We decided to sail over to Port Denarau, on the mainland of Viti Levu. It had a big marina and excellent provisioning was available in Nadi, a short bus ride away.
Field Trip, a sister boat to ours, was at Port Denarau, anchored just outside the marina. I had emailed Mark about how the anchorage was and he had said good holding in 3 1/2 metres of mud. We ended up anchoring next to them in the bay.
We dinghied into the marina and visited the marina office. We asked about getting moorage or dock space at Port Denarau but it would have been several days to get anything.
We also found Victoria Wines. A well-stocked wine store, what a concept! In addition to some nice wines, Monty was able to get a case of his favourite, Fiji Bitter.
That evening, we invited Mark and Sarah from Field Trip to come over for a visit. Sarah brought along some mini-pizzas she and her daughter had made. It was great to have a conversation with other Antares owners. We had lots of questions for them and they stayed longer they should have, with their kids waiting for dinner on their boat. They were so knowledgable about cruising on the Antares, having been on their boat since 2011. It was like having Christian back. Anyway, Monty told me that he could not shut me up. I can get a bit wound up sometimes.
The next morning, we hooked up with Lisa and Fabio, (S/V Amandla) who we met snorkeling in Viani Bay. While there, they had given us valuable charts, Google Earth pictures and software for our navigation. We had stayed in touch by email and knew they were in Port Denarau getting some work done on their boat.
We went by bus together to Nadi (about 30 minutes) and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. We chatted about a number of cruising topics. They were going to Australia for the upcoming cyclone season. We enjoyed their company and hope to meet up again.
Then we hit the large covered public market to get the provisions we needed for a few weeks. There was a great variety of produce at excellent prices. We loaded up on tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, pineapple, you name it. We did not know our next destination, but after one very windy night at anchor, knew we did not want to stay in Port Denarau. This was the best market outside of Suva, the capital of Fiji. We loaded up.
On the way back to our boat, we saw Field Trip was on the dock. We stopped by. The couple from Sel Citron were visiting them. We chatted briefly, I took some pictures of their boat, arch and rigging. Mark offered us some advise about a few important matters including our arch, which holds our dinghy. He lent us a length of Dyneema rope to add support to the arch for the passage to New Zealand. They were so supportive and generous. We hope to hook up with them in New Zealand next season.
Denarau did not hold a draw for us on this occasion, especially anchoring out. If the wind comes from the wrong direction, it could get pretty uncomfortable in the anchorage. Denarau had many big resorts, some good restaurants, shops and a golf course. Its main appeal for us at this time was the ability to provision. Once we had stocked up, we wanted to move on.
Monty wanted to go back to Musket Cove and attend some of the Regatta activities, like a 3 mile paddle-board race. I thought the Yasawas would be a better place to spend some time before heading to New Zealand. The Blue Lagoon movie with Brooke Shields was filmed in the Yasawas. There is also another spot to swim with manta rays in the group. We also heard A-Train (a Canadian yacht) was up in the northern Yasawa Islands, and it would be fun to see Russ and Gwen again.
It was time to start looking at our timing for heading south to New Zealand. We figured we had 3 weeks to look for a weather window so that we could put the boat to bed and make the flights we had booked home. That day, we looked at the GRIBS (marine weather forecasts) and for the coming week, we saw a series of highs with no serious lows between Fiji and New Zealand. We decided to consult with a weather forecaster. We contacted two different weather routers. Both came back with negative remarks about the short term.
So it was decided that we would sail back to Musket Cove and anchor for a few nights. There would be lots to do with the regatta about to start. We could also dinghy out to the sand bar and go snorkelling or day anchor by the reef.
From Musket Cove, we could more easily head north to the Yasawas. We anchored at Musket Cove and Monty went to work on a support for the bench on the dinghy that had come un-glued.
We had some company in the anchorage.
We went into shore where I did another load of laundry. Monty waited at the bar and secured a stool for both of us. We met a few people and had a chat with some business representatives and a customs officer from Opua, New Zealand. They were in Musket Cove for the Regatta to promote coming to NZ for the upcoming cyclone season. Those connections might come in handy when we go there!