a fish grabbed our lure. Monty raced over to put the brake on the reel, but he could not stop it from taking all our line to the end of the spool. Together, we tried to reel it in but, after a hard tug, the fish was gone with all our line! We have no idea what it was, but perhaps we were lucky we did not have to try to land it!
Monty was not deterred and rigged the rod with new line and another of Curly’s lures. We got a strike on the same rod. A bull mahimahi took a leap and off he went with another of our lures! It was a depressing day, if you can believe that happens out here!
We got to the anchorage by the former leper colony on Makongai around 330pm. It was obvious the community had been wiped out by Cyclone Winston in late February of this year. The homes and most of the structures had been blown away.
We put our dinghy in the water and went ashore to do our sevusevu, yagona bundle in hand. A man appeared from a building under construction near the shore. He and others had been working on restoring the giant clam hatchery facilities which had been destroyed. We all sat cross-legged while he did a short Fijian sevusevu ceremony and we were free to use the anchorage.
On our way back to the boat, we said hello to Ian and Wendy on Outsider Australia. They had spent the last 3 months coordinating the restoration of the community and getting the word out to New Zealanders and Australians to come and help with the many construction projects. A few days earlier, the island had celebrated the opening of a new school built by the volunteers.
We left early the next morning taking a route west recommended by Ian. He told us they had done it a dozen times in all conditions. It cut off several miles from the standard route, saving us a good hour. They left just ahead of us so we put a tracker on their boat using AIS and OpenCPN. We kept within a couple miles of them and, with the good visibility we had that day, it was pretty easy.
Another reason to take this route was the fishing. We first caught a small yellow fin tuna, then a Spanish Mackerel and, lastly, a shark mackerel.
When we reached Nananu-i-Thake, Monty served up a beautiful display of 3 different kinds of sushi, ceviche and seared tuna.