two stripes clown fish

Up and down in Fiji West – Lautoka, Mamanucas and Yasawas

At anchor in front of Lautoka
Palm trees and train rails line the main road

After 12 weeks we haven’t been to any city, so it is about time for a big re-provisioning.

Lautoka market
The market is overwhelming… especially after 10 weeks without visiting one
In the liquor store we are a bit shocked about the prices..
but happy about the transport help for filling up the beer…
Lautoka sugar festival
Parade on the Lautoka Sugar Festival
Lautoka sugar festival
The Miss Lautoka City Council is asiling towards a clean and green environment and two watchmen watch the world melting away
Lautoka sugar festival
The Hare Krsna group is singing and dancing in their colorful robes

We sail to Lautoka and anchor in front of Bekana island. For a small fee we can use their ferry dock to park our dinghy.

First priority is to get our visas extended, then into the market and the supermarkets.

I am literally overwhelmed about the choice and the prices are more than excellent. What a treat after 2 months on pumpkin ;-).

When I still walk back and forth to compare the quality of tomatoes instead of just buying the first or second piles Reto get nervous.

I have to park him in a corner of the market in order to be free to wander around and choose what I consider to be best…

After 1.5 days only gas, gasoline and diesel is missing, we think to quickly drop in at Vuda Marina with the dinghy.

But during the In night of the closing of the sugar festival all the hills around Lautoka are burning – the locals burn the rests of sugarcane in the fields.

The result is a black She San, my skipper asks for permission to move the boat into the marina to get it washed…

Vuda Marina
She San and Foxy Lady in Vuda Marina, unfortunately the wall is askew not straight down

We get a space alongside the wall at the entrance and sceptically I ask the marineros if this is not a problem for the boat. „No problem“ they assure us, „the catamaran in front is already here for a week.“

Shortly after Rick and Remko steer in the Foxy Lady and get the last place in the marina alongside of She San. We are happy to see them again and immediately get an arrival beer handed over.

Unfortunately we are not here just for fun, our to do’s have to get done. But there are no coins for washing until the next morning, the pressure washer stops working, then the electricity is gone for a while. For the gas refill Reto has to run back and forth a total of 4 times, and then the diesel is empty…In the end we stay for a second night and enjoy the evening together with Hakuna Matata who invite us for BBQ.

The moment we leave we find out the the place on the askew wall isn’t as smart nevertheless. Reto has to back up the heck of She San into the wind and I do my best to stuff fenders between the wall and the boat above the waterline. But the part below I cannot fender off, so I hear the sound of our hull touching the askew wall below – not a nice sound after all!!

Navadra, we have the beach (almost) for us
Dolphins play with She San

A few hours later our anchor falls with a total of 25 meters in the beautiful bay of Navadra.

Uninhabited and far out, a place to relax and calm down.

We hike up the hill in Sawa-i-Lau
interesting lime stone formations
Nanuya Lailai
Pinapple plantation in Nanuya Lailai
Nanuya Lailai
Wonderful hike over the island…
Nanuya Lailai
…with views to all sides

After a few days we use the southerly winds to sail up all the way to the island of Yasawa.

On the way back we check out the popular anchorages of Sawa-i-Lau, Blue Lagoon and the Manta Pass.

We want to be prepared as we soon expect guests on board.

Malolo Laila
BBQ with Loupan and Mezzaluna

Back at Malolo lailai (Musket Cove) we enjoy 3 evenings with Loupan and Mezzaluna. Then we hop over to Port Denerau, where we find shelter from the northerly winds south of the island of Yakuilau.

The dinghy ride over to the marina is sometimes pretty rough, but luckily we only get really wet while going back to the boat.
Nadi dentist
At the dentist in Nadi

The bus takes us to Nadi to collect our visa stamps, visit the dentist and re-provision what we can carry.

On Sunday noon we move onto a marina mooring, my friend Maren arrives.
Sri Siva Subramaniya Hindu Tempel in Nadi
The Sri Siva Subramaniya Hindu Tempel in Nadi
market in Nadi
Another visit to the market in Nadi

Together we visit one more time the town and market of Nadi, then the fruit nets and fridge are fully stuffed and we are ready for the islands.

