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MAMANUCAS AND  YASAWA GROUP  - con't                                                                 

July 4
Finally, the weather settled so we all headed for the Blue Lagoon, the most popular anchorage in the Yasawas. We narrowly missed sailing over an unmarked, uncharted reef but did manage to land a magnificent Walu fish on the passage! Walu is the Fijian equivalent of  Wahoo, same tender white meat....our favorite!


Blue Lagoon

Once inside the stunning protected anchorage of the Blue Lagoon, we dropped our hook beside the beach reserved for the Blue Lagoon cruise ships and there was one moored there when we arrived.

Luckily, they left before dawn (after partying hardy all night long) and we had the area to ourselves. The anchorage is bordered by 3 villages, lots of reefs and beautiful beaches.

July 5
Snorkeled with Petrell and Maestruk including the area that is the largest cabbage patch in the world. However, although interesting, it was not that inspiring. We tried to take our dinghies into the lagoon but the tide was too high. Instead we found an interesting reef where we sighted 2 lobster but were unable to catch them.

A store...of sorts
One of the villages had a small store, so we were happy to be able to buy some bread, onions and some canned goods. We were told that the village on an adjacent island might sell us fruit from their plantation so we made a trip across the bay. "Sake" was on the beach to greet us, probably with anticipation that we may have brought him some kava. He agreed to bring us some papaya later that day and take us lobster hunting that evening. A woman appeared on the beach with very large and beautiful conch shells for sale, so I bought one for $10.

Fresh fruit...
Later that day, Sake showed up at the boat with several friends and a kayak full of papayas. We had the group aboard for ice tea and agreed on a price for the papaya that included a donation to their rugby team. I gave them some batteries for their night light that we would need to use to catch lobster later than evening.
 

At 6 pm we arrived on the beach with dive equipment (Gord & Frode) and a bottle of wine (Marit and myself) ready for an adventure. However Sake could not get his light to work so we agreed to postpone the lobster hunt until the following evening.

Lobster hunting...
July 6
Gord and Frode went diving on their own to try to find some lobster.  They had a great dive, finding some underwater caves and a large ray. Frode came back with a very tiny lobster and boasted that it was good on a cracker! We tease him now for being a "baby killer."


Later, we hiked over the island to some backpacker resorts and then followed the beach around the island, through the lagoon (low tide) and back to our boat.

That evening the wind came up and we were uncomfortable about leaving the boat in 20 knots of wind to meet Sake, so we just stayed put that night.

July 7
A Captain Cook cruise ship anchored behind us and boatloads of tourists were ferried past Ascension. Time to move on so we left the Blue Lagoon and headed to Land Harbor on Yasawa Island.

YASAWA ISLAND

Land Harbor
Arrived at Land Harbor and were delighted to be the only boat in the large pristine bay. The surrounding gentle rolling hills were pretty much barren of vegetation, except for the area along the shoreline. Several rock outcrops with sandy spits made for interesting scenery.


Spent the day combing the beaches and found some great shells. I don't know what these shells are called but I had not seen this type before and they were in abundance on the beach. We did not see anyone else the whole day.

The beaches were all deserted and we were able to walk for miles at low tide. Later the following day, we were joined by Petrell.

July 10
We checked out the area by dinghy investigating the small outer islands for interesting reefs to snorkel. We were disappointed that many of the reefs contained mostly dead coral but we did find an interesting spot where there were fish I had not seen before.

Frode & Marit
Petrell

That evening the wind picked up while we were enjoying a happy hour with Petrell on Ascension. It was a rolly night with not much sleep.


Sawa-i-lau (Caves)

July 11
Land Harbor was just too rolly to endure so we made our way to Sawa-i-lau, known for the caves and good snorkeling.

The anchorage at Sawa-i-lau turned out to be very beautiful and protected and luckily there was only ourselves, Petrell and a power yacht anchored there. We anchored in very deep water only meters from a reef, surrounded by high rocky cliffs and dense vegetation, very unlike Land Harbor.


Nabukeru Village
We went ashore to the village with Petrell to present kava for the privilege of anchoring in the bay. We were immediately met by some villagers who were eager to accept the kava.
We were invited to take a stroll through the village, and not only the bures were tin shacks made of corrugated metal, but their canoes were made of it too!


