KatieKat 2003 Cruise Chapter Eleven
- Fiji MiniCruise -

Click on underlined text to jump to it. Underlined dates pertain to this webpage.
GoBackTo NZ-Fiji Passage Part 2
22 September 2003Arrival in Lautoka, Fiji
30 September 2003Vuda Point Marina
1 October 2003Musket Cove
5 October 2003Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands
7 October 2003Offshore Preparations
8 October 2003Destination Noumea
GoFwdTo Fiji-NewCal Passage

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[Southwestern Pacific Map] [Fiji Chart] [Western Fiji Chart]

Fiji is located about 1100nm NNE of New Zealand. We sailed to the western side of the main western island, Viti Levu. The third chart gives you some idea of the navigational obstacles in cruising the outlying islands.

22 September, 2003 -- Arrival in Lautoka, Fiji

[Fiji Dawn] [Navula Passage Reef]

Our first dawn view of Fiji, on September 22. Going through Navula Passage we thankfully have a marker identifying the end of the reef.

[Off To Customs]After setting the anchor, I take off to take care of the Customs, Immigration, and Health formalities. Lautoka is quite a commercial city, and in the background you can see the sugar mill and the pile of woodchips waiting to be sent overseas.

30 September, 2003 -- Vuda Point Marina

After our passage we settled into Vuda Point Marina for a few days. It is quite nice and is conveniently located between the towns of Lautoka and Nadi. [The "d" gets pronounced "nd", so it is pronounced "Vunda Point" and "Nandi"]. At Vuda Point Marina we have the pleasure of being charged DOUBLE because we're a catamaran - the equivalent of a 66ft yacht! Fair enough, but perhaps the docking fees should be based on BOA and not LOA for everyone? Prior to taking the photo below, there had been another boat to our starboard when we came in - we were literally squeezed into a spot previously vacated by a monohull. Thank goodness for all the fenders we carry!

[Open Hatch Palm Tree] [KatieKat Med-Tied]

A view of a palm tree out the open hatch. How romantic... NOT! Note the petroleum storage tanks behind the marina - Vuda Point, just around the corner, is THE major delivery terminal for oil tankers which tie up to mooring buoys right outside the marina.

[View of KatieKat from Shore] [Kathy Pulling Boat In] [Kathy Stretching]

OK, now that we're tied up Med-style, how does one get off the boat? Because we have a plumb bow, we need to be far away from the wall's sloping edge - and we have no bowsprit to clamber onto and the marina doesn't provide gangplanks like Noumea does. Luckily, the neighboring boat does have a handy bowsprit, so this is the routine we go through every time we want to get on and off - sometimes quite interesting if the tide is at its extremes.

[Dinner Toast]Roughing it at a neighboring resort's restaurant. The first night, we had had a great dinner at the Vuda Point Yacht Club (at half the price). There is also an excellent snack bar at the marina itself, with even better prices.

[Joe Up Mast] [Joe Up Mast]

The masthead anchor light is out, so it's up the mast to fix it. We were laughing, as the most important thing needing to be done that day was to change a lightbulb - what an unbelievable contrast with one's past life! Anyway, didn't even get that done, as I had tied a bowline in the main halyard for attaching myself to the bosun's chair, and this prevented me from being hoisted up ALL the way to the top, so I couldn't see/find the screws which needed to be removed in order to remove the housing to hopefully change the bulb. Saved the task for another day... and kept Kathy from developing bulging arm muscles.

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1 October, 2003 -- Musket Cove

We started our brief tour of the islands by sailing off to Musket Cove - the anchorage is quite deep. No mooring balls were available and since they also wanted to charge us double at their marina because we're a catamaran, I elected to anchor in the 55' of water (the deepest we've anchored to date).

[KatieKat Anchored] [Bridle/Rope Attachment] [Bridle/Rope Attachment]

We carry 100' of chain and another 150' of rope. For attaching the bridle to the anchor rode I simply put a double-loop through the bridle thimble and stick my custom pin through it (belaying pin?, marlinspike?, fid?) - thanks Larry for making this stopper thingy for me. Uh, how much of a shear load can a 2.15cm dia. piece of teak take?

[Musket Cove Anchorage]Musket Cove is where the cruisers hang out in this part of the world. It is a regular resort, but also caters to cruisers who are welcome to use the resort's facilities (including their beautiful pool). The marina, Yacht Club, showers, well-supplied store, and a cruiser's BBQ each evening creates a pleasant relaxing environment.

For two days the winds howled through the anchorage - the Bruce anchor and custom stopper held just fine, but, as always, I had the GPS anchor alarm set because there was a reef just behind KatieKat.

