With so many variables that can change your strategy, we have learned to spend less time researching all the place we should visit. Instead, we just try to learn about the most important aspects of visiting a country. We chose to go to Vanua Levu first because we heard it is the less developed, less touristy, part of the country. A place where the Fiji people are more traditional and less influenced by tourism and even political issues. And, we are really glad we came here. The area has exceeded our expectations and we wish we had even more time to visit.
We originally had planned to circumnavigate the big island of Vanua Levu in a counter-clockwise direction over the course of 4-6 weeks. After a few weeks of exploring the southern and eastern parts of the island, our plans of continuing around began to change. We decided we had accomplished many of our goals of seeing the local people. We participated in Sevusevu ceremonies with the chiefs of villages, drank kava, went spearfishing, dove some fantastic reefs, met village people, and saw many beautiful sights of Fiji. We started realizing that we were crossing the half-way point of our time in Fiji and we had yet to visit the western part of the islands. Many of our boating friends were going west already with different routes. The only ones continuing around Vanua Levu were spending the entire six-month season here in Fiji.
During the weekend, we left Rabi and started heading back for Savusavu. We first sailed down to Naselesele on Taveuni on Saturday. We had a really pleasant sail of about 4 hours down there. After anchoring, we went ashore and spent a couple of hours in an Internet cafe catching up on our E-mail. We had planned to stay a day or two, but after one look at the weather we realized we had only one day to get to Savusavu before some nasty weather hit. So, early the next morning we got up at dawn and weighed anchor to leave. But, the weather was now overcast and rainy.
We had rain off and on the whole way, but the winds were light and consistent. Due to influence of the islands, and the rains, we had to motor more than half the way back – about 60 miles. Fortunately, Tahina can be driven from inside the main cabin using the remote auto-pilot control. So, we stayed mostly dry. We arrived in Savusavu with more rain showers. The bay was full of sailboats from a cruising rally that had just arrived last week from Tonga. Mostly boat owners from New Zealand, so we didn’t recognize many of the boats. Fortunately, one of the marinas had a mooring left in the eastern part of the bay.
Over the night, the weather system from the forecast arrived. It had a lot of wind and rain, but fortunately Savusavu’s bay is well-protected. We were blown around in different directions, but the force of the winds were impeded by the surrounding hills and islands.
We spent the day mostly on board Tahina enjoying fast Internet connectivity. Vodafone had completed an upgrade to add 3G service to parts of the island over the weekend. Connectivity is much better here now. Most of my time was spent shopping the Internet for a number of items we need to have shipped to Fiji. We need several boat parts to fix things going bad or to replace spares. And, since we have a shipment coming, we’re ordering other things we want or need.
We will spend a few days here re-provisioning and taking care of communications here in Savusavu. Then we plan to head west and visit the islands west of the main island of Viti Levu – the Yasawas, and the popular cruising waters near Musket Cove (near the island where they filmed the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks).