Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Heading North in the Yasawa Group

How about a moonrise instead of a sunset!
After an overnight in Somosomo Bay, we continued north toward Tavewa and Nanuya Lailai Islands. We were planning to anchor at the Blue Lagoon (sorry, no Brooke Shields here now) and have dinner at Otto and Fanny’s. The reputation of Fanny’s chocolate cake with ice cream was drawing us!

Again it was a motoring adventure as it is nearly impossible to sail inside the outer reefs and miss all of the smaller and unmarked reefs. Yes, that is right! Unmarked! And UNCHARTED! There are many that do not show up on the charts. In fact, every sailor here agrees that the electronic charts are inadequate! While they provide a visual, the reefs are not where they show them! You have to continuously watch the water ahead and look for changes of color and texture. Going slow is also advised. If you just look out across the sea, you would think you could sail forever. But what lies below will take the wind out of your sails and put a hole in the bottom of your boat!

Dennis examining the purple coral and sea life below him.
We traveled up the western side of Yaqueta, passing Devoluai, and Matacawa Levu before entering the passage between Tavewa Island and Matacawa Levu. It was another pass filled with reefs and few marks to guide you. By the way, a marker in the water here is nothing more than a pole or stick, often broken, bent or missing! Dennis and Stuart stood on the bow watching for color changes in the water.
On the way we stopped to snorkel near Manta Ray Bay. The coral and sea life was wonderful - the prettiest coral we have seen so far. The pictures can't capture the true colors, but there was a lot of purple coral, blue starfish and many colors of fish. The black and white sea snake, which is extremely poisonous did not get much of my attention. I was out of there! We took the dinghy over to look for the manta rays but it was too rough to see anything. Also we were told that they don't come in until early evening.
We snaked our way in and found an anchorage off the Blue Lagoon Beach on Nanuya Lailai. Some of the best snorkeling in Fiji is here, but it was too cold and windy for us to jump into the water. It is winter here in the Southern Hemisphere - not like a Michigan winter, but not very hot either. Comfortable warm days and cool nights.

See the sea snake nicely camouflaged in the coral and sand!
We had a delightful dinner at Otto and Fanny’s on Tavewa Island. They sent a boat to pick us up and it turned out to be a dinner for four! The other resort guests had left earlier in the day so we had the place to ourselves. Harry and Emily had prepared three entrees: fish, chicken and pork. All were delicious and we devoured them like I had not been feeding the crew! It is always a treat to eat someone else’s cooking. Unfortunately, the dessert was banana cake with a cream sauce. It was wonderful, but we were tasting chocolate cake and ice cream all the way up the island chain. Maybe next time!

A sea urchin? Or is it a Crown of Thorns - both very
serious stingers!  Don't put your feet down!
After an overnight at anchor, we headed back down the same route since we had marked some dangerous spots on the way up. Instead of exploring and picking our way down the east side, we were more interested in getting back to Waya where we could anchor overnight. Sondra and Stuart had a plane to catch on Friday and we wanted to be back to Vuda Point Marina on Thursday.

It was nice to see S/V Circe and S/V Tulasi anchored in Nalauwaki Bay and have a chance to catch up on their explorations. They are heading to Vanuatu the first week of August and we might consider going along with them. S/V Flomaida may be joining them on the passage, too. Most likely we will hang out longer in Fiji since there is so much to see here.
Tonight's palette! Stunning!
Back at Vuda Point, it was time to say “goodbye” to Sondra and Stuart as they fly to Vanuatu for a week in Port Vila before heading back to Annapolis. Originally, we were all going to sail to Vanuatu with the World ARC Fleet, but the generator needed more attention so we stayed behind. Unfortunately, we missed our official "It's been great having you with the World ARC photo." as it was supposed to be taken in Vanuatu! Oh, well. Maybe they will take a "welcome back to the World ARC " photo when we rejoin next spring!

We thank them for bringing some essentials for the boat - especially for the dark chocolate. We were having chocolate withdrawal! Friends and new crew usually bring nice surprises. It was great to have friends along for a few weeks. While we have many lovely new friends, we miss our time with those we left behind last fall. I never thought I would be the one to use Facebook to keep up on what is happening back home!

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