Cruising Fiji- Savusavu

We stayed in NAWI Island Marina in Savusavu for almost two weeks. We slowly recovered from the long trip from New Zealand while enjoying the marina. NAWI has just been recently completed, or its marina slips have been. The docks are great- all floating- with great fresh water pressure and basic power (16-amp service). So, we are not able to run air conditioning at the same time as operating the other systems on the boat.

We were lucky as it was quite breezy for much of our time there so the marina was cooled by the tropical breeze. At night we were sleeping with our fans on, but were comfortable.

We ease into the cruising schedule. Early dinner (several taken in the Marina restaurant- where the curry dish is my first choice). The restaurant is being completed. The kitchen not yet done- and cooking is done in a makeshift kitchen in the meeting house bure.  Meals are served alfresco on the deck surrounding the open-air bar. But work continues to complete other areas, including a pizza oven.

Dinner at the restaurant

The bathrooms… wow. Has anyone ever made note of the bathrooms at anywhere?? They have beautiful bathrooms, some with shower rooms at the marina. Open air, private, clean.

WOW- bathrooms are amazing

After dinner we have after dinner drinks, while sitting outside on the flybridge or the bow deck and enjoy the evening coolness. Usually by 9:00 or 9:30 we are lights out and drifting off to sleep with the fans blowing over us.

I awaken most every morning at 0530, but don’t usually get up until 0630 or 0700. I put on the coffee, and we drift through our iPads, checking emails, NZ news, and check in on WhatsApp with others in the Rally. Our friends on Interval- David and Kathy – a Nordhavn 63 (absolutely gorgeous) and Peter and Melitta on Fortuna Star – (Nordhavn 52- also beautiful) are docked on the marina with us. They came about a week before we arrived.

The marina agrees to let us move our slip over to the big boys’ dock between the other Nordhavns so that Peter can get some drone photos of the three Nordhavns in NAWI Marina.

A nordhavn Noodle-(left to right) David and Kathy (Interval N63) Peter and Melitta (Fortuna Star N52) Jenny and Ted (Southern Star N47)

A Nordhavn Noodle- Interval, Southern Star, Fortuna Star

I soon loose track of time. The days flow together.

We take the ferry boat across the harbour to Savusavu- so scope out the market, and the stores, and the liquor stores.  Savusavu is bustling – all businesses are located along the one road along the harbour water front. The ferry drops its passengers at a dock in front of the bus terminal, where the market is also located. The bus terminal is busy and noisy and dusty. Lots of Fijians waiting for the buses, or lingering in the shade near the undercover open market.

The market is full of fruits, and vegies, and are awash with colours. Everyone smiles and greets you with Bula. Fijian ‘hello’ and Vinaka- ‘thank you’- often said one after the other hello thank you. But it is always a welcoming sound, said with big and genuine smiles. The village is poor- but there is no feeling of any desperation.  Most everyone we see and make eye contact smiles and says Bula.

Jenny at the outdoor market-

After our first walk through the village- I shopped around and found that the local rum runs about $82 Fiji dollars. This is about $57 NZD. Not cheap- but I learn that it has a nice flavour.

We pick up some papaya, and pineapple at the market and head back to the ferry dock to wait. While waiting, an older gentleman walks by. He has a brightly coloured flowered shirt, and wears a lavalava (traditional men’s skirt). He says Bula, and extends his hand to me. I shake his hand and he welcome us to Fiji. He asked where we are from. New Zealand, both- but I am from California originally. Oh, he smiles and says he lived in New York for some time. But it was too cold, and too many people.  He moved back to his native Fiji so he could get warm again. He wishes us the best and that we enjoy Fiji.

One of the first nights in the marina, we were invited to the sevusevu ceremony in the marina. This is the welcoming ceremony that visitors do with the chief of the village and we will have to do when we visit remote islands. Kava root is strained to create a drink, which is placed in a coconut shell cup and the chief offers the cup to the visitor- one clap and the visitor is to drink it down at once- and then clap three times, and say Vinaka. “High tide” for a full serve, “low tide” for a small cup. We are to purchase a quantity of this kava root to present to the village chiefs as we cruise through the islands.