Malolo Laila
Out on the reef in Malolo Lailai…
Malolo Laila
…we feel like in an aquarium…
Malolo Laila
…and are sourrounded by an enormous amount of Sergeant Major

In calm weather we engine back to Musket and right at the entrance reef we hop into the water for a first awesome snorkel.

The fish come out to the boat, the corals shine in the sun light and a curious sea snake welcomes us.

musket cove
Meeting again with Acapella and Loupan in Musket Cove

We park She San right next to Acapella – how good to see Ellen and Martin again after 15 months ago in Papeete.

In the evening we meet for sun downer and BBQ, that’s the way to end a day in Musket Cove.

Yoga Musket Cove
Relaxation and streching in the mornings – our Yoga spot in Musket Cove
musket cove
Musket Cove, a good place for walks around the island 🙂
and for picking up some mangos 😉

We start the days at 6 am with Yoga at the beach, have breakfast and afterwards a long walk around the island passed “our” pawpaw tree and some mango trees where I cannot resist to pick up some fruit.

Reto is tasting his first home mixed kava
Martin on the other hand is not so excited about the taste…
…and also Ellen doesn’t look pleased after swallowing the brown liquid 😉

For sundowner we spontaneously make a Kava party on She San, as Ellen and Martin have never tried Kava before.

Reto mixes the Kava as we have seen so many times before (with the difference he says that he knows that he has washed his hands well ;-)).

Deducting from their faces Ellen and Martin do not yet like the taste of the Kava, but still they bravely swallow three rounds.

Navadra sandspit
THe beautiful sandbar in Navadra get the swell from both sides, how long until it is washed away?
Navadra sandspit
THe path up to the hill top is steep, but worth the effort…
One of the many turtles is swimming directly in front of us
Crown of Thorn's starfish
The Crown of Thorn’s starfish feeds on corals and can destroy whole reefs, in Navadra for sure there is too many of them

The next day we engine up north to Navadra where we hike the “mountain” and enjoy the awesome view down.

A big barracuda bites into our lure…

We continue to the Manta pass and catch a rather large barracuda on the way.

We don’t dare to eat it ourselves, the warnings about Ciguatera too well in mind, so the locals working at Manta resort gladly take it.

barberi clown fish
Barberi Clown Fisch with one stripe
two stripes clown fish
and their collegues with two stripes

At the manta pass we find the most beautiful fish and corals but the mantas seem to take a break.

Although the wind picks up we head further north, Blue Lagoon would be the target.

But the wind turns a lot more north than in the forecast and with 30+ knots on the nose we decide to hide in Somosomo instead.

There is a village and a mountain to walk up, that should give us something to explore.

When we reach the village in the beginning everything seems normal, like we are used to it from the Lau and Kadavu. Well. Va who escorts us to the chiefs house already mentions that “by the way, three women have just finished the massage exam, I am one of them”.

Sevusevu in Somosomo
At the Sevusevu in Somosomo…
Sevusevu in Somosomo
.. Lady chief Andi is 92 years old and chief since more than 70 years!
Right after the Sevusevu we have to look at “Handicrafts”, although we get the feeling that a big part is fabricated far away..

Her mother Koro introduces us to Andi, the 92 year old lady chief. A few words are mumbled over our Kava root, then we can take a picture together with Andi.

What our plans are we are asked and we reply that we would like to hike the mountain, the one with the antenna. “Yes, all the tourists hike up there” Koro tells me, “you just have to pay 5 FJD per person and someone will show you the way.”  We agree that we come back for that the next day.

“And just right now we will have a fund raising tea near the church” Koro informs us, “well, we didn’t bring any money” I reply and see Koro’s face become rather bitter.

“But you can have a look at the handicrafts” and immediately the three ladies outside place their “handicrafts” out on their cloths. It doesn’t take much inspection to see that most of it has travelled a far distance already, but we chose one piece from each lady to show our goodwill.

Back on board She San we tell Maren about one really shitty storm night in a bay in Greece, just at the start of our trip. Not long after the wind turns to north, the sky opens the doors for the rain and the swell makes us go up and down like sailing in rough seas. Luckily after a few hours the storm is over and we find some good sleep.

The next morning we pack for the hike and over at the village Va shows us into the house of her father-in-law Wati.
We are welcomed for tee at Wati’s house

We are invited for tee but it doesn’t take long to be asked for sewing machine needles, batteries and fishing gear. We promise to bring some later and little Andrea shows us to the house of Koro.

