We had been in Savusavu for almost a week. The refrigerator was full, the wine stocked, kava purchased and best of all, my mom was coming in two days. My dad’s friend Jim, who had been with us since Tonga, enjoyed one last fish and chips meal at Waitui Marina with us, and headed to the airport. We were finally going to explore Fiji.
We threw off the mooring lines using the light of the 0300 moon paired with our headlamps, and followed our waypoints out of the harbor. It was calm, so we did not even hoist the sails. This was our first time traveling east the entire trip, so it was strange having the sunrise off our bow. The sea was glassy and we saw either small whales or lazy dolphins slowly moving among the surface. Flying fish launched to get out of our way and left trails from water dripping off them on the glass like sea. It was a beautiful morning.
We entered Viani Bay on the 4th of July and anchored amongst a group of eight other cruisers. Many of them were American and the others were still sailors, so they were keen for a party regardless of the reason. I, however, was exhausted from waking up at 0230, cruising to Viani Bay, then working on boat projects all day. My dad went to the party while I made a wonderful spinach salad, pan fried a couple ribeyes, and had a glass of wine. It was perfect and I fell asleep by 2000.
We spent the next two days in Viani Bay. The highlights were sundowners in the middle of the harbor on the dinghy and diving the world class rainbow reef.
We snorkeled a coral garden with some friends from a 65 foot ketch and they mentioned that the whole harbor was having sundowners at 1630. As the time approached, we saw one dinghy with a party of two drinking beers. We carried on with our projects, not completely sold on the dinghy party. When we looked again, no fewer than six dinghies were tied together, slowly drifting where the wind took them. We then felt like we were missing out so we grabbed a bottle of wine and joined. There were probably 20 people from various countries and boats, all hopping from one dinghy to the next to chat with whomever looked interesting. We had a great time, but were well behaved since we were diving the next morning.
We got picked up from our boat at 0845 by Taveuni Ocean Sports, a small dive operation on the island on the opposite side of the Somosa Strait. We heard it was one of the best around, and it did not disappoint. The guides were knowledgeable and we had two incredible dives in the ripping currents. It was much different than our other dives in Fiji, with the most vibrant coral we had seen and also the most fish, it felt like we were in a massive aquarium. We saw a scorpion leaf fish, a blue ribbon eel, and a six foot sea snake, along with the usual gray reef and white tip sharks. I even got close to a titan triggerfish attacking a large clam, which is something I have never seen. Unfortunately, I only took video of the dives so I can’t share any of it with you.
After diving, we realized that we were low on food so my dad and I took the dinghy to try to catch a tuna. We were trolling as Nor’Easter got smaller and smaller in the distance. The sun was starting to sink and we had to get home for dinner. We turned back because we didn’t want to annoy my mom by being late. We were about 20 feet from the boat when the engine died. The wind was strong so we hurried to get the oars into the holders and quickly rowed back to the boat to figure out what happened. After checking the carburetor, spark plugs, and fuel lines, we still had no idea what was wrong, but it worked fine ever since. We were just happy that we did not lose it when we were three miles from the boat.
Our stay in Viani was wonderful, but we had more islands to explore, plus a long trek back to the airport in Nadi for more crew changes on the 15th. We had to move on, and things are only going to speed up with Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia in the next three months.