Originally from Phillip Island – Victoria, Peter and Val Salisbury purchased a Fountaine Pajot Lavezzi 40 “SV Duet” in 2006 which they now base in Mooloolaba when they are not happily cruising the Pacific.
Their most recent cruising has seen them sailing the Pacific for the past 18 months. Here, Val gives us an update on their latest adventures in Fiji. We look forward to following Peter and Val as they head to Vanuatu and beyond.
It’s been wonderful here in Fiji, we have enjoyed the scenery and the people immensely but sadly our time here has come to an end. There are new shores to explore and tomorrow we set sail for Vanuatu. The passage to Port Villa should take 3-4 days and the weather forecast shows very little wind, so it won’t be a fast trip but it should be fairly smooth.
Since returning to Fiji 6 weeks ago with the threat of cyclones diminished, we have been able to travel further afield. A few weeks ago we set off with the intention of circumnavigating Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Starting on the west coast we headed in a clockwise direction. We sailed along the coast through the lagoons inside the fringing reef, this kept us on our toes. The scenery in the west and north was spectacular with the mountains giving an amazing backdrop to the fields of sugar cane. It took two days to sail from Lautoka on the mid west coast to Rakiraki on the north east corner. We dropped the anchor each afternoon in one of the many beautiful bays.
We had thought that this trip would be a chance to break what had been for us, a fish drought… no fish would attach themselves to our line. But for two days we had been trolling a lure with no luck, even after intentionally going in and out of several reef passes to increase our chances. The third day we headed down the east coast and in the afternoon left the fringing reef and headed for the small, very beautiful island of Naigani. It was just out of Naigani that the drought broke and within an hour we had caught two large fish, one a tuna and the other a very impressive Giant Trevally. After that we didn’t put the lines out again. But we did enjoy fresh sashimi that night and we froze the rest of the fish to share with some local Fijians.
Naigani was a stepping stone to our first destination Levuka, the former capital of Fiji. Levuka is situated on Ovalau an island to the east of Viti Levu. It is a very picturesque town with many buildings being evidence of its colonial days. The main street looks like something from the wild west. The town is built on a thin strip of land between the mountains and the sea. Behind the town hidden in the lush tropical vegetation is a maze of concrete paths and steps leading between the many hidden houses built on the steep slope. We spent an afternoon wandering these paths it was magical.
From Levuka we had planned to continue heading south to Kandavu, an island off the south coast of Viti Levu. The snorkeling is said to be excellent there. However on arriving in Levuka the weather was very blowy. What made it even worse was that Levuka was on the east side of Ovalua this made for a very unprotected anchorage from the enthusiastic SE trade winds. A fringing reef protected the harbor from large swells but it was still very choppy and there was nothing to ease the wind. At this time the Coral Coast which is the southern coast of Viti Levu was receiving very large seas as a result of a low near New Zealand. Our sailing motto is that we are here for a good time so we had no intention of sailing south head-on into the 3m seas. So we waited out a few days in Levuka which was very pleasant despite the appalling anchorage. We wanted to see if the seas down south would calm down a bit but that wasn’t to be the case. Big seas were forecast for the next week or so. So being tired of the windy anchorage we decided on Plan B.
Plan B meant we turned around and headed back the way we came over the top and back down the west coast. Even though the wind was still blowing this was fine as it was in very protected waters. On arriving back at Denarau we booked Duet into the marina and rented a car for the week. I had wanted to see the interior of Viti Levu which is tricky from a boat! The road, or rather track, I wanted to explore runs through the interior from Ba in the north west to Sigatoka on the south coast. It needs a 4wd to tackle it but it was worth the effort. We left the sugar cane farms of Ba near the coast and headed into the Nausori Highlands. We visited the village of Navala which is a traditional Fijian village still with thatched houses. Travelling along this remote road we were surprised to meet many groups of people from villages heading to work on their farms. Most carried huge machettes some were on horse back some just walking with friends but all ready to stop and have a chat.
After leaving the highlands in the north the road kept heading south into the Signatoka river valley. The vegetation here became much more lush and tropical with farmed land along the rivers edge. We spent the night at a resort in Pacific Harbour on the Coral Coast and the following day set off very early to go white water rafting down the Upper Navua River. This was something that I had been eager to do since we arrived in Fiji. After an uncertain start with bogged bulldozers and 4wd buses and a hike to the river, we had a great day paddling between tall gorges and past many waterfalls. I must say that by the end of the week I was glad that we had decided on Plan B.
I have included a link to Skipper, a website where we log our position – click here to view – Where is Duet?
I want to send this while I have still have internet here in Fiji as I’m not sure what it will be like in Vanuatu. Anyway its getting late now and I will need to be on watch tomorrow night as we are sailing the ocean, so I had better get some sleep.
Bye for now.