After a couple nights on a mooring at Port Denarau, we got our raw water pump fixed. It was not expensive, only an hour’s labour and some parts, and they returned it in “like-new” condition.
After Monty got the pump reinstalled and checked that everything was working again, we had time for some shore chores. We bought bus passes to Nadi Town for $1.11pp FD and jumped on the first yellow bus. Unfortunately, it was not the express bus but the milk run, going down all the back roads (some dirt) and stopping at every little hamlet on the way. It had to back up to negotiate some stops. It felt like it took an hour (a taxi takes 20 minutes). We were starving when we arrived and made a beeline for a familiar Sentai Seafood Restaurant for a late lunch. We rushed around the familiar well-stocked produce market in Nadi to provision for the next week. We decided we could afford a $15 taxi ride back to Port Denarau, which included a stop at an excellent butcher (new find for us). We also managed to do several loads of laundry and get hair cuts, the first opportunity since NZ four months ago.
The Port Denarau Marina is extremely busy this year. They have steady business from the tourist boats and cruise ships that ply the Fijian waters. The marina is chock-a-block with super yachts. New comers to the docks are six new 20m Lagoon Catamarans and a 20m Beneteau belonging to Meridian Adventures, a private club. Though the marina has been designated an official port of entry, there seem to be few dock vacancies for visiting cruising yachts like ours now.
Steve, from sister boat Blue Summit, joined us for a few dinners out. His wife, Kate, was away in the States for couple weeks. She kindly offered to bring back a few parts for us, which is always appreciated!
Our mooring reservation was only for two nights so we had to move on. Thankfully, we had been able to knock off most of the jobs on our to-do list. It would have been nice to have been able to get on the dock and wash the boat, but we will try to do that another time.
We motor-sailed the 13 miles over to Musket Cove, again no wind or on the nose. We spent almost a week there, doing some kiting and socializing with our kiting friends on S/Y Fusio and S/Y Mustang Sally. We ran into several other familiar boats. It was fun to go ashore for a beer, but it was quite cool in the evenings, especially when the wind was blowing.
The calm conditions encouraged us to join Fusio at the outer reef for a day. Warwick and Lanie met us in their dinghy and lead us to a safe anchoring spot in 4m of water. The water was crystal clear. Our surfing friends would have liked that spot!
Monty took the opportunity to give the hull a good cleaning, the first time since leaving NZ four months ago. The hull was in pretty good shape with mostly soft growth and a few small barnacles that came off easily with a scraper.
Our friends on Mustang Sally were heading off to Vanuatu and Fusio was heading to New Caledonia. Both sounded like wonderful options, and it would be super fun to have their company. However, we have plans to sail back to NZ in mid-October so our time to explore and experience either country would be pretty short. We studied the weather forecasts for days trying to decide what to do. Nananu-I-Cake was predicted to be windy later in the week, so we decided to return, making a pit stop for more provisions in Port Denarau.
It had been a smokey night anchored off Port Denarau. We kept the deck hatches and most of our port lights closed overnight to keep the ash out. At 7am, we left the anchorage and headed north. Hopefully better air quality ahead!
Off the mouth of the Ba River, a large scale operation in process. We weren’t quite sure what was going on, but numerous big ships, floats and this large complex were engaged. It is likely a project to alleviate the problem of deadly flash floods that have hit the town of Ba in recent years.
The wind was on the nose for half the 60-mile trip, but gradually dropped as predicted. We enjoyed some nice views along the way, especially when the seas were mirror-calm.
Another memorable sunset with such calm waters.
Monty, being a creature of habit, wanted to anchor in our old spot close to Kite Point. I voted for an anchorage where we could see the sun set on the horizon, but the skipper won this one. Darkness was upon us but no other boats were nearby so it was pretty easy.
Monty prepared a quick pasta dinner with Italian sausages from the new butcher and some long-sought-after basil. (Basil has been very hard to find in Fiji!). As we dined, a huge cane fire provided the sound and light show for the evening. Note the lights of a house on the right!
It was quite the fire! Luckily the wind blew the smoke away from our boat that night!
We just heard from Fiji Immigration that our application to extend our visas for two more months had been approved. Glad we applied early as the process took 20 days! “Fiji Time” as they say! To celebrate, we replaced our courtesy flag, the third flag in four months!