Cruising Fiji in Winter

Summer (November to April) is the Cyclone season in the South Pacific.

In February 2016 Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, it was the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. There was plenty of evidence of the impact on Winston as I sailed around, coconut palms with their tops ripped off.Understandably I have no wish to be here in Logic in those months.

At this time of the year the rotation of planet, results in an east to west trade wind of an average of 15knts plus or minus 5kts. Except in the lee of the main island, Viti Levu.

All the moisture falls out of the Trade Winds on the easterly, leading edge of Viti Levu, so at this time of the year the east is getting plenty of rain, while over, where I have been based ,on the west side of the island, in the last 2mts, we have only had 5mm of rain, one day.

From a weather perspective, this  makes Nadi the ideal base to enjoy cruising in Fiji.

The international airport adds to it’s appeal, with direct flights arriving from all points around the Pacific Ocean.

As a result my tracker to quote my daughter Kate “looks like a 2 year old’s colouring book“.

Over the last 6 weeks I have had 3 visitors fly in, to crew on Logic.

First was Steve, he owned the boat Tim Mumby built 5 years before he built Logic.After provisioning in Latoka, we sailed up too Blue Lagoon.

The location for the Brook Shield’s movie of the same name, from our adolescence.

We went off in the SUPs for a snorkel, along the way a dog swam out to join us. He kept on trying to clamber on to the SUP, and when we were in the water he was trying to scramble onto our backs.A SUP along the beach was mandatory to relive the memories of the movie

The only fish we caught over the week, was a 1mt Leopard Shark

Then it was down to anchor off Manta Ray Island Resort

Despite it being the Manta season, there where none coming into feed in the nearby channel, but we still used their dive shop for a few scuba dives.

Steve, very patiently watched on, as I zipped around with the underwater camera, taking photos and video.

Then it was down to Musket Cove for a few days of socializing with the other yachtys.

Going past Waya Island along the way

the next fly in crew was Allen ( a friendship started when we were sitting beside each other for our  respective youngest child’s university graduation).Unfortunately for Al, I picked up the (man) flu, when ashore with all the fly-in tourist at Port Denarau. So we spent most of the first week Al was on board, anchored off Mana Island. Al  would paddle ashore to explore and socialize, while I convalescenced onboard.I was healthy  for Al’s next time on board, so we went up to Nalauwaki village on Waya Island.

It was Saturday and the children where home from their day boarding school. 4 of the young boys accompanied us on a walk.Al’s inner child came out to play, as the boys, competed, skimming stonesas we walked along the shore, we walked past yet another example of how very different the cultural norms are in Fiji compared to oz.

There were 20-30 small covered structures each with a pig in

The third fly-in was Sharon, all the way for Florida. Sharon was in need of cruising fix.After provisioning in Lautoka, we refueled at Vuda Marina

Then it was off to the Yasawa Islands.

Doing sevusevu at  Malakati village, on the western side off Nacula Island

It was exactly how one would imagine a south pacific island village to look

We did the hike/climb up the ridge behind the village.

on the way back to Logic, the sunset obliged, for the photo opportunity.

In keeping with tradition, the only fish caught was another uneatable one (I made sure the towel over the top was well secured, before removing the hook, from it’s mouth).

then it was down to Somosomo Bay.

where we walked across the north eastern peninsular

to snorkel on a WW2 plane wreck

Next stop was Manta Ray Island Resort

This time the Manta where coming into feed, in Tokatokanu Passage.

They feed on the plankton in the outgoing current, that flows at around 3kts, when in full flow.

While they wait for the current to build up intensity, they are deeper.As the current picks up strength, they come up to the surface, and are easy to spot, due to the tips of their fins breaking the surface.

As well as the manta rays gorging on the plankton, there were hundreds of long jawed mackerel,  their jaws can hinge open, to maximise the opening to collect plankton.the schools of them where so focused on feeding, it was possible to snorkel surrounded by them.there where also thousands of blue green damsel fish feeding on the plankton. They would come up into the current to feed and then have to drop back to the bottom to get out off the current, then swim close to the bottom in rivers of silver,as they made their way against the current, to feed again.

I also used their dive shop, to get in a few more scuba dives

the highlight of the dive was  the shark cleaning station, where 5, 2mt gray reef sharks were circling.

I managed to capture a cleaner wrasse, swimming into a shark’s mouth, to clean it’s teeth

Then the forecast 20kt easterly forced us to moved down, to anchor off Octopus resort, on the western side of Waya Island.

Sharon jumped over the side and scraped off the algae, that was building up on the hullwhile we were waiting for the wind to abate, I got in a dive with their dive shop

And finally after months of trying I caught my first fish on a trolling lure, in Fiji.

an 8kg walu