Monthly Archives: November 2023

Downwind Sail Across Fiji

Matt and I really wanted to visit the North East islands of Fiji.  We left Viani Bay and headed to Qamea which boasts of tall mountains (300m) and deep, forrest filled valleys.  It was a short motor sail with the jib only as the wind was coming in at about 28-35 degrees.  Makes it really hard to sail at this wind angle, but it was a beautiful day and we only had about 25nm to go.

We stopped in Namata Bay on Qamea which is owned by the Mitchell Family.  We only got to meet Arthur as the other brothers were busy working.  But we had a lovely walk along the long sandy beach at mid-tide.  During high tide the beach is completely gone and during low tide we could not get to shore because there is a coral reef that runs parrallel to the beach.

We also enjoyed a lovely snorkel around the reef where we saw tons of little fish, some sea stars and some pretty coral.

Naiviivi Bay – Qamea

We took a joy ride in the big boat.  First we started out at Namata Bay and motored into the wind to Laucala Pass which is between the island of Qamea and the very exclusive and private island of Laucala.  Matt thought we could anchor here but the weather was poor so we drove in front of the legendary exclusve Como Laucala Resort.  We never planned to stop but we did want to see what the fuss was all about.

We then flipped a U-turn, unfurled the jib and motor sailed to our next anchorage called Naiviivi Bay which is a 1nm indent on the west side of the Qamea island.  It is pretty trick to get to the anchorage as it is a king tide and we arrived at low tide.  But we made it safely and it is gorgeous.

We started at the orange anchor, went east (to the right) then circled back past the original anchorage to the red triangle.

Super calm, quiet, and peaceful here in Naivaiivi Bay!  We got a little fresh water rinse and enjoyed a fabulous afternoon.

We passed this funny enclave with two beautiful palm trees growing against all odds.

Koro Island

We had a beautiful 64nm downwind sail from Qamea to Koro island.  We set the medium asymetrical spinnaker and let it ride the entire sunny day.

During this little passage we crossed the international date line and went ahead into the future where we went from East to West.  Always pretty cool but it totally screws up our instruments.

We arrived late in the day and left before dawn the next day so the only photo I have for you is one of the super blue moon. 

For the past several days we have been experiencing higher high tides and lower low tides due to the Super Blue Moon.  Unfortunately for us the first few nights were cloudy so we did not see the moon but we certainly experienced the huge tides.  But after 3 nights, I woke at 3am and got a glimpse of this special and very rare occurence.  The next Super Blue Moon will be in 2037!

We left at 0400 and had the rare gift of the super blue moon and the sunrise together.

We had another perfect downwind sail from Koro island to Yadua island.  Instead of putting up the medium asymetrical spinnaker we put the parasail up which propelled us for 72nm in under 12hours!  Pretty good day with an average speed of 6.1kt.

A small pod of dolphins came out to play with Sugar Shack.


We arrive in Yadua and as much as I’d like to continue our travel post, I need to create a separate post for this beautiful island.  So stay tuned for more on Yadua.

Kuata Island

We leave early the next moring (0430) to make a 75nm.  It was not the beautiful downwind sail that we had for the past few days, but it was still really pretty.  We tried to fly the working sails but they kept flogging so we tried to put up our medium spinnaker.  She was only up for about 30 minutes when she decided she was done with us and just exploded.  What a complete bummer.  This is what she looked like happy and then she fell to pieces…

But, to cheer us up, a HUGE pod of dolphins came to play with us for over 45 minutes!  They were litterally leaping and jumping through the waves to come cheer us up.

Then they stayed with us playing on our bows. Certainly put a smile back on my face!

We finally arrive to Kuata island.  It was nearly sunset so we dropped the hook and enjoyed a sundowner.

Our last trip was from Kuata to Musket Cove.  A short 35nm trip / 6 hours.  It was super nice breaking up this passage across Fiji.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  We dive the legendary Rainbow Reef in our last blog post, did you see our 8 legged friend?

Rainbow Reef Dive

Diving Rainbow Reef and the Great White Wall has been a dream of mine for a few years.  We had tried to dive here last season, but Matt injured his ear and then we tore our main sail and couldn’t get to the site.  So, this trip back to Fiji was focused on diving this spectacular area.  We arrive in Viani Bay which is our launch point for the dive sites on Rainbow Reef.

Rainbow Reef is legendary and has well over 20 pristine dive sites.  It has been called the “soft coral capital of the world” but I might beg to differ when comparing it to Bonaire.  Some of the most popular dive sites include The Great White Wall, The Fish Factory, The Zoo, and Cabbage Patch to name a few.

Where is the Rainbow Reef Located?  It lies in the Somosomo Strait which is the passage that runs between Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) and Taveuni Island (Fiji’s third largest island).  In Fijian Somosomo Strait means “good water” and it is called this because the strait has strong tidal currents, providing a good supply of nutrients, just the right ingredients for healthy and diverse soft coral and abundant fish.

