Sunday, July 19, 2009

Robinson Crusoe Island

July 19, 2009--We delayed leaving Musket Cove until Tuesday morning because of overcast skies on Monday. The weather showed another low coming through in about four days so Steve and I decided to change plans and head to the southwestern part of Viti Levu. We made our way back out through the reef and were able to sail part of the way to Lautoka. We had to go over to Lautoka in order to check out of that district and indicate that we were moving toward Suva. The checking in and checking out of the major ports--there are four of them--is not exactly convenient. We anchored in the bay and went in to Customs, where Steve had to fill out the same four-page form that he filled out when we came arrived from Levuka. After that was done we walked into town to pick up our cruising permit for all areas in Fiji and then stopped at the grocery store for some provisions. We returned to the boat in the late afternoon and decided to stay in the harbor for the night.

Lautoka is a big cane sugar processing location, so when we got up in the morning there was black soot from the sugar plant all over the boat. We left early in the morning in order to cover the 35 miles to Robinson Crusoe Island by afternoon. The winds were light so we motored for awhile, sailed for awhile, and then motored again. We had to go out through Navula Pass, which is basically an s-shaped cut through the large surrounding reef. Now we were back on the ocean side and the swell was noticeable. We still had our main sail up and were motoring along, and we noticed that the winds were slowly building. We called friends who were anchored at the island and were told that the pass into Robinson Crusoe was calm and would not be a problem.

Soon the winds were at 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots, and it was right on our nose. The waves were getting larger, and I was getting sicker. I had not taken any medicine because it was so calm when we left. I have definitely learned my lesson--always take the medicine. Steve had to fall off to port and go a short distance and then fall off to starboard for a short distance so that the boat wasn't pounding into the waves. We just did not see how the pass could be calm. When we arrived at the island large breakers were on rolling in on both sides of the pass. As a reminder of what can go wrong, Lisa's sailboat was clearly visible up on the reef just a short distance east of the pass. We reduced our sail to a triple reef and headed into the pass, and we found that it was much calmer. I went up on the bow to watch the reefs while Steve steered the boat. John from sv Scarlet O'Hara came out to the pass to lead us in so I took over the helm while Steve went up to the bow to talk with him. We made our way into the anchorage and dropped the hook in about 15 feet of water.

After we had quickly put the boat back together, I asked John and also Jerry from sv Po'oino Roa to take Steve ashore for a beer while I went below to sleep off my seasickness. That evening we went ashore to enjoy dinner and a spectacular fire dance at the resort. Renee from Scarlet and Kathy from Po'oino Roa were back from shopping in town, so they joined us. The food was good and the dancing was wonderful, and it cost us only $4.50 USD each.

The next day we stayed aboard and took care of chores. On Friday we all got into our dinghies and took a 45-minute ride up the river to the area where the Intercontinental Beach Resort is located. This is a beautiful new resort in Fiji, but we did notice that not many people were there. We walked around the grounds but then walked back to the smaller resort next to it to have lunch. By now it was 1:30 in the afternoon and time to head back to the boats. We went ashore once again to enjoy dinner.

Saturday we stayed on the boat again, but on Sunday the three boats got together on Po'oino Roa to enjoy a Sunday brunch. Renee brought muffins and orange juice, Kathy made the scrambled eggs, and we brought the fried potatoes and coffee. Since my birthday is on Wednesday and we had mentioned that we might leave before then, Renee and Kathy gave me birthday presents of scented lotions, shampoo, and conditioner. What a nice surprise! It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning.

We returned to the boat when it began to sprinkle rain and ended up staying aboard for the rest of the day. The rain would come and go, but we never got much rain at any one time. We had hoped to fill our water tanks again, but we will just have to wait for the next front, which may come through in the next few days. We plan to stay in this protected anchorage until we get a good window with LIGHT winds to make a move to the next anchorage. All is well.

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