After our visit to Vurevure Village it was time to move on so we set out early in the morning for the southern end of Taveuni Island and a little resort known as Paradise Resort. The trip was pretty uneventful and in the early afternoon we arrived and took a mooring in front of this small dive resort. The water here is the clearest we’ve seen in all of Fiji. It’s literally like having the boat over top of our own private aquarium! Ahhh….how we love to see water like this!
The people at the resort were wonderful, warm and very welcoming and will provide you with more than enough information on what there is to see and do nearby. We, however, were only going to be there for the night because a weather front was headed our way and this is not the place to be in 25-30 knot southerly winds.
We had cocktails at the bar and later had dinner by the pool and ocean under a thatched roof hut. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to do any snorkeling but we will be back this way next year so this is definitely on our list!
The following day we all headed to Savusavu to seek protection from the coming winds and weather. Forecast was for 25-30 knot winds with lots of rain to accompany them. In Savausavu you can go up into the river to get away from the fetch and it’s very well protected.
Our arrival in Savusavu marked the end of our circumnavigation around Vanua Levu. In all we travelled 360 NM over the course of 18 days. We visited 12 anchorages and toured 7 villages. We took a five mile dinghy ride up a river to the city of Labasa and lived to tell the tale. We met 4 chiefs, gave away 5 bundles of Kava, visited 4 schools, snorkeled beautiful reefs, enjoyed savory meals aboard each other’s yachts and had an amazing and wonderful time with dear friends. We also replaced a windlass motor and diagnosed and repaired a ground wire problem that caused our engine not to start in the middle of nowhere! It was truly an adventure we will never forget.
When we arrived in Savusavu the Copra Shed Marina didn’t have even one available mooring. It seems everyone had the same idea…get to a protection anchorage. Add to that the fact that the ARC Rally boats were in the area and this place was packed. No big deal for Dazzler, we just headed a little further up the river and were pleased to find an available mooring at Savusavu Marina and what a wonderful place this turned out to be.
You see, most yachties come in wanting to stay near Copra Shed because the marina and yacht club are there and it’s very centrally located along the strip where the shopping and restaurants are located. Savusavu Marina, on the other hand, is a bit further up the river and not as close to those things. But honestly, it’s still less than a five minute dinghy ride to Copra Shed so I don’t understand the big deal. We LOVED this place. It is away from all the chaos and dinghies running about and we had a wonderful breeze coming across the reef area from the bay on the other side. One afternoon we even watched a couple of whales playing in the adjoining bay at sunset. The sunsets here were absolutely spectacular! And, best of all, NO mosquitoes!!! When we stayed at Copra Shed we were eaten alive and had to keep our screens in the companionway. Here we didn’t have a one! AWESOME SAUCE!
The day after we arrived here more and more of the ARC Rally boats started coming in looking for moorings. For those who don’t know, ARC is a World Cruising Club and they organize rallies for cruisers all over the world. The rally that hit Savusavu that day was the World Rally. They take 15 months to sail around the world. Personally I’ve no interest in racing around the world in less than two years. How are you supposed to immerse yourself into the different cultures and really get to know about the people and places you’re visiting when you are in and out in a matter of days or even a couple of weeks? No, we enjoy taking our time and getting to know the locals, learning about their lives and just enjoying the places we visit.
Of course if you read about the ARC rallies you’ll see all of the “pretty, polished” events they arrange with local dancers and stuff like that. I guess if that’s what you’re into then fine but we’ve had so many wonderful, one on one experiences with the islanders I just can’t imagine only seeing these places through the eyes of a “tourist”. What these people are seeing in their haste to circumnavigate the globe is not the real thing. It’s the commercialized, tourist experience. Nope….not our can of beer.
The day all of the ARC boats began descending upon Savusavu is also the day that I lost all respect for a vast majority of these people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many of them are lovely people but I heard some of the most rude and nasty boaters on the radio that day. Captains were calling the marinas on the radio and demanding that they find them a mooring. Seriously, I actually heard one man say to the girl on the radio, “I’m with ARC and I demand that you find me a mooring NOW!” Many others were rude to the people in the marinas and restaurants as well and not just on the radio but right there in person. There was this horrible entitled attitude that seemed to just permeate the air. I was literally shell shocked by how uppity and truly nasty these people were to the locals. I guess just because they spent a little over €20,000 to join this around the world rally they assume that everyone on earth must bow to them. Well, if I was one of those locals I’d have had a few words to say to those jerks and it wouldn’t have been, “Bula Vinaka” either!
These boats came in for two days, maybe three and everywhere they went they left a wake of chaos behind. They sucked up all of the resources….food, fuel, restaurant space etc.. and then off they went. I’m absolutely certain the locals had to be beyond ecstatic to see them go. Sure, the money they generate is fine but is it really worth it when there are other cruisers who come in, spend time, get to know the people and really try to assimilate into the culture? Later we found out that Savusavu had a supply shortage immediately after ARC left. Hmmmm…. Anyway, as you can see we’re not big fans of the whole ARC Rally thing and we certainly lost a tremendous amount of respect for many of the yachties we saw and heard come through the area.
But, we didn’t let them spoil our time in Savusavu. We spent five days there just enjoying the people and, of course, spending our last few days with Lutz & Gabi. After traveling with them for almost three weeks it was going to be hard to see them leave so we met up for happy hours and had a couple of dinners together. One place in particular had some pretty good Asian cuisine. It was not a fancy restaurant by any means but the food was excellent. It was the Hong Kong Restaurant and we loved it.
Finally the time came to say, “Farewell” to our dear friends Lutz and Gabi. It was time for them to continue moving as their son was flying in and they needed to get to Vitu Levu. We celebrated our circumnavigation of Vanua Levu with a farewell dinner at the Captain’s Table at Copra Shed Marina. It was a bittersweet evening but we left with the knowledge that we’d meet up again in a few weeks.
For the next couple of days we worked on boat projects and just enjoyed our time in the area. We had lunches at Surf & Turf Restaurant and the Savusavu Yacht Club. We filled our fuel tanks and picked up a few veggies at the outdoor market. Dan began planning the next leg of our journey. From here we will move south toward Viti Levu, the largest island in Fiji. Who knows what other wonderful adventures await? That’s what I love most….never knowing what amazing things we will see in our next port. THIS truly is a blessed life out here and I’m so happy to be sharing it with Dan!
The food at Surf & Turf is amazing!
Until next time,
Jilly & Dan
P.S. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention a great little store here in SavuSavu. It’s called Sea Lovers Wine, Spirits & Deli. This wonderful little gem has those hard to find items you’ve been missing in your travels. From international wines and spirits to gourmet cheeses and our personal favorite, Mission Tortillas, we found a lot of yummy treats in here. The owners are lovely people and we highly recommend stopping in if you make it to Savusavu. They are located on the main drag down by the Immigration Office. You can’t miss them.