We leave the beautiful, and not totally explored island of Kadavu to go to Musket Cove. It is only 100nm from our current location, but we need to do an overnight to ensure we arrive at daylight (famous last words). We pick up the hook at 0700 and head around the island to the SW side and drop the hook at Cape Washington / Denham Island for a quick lunch stop.
Wow, what a truly beautiful spot with such a diverse landscape! You look one way and you see long, white sandy beaches, another direction is a towering lime stone hillside, and behind you is a deserted resort begging to be brought back to life.
Cape Washington-Denham Island
After our lunch, we make way toward Musket Cove which was a super easy and very pleasant passage.
Total Miles: 96nm
Max Speed: 10.6kt
Average Speed: 6.0kt
Waves were following at 1-1.5m
Total Moving Time :16 hours
We have a spectacular sunrise. The white spots are stars and the large dot near the tallest mountain is the moon.
Just because I am so in love with sunsets, here is another one about 30 minutes later.
Remember how I said we left late afternoon to ensure we would arrive at daybreak? Well that did not work out so well. We arrived at 0330 and decided to enter the shipping channel which was wide, deep, and well lit. We had no problems, then headed to the anchorage, dropped the hook and took a nap.
It is super pretty here with gorgeous views, despite the many boats that are here (well over 60!)
We head to shore to explore and have some lunch. There is a little resort on Malolo island (aka Musket Cove) and loads of cruisers wondering about. A little supermarket, pharmacy, laundry, showers, and trash are available. In addition to the multiple bars and restaurants.
Snorkeling the Reef
The next day we head out to the reef and a popular bommie (right in the center of the channel). Boy these two places were fun. Not a ton of fish, but super interesting coral, schools of reef fish and more.
These look like they would be hard corals, but they were in fact soft.
The coral had beautiful formations, indents, and caverns.
And I fell in love with all of the brilliantly, bright blue starfish. These are the obvious ones that were begging to be noticed.
These were the shy ones that made me look for them. I love the upper left one where he looks like he is hugging the coral.
After our snorkel, we decided to do a drive by a place called Seventh Heaven. This place has only been open for 4 months and sort of is a copy cat to Cloud 9. But, we are equal sharers in love so we stopped by. You pay $50F up front and that amount is applied to your food, drinks, water toy rentals, massage, and items purchased at the store. We did not have any problems meeting that quota.
The food was amaze balls and the drinks were delicious.
Yep, life is good on Sugar Shack!
The boys even take the “Leap of Faith”
It was time to take Wayne back to the main island of Viti Levu where he could catch his flight. So, we motored the 2 hours to Port Denarau. Well, this is very similar to Tahiti. It is necessary evil to have to come here. We need to provision, fuel, dump trash, and deliver Wayne. But, YUCK the water is green and muddy, there are tons of boats, tourists, cruise ships, and just “so much.”
Wayne’s funny track from this holiday. We really had a silly sail plan, but this is what the weather allowed us to do so we sailed 6 of his 20 days with a total of almost 700nm!
Stay tuned for more on Port Denarau next week.
Events from this blog occurred in the first two weeks of July. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual events. In our last blog, we continue our Lao Group Island Tour.
In our last blog post, we take you and our friend Wayne on a tour of the Lao group. The Lao group are the outer islands of Fiji that are pristine in nature, basic in lifestyle, and full of loving, generous, small tribes.
We started the tour in Savusavu, then headed to Taveuni, and then off to Ogea. From here we started to head North to Yagasa, then Lakeba.
In an ideal situation, we would make our way to the Northern Lao Group, then slowly make our way south, then head west toward the mainland Viti Levu. However, the tradewinds run southeast so we end up making a figure 8 and putting a lot of miles under the boat!
Continuing on with Lao Island Tour Part II
Matt caught a Mahi but he didn’t make it into our freezer. Matt grabbed the line to take a photo and the clever fish wiggled off the hook, bounced down the sugar scoops and into the water. It was his lucky day!
