Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mamanuca Memories with Moonshine and Scream

 Such great fun sailing next to Moonshine on our way to Mana Island in the Mamanucas
 On our way to Navadra Anchorage before the tense "no engine" time began
 Scream's view of the FastPassages Moonshine and Sidewinder
Behind Moonshine,  the rock point we climbed the following rainy day. Fun times!
 Sunset beach bonfire gathering with friends; what fond memories we have forever!
Chris, David, Darusha, and Steve sharing grog and good times in Mooneshine's cockpit.

Sidewinder visits the Mamanucas and Yasawas

We left Musket Cove with Scream and Moonshine on September 19, with the idea of finally exploring the west side of Fiji and so far it has been beautiful. The weather gods have been with us giving us mostly gentle wind, sunshine, and tame seas while we are traveling from island to island, along with safe anchorages for waiting out big windy days. After our first short trip to the next island north from Malolo, Mana Island, and a great little barbecue on Scream, the three of us had a fun light wind sail....motor-sail......sail........to one of the last island clusters in the Mamanucas, but as we rounded the corner, ....oops, the engine won't turn on for us here at Navadra Bay, making that afternoon quite tense. It was wonderful having the support of Chris on Moonshine, who pulled into the bay, dropped anchor, and jumped into his dinghy to come to our aid, while Scream stood off for a while with radio on, as we tacked back and forth cautiously trying not to hit any of the reefs inside; Chris did help push our bow around on our last tack so that we could be far enough inside to drop anchor. PHEW ! We celebrated our safe landing by having cocktails and dinner on Sidewinder, thanking our friends for being by our side. The next day David changed the primary fuel filter, and  Steve, Chris, and Suzi ( with that elfish tiny arm and hand for final touches inside the engine) then helped him bleed the whole fuel system twice before dear Perkins fired up, and in the long run, ended up finding the on/off switch to be the real culprit we think. We are, once again, reminded of how very grateful we are for reliable Perkins each time we need to motor into the beautiful safe harbors of Fiji's reefed islands. Yay, Perkins!   That same afternoon included a great colorful snorkel out at the point, a sunset bonfire on the pristine beach, and another scrumptuous meal with our buddies on Moonshine that evening.  Before Steve and Darusha left the next day, we all lamented on how much we had missed our travels together from the last crusing seasons; it was so nice to re-connect with them. Chris, David and I spent another day in rainy weather climbing to the top of the big rock point at Navadra Bay and continued the warmth of eating together our last night. We left the next day for the neargy island group northwest of Lautoka, the Yasawas, as Moonshine headed back to Beachcomber Island and Musket Cove.        
We are now in Blue Lagoon, anchored in front of the Nanuya Resort, relaxing and enjoying some down time after sailing up the coast of Waya and Naviti Islands. Our first night we stayed at Manta Bay, but unfortunately did not find the manta-rays. We did go into the Mantaray Resort, ate pizza and chatted with the locals and cruisers from NZ who tried to explain the game of rugby as we watched more of the World Rugby Tournament everyone here is so into, and then motored Worm home in the dark. Unfortunately the next day was cloudy as we worked our way north to the Blue Lagoon, through the maze of reefs, and each time the sun popped out we sighed  with great relief. We did make it, although the sail in the afternoon  was quite rough with 25 kt gusty winds. We are happy to be here for a few days, enjoying mostly sunny weather, along with a nice scuba dive today. We've met more wonderful people, both guests and locals, played v-ball with the Fijians yesterday and today, and are once again, counting our blessings. We will begin our journey back to Musket Cove in a few days and then it will be time to consider readying ourselves for the trek to New Zealand. Hard to believe this cruising season is already closing in on us. Guess we certainly have not been bored!   Love to everyone.  We do miss you.  S & D

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A day at Tavarua

 Our boat buddy Nick , it may look pretty mellow but the drop in isn't !!!