As we walked around, we came upon a very large man who invited us to sit on the grass to visit. He turned out to be the chief and he made us feel very welcome. Soon children joined us.

Village Crafts
In the meantime, all the ladies of the village were laying out their handicrafts and shells on mats for us to see. There was an excellent selection of jewelry and shells and we arranged to return the following day with items that we could trade with them.


Cassava & Yams

On the way back to the dinghy I bought a big bunch of bananas for $2 and made arrangements with "Wise," that owned the adjacent island, to purchase cassava and yams the following day.

Caves
Every morning, boatloads of tourists were brought in to visit the caves at high tide. At $5 charge per person we quickly decided that the caves were not all that appealing to us so we did not visit them.

We explored the far side of the island by dinghy, looking for reefs to snorkel. We found some interesting spots but in the end we discovered the best snorkeling to be near where our boats were anchored in front of the caves. The snorkeling on that reef bordering the Sawa-i-Lau Island was some of the best I have ever seen! We entered a little lagoon that seemed to be the home for numerous very long sea slugs (I think that's what they were!).
The limestone formations around the island were really impressive and unique to the area around Sawa-i-lau.

Trading with the Local Ladies

July 12
At 10 am we returned to the village where the ladies were waiting for us on the beach. They set out their mat designating a corner for us to set out our trading items. The most popular items we brought were soap, shampoo, tea, school supplies, nail polish, perfume, magazines and canned goods. It was a hoot trading our goods for their shells and jewelry and everyone went away happy. We also got papayas, lemons and bananas.  It was a really fun experience interacting with the villagers.

View from On Top

July 13
We lazed in the sun and snorkeled over the reef while Frode and Marit went hiking to the top of the hill overlooking the anchorage. They brought back some great photos overlooking the anchorage and the Yasawas.

That evening we had a spectacular sunset to end a great day. Pictured right is Petrell
in the setting sun.

July 14

Said goodbye to Petrell and took advantage of the favorable NE winds to sail to the pass south of Naviti where the Manta Rays live. We passed IS and Camira anchored in Vuniyawa Bay and spoke to them on the radio.

In search of the Manta Rays

NAVITI - Drawaqa Bay

We arrived at Drawaqa and set the hook right beside our Italian friends, Andrea and Kika (Maestruk). They informed us that the anchorage was rolly and they were planning to move their boat to a more suitable location. So after a quick dinghy ride, we weighed anchor and headed around to the back side of the island and set our course for Cuvu Anchorage where we were greeted by Matarua. We had a very peaceful night in the anchorage but by morning the winds picked up.

July 15

We all barely made it out of the lee shore anchorage before the headwinds were almost too strong to motor into. We were forced to forgo seeing the rays and headed back to Musket Cove instead.

Back in Musket Cove

July 16

The only familiar boats anchored in Musket Cove were Endless and Kapona and we got together at the BBQ area, where all drinks are $3.50 (beer, wine & mixed) and you get free use of the BBQs to cook your meal. They supply the dishes and cutlery and even wash the dishes for you when you are finished. What a deal!

We spent the next few days fixing the watermaker (replacing the hose for the last time!), cleaning the boat and attending to other boat projects.

July 18

Donna's B-Day

We celebrated Donna's Birthday. I cooked a meal and a birthday cake and Craig, Marv & Donna and ourselves had a party at the BBQ area.

July 19
Ginny's Birthday

Gord bought me a wonderful massage on the beach for my 55th. I spent a relaxing day researching other Fiji points of interest that we planned to visit. That evening, Donna prepared a terrific curry meal and birthday cake. Donna & Marv were able to finally unload my birthday present that they had been packing since our departure in 2003....a very large china clock, complete with pendulum dolphins. I guess I have a year until her next birthday to top that one!

July 20-22

The wind picked up and were unable to leave for Lautoka to check out. So here we are....stuck in Musket Cove once again waiting for weather to improve. Gord spent the time trying to figure out how to use his sextant and we watched lots of movies.

Click here  to see all the photos of the YASAWAS

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