After we left Lakeba, we head to our favorite place (so far) in Vanua Balavu called Bay of Islands. Before we head to the anchorage, we stop at Dalconi to do our sevusevu with the village chief Josese. We also meet Tuta, the headman who we scheduled a cave snorkel tour for the next day.
After our sevusevu ceremony, we asked some kids to walk us around the village. They were so delightful! Can you see Sugar Shack in the top photo?
Bay of Islands
The next morning, we head straight over to the Bay of Islands. We find the same spot from the last time we were here and we enjoy this beautiful place all to ourselves. This is certainly my favorite place in the Lao group.
Tuta picks us up in a long boat for our tour of several caves that we can snorkel through.
There are 4 caves, but I only went inside . Two. The first one, which happened to be the furthest away from the anchorage is called the “meeting room.” Evidently, elders used to meet here during low tide. You don’t need a mask to get inside, but you do need to swim in.
On the outside, it is a little upside-down thermometer (at least that is what it looks like to me). We jump in the water, and head inside and are instantly in awe of the beautiful interior of the cave. With its peek-a-boo holes throughout the cave walls allowing light and small bats to come and go as they please.
Matt has a flash light and illuminates the ceiling which casts an eerie glow.
I really enjoyed this cave and its many caverns and light holes. So much beauty hidden in darkness.
The 2nd cave is a no-go for me. The boys take on the adventure and I stay outside admiring the beautiful coral and large clams.
The boys had to swim below the surface about 2 meters and then swim 3 meters inside the cave. Be careful to pop up away from the hanging stalactites. It was a deep cave that went further back than the first cave, but wasn’t as tall or impressive. There were no openings to let in the light. The opening is a tiny peep hole just barely visible at the water line.
2nd Cave Snorkel
The 3rd cave we had visited on our own so we told him we did not need to go again. The 4th cave was completely under water and we were told to come back at true low tide (as it was, we were 2 hours before low tide).
Here is a photo of all 3 entrances:
Added Tour Bonus Stops
After our tour, Tuta took us to the Flying Fox tree (bats). Boy were they unhappy about us being there! Such funny looking animals with their see-through winds and spiny bodies.
Next we went to a private island owned by the owner of Oakley sunglasses. The caretaker welcomed us and offered tasty coconuts to cool us off.
Vanua Balavu always has beautiful sunsets.
A New Island: Kadavu
We had another 200nm overnight passage from Vanua Balavu to Kadavu). We sail past one of Mel Gibson’s islands here in Fiji (it is private so we can’t stop).
Kadavu is no longer part of the Lao group, but it is reported to be stunning. On the passage, Wayne brought in a beautiful bull Mahi Mahi.
Vanua Balavu to Kadavu
Total Miles: 206
Moving Time: 27 hours
Max Speed: 12.6
Average Speed: 7.6
Our first anchorage in Kadavu is called North Bay. The winds are howling so we tuck into a quiet little spot all to ourselves. The mangroves line the bottom of the mountainside as the tall trees jet up behind them. Super pretty contrast in greens.
Since we arrived on a Sunday, we decided to stay on the boat and do our sevusevu the following day. A friend of ours told us that there is no “chief” per se, but that we did not stop in to the police station and show them our paperwork.
So, early the next day, we loaded up into Sweetie and headed to town. We were greeted by a group of fishermen who were free diving for sea cucumbers to sell to China. They were so friendly and nice, they welcomed us to the village of Vunisea and told us to enjoy ourselves.
Up and over two small hills, we finally arrived to the village that was surprisingly big. They had 5 small markets, 1 hardware store, and a fresh veggie market. This side of the village had beautiful white sandy beaches, where we have mangroves and tree lined hills. We found the airport (top right, and the “terminal” middle right, along with street signs!
We take a dinghy ride around the lagoon and enjoy the beauty of the island. Lots of cascading green trees that drape down to the next tree creating a waterfall effect.
