Monday, August 07, 2017

The Hotel California

Savusavu was chosen as our arrival port because it has a relatively easy entrance, is yacht friendly and we had heard great things about the market and facilities there.
After an ocean passage if only of 11 days you find yourself looking forward to ‘facilities.’

We actually arrived at the mooring about 1045 but we had both been up for hours.
 It’s quite exciting making landfall. The grey lumps on the horizon materializing into green, textured islands. The ships and other boats to keep an eye on. The reefs around the entrance becoming clearer as we approached with the big lumps of broken coral sat on top giving the reef a dangerous spiky sharp-toothed look. The smell of the land or the reef as you get closer. The fact we had got ourselves to a foreign land by ourselves.

As we followed the coast around into the entrance of Savusavu we passed the Jean Michel Cousteau resort on the point and noticed several yachts anchored off close into the white sand beach and palm trees.
Coastline at the entrance to Savusavu inlet
Friends of ours on the yacht Carpe Diem had recommended Waitui Marina run by Jolene as the friendlier of the options for mooring once in Savusavu.  We called them on channel 16 as we rounded the commercial ‘Dock’ into the mooring area. As a foreign yacht clearing in we had no option but to pick up a mooring and wait for the Customs, Immigration, Health, and Biosecurity officers to visit us onboard replete with forms of one sort or another.
Waitui Marina building and dock
Jolene sent out Daki the boatman in the marina runabout to show us to our mooring, help us tie on and then we had but to sit back and wait while he rounded up the officers and ferried them to us.
We had followed a tanker into the inlet and therefore had to wait until they had cleared in before the officers of the various departments could get to see us. Time for a cold beer and a sandwich after our traditional tot of Rum toast to our new anchorage. Its soo good having a fridge/freezer on board – Cold beer! Cold Cheese! Ice Cubes!
Shortly however the cockpit was full of chatty, efficient and cheerful officials, it’s a small town and everyone knows everyone else, they all seemed to enjoy the catch up while they passed myriad forms, bills and other paperwork around the table to Phil and I for completion, filing, etc.
As always with officials coming onboard I offered them a drink, they all seemed to relish the cold lemon squash but they weren’t as impressed as we were by the fact we could supply ICE CUBES!!
Once they had all been taken off to the next boat by Daki we could lower our yellow Q flag and go ashore. We manhandled the dinghy over the side from the foredeck where it has lain lashed down since we were ready to leave Opua nearly 5 weeks prior.

Bruce and Snowbird under a double rainbow
Our mooring was very close to the dock and near a yacht called Snowbird from NZ that looked like it had seen better days, as we rowed past we saw the skipper looking at a new sail in a heap on the foredeck scratching his head.  After we had completed the formalities with Jolene in the Marina office we sat enjoying our first cold beer ashore waiting for the ground to stop swaying. The old chap who had been trying to make sense of his sail rowed ashore and sat down next to us and introduced himself, after approximately 1 minute we had ascertained that we had mutual friends in Opua, he had spent a lot of time sailing with Ian Woods, I worked with Ian’s wife Dianne and they had both been to our house shortly before we left for farewell drinks – it was a bit mind blowing that the first yachtie we spoke to had close ties with people we knew from back home!
It transpired that Bruce had had a new mainsail made nearly a year go but had only just got around to fitting it. Over the course of the time we spent in Savusavu Phil gave him a hand, so did Daki to get the new sail on, fitted, reefed down and the cover back over it. Every day a little bit of progress but hard work on your own.

We had a few days to kill waiting for our cruising permit so one day we took a bus trip over to Labasa on the other side of the island. It is the main town on Vanua Levu and a lot drier that the south and eastern side which catches all the rain from the tradewinds. Still couldn’t find a thermometer to tell exactly how bloody hot it was, nor fuel filters.
It was good as they don’t get many tourists over there, we took ages walking through the market as everybody wanted to talk to us, especially as I had picked up a bit of sugar cane from the road and they all wanted to know why I was carrying a stick around.
whats the stick for?

I can't even - she's got a stick!

spices at Labasa market

Sugar cane on its way to the factory - where my stick came from :) 

When we initially checked in with Jolene in the ‘Marina office’ we said we’d be there for about a week she looked up smiled and said, OK but -– it’s a bit like the Hotel California here.
Hotel Waitui Marina California

unprepossessing maybe

Like many of the islands we’d been to in the Caribbean it certainly attracts your ‘interesting’ types. Expats from different countries trying to make a living in various levels of nefariousness, ‘professional Trip Advisor writers’ (really?) people caught in the net of island life not really sure how they got snagged but not really sure how to move on either.
Savusavu is a really comfortable town to get ensconced in, it has everything you need for daily life (apart from Ford Fuel Filters) the people - originals and the imports are all really friendly and willing to sit and chat.

It rained a lot in Savusavu
Kerry in the rain (emergency umbrella from the dollar shop)

Waitui marina in the rain

Savusavu in the rain 
Wild Sweet in the rain
Luckily we managed to get a spare set of fuel filters DHL’d out to us, the customs clearance for cruising permit came through and after about 10 days we could up and leave.
Multitasking Doctors
Multitasking shops


not what you'd expect to go bombing through the anchorage

and this is my fish - caught on a handline and a bit of bread!

Join us next time as we explore the Koro sea and islands.


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The Hotel California

Savusavu was chosen as our arrival port because it has a relatively easy entrance, is yacht friendly and we had heard great th...