Slice Of Heaven
Spent the last month or so catching up with summer cruising friends, diving and fishing, plus meet some of the Fiji connections. Back at Marsden cove as we want to visit Wanaka (South Island) for the autumn leaves, and catch a few pics.
Choice spot inside at Rangiputa, very clear water and great fishing grounds.
After spending a few weeks in the Rangaunu Bay area between Cape Karikari and Houhura we had to move for the on coming cyclone Winston. For some time now we have had nothing but easterly swells ahead of the lows up in Fiji.
At Whangaroa catching up with the summer cruisers. Waiting for 3 others to move on up. Time to check out the flounder and other local delicacies. Then further North.
Start of the second part of summer cruising up the Far North after 4 weeks in Rangiora house / horse sitting! Water temp finally up as prior to Xmas, Nov it was very low, was just climbing as we left Northland which improved the snapper fishing no end. Was a great start to the scallop season, long may it last.
At Whangaroa after all the tripping around on the mainland. Managed to score a few crays, lots of Packhorse of crays of size but left those for another day as some say not as tasty.
After a great run at Barrier, back at Marsden Cove for a trip to Christchurch and Wanaka with chilly bin of crays and scallops to catch up with family for the pre Xmas thing. Then re stock SOH ready for moving North for several weeks meeting up with the local Kiwi cruising boats. Plus some diving at old favourites spots.
Down to Rangiwhakaea Bay from Bay of Islands via Marsden Cove to the Needles at Gt Barrier Is.
Water temp is all over the place from 14.5c to 18c. Big jelly fish at the Needles. Snapper fishing good, all size in very short order. With scallops from BOI and Snapper from Barrier we finally have some Kiwi tucker.
Having scrubbed and washed all the Fiji sugar cane ash off SOH we are at Orokawa Bay and Opunga dancing from one side to other to shelter from cold gusty 30knt westerlies. It's just a reminder we are back in NZ.
Arrived Marsden Point marina
heading 164M Speed 13Kts. Flat calm for run into Marsden Cove Marina. Enjoying sunrise with capucchino. Will be a 4 days 22hrs run this time. And 1415lts of fuel. Great trip and experince thanks to a bunce of helpfull yachting friends and crew. Special. Thanks to Ray and Shelly, the good ship Rayfiki.
position; 29 19.5390s 175 35.7084e What a run Blue sky Flat mirror calm sea. No wind. Fired up the after burners and running at 13kts.
Record run of 302Nms for 24 hours. Boys are ready to water ski behind SOH!!
What a difference a day makes. From been tossed around to clam as with a following long 1.5m swell. Bacon and eggs for brunch, and able to walk around freely and enjoy the ride. Long may it last. We are pretending the front down the road doesn't exist!
Just passing Denerau , leaving Fiji for Marsden Cove.
Back again to Musket Cove, ideal for getting sorted for crossing in a week or 2 time. Hot sunny days, hope NZ is warming up.
At Navadra Is which is deserted and small so gives the feeling of being 'castaway'. Beautiful white beaches, palm trees with fine sand on both sides and a tiny isthmus that is awash at high tide. Perfect.
Back at Musket Cove on the Marina. On way back found a very attractive bit of snorkelling reef out near Cloud 9, a floatting booze barge anchored out wide with the younger set and not so young jumping off in various sates of inebriation. They were happy. Finally a few showers after months of no rain, SOH badly needs a fresh shower or two. Time to sort out crew for our return then a bit more cruising to be had. Some of the gang have or close to departing back to NZ.
At Monuriki Is where the film Castaway -Tom Hanks was made, you can see why with it's majestic steep backdrop of mini mountains plunging down to the pure white sand. First time we have had the anchour stuck, it's no hassle with 26C water temps to dive it out of 15m. Try that back in NZ, there would be a long debate as to who's' going to do it.
In and out from Mana Is with it's tight S bend 20m wide entrance, well posted but still keeps you on your toes. Checking out various dive spots, one of which is called Pam's Reef and we took Pam there! Boy the big ferry do not slow down here, clouds of black smoke with the ensuing tidal wave.
At the collection point of who's who in the cruising word at Musket Cove.
Must have been quite a show when they had the Musket Cove regatta week as it is still busy with cruisers.
Had a great dive /day with all onboard SOH from Just In Time, Tusi 2, Vixen 7, and Hiraeth so with 9 POB off to dive Wilkes Pass near Namotu Is. Clear water and gentle current as we hit the spot at the right time with a nest a very large Moray ells, sleeping white tip sharks and a fish that can change colour. I was pleased Leanne confirmed it as I thought I was seeing things.
Over to Malolo Is the big tourist attraction for vacationers galore. Was a bit windy from the usual SE at Musket Cove so went further past and sheltered around from the Funky Fish resort. Big new marina and land based development in the early stages going on here. Will catch up with the mob later.