Sugar Shack sitting alone in her bay.
Next we head to Musket Cove and the metropolis of Denaru on Viti Levu Fiji’s main island.
Events from this blog occurred in the first two weeks of July. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual events. In our last blog, we take Wayne on a Lao Group Island Tour.
The Lao group consists of about 25 islands surrounded by reefs. Entering through passes in the reef to access the interior of the lagoon can be “easy to very difficult” depending on the island, number of passes, tides, winds, current, lagoon size, etc…
The Lao Group (both Northern and Southern) are in very remote areas and far away from the tourist track. However, they have become a very popular cruiser destination. There is good fishing, great diving, rich cultural experiences, and beautiful scenery.
The Fijians in this region follow a subsistence lifestyle not greatly different than their ancestors. There are rarely different races in the outer islands. In addition, land is rarely changes ownership from its original indigenous ownership.
The outer island life is very simple, and the people are poor in material terms, but rich in so many others. Most villages have a small store, but it is rarely full and often empty waiting for the supply ship (which comes once per month). There is no wifi in the Southern Lau and very little wifi in the Northern Lao.
This group of islands differs from the Tuamotus in French Polynesia in that they typically have islands inside the reef. In the Tuamotus, they had islands on the reef and rarely inhabited islands in the center.
Lau Group Tour
Wayne wanted to see the outer islands in the Lau Group which spread across hundreds of miles. Unfortunately, our sail plan is dictated by the weather which typically has winds from SE. Making going East or SE very challenging.
As you know, we picked up Wayne in Vanua Levu, Savusavu. After spending a few days here, we got a light weather window to make a short passage. So, we took him NE to Taveuni. It was a short passage of about 40-45nm.
We picked up a mooring at the Paradise Taveuni Resort and went ashore to enjoy sunset by the pool. They allow cruisers to come enjoy the resort services including the beautiful, negative edge pool.
The sunset took our breath away. Here are some photos of the sunset lighting up the anchorage.
Then the colors shifted and created a rainbow of colors in the sky.
Matt got a little artsy behind a bench and the effect is fabulous.
We stayed here two nights and allowed Wayne to get his sea legs. But it was time to leave as the weather was perfect to make a bee line for the Southern Lao Group.
Southern Lao Group
Ideally, we would have sailed to the Northern Lao Group, then slowly make our way down south. This is a much easier jump off point to Kadavu, then Viti Levu the island where we will drop him off. But the weather would not allow this sail plan. So, we will make a figure 8. We will sail South, then back up North, then back down South, then west. Sound like fun?
Our trip from Taveuni to Ogea is about 165nm and is an overnight passage. We left around 0800 from Taveuni and enjoyed a nice and easy sail for the first 5 hours! Then fish on! The boys had 3 lines out and a teaser line. As luck would have it, the largest lure caught the fish. We all rushed to bring in the other 3 lines, slowed the boat down (we were doing 8-9kts and had to slow it down to 2-3kts). Wayne started bringing in the fish, but tired after 20 minutes of fighting with the beast. Matt took over for 10-12 minutes, then handed the reel back to Wayne.
He brought in a 60kilo, 1.5-meter yellow fin tuna! He was a fighter!
Before he took his last breath, he gave Wayne one more present…a leg full of pee (see upper right photo). He was a beast and will feed many, many people!
The boys have some fun with Charlie before he was cleaned.
It took 3 of us, 3 hours to clean and stow this bad boy. He filled up our 40liter Engle freezer!
Trip Details (Taveuni to Ogea)
Our next destination was Southern Lao Group, specifically Ogea.
Total Miles: 165nm
Passage Time: 24 hours (hook to hook)
Max Speed: 11.2kt
Average Speed: 6.8kt
Ogea (pronounced Ongea)
Ogea is a rather large island with a few places to anchor. We found a super beautiful, albeit shallow bay and had it all to ourselves for most of the day. Our friends on Scooter came in and anchored later that afternoon.
