Friday, August 14, 2015

SavuSavu to Saweni

Departure point.....Cousteau Resort on Vanua Levu
Our departure plans from Savusavu were heavily influenced by the brief weather window (1 ½- 2 days), during which the “Strong wind advisory with rough seas for all Fiji”, was taking a break!
The burst holding tank situation also put us under pressure to find a safe, and somewhat  “isolated “ anchorage, in which I could begin to tackle the  malodorous problem!

Our plan was to do the 50 mile leg, around the Namena Barrier reef, to Makongai, overnight there, and then cross the Makongai Channel early the next morning before the wind piped up. We were warned that this little 12 mile channel acts as a katabatic funnel, which can escalate a 25 knot breeze into a wild gale! 

Anchored off the village on Makongai
Leaving Makongai at crack of dawn
 We had also wanted to stop over at the Naigani Island for a couple of days, but local sailing guru, Curly, said the natives were not too friendly! With cannibalism being one of their earlier culinary delights, and the wind predicted to pick up again, we gave it a miss too, and made for Nana i thake, midway along the north coast.

The route via Naigani takes one inside the reef which protects the north of Viti Levu, but the original paper charts, and the electronic Navionic charts (which we use on our chartplotter) are not all that accurate! Our first step was to plot all Curly’s waypoint’s for the route, and see how they looked on the chart plotter, and Open CPN, a computer based navigation and chart system. Apart from going over a few reefs here and there, it did not look too bad! There were also supposed to be channel markers in place, but we knew that 50% had been lost over time.

A channel marker in its death throes!

 The final check was to overlay the route on the Google earth maps, which show the reefs more clearly.

Our route through the reefs on the north coast of Viti Levu
Along the way, we caught two mystery fish, the likes of which we had never seen before! 
Torpedo Scad.....made a reasonable curry, but will be returned in future

Wolf Herring......very bony.....made fishcakes, but never again!
As it turned out, we had a good sail to Makongai, and crossed the channel motoring in dead calm! It was a really weird experience motoring through a narrow gap in the surrounding reef, having no visual reference apart from waypoints and depth. The last couple of miles into Nana I thake were incredibly winding and the opening into the huge anchorage was hidden until the very last turn.

We anchored a couple of hundred metres away from a big cruise stink pot, which alternated its deck lights between pink and gold each night!

 Little did they or their guests know what we were about to empty into the water! Well, at last I could set about the horrible task of draining and removing the burst tank. It was a  VERY NASTY job, which required taking the cupboards apart, disconnecting all the pipes, numerous swims, deep breathing exercises, showers, vast quantities of detergent and bleach,  plus some psychiatric and language counseling from Mary!

The split in the holding tank!
At last the job was done, and I was able to re plumb the heads using my spare pipe and connections. Two days later, Sheer Tenacity was back to her sweet smelling self, with a fully operational loo, and the Porta Potty back in stowage!

Fortunately, we were well protected from the winds which blew strongly over the island, and by the time the jobs were done, the wind eased up, and we could carry on to Vatia Wharf, ( just a convenient night stop)and Lautoka, (the official clearance port/town… rather scruffy, smoky, and not very appealing as an anchorage!), 

A sad sight, approaching Lautoka!
The very busy wharf at Lautoka
 before dropping the hook in nearby Saweni Bay… quiet, protected, and safe in all winds apart from the Northerlies.

Sunset in Saweni
One of 2 reefs in Saweni Bay, completely submerged at hightide
 Now I could start trying to find out what the problem was with the autopilot!  

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