Fiji 2016

July 2016

Back at Savusavu….there are always lots of repairs and maintenance to be done on a boat. When you are cruising full time you never get to the top of the list because if you do, than it means you haven't done any sailing, cruising or enjoying yourself. What is the point of that? In the meantime life goes on all around us. Here is a great rainbow that came right up Nakama Creek and whilst I was photographing its approach, S/V Sabir got some great photos of True Blue V. Thanks for sharing them with us Sabir!


True Blue V, Nakama Creek, Savusavu 2016

Push PLAY for Savusavu Rainbow and find out where the Pot of Gold landed.

Cyclone Winston was the strongest Tropical Cyclone to make landfall in Fiji and the South Pacific basin in recorded history. Winston increased to Category 5 intensity on February 19th and passed directly over Vanua Balavu where a national record wind gust of 306km/hr was observed. Peak intensity on February 20th recorded 10 minute sustained winds of 230km/hr and a pressure of 915 hPa shortly before making landfall on the main island Viti Levu. Cyclone Winston killed 44 people. 40,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Approximately 350,000 people (40% of Fiji's population were significantly impacted by the storm). The nation's government declared a State of Emergency on 20th February for 60 days. Immediately following the cyclone, the governments of Australia and New Zealand provided logistical support and relief packages. (There was much praise for the Australian and New Zealand Navy). In the following weeks, a coalition of international support, including intergovernmental agencies bought 10's of millions of dollars in aid and hundreds of tons of supplies to residents in Fiji. In some cases entire communities were destroyed. 40,000 people required immediate assistance. (Source Wikipedia)

Many of our favourite cruising destinations were affected.

Sea Mercy Volunteers at Makogai Island. This island took a direct hit from Cyclone Winston 5 months ago.

We were on our way back to Savusavu but decided to call in and catch up with the Sea Mercy Fleet who have been working on the island since Cyclone Winston. Some of the fleet we know. Ian and Wendy on Catamaran Outsider (Australia) have already been here for 2 months. They have taken on the role of Sea Mercy Project Managers for Makogai and are committed to rebuilding the local school and a community hall. David on S/V Anahata spent cyclone season in Marshall Islands with us and has already been here for 5 weeks. Vessels come and go for various lengths of time. Some volunteer a little, some volunteer a lot. There are also several land volunteers who are staying in Sea Mercy tents near the village. The Sea Mercy barge brings materials from Nadi. On board there is a generator and water maker which makes this a great "first response" vessel. A big thanks to Geoff who has also been volunteering his time to operate it.

Below is a slideshow of photos taken from our first day assisting with Sea Mercy Makogai. As your can see it really is an amazing experience for everyone involved.

Push PLAY below for Sea Mercy Fiji at Makogai.

(I am having some problems here - I have removed these 2 movies and hope to get them back up soon)

Push PLAY for a day on the job day at Makogai with the Sea Mercy Volunteers….Sailing With A Purpose. It’s easy as ABC.

June 2016

We are expecting visitors. Cheryl and Ray. They are going to fly into Nadi, transfer to Labasa and take a scenic taxi drive to Savusavu where True Blue V will be waiting at the Copra Shed Marina for them to board. Craig and I have discussed their travel plans at length and for a true Fijian experience we decided it would be a good idea if we departed Savusavu, sailed to Coconut Point, followed by Yadua Anchorage. Next stop is the Yasawa Island Group; Sawa-i-Lau to do a Sevusevu ceremony and see the famous limestone caves. Other stops we anticipate include Blue Lagoon (think Brooke Shields), snorkel with Manta Rays at Nanuya, scenic Navadra Island and Musket Cove Island Resort before our final destination and their point of departure Port Denarau International Marina.

At Yadua Island.

Cheryl and Ray getting their feet wet at pristine Yadua beach.

All the best beaches have a fallen tree to sit on and pose for a photograph.

Ray is a keen coconut tree climber whenever he goes ashore. No more coconuts on this tree. You will have to find another tree Ray.

This is Sawa-i-Lau, which was one of our favourite stops.

Going ashore at Sawa-i-Lau. Craig is pointing at something up the beach but it looks like he is pointing as the boat. He is dressed ready for his Sevusevu ceremony.

The local ladies hang out in the local village making crafts and mats. The children are all at primary school. When they get older they go to the mainland for their secondary education.

Hey goosey! The local village is neat and tidy although they did sustain some damage from Cyclone Winston especially with their crops and coconuts.

Chery and Ray with our Fijian friend who has just been out fishing. Lunch time in the tropics.

Meet a real local. His hut was damaged in cyclone Winston but life here goes on. What a great face. It is sun-lined with life, love and laughter.I wish my lighting was better so his face wasn't so shaded but I like his hat too. Yes, I suppose I like the fish too.

early morning in Sawa-i-Lau

This is an early morning photo I took whilst everyone on board True Blue V were still asleep. A local Fijian is fishing from his canoe. I watched him paddle around casting his nets and retrieving them. I also watched him bail out his canoe several times as it was obviously taking on water. At one point, he climbed out of his canoe into waist deep water so that he could bail his canoe.

We went into the village and did our Sevusevu ceremony. We were welcomed to the village. This is a tourist stop with cruise boats so the locals want us to buy, buy, buy like a tourist. So OK we bought a couple of shells which we didn't need and coconuts to drink on board. But I mentioned we were from the yacht and I could trade some flour. We visited the village later. I took a bag of flour in. They gave me some more shells which I didn't need in exchange. But that is not the point. It is important to trade. It is a give and take thing. The lady said come back tomorrow and she would have some bread for me. We were out of bread so that sure sounded good to me. Some flour for some bread. She pointed to a canoe on the beach and asked Craig if he could fix it. Craig said he had some fibreglass materials on the boat and would fix it tomorrow morning but it must be kept dry. After repairing one canoe another local arrived and asked if he could repair his canoe too. The nice lady gave Craig some bread to bring back to the boat. I had given Craig a small Koala with an Australian flag to give to the lady. She laughed when he gave it to her. And this is how Fijian friendships go. I feel we could go back there and enjoy each others company again.

It is often said "You have not been to the Yasawas if you have not visited the Sawa-i-Lau caves". I always prefer to visit these places without the hordes of tourists and that is certainly one of the advantages of being on our own timetable. Check out our experience in the movie below.

See our Sawa-i-Lau Caves movie below.

Press PLAY for Sawa-i-Lau caves. Music is by U2 and is called Race Against Time.

"Vessel Underway"…. is serious business in the Yasawas. We are motoring. There is not a breath of wind but lots of coral reefs to watch out for.

With so many reefs around it helps to have Ray on lookout on the bow. Cheryl is on the instruments changing our autopilot course directions. I am at the helm keeping an eye on our Navionics Charts and Craig is down below checking SAS Planet satellite images with a GPS locator for True Blue V. No worries here!

Cheryl loves fresh Mahi Mahi and at $50/kg back home in Australia is keen to fish everyday. It doesn't come any fresher or tastier. Guaranteed.

Craig does his best to oblige and we all love eating it. Cleaning it is the biggest chore and not one of Craigs favourite things to do. Vinaka Craig!

True Blue V 2016