The ceremony requires that we are dressed appropriately, Ted has a Lavalava, we purchased in South Auckland before we left.

Ted’s Lavalava
Kava ceremony at the marina

We spend some time on the boat- doing boat chores. We spent a day when we first arrived, cleaning the boat after the long passage. We took the collapsible ladder out of the flybridge and extended it to the top of the chimney. The black soot from the engine exhaust had covered all of the top of the white chimney- the radar domes were flecked with black, as was the large spot light. We literally spent hours with degreaser and soap and cleaned Southern Star from top to bottom.

I did some filter changes for the fuel polishing system- only realizing the reason for the blown o-ring in the filter cartridge was probably due to the 2 mc filter becoming clogged. We had some diesel in the bilges due to the filter- and we scrubbed and cleaned and added soap to the bilges. It took some time to get it all cleaned out.

We worked and then relaxed. We went to the market again several times.

We engaged some workers, recommended by the marina, to polish the boat. A team of 5 or 6 showed up and vigorously attached the hull, and the topsides. Unfortunately, they used a very caustic chemical, gel coat restorer, which caused the stainless to bleed rust.

The hull looked fine after they were done- but we found that the stainless was dripping rust onto the gelcoat. So, we are pretty disappointed with this work- and Jenny continuously is cleaning the areas where new rust is bleeding through. It looks like we will have to go over it all, again with our polisher and wax. So, our attempt at economic work in Fiji has been a total bust.

Fijians polishing the boat….

The other Nordhavns leave. We are on our own in the marina. There are other boats from the rally, but we spend most of the time to ourselves, although we do have Nancy from Aldabra over for fish tacos one night. She was our neighbour at Opua, and her and one of her crew are from Santa Cruz, so much in common with Ted.

We decide to leave after two weeks. The weather is promising to be calm and still. The marina is getting very hot. The swim up bar in the new pool is not yet open. The pool has no water yet. So, there is no relief from the heat. We even took a dip in the water behind the boat one afternoon to escape the heat.

We plotted a course from Savusavu to Viani Bay, about 50 miles to the east of Savusavu.This will be our first trip around and through the reefs in Fiji.  The two other Nordhavns are anchored in Viani Bay.  

We are nervous about navigating the reefs here. The charts are known to be off- many of the reefs are not shown- or are shown in the wrong place on the charts. We are using our boat laptop with Coastal Explorer as our main nav system, this is using CMaps, as the main charting software. We have it connected to the boats NMEA system- so it shares GPS/AIS/Wind/Depth, Course over ground (COG) with the laptop. We also have Navionics charting on our iPads- these are using Navionics charts, but also have satellite overlays.

I also use a software called Open CPN which is very popular- free navigation software. All of our devices connect to the boat’s NMEA bus via WIFI (via Starlink) so we can see all the data across all the devices. With Open CPN, David on Interval came over when we were in Whangarei and he showed me how to download several satellite views, as well as Navionics and CMaps onto the Open CPN software.

So now, Jenny will create an initial route on the ship’s laptop-Coastal Explorer, and I export it to the Open CPN program- the route shows up and I look at each part of it with Navionics, CMaps, and with the satellite views- which are more accurate at showing the actual positions of shallow spots- coral heads and reefs. I make changes to Jenny’s route as necessary, and then export this back to the ship’s laptop.

As mentioned in the last blog- navigation is serious here. One of the rally boats was lost on the way to Fiji, when they hit a reef and sank the boat. We plotted our course to Viani Bay which is east of Savusavu about 50 miles away. A good distance for a day trip. We want to be arriving in the destination about mid-day to 3:00 pm so that we have good light to see the reef and coral heads.

So, our last day here in Savusavu, we went over to the market and bought some more Fiji Bitter Beers, some more papayas, passionfruit, pineapple, eggs, cilantro and 5 loaves of bread.

Back from the market with provisions

Our last day, we checked out of the marina- filled with water, trash dumped. We had a nice meal at the marina restaurant and had an early night for our 0600 departure from Savusavu.

Thanks to Lynne, Grace and all the team from Nawi Island Marina for making us feel so welcome and valued.

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