07 November 2016 (+12 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,
We checked out of Vuda Point, an hours journey north of Port Denerau, 5 days ago and slowly worked our way through the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands of Fiji. These are the two most Western groups of the chain and along with the Lau (most Eastern group) are the most remote. However, this is the area where most of the tourists who go further a field tend to visit; mostly by ferry. The trip is usually only several hours for the high speed boats and departs from Port Denerau. A few days before we left the main island of Viti Levu, we rented a car and drove 3 hours each way to Suva, the nations Capitol. Photos will indeed follow.

Our first stop after departing Vuda Point, was Musket Cove on Malololailai where we spent the night. Just before we left we caught up with friends Rijnhardt and Lisa Keets of “Enchanter” and Johnnie Sernberg of “Laros”. His lovely wife Debs is still back in Australia and will join him when he arrives in NZ in a month or so.
After our visit ashore as “party island” aka: Musket Cove, we left the next morning for the island of Monuriki which is where the film “Castaway” with Tom Hanks was made. We brought our own version of “Wilson” and took lots of photos. Yes, we will eventually post the photo blogs!

En route to our next stop, the island of Waya, we were stopped by Fijian Customs and Immigration who were on a small dive boat. They had been following us (apparently) all day! When they came aboard, they asked if we knew a “Mr. Bushman”, that would be Scott Bushman and was he aboard? We told them no and that no and that no one had been aboard since we left Vuda Point. They further said, that the someone at Musket Cove had reported that he had come aboard our boat! We told them in no uncertain terms that no one had come aboard our boat. They asked why we had stopped at Mana Island? We told them we hadn’t and showed them the track off our chart plotter which clearly showed that we had gone past Mana Island en route to Monuriki. We did however speak to some friends there on the radio (s/v Tactical Directions – Tony and Karen). I asked who Mr. Bushman was and was told that it was a matter of “National Interest”. Eventually, they seemed to think they were on a wild “Bushman” chase and departed, this after they thoroughly looked through the boat, our passports and papers. They went back toward Musket Cove and we continued en route to our next stop at Waya-Sewa where we spent the night. Glad they didn’t seem interested in where we were going, as technically, we’d checked out! The problem is, to see the “outer islands” and return to Vuda Point would be an extra 125 miles of travel and cost us two days. The Bushman story will just have to remain a mystery!

We next went up to the island of Nanuya-Sewa where I had departed Fiji from 5 years earlier with Anja Cierceski. Here, we met up with recent acquaintances Alan and Patricia off sailing cat, “Nauti Nauti” from Wisconsin. The four of us had dinner ashore as it was Nikki’s birthday! I surprised her with a pearl necklace she loved when we were in Papeete and she was thrilled. I’d been hearing about how she longed for that necklace for the last several months and successfully looked sheepish and bit my tongue for weeks!…:-)

Our next stop would be the “Blue Lagoon”, also famous for the film by the same name starring Brooke Shields. Here, at the island of Sawa-I-Lau is a lovely grotto with a pool inside the mountain. With a short underwater swim, I was able to enter the “spitting cave” and the two chambers of the “Pregnancy Cave”. More on those in the photo blog. Nikki took a pass on the swim and had a lovely walk about the island.

Our last stop would be Champagne Beach where the film, “Contact” with Jody Foster was filmed. If you recall the ethereal “off world” scene on the beach where she spoke with the Alien played by David S(?) sorry I can’t remember his last name – this was that beach.

As Nikki and I were a bit tired, we spent an extra day and departed this morning in a steady rain for the island of Tanna where we will try and do a visit to one of the worlds most active volcanos. You can walk right up to within 100 yards of the boiling lava. Of course, photos will be posted (eventually!). The www.svbeachhouse.com homepage has one shot of this in the splash screen – lava shooting up from September of 2011.

For now, we’ve just checked in to the Pacific SeaFarers’ Amateur Radio Net and are motoring along for the expected 3 day trip to Resolution Bay. We hope to be under sail within the next several hours as the wind is expected to fill in from the SE.

We’ll only be there one or two days before heading off to New Caledonia. The season is getting old and technically, the Cyclone (Hurricane) season here has begun.
The further Southwest we get, the generally less of an issue that should be.
KIT,
Scott and Nikki

COMMENT: Beach House – En Route – Champagne Beach, Yasawa Island Fiji to Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
AIRMAIL YOTREPS
IDENT: N6ABC
TIME: 2016/11/07 03:40
LATITUDE: 16-55.54S
LONGITUDE: 176-52.62E
COURSE: 249T
SPEED: 6.1
MARINE: YES
WIND_SPEED: 7
WIND_DIR: SE
SWELL_DIR: NE
SWELL_HT: 0.5M
SWELL_PER: 7
CLOUDS: 100%
VISIBILITY: 25
BARO: 1012.4
TREND: -1
AIR_TEMP: 28.3C
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27 October 2016 (+12 UTC)

We again rose early to go the last 60 miles from the NE of Viti Levu inside the reef system to Denerau Marina near Nadi (pronounced Nandi) on the SE side of the island. Nadi is the second largest city with only Suva the Capital being larger. Viti Levu is one of the largest islands in the South Pacific, so it would be another 11-12 hour run to go from one corner of the island to the opposite corner.

