S/V Learnativity, voyage to Fiji
Thursday, May 21st, 6:00 p.m.
Anchored at Nabouwalu off the southwest corner of Vanua Levu
Fiji is huge. I’ve come to realize that truth due to the fact that we have been in Fiji waters for two days now, and we still haven’t arrived at Savusavu, the port of entry where we will clear customs and immigration. Technically, we are in quarantine and flying the yellow flag that means no one should come aboard and we are not allowed to go ashore.
Fiji is a group of 332 islands and it covers an area as large as the Greek Islands. If this were the West Indies, its area would stretch from the US Virgins to Guadeloupe. It covers about 275,000 square miles of ocean. The biggest islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are large old volcanic islands with high mountains and big rivers – one of which is navigable for 100 miles inland.
We turned the corner around the Great Sea Reef to enter Round Island Passage at about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. For the next 16 hours, we were only intent on getting to an anchorage for the night. We didn’t want to be having to spend the night out on the water in these reef-strewn islands. Although in the midst of that sprint we had to shut down for 2 hours so Wayne could change all the fuel filters on the engine, we did make it to Yadua Island and anchored in Cukuvou Harbor for the night. It was a perfect little bay with two white sand beaches backed by palm trees and high green hillsides on three sides. While there was a village on the other side of the island, we had the bay all to ourselves.
It had been one week since we left Funafuti, and we’d had our share of high winds. If you’ve never experienced it, you cannot imagine how it feels to be overwhelmed by the sights and smells and sounds of land after a week at sea. To drop your anchor in a pale blue lagoon and hear little else but the sounds of the birds is pure magic. Wayne poured us both a glass of wine, and we toasted a successful passage and took a few selfies as the sun set.
To put the length of this voyage in perspective, we covered 24 degrees of latitude. That is the same as the difference in latitude between Seattle and Cabo San Lucas. So I figured, great, we’re here! We’re in Fiji! But who knew that Fiji was so huge we would need to spend a couple more days just getting to the port of entry.
So tomorrow, we still have about 45 miles more to go before we will arrive at Savusavu where we can clear in. Only then will be be able to say that this voyage to Fiji has finally come to an end. Then we will begin the exploration of these 332 islands, and I will be able to revisit some of the places I visited way back in 1976. I can’t wait!