She walks with us to see the man who should show us the way, but he’s not there. So Koro shows us a small hill next to shore “that’s where you have to go”. I am openly disappointed and tell her so “You expect us to pay 15 FJD in order to be able to hike that little hill?” She reduces to FJD 10, so I give her the money. In that moment the man appears and I cautiously ask her “but we don’t have to pay him again now?” “Yes” she says, so I take the 10 Dollars out of her hand again.

Then the man shoes us up the hill, we quickly enjoy the view and within 35 minutes we are back at our dinghy.

On the beach a group of men just gets into a longboat next to us. One of them asks Reto “Skipper, we go to a Fund raising event, don’t you have a bundle of Kava for us?” Reto says no, he has also enough…

The next morning the wind becomes less, we go up for one night to Blue lagoon, and enjoy the hike around the island, Lo’s chocolate cake and a sundowner with Mezzaluna.

Back at the Manta pass the snorkeling is again nice, although a bit more rough than the first times.

We are happy to sail a few hours on the way down, then the sky becomes black all around, we make it into Musket cove and are glad to be there.

On our walk around the island we meet John from Fulaga at the wood carving place. We chat a bit, then I ask him if they have a church in the settlement. “Yes, service starts at 10 to 10.30 am tomorrow”, so we agree to come. “I will make a love then” and my mind starts to race what I could bring as presents.
As we are about to leave John says “You could bring…” and I wait expectantly, still having the Somosomo experience in mind – “some pictures from Fulaga” he finishes.

In the afternoon I sort pictures onto the tablet, bake a large chocolate cake and pack the Kava to bring with us. Even though we spend the evening with Rick and Remco savouring all our home brew and distill products we manage to be in the village the next morning just after 9 am. John and his kids look happy to see our pictures from Fulaga, the kids have never yet been there, I assume.

Church in Cubi
We are warmly welcomed In church at the settlement of Cubi, also called Small Fulaga
Sunday lunch Cubi
and after church we are invited by John to join a rich Sunday meal

In church we are relieved to be offered one of the two benches to sit on, our backs probably would have made problems sitting on the floor all the time.

John also hands us a songbook for the first time, so we can accompany the beautiful singing with some mumbling from our side.

After church the table cloth is loaded with food, it is very tasty and I am aware of how much he must have spent to buy all this.

We promise to come back in the afternoon and are more than grateful for the warm welcome we feel in the settlement of Cubi.

Back at our dinghy we get to know Lala, who works at the school in Solevu. She watched our dinghy and gives us a pile of drinking nuts, which we have been looking for without any success the past weeks. We agree to give her a ride back to her school in the afternoon.

But trying to fill up with diesel via a filter Reto drops a piece of plastic hose into our diesel tank, and we frenetically try to get it back out through the little hole .

Therefore Reto takes Lala who is happy to be able to transport some necessary stuff and tells John that we will be back in a few days.

Then my sister Gaby and her boy friend Markus will take over from Maren and we hope to do the round up and down the Mamanucas und Yasawas one more last time.

Fiji-Sailing in the Mamanucas and Yasawas
Fiji – Sailing in the Mamanucas and Yasawas
Cruising the Mamanucas and Yasawas in Fiji
Cruising the Mamanucas and Yasawas in Fiji

2 thoughts on “Up and down in Fiji West – Lautoka, Mamanucas and Yasawas”

  1. Great to read the ongoing adventures of SheSan now we’re home in Bristol. Hope to see you next year? Annie and Hugh xxx

    1. Dear Annie and Hugh,
      hope you are doing fine and you enjoy your stay at home with your family.
      We have arrived meanwhile in Kiribati and after the run trough all the officials we finally got the permit to visit the other atolls beside Tarawa. It is wonderful here and hard to believe that the atolls will dissapear within 50-60 years.
      Only in Tarawa live about 60000 people. The goverment is discussing soloution to buy some islands somewhere.
      At the moment we are anchored in Abaiang. Very traditional. All the hats are still made out of the traditional materials.
      We even met a Swiss guy who is married with a Kiribas and has built a nice house here.
      We wish you a merry Christmas and a great 2019.
      Big hugs
      Angela and Reto

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