 Nick thinking about taking off with Cindy (with snorkel on) cruising the reef line.
 It wasn't a very big day so guys were just out there having fun
 I never got a good shot of anyone deep inside but there were a few barrels to be had
 The jet ski and sled were anchored not far from us with the riders out in the line up
 This is the judges platform for when they have contest there. Right now it's covered in bird shit 2 inches thick.
 Watching guys ride these waves it's easy to forget how powerfull these waves are, check out the white water behind this guy......serious explosion.
 This guy is loving life right now !!!
We hitched a ride out to Cloud Breaks with Richie on Ka Pai, which is a custom built catamaran from New Zealand. It's 48 ft. long and completely set up for single handed sailing, and very fast I might add. A few of Richie's friends came along as well, Cindy was from Holland and a avid kite boarder and Nick was from Australia and a "dumb surfer" as he put it. All three very freindly, quick with a smile and full of good stories. We coverd the 12 miles or so from Musket Cove out to Cloud Breaks in a little more than a hour and found a great place to anchor in sand at about 30 ft. of depth. We then took the dingy out to the break and tied up to one of the moorings which is just to the side of where the waves break. Sometimes it feels a little to close !!!  I didn't even bring my board as I'm still recovering from a fall on my butt that has me limping around. Don't ask how I did it....stupid is the word that comes to mind. The fact is I'm not sure I would of paddled out anyway as it's a pretty heavy wave with lots of guys out. Not my idea of a good session on both accounts. But watching the guys rip it was an awesome experience and I had to keep reminding myself I really was off the island of Tavarua at Cloud Breaks. The best part was I didn't have to pay the $4,000 a week to stay there. Sidewinder was only a couple of hours away at the most and on a calm day we can dingy out in less than a half hour. About a mile west of Tavarua is the small island of Numotu that has a break called Swimming Pools ( right hand & hollow) and on the other side is a left that is right up my alley. Not too steep, not too fast and very long. We have gone out there a number of times now and only turned away once when it was so big it was scary just to watch and Suzi and I were by ourselves so after we paddled out and got a feel for how gnarly it really was, we paddled back to the dingy with our tails between our legs and got out of there.
But this day ended perfect with a sunset cruise back to Musket Cove and a few beers at the Island Bar. Today we head out for the Mamanuca Island group with Steve and Darusha off s/v Scream whom we haven't cruised with since Tahiti and it will be good to be back on the sea again. Musket Cove has been a gas but it's time to move on...............Things to do and people to see.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Musket Cove Movin' and Groovin' Regatta Fun!

Yes, we did finally make it to the Musket Cove Regatta and it is finally over. PHEW !  Who in their right minds can party intensely for an entire week?! (Besides my good friend, Catfish?!)  Eveyone!!!! It has been amazing and really fun for us to experience this highly organized chain of events with prizes galore.  After spending about four days in Port Denarau, David successfully fixing the leak and Suzi shopping for provisions til she dropped, we finished our last day in pouring rain, testing the results of David's labor, filling the tanks with fresh water, doing the laundry, and saying farewell to our good friends from Spirit( a wonderful Dutch couple we met in Puerto Lucia Ecuador); the next morning,we took off for Musket Cove to secure a mooring before the gala affair began. We did have a nice sail most of the way and found ourselves here, safe and sound, with good weather on the horizon. On Saturday the events began with a golf tournament David entered and he swears he could have won it if he hadn't choked on the last two holes (don't they all say that?); I jumped at the chance to do some yoga and go on a fun hike that morning and then we raced in the Hobie Cat regatta. We were quickly eliminated, mostly due to a flawed mainsheet block and rudder that wouldn't allow us to sail effectly (good excuse, eh?!) but we did fix it for the rest of the contestants, so that was good. There were special barbecues, lots of hilarious contests, and wonderful crazy dancing every night, and the beat went on and on throughout the week. We won the volleyball tournament for the US, mostly due to the fact that David and I are the only Americans who entered so we were fortunate enough to pick up other players from the Fiji team after they were beaten in the first round. We had great fun and followed the tournament with three great games with the Fijians who really do know how to play good beach v-ball. Rachel and Ashley Wacholder would have been very proud of us all! The party out on the sand-spit was a family affair with a wet T-shirt contest included. Even I was motivated to join in the fun with the light spirit of it all, just to get a T-shirt.:)  On Wednesday, David and I joined Chris and his crew on Moonshine, another Fast Passage 39, on the Around Malolo Race, and even though we came in dead last, it was very fun sailing another sister ship just like Sidewinder. I was honored to be on the helm for most all of the race, and I hope it wasn't just my fault we ended up dead last! OH Well......There was great wind and everyone had a super time and Moonshine was the only boat to sail the whole race in the 4 hrs allotted.......we thought that was pretty cool and we definitely deserved a prize for that!  In between all of the festive events, we managed to finally re-bed the chainplate covers, and after water-testing them, they were dry as a bone. YIPPEE ! No more leaks!!  We also managed to go out to Numotu, one of the fine surf spots near Tavarua we have been to before, and were humbled by the intensity of the huge waves. Yesterday, I went diving with two super women I have met, and it was outstanding, and last evening was the regatta farewell elegant dinner at the restaurant with the fabulous Fijian band from Suva who played beautifully every type of music possible long into the moonlit night. What a great week it has been!! Today the party is finally over and many boats are leaving, some on their way to Australia by way of Vanuatu and some just movin' on. We will keep in touch with the special friends we have made here and do hope to see them again somewhere along the line. Our friends, Steve and Darusha on Scream are arriving here tomorrow so we will stay a few more days and then decide what we are doing for the next week of adventure. Life is certainly very special for us and we finally have blue skies and sunshine. YAHOO!    Much love to all!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heading southwest from Savusavu back to where we started our journey