At Denerau Marina in the heat and hustle and bustle to drop off our friends after 7 days of great company, spectacular diving, and plenty of socialising along the way. c/o Ron and Christine, owners of Dive Fish Snow Holidays.
Even had our mail personally delivered from Marsden Cove Marina as just by chance we ran into Karen. Now that's service.
At Waya Is, great clear water plus an easy anchorage in sand made this a very attractive spot. At 10m could see anchour chain from boat. First time we have seen healthy coral above water as there was an extra low tide.
Ashore to Octopus Resort for cocktails and dinner sitting looking out to sea with the palms surrounding veiw of Slice Of Heaven floating (always good) in bright aqua water. We all gave the bar a bit of a shove care of Ron. A quite coffee run down to Denerau whilst the girls slept.
A 'dry dive with Mantas'. Was able to have 2 mantas, one on each hull whilst filming from our bow, Irene didn't even get her toes wet much to her delight! Current and wind (20knts) too strong, should have been up at 0630hrs but there was lack of enthusiasm. Coffee was more important.
Finally a beach anchorage at Malakati were you just go straight in and have a flat sandy shallow bottom all the way. Just like NZ.
As predicted gusting 20 -28Knts so canned the planned open water dive and will move further down the Yasawas.
After a very calm 5 hour crossing, with the water temp going to 27.2C we arrived to sunny conditions to a remarkable corner of the world Sawa-i-Lau in the Yasawas.
Surrounded with a very steep hill and sandy bays that had unusually craved by the sea rock formations. There was a climb up and down to a pool about 20 x30m that was trapped inside of the steep hill that was feed from an underground supply from the sea.
Found a tiny pure white sand cay with one coconut that was doing its best to regenerate. Needed more time to explore but the wind was due to pick up and this area is on the eastern side subject to full on wind.
At Volivoli Point enjoying a dinner invite to Voilvoli Resort, arrived with the Fiji Siren Live aboard dive ship catching up with their guests once again.
The owners of the resort and ship made us most welcome.
Spotted Vixen 7 and Tusi 2 for a brief over the bow catch up.
At Namena Reef, a remote outer Island, fabulous dive location. Dived Grand Central Station at North save A Tack passage. Fantastic visibility, I just did not know were to look due to all the action, big fans, Wahoo, large barracoutas, white tip reef sharks, masses of jacks just suspended in the 40m viz clear water and the big one, 22 hammer heads just hanging around. So good that we dived it 3 times. Then up to Fantasy Passage, named after the spectacular sea fans. And back you guessed it, to North Save a Tack. Good weather allowed us to enjoy 3 days and 3 dives a day due to the Crew on Fiji Siren, a fabulous 85ft dive live aboard. Meet our long time dive friends, Ron and Christine on Siren who jumped ship and joined us for more diving and cruising. After just stepping of the big dive tender having your gear taken away, washed and refilled, and asked "how do you want your omelet sir", I suggested they bring the Fiji chef and deck hands, but the skipper on Siren had other plans for them!
At Savusavu Copra Shed Marina for a day and a half to do oil change and heap of catch up stuff. Right next to Café for cappuccino at 0700 and brekkie a bit later. Re stock everthing including putting in 280Lts of diesel via 20Lt containers, a slow process as you can not take fuel through the Copra Shed complex which is understandable. Your not too popular if you start a fire or spill the stuff. So its borrow 4 containers, fill, walk, load dinghy, unload dingy and back again, you can do the maths.
Off to Namena Reef the famed fabulous diving reef out in the open.
At Viani Bay diving with Jack the local chap that really knows the spots and boat positions. 3 dives on own all day with perfect conditions. The fish Factory (dive spot) tunned it full on current and all, made me feel right at home with 5 large crayfish (painted crays) just watching me. It was a special treat to have the whole of the area to ones self, chauffer driven, and could have gone on all day until some put the hand break on! O well time to reflect on a great day.
At Kaio Is in a small dent with no name or anything! Was planning on sheltering from the E to NE 25kts and the bay I choose was impossible to anchour due to depth and wind. So back tracked running out of daylight on a very grey overcast day and found these mangroves. Nice and quite ready to move around to Viani Bay.
At the beautiful Albert Cove facing a fine white sand beach with outer reefs just protecting us. Been a bit blustery further out but OK in here.
Spent a whole day obtaining police clearance/stamp at their centre Nuku be as Rabi Is is run by the Bananas people -sort of. This involved taking a local -Sam 5 miles in our boat to find the gum chewing officer asleep for lunch in the office, come back when I reopen he says!. But wait there has been no one visited the police station for days, O well if it slow you may as well make it even slower!! Just for one stamp.