The north coast of Viti Levu is sparsely populated and classically “Bali Hai” in appearance. The reefs for the most part offer protection from the ocean swell, but we have to pay lots of attention as in some cases they’re invisible until you’re right up to the edge. The good news is, the electronic charts here are very good.

We motored by lots of villages and a few modern ex-pat communities and finally passed the old city and port at Lautoka. Lautoka is the sugar capital of Fiji. There is a special dock to load the raw sugar into freighters for export. Next, we passed “Enchanter” anchored outside of Vuda Point and observed the marina’s very first “catamaran” haul out. Rijnhard (of Enchanter) was ashore watching and didn’t see us pass by, but said the operation went well enough. This is the same marina that told me 5 years ago to just be patient one more month and they’d be able to haul me out to investigate a then small leak. We’ll five years later, I’d have been first instead of the other guy!…:-))) Needless to say, we didn’t wait. I was told by the then marina manager at Vuda Point that the owner had been telling the same, “be patient just one more month” story for 5 years – 5 years ago!

We got to Denerau just around 5 p.m., tucked in our slip, dock power attached and have now had a good nights sleep.
We’ll enjoy the main island for a few days, stock up, fuel up and a few repairs. Our solar panels are now not putting power into the batteries! Ah “yachting”….

There is another small weather front which we’ll wait out here as well before proceeding to the outer island en route to Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
the season is getting long and next month is officially Cyclone season here so it will indeed be time for us to be moving south and west toward Sydney.
Sydney is well south of the cyclone belt.

Internet here is good and I will really try and get some of the 7 photo blogs up that I’m behind!
Scott and Nikki

AIRMAIL YOTREPS
IDENT: N6ABC
TIME: 2016/10/27 07:35
LATITUDE: 17-46.35S
LONGITUDE: 177-22.96E
MARINE: NO
WIND_SPEED: 5
WIND_DIR: E
CLOUDS: 90%
VISIBILITY: 15
BARO: 1012.5
AIR_TEMP: 26.7C
COMMENT: Beach House – DOCKED -Denerau Marina – Viti Levu, Fiji

26 October 2016 (+12 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,
We departed Savusavu at 0520 this morning in the rain and SSE winds at 20-25 knots. The first few hours wasn’t much fun, but after that we re-entered the large reef system at Nasonisoni Pass on the south side of Vanua Levu, we had lovely flat water with nice winds. We exited the system and crossed the channel to the reef entrance at Viti Levu (the largest and main island) and where 5 years ago, my port dagger board hit an uncharted part of the reef. The chart said it was 120 feet deep. I think they meant 120 centimeters!..:-)

Speaking of hitting reefs. We met a young Canadian couple yesterday who hit the corner of the reef at Laucala Island in their Leopard 44 foot catamaran(which we had passed two days before) and separated both “keels” from the hull. This cracked the fiberglass and created leaks in both hulls. They have two small children aboard and were lucky that they hit it at low tide and were able to float off at high tide. The insurance company for some reason had decided to declare the boat a total loss. Someone is going to get a VERY good deal as it will be repaired pretty inexpensively in my view. There is no panic about hauling the boat out either.

Today’s voyage was indeed through a great deal of reef systems and we crossed the infamous “Bligh Water” where Captain Bligh kept going, not allowing his men ashore after the famous Bounty Mutiny. He was terrified of the then (yes really they were!) big time Cannibals. The last known Fijian Cannibal died just after WW2!

We’ll go through what is essentially an “inland water way” tomorrow, well protected (but still quite “reefy”) en route to Denerau Marina on the islands South West side. Today, we did 73 miles, tomorrow, 53 miles.

That’s all for now, the internet is indeed good, so we should be able to start posting photo blogs shortly!
KIT,
Scott and Nikki

AIRMAIL YOTREPS
IDENT: N6ABC
TIME: 2016/10/26 04:59
LATITUDE: 17-18.73S
LONGITUDE: 178-13.95E
MARINE: NO
WIND_SPEED: 12
WIND_DIR: SE
CLOUDS: 90%
VISIBILITY: 20
BARO: 1012.3
AIR_TEMP: 28.9C
COMMENT: Beach House – ANCHORED -Nananu-I-Thake Motu, Viti Levu, Fiji. Viti Levu is the main island and we are at the Northeast corner having just entered the reef system.