Fiji... arrival and our first week
0. We left the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, on April 28, 2015, and arrived in Vuda Marina, just north of Nadi on the west coast of Fiji, on May 7. Crew were Jon Nevill (skipper), Anne Sachot (France), James Cope (UK), and Tom Wallis (UK). A great team. We stocked up with tinned soup and baked beans.. (only joking! Anne and James cooked great meals under difficult conditions)
1. Typical weather ... luckily the wind direction was more or less favourable during the voyage, although headwinds prevented us stopping over at Minerva Reef or reaching Tonga, which had been our original intention..
2. We saw only a few birds during the trip. They were magnificent.
The Fiji Islands. Kadavu Island is the southern-most of Fiji's large islands.
3. Kadavu Island, our first sight of land. At that time we did not know that within a few days Anne and Jon would be staying at a resort on this island.
4. The team on arrival. And yes, we did change our clothes before meeting the border inspection officials at Vuda. Mind you, we had plenty of time... they arrived two hours late.
5. Anne prepares for her first night at Vuda Marina. We had become accustomed to a cool breeze during the trip... on our arrival there was no wind, 30+ deg C air temperature, and very high humidity. And mosquitoes, lots and lots...
After arrival the boat was in need of cleaning and maintenance... exhausting in the hot humid weather which we were not used to. I know, it's a tough life... Anyhow, we needed a break, so James and Tom headed off to the islands not far to the west, and Anne and I decided some snorkelling was needed, preferably somewhere relaxing. Kadavu Island was a short flight away, but we had trouble getting through to the resorts by phone.
The next day at Nadi airport I made a phone call: "Hello, I would like to enquire about cost and availability of accommodation at the Matana Resort". "What dates did you have in mind?" "Well, today actually. Our plane departs in 15 minutes". "OK, great! I will arrange for your transport to the resort. I'll see you at Kadavu Island Airport in about one hour! My name is James."
6. Anne and I were relieved to find the plane looked large and reliable.
7. We were able to keep an eye on the pilot and co-pilot.
8. The plane overflew "our" reef, off-shore from the Matana Resort. For the first two days, we were to be the only guests. The resort is built on village land, and supports the village financially by buying food, and supplying electricity. There are no roads or vehicles... access to the resort is by boat only. Guests stay in burres, or huts. The resort can accommodate 22 guests.
9. On the beach, 200m from the airstrip, a small boat awaited our arrival. We were introduced to this young chap as the skipper. We were pleased to see the boat was equipped with a modern mobile phone.
10. Our burre. It had a bathroom with a toilet and a hot shower. Flow through ventilation was provided by louvers on four sides (with mosquito mesh, thank goodness). Virtually on the beach. It even had electricity some of the time. The weather was much cooler than the weather we had in Vuda, much to our relief. In fact it was pretty much perfect.
11. The view from our burre. Villagers were employed to sweep the leaves off the beach. I liked that... neat and clean! All meals were provided. We could snorkel off the beach, borrow a kayak, or go snorkelling at night... which we did. But mostly we took boat trips to the off-shore reef, which were not expensive. The resort staff were all wonderful, especially James Mcgoon, the dive master. Anne got a brief introduction to SCUBA diving.
12. The view from the hammock. As you might imagine, with no other guests, no TV, no cars, in fact no noise at night except the soft lapping of the waves on the beach, and insect calls from the adjacent forest, the resort was very relaxing. We didn't realize how much we needed a rest until we arrived at this idyllic place.
13. The reef had heaps of healthy coral, and masses of tiny fish of a huge variety of species. Unfortunately, all the fish of edible size have been caught and eaten. Photo: Anne Sachot.
14. There were lots of invertebrates too, like this gorgeous clam. Photo: Anne Sachot.
15. The resort beach, just southwest of the burres. Rainforest trees overhang the beach. No litter, clean white sand, warm water (30 deg C). Deserted, except for the occasional villager or tourist. By the way, don't sleep underneath a coconut palm!
16. All too soon, our plane arrived to take us back home to Ocean Child at the Vuda Marina.