We have finally made a break given a somewhat calm weather window and we are working our way back to Musket Cove with hopes to catch a fun regatta week. It was sad saying good-bye to our new friends on Jemellie, Lindsey and Steve, as well as Beth and Ken on Eagles Wings. Of course, we hope to see them again and most likely we will; that is a wonderful part of cruising.  On our way out the pass from our anchorage at Cousteau's we both were smiling, excited to be on our way one more time, but also knowing just how much we enjoyed our time there in Savusavu; it is a great town with lots of wonderful people who truly feel and share the Bula spirit
The wind picked up and off we motor-sailed, thinking we were going to try to get to Makogai Island, but the refrigeration stopped so we decided to head to Namena instead. What a gift that ended up being. A boat was just leaving as we pulled up to the mooring at the island and there we were, basking in the beautiful sunshine, sitting in the most gorgeous clear water ever......all by ourselves. The birds welcomed us back and after a quick refer fix, we took a deep breath and just sat for a long while. It had been a long time since we had been able to just enjoy a calm, sunny day and we felt blessed.   With snorkeling gear on, we worked for a while, cleaning Sidewinder's bottom, and later that afternoon went for a wonderful dive near the island. It was great to have the time to relax in such a paradise as this.  We left the next morning for the south western point of Vanua Levu, where there is a pass into Bligh Water, with our next destination the Yasawas, a chain of islands on the west side of Viti Levu. Unfortunately, we discovered a new/old saltwater engine exhaust leak and we sailed our way to the town of Nambouwalu near the pass. Fortunately we had a great sail downwind with flat water and most of the afternoon was nice. The rain moved in as we anchored, David began tackling the problem and after much time, grunting and groaning, it still leaked. New plan. We would not go to the Yasawas at this time and head directly for Latouka and Port Denerau, where we can fix this engine problem.
 David worked again this morning, not wanting to give up, and finally did succeed at getting the leak to stop. YAY!  He is such a hero!  We are still heading back, though, knowing this is just a temporary fix and with high winds and rain expected in the next few days, it will be a good time to really get this problem solved. With this new plan, Sidewinder headed out the pass into Bligh Water, notorious for high winds and waves, and we had a magnificent sail back to the islands on the north side of Vitti Levu, where we first started our journey north, early in July. The winds were mostly 13-18 kts and we averaged 6.5-7 kts, first in the misty rain and finally with lovely sunshine and patchy blue skies. It is a quiet evening here by Nananu-i-take Island, even though the wind is gusty and howling. Hopefully the morning will greet us with sunshine and just enough wind to help us wind our way through the inside reef channel and we hope to make it most of the way tomorrow. Love to all,  Suzi

Birthday parties and more time in the water

 David, Steve, Beth, Lindsey, Suzi, and Ken celebrating Steve's birthday and our lucky lives!
Oni's birthday was a special local feast at Waitui Marina enjoyed by everyone.
 Pristine, clear Namena water helps make this task tolerable and even somewhat fun. See.....we're not always playing!
 Our reward for such hard work is a bit of snorkeling near the island at Namena Reef one last time.                                                                                   

                           Wonder what the fish were thinking when they saw this funny creature?!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


We are anchored off of a town called Nambouwalu, a ferry stop for people coming from Vitti Levu going to Vanua Levu. Unfortunately we have discovered a salt water leak in the engine and will need to repair it before adventuring to the Yasawas. We will know tomorrow whether it can be fixed. Poor David!   We are being chased by the next weather system and hope we can find a safe place to anchor by Saturday night. Wind and rain covers the entire area for three days..........amazing. We are now feeling really lucky to have one or two days when we can dive in the water, snorkel, and sit in the sun. We certainly do appreciate it now!!!!!  We did have a beautiful day at Namena yesterday and a good sail to here today.  We have to be gone by 10 AM tomorrow morning or we will be run over by the ferry. It is squally and windy right now, and luckily, we are secure here.  Love, S