[Another Seawind] [Seaplane Taxiing] [Seaplane Taking Off]

If you'll look closely in the first photo you'll see another Seawind catamaran (a day-party boat)! The next two photos show a seaplane taking off into the 27-knot winds. Happily, he didn't need much of the choppy "runway" before he was airborne.

[Kathy Varnishing]Kathy does a great job of keeping KatieKat looking nice - here, some varnish touch-up.

[Musket Cove Yacht Club Membership Card Joe] [Musket Cove Yacht Club Membership Card Joe]

Simply had to join Musket Cove Yacht Club (lifetime membership for the skipper is about US 50 cents, crew five times as much) as their prerequisite is that you must have sailed there from a foreign port.

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5 October, 2003 -- Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands

[Joe Island]In the background is the island featured in the Tom Hanks' film Castaway

From Musket Cove we sailed northwards to Waya Island, and anchored overnight in Yalobi Bay with beautiful mountains overlooking the bay and village. Made the yaqona root presentation to the village chief, with the associated formal sevusevu ceremony welcoming us to their village. Tradition is practiced and respected in Fiji. Didn't take any photos within the village (out of respect for the villagers), but it was very neat and tidy and quite a contrast to our "modern" way of life.

[KatieKat in Valobi Bay] [Waya View]

Yalobi Bay on the south end of Waya Island has a spectacular view of the mountains above it. The village is nestled in amongst the palm trees. Happily, we could bring KatieKat in fairly close to shore, and thus had a nice 20' anchoring depth. Great to be able to jump into the water again and check the anchor.

[Water Taxi]This is how the kids commute to the school on the island.

[Styrofoam Boat]Great use for a styrofoam packing crate! The other boat the kids were using was a canoe fabricated from corrugated roofing sheets - I forgot to snap a picture of it, but it was very functional, with a wooden keel and wooden gunwales. We found the children, many who swam out to our anchored boat, very exuberant and friendly and extremely well-mannered.

[Waya Side View] [Waya Aft View]

Motorsailing up the western and then the northern side of Waya Island, this is what it looks like.

[Sand Bank] [Island and Reef]

This entire area is dotted with reefs, sand banks, and tiny islands. Have to watch the navigation carefully! Eyeballs are mandatory, as chart accuracy is, well, questionable...

[Deserted Island] [Deserted Island]

This little island struck my fancy. Note the the vegetation, and you can barely see the reef surrounding it. Visions of being marooned...

[Tokatokaunu Pass]On the south end of Naviti Island, we anchored by Tokatokaunu Pass and spent the afternoon snorkeling - saw some great coral and fish, but didn't see the fabled manta rays which come in / go out with the tide through the pass.

[Water Temp 90.5degF]Hey, with temperatures like this, we can spend all day snorkeling in this clear water.

Unfortunately, our brief foray into the beautiful outlying islands of Fiji had to come to an end and we scurried back to Vuda Point ahead of predicted strong southeasterlies.

While returning to Vuda Point from the Yasawas, we both noticed a very slight vibration in the port engine which hadn't been there before. With close to 1000 hours on each motor (actually, 991 on port), I'm beginning to wonder when it'll be time for a valve job or...? Anyway, while in the marina and maneuvering BikeBoat to hoist it back up, I glanced at the engines and ... can you spot the difference?

[Propeller Nut] [Propeller No Nut] [Propeller No Nut]

The left photo is of the starboard prop, and the next two are of the port prop. Duh...? I KNOW the nut was there before!! Looks as though I'll need to chase those threads a little, but otherwise no noticeable damage. Amazing! Just added two prop nuts to my pre-departure shopping list...

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7 October, 2003 -- Offshore Preparations

We are currently provisioning the boat and trying to decide whether to go to Vanuatu and/or New Caledonia or straight through to Australia. There is only one propeller nut in stock in all of Fiji, and it should arrive today from Suva.

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8 October, 2003 -- Destination Noumea

After considerable deliberation, we decided to skip Vanuatu because we simply wouldn't have sufficient time to explore the country properly (note our whirlwind cruise of Fiji). The reason for the rush is that cyclone season is just around the corner, with some noises being made that it may be an early season because of high water temperatures in the region. We're taking the southerly (hopefully, trade-wind) route to Australia and plan on stopping in New Caledonia along the way. When we checked out through Fijian Customs and Immigration, neither had the capability of handling two destination possibilities, forcing us to commit to either Brisbane or Noumea. We are departing at mid-day today, and the passage is a little under 700nm. 'Bye! :-)

[New Prop Nut]The propeller nut arrived as promised, but is not quite the same as the original, necessitating installing the castle nut upside-down and with an extra flat washer. What had looked like galled threads was actually grease, so there was absolutely no damage to the prop shaft threads. Hopefully, the engine vibration is gone. I was nice to the engine and changed its oil and filter as well.

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