The next morning, we all made the hike to the village to do our sevusevu (offering to the chief in exchange for permission to anchor in his waters and visit his village). The place to catch the path to the village is tricky to find. Lucky for us we had a way point and found it behind a large rock. The tide varies about 1.5m each day so we came in at high tide and returned to very low tide.
The path is a mixture of rocks and dirt. Lots of critters around to entertain us.The Ogea village has about 80 people currently living there. We came during low tide and the town was flooded. Some of the water came up and over the ill built sea wall, but the majority of it came up through the ground which was limestone. It was so unfortunate as most houses sit slightly over the water, but the path to and from the houses are across 1-6” of water.
This is a photo taken after church as villagers were making their way back home.
Our host, Lolo invited us to church, which is obligatory, so we accepted. We donned our sulus (like sarongs) and headed to church. The drums (upper right corner) are played 15 minutes prior to church and then 5 minutes prior.
The primary school is absolutely lovely! They have math equations on each side of a cement water well (bottom right), and beautiful words on each pillar (upper right). They teach this at a young age which is truly why Fijians are such friendly, generous, and kind people.
Usually the chief’s are fairly welcoming and happy to see cruisers as we come with gifts. However, this chief seemed rather perturbed that we were interrupting his carving and even “barked/yelled” at a little girl making her cry. Not sure what was going on, maybe just an “off day.” None the less, our headman “too ranga nee koro” proceeded with the short ceremony, presented our kava and gift of tuna, and welcomed us into the village. The chief is the master carver of the village and even his tikis are a little grumpy.
Carvings from the Chief
Our host, Lolo then took us around the village, showing us the church, the school, and the path to a different anchorage. We ended up walking across many dry lands which are typically covered in 1m of water. Global warming is taking its toll in Fiji!
We act a wee bit goofy holding up rocks.
On the way back, another local named “Mess” was kind enough to give us each a coconut. This was well received as it was super-hot and a long walk back to the dinghy (45-minute hike). As you can see the tide went out again so the dinghy was grounded. Luckily we took Scooter’s dinghy which is a lot lighter than our girl Sweetie.
On our last night, we decided to do a beach BBQ with Scooter (Thomas and Marieke). Matt grilled some tuna, and Thomas prepared some tasty potatoes. Super pretty views.
After Sunday service, our host family put on a lovo and provided a massive feast for us. We were so surprised by the amount of food!
Lovo with our Host Family
Tons of food, fish, taro and cassava (starch like potatoes), noodles, and more.
A super friendly cat kept us entertained.
The top photo is our host with our group and the bottom photo is Humberto who has become an official Fijian.
An excellent way to end our time in Ogea! Tomorrow we head to Yagasa.
Yagasa (pronounced Yangasa)
Yagasa is an uninhabited island in the Lao Group frequently visited by locals from neighboring islands for fishing. There is no way to go to shore unless you have rock climbing gear and know how to repel up the cliff. There is a Boobie bird colony on the towering hillside by our anchorage.
But the anchorage is peaceful, calm, and beautiful. The birds sing to us periodically, and make great bird watching.
Lakeba (pronounced Lakemba)
Lakeba is the “capitol” island of the Lao group. We did not stop in the main village because the pass is precarious at best. Instead we anchored in a small “indent” in the reef. At first, I thought it would not be very protected, but as it turned out we had a lovely evening at the base of an enormous, lush and well populated bird mountainside.
We thought we were being stealth by coming here with the hopes of getting internet. We were able to get internet two different times when we sailed past the island. However, our lovely mountainside blocked the signal and we had zero connectivity while anchored here. Good thing we were only here for one night.
Stay tuned for Part II of our Figure 8 tour around the Lao group.
Events from this blog occurred in the first two weeks of July. Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual events. In our last blog, we take Wayne on a tour of Savusavu.