June 18, 2015
It has been stormy in Savusavu since our arrival 4 days ago. aWe had a heavy rain storm one night. Monty was just too tired to go out in the dark and hook up the hoses to fill the tanks. Monty had been busy much of the day cleaning the salt off the decks and cabin top but he was too tired to get the hoses hooked up to fill our water tanks with the runoff. One boat said they took on 300 gallons overnight. We will be ready for the next storm. That is the best way to fill your tanks. Dock space for yachts has been very limited this week, with the US Naval Hospital Ship “Mercy” in town. Fortunately, we have a watermaker and have not used much fuel.
Mercy, with her crew of 850 personnel, provides free medical services to the island residents as she does her 4-month tour of the Pacific. They perform screenings and operations. We have noted many people walking by with bandages or being pushed in wheelchairs.
It is a very big ship for such a small town, but great for those needing medical care and for the local restaurants and bars. We gave up trying to go out for dinner as the restaurants were slammed.
She pulls out tomorrow, headed for Papua New Guinea. The crew have been advised to enjoy their shore leave in Savusavu, as they may not be able to leave the ship in PNG, for safety reasons.
Curly, a New Zealander who has been here for 20+ years, runs a VHF net every morning for the cruisers, welcoming new arrivals, checking for cruisers needing medical care or boat services, covering weather forecasts and a brief synopsis of international news. On Sundays, he offers a 3-hour presentation on cruising in Fiji. He suggests itineraries, advice on weather and navigating Fijian waters, suggested anchorages and waypoints, fishing, information on how to deal with Fijian culture on the islands, etc. We are looking forward to attending.
Over the past several days, we have been visiting with our friends on Chara (Seattle), A-Train (Tsawwassen) and Spirare (Montreal). There are lots of American, Aussie, NZ and European boats in town.
We had Bob and Joyce from Chara over for a sundowner a few nights ago and they came toting their own drinks, cheese and crackers, which seems to be fairly common protocol. Cruisers are a very considerate lot!
Yesterday, it was calmer and not raining in the morning, so we motored out in the bay to charge the batteries, make some water and try fishing. We had no luck catching anything, though something struck the line and bit right through the squid on the lure. Our lures are rusty so we are going to see Curly, also the resident expert on fishing lures, about some new ones.
As recommended by the marina manager, we tied a float on the mooring to show that it was taken. Good thing, because we heard on the VHF a 54ft Amel inquiring if they could take it while we were out. We like our spot between Spirare and The Rose, near the entrance, though we have to listen to loud music from a nightclub and barking dogs at night. The harbour is quite busy and most moorings are taken. A rotation of cruising rallies (World ARC and the ICA) have been coming through. It is the start of the busy season here.
Upon our return to the harbour, the always-smiling, Fijian manager was waiting in his dinghy to secure our mooring lines. What service he gives his customers!
After Monty got the paddle boards inflated, we went for a short paddle up to the end of the harbour. The boards we brought from Canada work well.
He installed the kayak cradle up to hold them on the stanchions so they will be secure. The wind seems to pick up every evening so having them securely strapped down is critical.
We went to a traditional Fijian feast last night ($15Fijian, about $10Cdn) at the wee marina restaurant. The meal was disappointing compared to an Indian meal we had there, for less money, but it was an experience not to be missed with our cruising friends. A local Fijian played the guitar, but the singer didn’t show. It was interesting to note that the family of the restaurant staff ate too, but did not start until all the guests had had their fill (and seconds) at the buffet table.
We were gradually getting acquainted with Savusavu. A festival started, to celebrate “CRIME PREVENTION WEEK”. Our friends on Spirare told us we missed a lively parade with a band playing from one end of town to the other. Unfortunately, we were out in the bay at the time. There is real old style carnival set up in the school yard with an ancient ferris wheel, food stalls, a stage, etc. It reminded of the weeks I spent at the exhibitions as a child. We plan to check it out. Last night we heard lots of popular music coming from the festival stage, though it was somewhat drowned out by the incredible windstorm. So glad to be on a mooring and not anchored! Still blowing 30+ today.
At some point, we plan to take a bus to Labasa, the big town on the north side of the island. Labasa is on the dry side, has a sugar cane mill, Indian shops and a large Hindu “Snake Temple”. On the way, it looks like you drive through a national forest and can visit a waterfall. The $7Fijian bus ride takes 3 hours on the old bus and 2 hours on the new bus. We are recommended to take the old bus at least one way, for the experience. It makes many stops and fills up with school kids who may end up sitting on your knee.
This morning, Chara motored by us on their way out, headed for Koro Island about 30nm south. I don’t envy them. Seas will be very rough with winds up to 40 knots. They wanted to show their daughter around during her visit.
Sergio from Spirare has offered to help us with our SSB radio. He tried to help us in NZ, but we were too busy with various trades working on the boat and Monty’s work computer would not work. Fingers crossed that we can get it happening this time with the new PC and more ferrites on the cables. It worked well enough to send and receive an email in NZ , but we have not had good reception since.
Monty is actually napping (how about that!) after a windy restless night and I am reading guide books to plan the next adventure.
We thank Christian, the former owner, for leaving us his guide books on anchorages in Fiji and the South Pacific and large Ikea bag that makes taking clothes to the laundry easier!
More on Savusavu soon!