I slipped him papers that meant nothing and he sternly approved them after asking "how many children do you have on board"? What I said "I'm too bloody old for that stuff" -didn't see the humour in that.
All good and back into the Fiji way - Sega Na Leqa, 'No Worries'.
Back to Namaka Bay ready to pick up friends arriving at Taveuni. Wait and see if they arrive or it may be another pick up spot. Fiji time, it'll happen some time!.
At Bavatu harbour Bay of Islands, totally surrounded by hills in an enclosed deep anchorage. Went ashore and climbed many steps up to the working estate were they are extracting coconut oil. 600 nuts equals about 20lts of oil, hard hot work for 20lts. Magnificent views over to Avea Is and surrounding reefs.
Left Nakama for Vanua Balavu Bay of Islands after a 4 hour open water bash into 18kts on the nose. Passing two beautiful isolated islands on the way and trying to use them for some relief, it was only temporary. As we were beating to wind ward (using horse power) on the last 5 miles in the spray we noticed a local long boat battling away so we decided he knows the way into the tricky entrance. Wrong he was as lost or guessing as we were and noticed he was too far to port just missing the reef after a sharp turn. Back to the chart plotter which is out by 100s of meters this added to the confusion.
Stick to those white lead makers like glue.
Well what a spot, it is something out of the ordinary and a very special place, can not wait to start checking it out over the next week.
Crossed the date line to Nakama Bay Qamea and what an idyllic spot with a back drop of steep lush bush and a long curved sandy beach giving us shelter from the steady SE trades. Did a little snorkel in the rain around the next point which was improving the more we moved along it until some complained it was cold, hey this is Fiji. Back for hot soup.
Worked our way, with one reverse up via the inside passage from Dakuniba Bay to Viani. Not the best conditions for this due to cloud, showers and wind.
At Viani Bay, bit choppy at night due to local winds. About to dive White wall with Vixen and Tusi 2 on board but were beaten by rising swell and strong breeze. So jumped in behind reef.
At Savusavu, It was an unofficial Kiwi take over on the marina with birthdays parties as excuses. Ray and Shelly on Rayfiki was the social unofficial coordinator and a good one at that.
Mamas Asian kitchens in the front of the house, $8Fj (NZ$6) for sizzling hot beef I think $10 was the most expensive and good. Plenty of choice, a of lot fish and good steaks in the Marina Restaurant. I would row ashore at 0700 and the lovely lady in the Marina café, who had worked till late each night would have my cappuccino ready and then stroll down to the hot bread shop, while the town was waking up with dogs barking and the roasters crowing. Too much!! Had to go.
At Wakaya Is. It was a M.T.T.S. Day - Manta Turtle Tuna Shark great dive on edge of entrance at Wakaya thanks to Jock (JIT). Beautifully groomed beach, but a private Island, so no visitors.
At Bay of Islands Lami across from Suva, had to wait for parts to arrive.
Not a bad spot to wait, as we had access to a mooring with a broken down Police dock, complete with a sunbathing snake. Surrounded in thick bush clad tiny islands with a few bats at night, much to one crew members concern.
Spent time, via taxi in Suva town being chased by every hawker in town until we got the hang of NO. Great Restaurant up high at the back of Suva called Governors House. Gave it a few nudges over the ensuing days.
At Dravuni Is. I was helping a local diving for fish into our dinghy as I had another Medical Aid box to deliver to the island of Dravuni top end of Astrolabe Reef Kandavu. When a very small fish (one of his catch) spiked me and all hell let loose, it felt at first I had really banged my shin then shooting pain and straight to my groin. Not good. Back to boat now in a strong squall plus a lee shore. Irene had to contend we me giving orders -who me! And me in agony with the Fijian Isaac saying "its Ok in an hour or two boss" which at that point I would not believe anybody.
Hot water on leg, off to shelter boat and upon a chance meeting another yacht, first connection since leaving Mainland Fiji. These people, Mike and Karen (SV Beau Soleil) veterans at this stuff and knew meds came to sort out what we had onboard. Two weeks to recover.
At Nabouwalu Bay Ono dropping off one of our a medical boxes donated via the people of New Zealand. Invited to check out the 'medical hut' which was a locked 2m X 2m shed with one bench and many health posters decorating the walls and one small first aid kit the type you may in your car. So the large box of supplies was promptly opened and Milikere the nurse set about displaying her new found supplies.
Cast off NZ at 1200hrs and tied up at 1200hrs 5 days later Vuda Point Fiji safe and sound thanks to a great crew. Maintained a constant 9.5knts in a confused sea state. Used 1420lts of diesel with 600lts spare, so all good.
At Marsden Cove Marina adding the last few bits to make ready for a crossing about the 9th June onwards.
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