Friday, August 2, 2013

Savusavu to Cousteau Resort

Savusavu is an extremely convenient place for yachties. For about $6 Canadian per day you take a mooring ball, with access to free showers, clean water, and a secure dinghy dock a mere 100 meters row away. Two gas/diesel stations lie along the road a few hundred meters off. The downtown itself is a few minutes walk away and has a dozen hardware and dollar-type stores, a good market (especially on Saturday), and even a small health center. There are also a dozen inexpensive restaurants (although the Chinese one nearby is a hit or miss proposition and we missed last night!). Finally there is a decent butcher who will pack meats especially for yachties and a liquor store with a surprisingly large, if somewhat costly, selection of wines.

Sunset in the anchorage

The problem is that after 6 weeks out in the islands, the noise, crowding, and temptations of such a place are a bit jarring. So we limited ourselves to 5 days on this visit. This was plenty of time to restock the boat with far too many fresh veggies, half a dozen bottles of cheap but decent Australian red wine, and an equal quantity of large bottles of excellent Fiji Bitter. To give you an idea of marketing here, I will detail a partial list of our shopping: 10 eggplants ($1 Fijian or about 60 cents Canadian!), a good-sized bag of okra ($1), which Rani is currently turning into a delicious smelling curry, 1/2 kg of green peppers (expensive here - $7.50), and a dozen tomatoes (also expensive at $7/kg), 6 cukes ($2), etc. Our little fridge is groaning under the load. We always start out with good intentions to limit ourselves to a week or two worth of veggies and end up shopping for a month :)

We also re-filled our water tanks, rowing our jerry jugs to and from the nearby diesel/water dock. Yesterday, we re-assembled our welded and strengthened bow roller fitting, caulking it generously and bolting it in place. Rani's stomach bug even cleared up on its own a few days ago. So today there was nothing to hold us here and after lunch we left for the nearby Cousteau resort anchorage.

Since the wind was favorable (on the beam), I hoisted the main and slipped the mooring lines under sail, unfurling most of the jib to give us more maneuverability in the tightly packed mooring field. Rani is always a bit nervous when I do something like this, but to her credit she only let out a couple of shrieks as we sailed a little close to the bow of one moored sailboat and swerved around the stern of a big lean Dashew-designed aluminum power cruiser.

We tried to avoid running over these little Optimists

In addition to being market day, Saturday is also sail training day for local children, and 20 or so little Optimist prams and a Laser dinghy or two provided some more excitement as we cleared the mooring field. However with the exception of a few lulls, the wind held, and we sailed out into Savusavu Bay, which today resembled a large and beautiful lake. On all sides, hills and mountains line the bay and impressively solid-looking cumulus clouds towered all along the western horizon. The wind was off the land and there was only the lightest popple to disturb the water. We sheeted in the sails as we rounded the corner past the cargo wharf and laid a course that would keep us about 1/2 mile off the reefs. To starboard, the green hills looked inviting and Rani commented that she wished we had got out for a hike. However the weather here has been very warm, humid, and windless, so just the thought of climbing up the paths into these hills brought me out in a sweat.

Sail training frenzy

The wind came more in front of us and we were forced to sail well past the resort before putting in a tack and closing with the shore. We have been here before, so had a waypoint for our old anchorage. We beat in under jib, rolling this in for the last hundred meters and ghosting toward the sand lined shores. Making only a knot, Rani called out the depth,  while I stood on the bow ready to release the anchor. At 10 meters depth, I asked Rani to turn the boat into the wind and let out the main sheet and when we had lost way, I dropped the anchor. We let Ladybug drift slowly backwards as I paid out 30 meters of rode and I then pulled the main all the way out, using a preventer line to back the sail and hold it against the shrouds. Rani steered the boat backwards downwind, while I paid out some more rode until I felt the hook catch and dig in.

After dropping and flaking the mainsail, We split one of our last New Zealand Tui beers and relaxed in the cockpit. It had been very satisfying to do everything under sail even on such a short passage.

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