August 20 - 31, 2006
The Yasawa Islands are a group of six large and numerous small islands in northwestern Fiji. Their total land mass is only 52 square miles. They are in a relatively straight line starting about 25 miles northwest of Lautoka and stretch 50 miles in a northeast direction.
The Yasawa Islands are beautiful, and they are probably what most persons think of when they envision south sea islands. Some have dramatic topography, most have palms and white sand beaches, and the surrounding waters are various indescribable shades of blue. The locals live in typical Fijian villages, and development has been limited to two upscale resorts and numerous 'backpacker' resorts.
The waters around the Yasawas are rife with coral reefs, and navigation around the islands can be demanding. We chose the least complicated route to the islands which is from Lautoka to Waya - the southernmost island. We sailed to Waya, then we sailed up the western shores of the islands to the northernmost island of Yasawa, then we stopped at a few islands along the way as we traveled back south.
With Nita's brother, Tom, on board, we left Vuda Point mid-day on August 20. Shortly after leaving, we caught a small tuna that guaranteed dinner. We tossed out the same lure again, and we caught a barracuda as we neared Waya Island. We did not want to eat the barracuda because of the risk of ciguatera toxicity, so we threw him back, but at least we had dinner.
August 20-22, 2006
Waya is a large volcanic island characterized by very dramatic terrain, and it is quite a sight from all directions. We had been looking at it for miles before arriving.
We arrived at Waya late in the day after motoring for 4 1/2 hours with the wind on our nose. We anchored in Yalobi Bay which is on the south coast of Waya. There were two other sail boats in the bay when we arrived. Yalobi Bay receives some protection from the small Wayasewa Island just to its southeast, but it was still a bit rolly though not particularly uncomfortable. Because it was late in the day, we postponed sevusevu until the next morning.
While ashore making sevusevu, we asked a young boy - Sam - to pick us a few drinking coconuts which he did. We gave him a few dollars for his efforts and the coconuts, and we invited him out to the boat. We gave him some fishing gear, and he fished with Bud and Tom from the dinghy until he caught dinner. He seemed to really enjoy himself.
But the northern islands were calling, so we left after only two nights and headed north. We were underway by mid-morning on August 22.
August 22-28, 2006
We caught a small fish on the way from Waya to Sewa-I-Lau, and we spent much of our travel time trying to figure out what it was. We got out all the fish books on board, and we finally decided that it must have been a double-lined mackerel, but we didn't come to that conclusion quickly or easily. Whatever it was, it was tasty.
Sewa-I-Lau is a small uninhabited limestone island off the southeast coast of Yasawa Island - the northernmost island in the Yasawas. We anchored between the two islands - in the lee of Sewa-I-Lau.
Bud and Tom went ashore Yasawa Island to make late afternoon sevusevu. The chief's spokesman asked that we return in the morning to see the local crafts. We slept well without the roll we had experienced at Waya, and we were ashore again the next day by mid-morning. We bought a few crafts and returned to the boat hoping for some quiet.
A few other sailboats arrived, so we decided to go see the limestone caves on Sewa-I-Lau while we could visit them by ourselves. Bud snorkeled the outer cave, and he was mesmerized with the structure. Tom was being bitten by some surface-dwelling creatures (they actually drew blood!), so he got out. Then a small cruise ship came in. So much for our peace and quiet.
Bud and Tom snorkeled on a shallow reef just behind our boat, and they were both dazzled by the corals. Bud wanted to scout a dive site, and Tom wanted to snorkel a bit more to increase his comfort level, so we divided up. We left Tom ashore a small sand caye just in front of our boat, and we took the dinghy in search of dive sites. When we returned in about a half hour, we found Tom sitting on the beach not looking particularly happy.
He had fallen while walking toward the beach, and he had to remove his fins. When he pulled off one of his fins, his rubber-soled boot came off with it. He stepped down on some coral and got a nasty deep coral cut on the arch of his foot. He also had lots of little scratches and scrapes, but the coral cut was potentially troublesome.
For a few seconds that Tom will likely long remember, Bud sprayed fresh water as deeply as he could in the wound with hopes of flushing out any coral polyps. Nita considered suturing it, but she feared that she would have to reopen it to dig out coral, so she just dressed it and kept her fingers crossed. As it turned out, she did have to dig some coral out of a small cut on one of his hands, but fortunately Bud's 'water torture' seemed to flush the coral out of his foot.
Tom was not a happy sailor. It was very early in his trip, and he was essentially laid up (he was under house arrest for the first two days). But he endured it with more humor than either of us probably could have mustered, and life went on. Fortunately we have lots of books on board, and he found a few that interested him.
The winds also started and continued to blow. Our winds remained in the 20s for days. So we again spent a lot of time just hanging out waiting for the weather to improve (how we spent much of our time in Fiji).
The wind decreased to 15 knots on the morning of the 28th, so we took advantage of the break and headed south.
August 28 - 31, 2006
The winds decreased as we headed south from Sewa-I-Lau. It turned in to a nice day to be on the water.
Most boats anchor at Naviti in Somosomo Bay, and when we arrived, we saw our friends John and Vera of SV Amante anchored there by themselves. We decided to give them their privacy while enjoying ours, so we anchored one bay to the east in Narewa Bay. However, almost immediately thereafter, a small cruise ship pulled in and anchored just behind them.
We went ashore at Somosomo village to make sevusevu, and when we returned, four boats had anchored in our anchorage. Two more came in later that day. Our 'private' anchorage now had seven boats, and SV Amante was sharing her anchorage with a small cruise ship. So much for privacy.
This is a very pretty bay. Tom and Bud snorkeled, and we fished from the dinghy without success. Then we went for a hike over the hill to a village we had been told about.
We took one wrong trail across the island, and we ended up further east than we had intended. We saw horses running wild, and we met three members of an isolated family whom spoke limited English. Then we walked along what is probably the prettiest beach we have ever walked. This beach had white sand, small islets off-shore, palm trees, and chambered nautilus shells washing up on shore. Then we came to the area that was our original destination.
We met a friendly local family there that spoke English quite well and were welcoming. We drank coconuts with them, and they gave us some herbs for Tom's foot. One of the boy's walked back over the hill with us and carried some coconuts for us to take aboard. A very nice day.
Time was marching on, and we were aware that we needed to get Tom back to Viti Levu within a few days. We had endured enough lousy weather that we considered various options. His preference was for us to sail him back on Passage, and we kept that as our primary goal. However, we needed an alternative plan. So we decided to get a bit further south so that we could get him out on a ferry if we were not able to make it back on Passage.
So we left the Yasawa Islands and headed for the Mamanucas. We would go to Navadra - the northernmost Mamanuca. Although Navadra does not have ferry service to Viti Levu, we could likely get him another island or two down the chain to catch the ferry if we couldn't get Passage back in time.