Photo courtesy of Taveunit Dive Resort

The Great White Wall Dive

Our friends on Pogeyan who have been diving this area for years take us out on our first Rainbow Reef dive.  They take us to the Great White Wall which happened to be in full bloom (a rare occurence evidently).

Matt and I had not been diving in awhile so we take it slow.  First we wanted to make sure his ear (which he perforated last season) was ok and second we wanted to make sure all of our gear worked properly.  Our friends took the adventurous way down to the wall which was through a tunnel.  But I was not having any of that!  So, Matt and I took a leisurely descent down to about 12-15 meters and swam over the edge.  And let me just say “WOW”

It was as if snow had fallen on the soft coral under water!  The top left photo shows the white coral with the naked eye (25 meters/85′ below the surface) and in the upper right corner is the same white coral with a light on it (from our friend).

I am not sure how it happens but the white wall actually glows and shimmers!  It doesn’t come out so great with my little GoPro and no light, but it was glorious.

Once you swim past the Great White Wall you get into tons of color.  It is obvious why they call this the rainbow reef.  So many purples, yellows, and greens!

The dive takes my breath away with its pure beauty!

So many bright colors, tons of schools of fish in all sorts of varieties, and hard and soft coral intermixed on the wall.

We found a rather large clam with a personal guardian and a beautiful black soft coral growing in the center of a larger white hard coral.

Our total depth for the Great White Wall was about 26 meters (85′) and the water was moderate but we did have wet suits on (3mil).  There was a slight current pushing us along the wall.  A truly amazing dive.  I wish we had more time to do this multiple times!

The Zoo

Our next dive with with Dive Academy at the Zoo!  We hired a guide to dive with us on the Rainbow Reef “Zoo” because there can be dangerous currents.  It is super nice to be picked up from the boat, borrow tanks, and be picked up and dropped off at the dive site.  Our guide, Ian was full  of excitement at diving the zoo.  This particular dive site is known for its large pelagic fish and it is also known as a mating grounds for gray sharks!

We saw schools of barracuda, two gray sharks (not mating) several white tip sharks, a few trevallis and groupers. Of course, I did not get any photos of these big guys as they were a bit too far away for them to come out good.  But I did get a couple of sharks playing with Matt (top two photos).

We saw lots of soft coral with little nemos protecting each of them.  I don’t know why, but I always want to stick my finger in the center of the soft coral….but I never dare to!

And we saw lots of these hard corals with little protectors.

So much beauty in one spot on the reef.

An Octopus!

It is always a special treat to find an octopus and this one wanted to check us out too.  He was huge!  Can you spot him in the top photo??  He blends in so well with the coral.

He was so curious!  It reminded me of the documentary “The Octopus Teacher.”

It was the perfect way to end a perfect dive!  Truly wish we could spend a month here exploring the other dive sites at Rainbow Reef!  An absolute must see when you are in Fiji!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occured toward the end of August.  In our last blog we have a posse part at Nawi Marina.

A Party for a Posse

The Pacific Posse is a non-rally rally.  It is a group of sailors that are crossing the Pacific that share communications, discounts, and navigation assistance.  Our friend Chris has been associated with it from the beginning and was the representative for the Pacific Posse party at Nawi Marina.

The Pacific Posse was hosting a rather large party for all cruisers, whether you were a member of their organization or not.  They offered free rum and a pig roast.  As you can imagine it drew in a large crowd. The party was held at the new Nawi Marina to help bring awareness to the marina.

The organizations owner, Dietmar was out of the country so Chris organized things locally.  But his boat was in Musket Cove so he decided to fly over to Savusavu and stay on Sugar Shack for a few days.

A Posse of Partiers

It was a wonderful gathering of old and new friends!  Anna and Paulo (top left) met us in French Polynesia and then we saw them in New Zealand.  Chris and I in the top right, Allen and I (middle), Milli and I (bottom right), the Marina and Chris (the hosts).

The Party Begins

Lots of cruisers arrived before the start time….they know the rum won’t last.  The marina went all out and closed both the bar and restaurant for the party goers.  They offered a full Fijian Traditional lovo for a small fee of $35 Fijian ($16USD) which included fish, chicken, tons of sides, and a variety of salads).

The marina brought in a large group of men to make and host the traditional kava ceremony.  I am totally not dressed appropriately for a kava ceremony!  My shoulders and knees are exposed and shouldn’t be — but this is my party dress!

The marina really out did themselves with so many extras to make sure all of the posse members (and non members) had a good time.  And let me tell you – a good time was had by all!  And we got to enjoy a gorgeous sunset.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occured late August.  In our last blog post Matt tries foiling – it is super amusing if you missed it.