Fiji: Musket Cove to Denarau Marina, Viti Levu

Friday night we headed ashore to the Sand Bar for sundowners before returning for dinner in the cockpit. Overnight the wind picked up, it poured with rain and the temperature dropped quite a bit.

Early on Saturday morning the conditions remained pretty horrible – raining, cloudy and a lot of chop in the anchorage. So we decided to abort the diving again. There was absolutely no point paying top dollar for a lesser experience. So decision made we returned to bed and enjoyed a lay in.

Later on we headed ashore (it was still raining) and enjoyed a BBQ dinner with Craig (SV Crocus) and Steve and Mike (SV Kiwi Time). We had come ashore just a little bit earlier to use the showers so I had cheated by purchasing half a rotisserie chicken and some salads from the cafe to take along LOL. Put me to shame when Mike starting sharing home-made smoked fish pate for appetizers and banana fritters with honey for desert. Here’s us with Mike.

We had a very social time of it and then we left the Kiwis to head off (carrying their huge NZ flag) to watch the return match between the Maori All Blacks and the Fijians. We decided not to go with them as we were worried about Morphie out in the anchorage in the worsening conditions and wouldn’t have been able to relax.

Sunday morning and it remained nasty although the cloud cover wasn’t so intense so we hoped it would clear later. We pottered around doing boat jobs and later in the afternoon we headed over to the pool and enjoyed some bobbing time although felt pretty cold afterwards so was disappointed by the lack of hot water in the shower block. Oh well, never mind, at least we were clean. We then headed back to Morphie for a quiet night in.

Monday morning and it was brighter. So we did the same again enjoying our time lazing around the pool, working on the tans, walking the beach and admiring the hotel accommodation as well as bobbing in the water and keeping Ziggy, the pool bartender, busy.

After showering we headed to the Sand Bar and caught up with the crew of SV Exocet Strike so enjoyed chatting with them before heading back (and yes Brexit featured as they are also from the UK). Oh yes and here is Va our favourite bartender.

Tuesday morning we headed in a bit earlier as, thankfully, it was a lovely calm sunny day. So we went to the pool and managed to snaffle a cabana to ourselves…..this is the life. We even had lunch in the hotel restaurant which was very tasty. Was a beautiful day.

After more lukewarm showers, we returned to the Sand Bar for sundowners with the other cruisers and chatted with some participants on the Pacific Rally (who left New Zealand for Tonga on the same day as us). We were pleased to hear the news that SV Squander who had suffered major gear and rigging failure on their second attempt to reach Tonga (the first aborted due to damage in 50 knot squalls) had, thankfully, now been salvaged and was in an Auckland boatyard. They had been airlifted from their liferaft off the NZ coast – it is hard to imagine how distressing that would have been to make the decision to abandon ship.

Wednesday morning we had a lazy start and then went ashore to the resort for a quick lunch in the resort cafe. Then we waited for a small launch and headed out, like proper tourists, to a floating bar called Cloud 9 which sits just inside the reef near the world famous surfing spot. Well, of course, the weather decided to be fickle again (despite the forecast for a fine day) and the wind picked up so the journey out there was pretty bumpy.

And this is what it is supposed to look like in flat calm conditions.

We arrived, managed to get onto the floating bar, and settled down to people watch. As the sea was running with a strong current affecting the visibility we decided not to snorkel either although some brave souls did jump off the top deck.

The music was a bit trancy and irritated us after a while but the horrendously expensive bottle of wine helped! It reminded us of the Willie T in the BVIs without the rude bits LOL. The funniest sight was the young women struggling with their fake eyelashes in the blustery conditions. Seriously do you need to wear them combined with full make up when you are only wearing cossies and cut off shorts?!? Was a fun way to spend an afternoon and we chatted to an Australian family who were in Fiji (in our resort) for a wedding the following day.

On our return to Musket Cove we paid our mooring ball fees, showered up and headed to the Sand Bar only to come across the wedding party who were having quite a raucous time of it downing cocktails and tequila shots. Hope they recovered OK for the wedding the following day LOL. We also enjoyed Craig’s company and hope our paths will cross again, perhaps in Vanuatu.

Thursday morning we got ourselves ready to head back towards the big island Vitu Levu the destination this time was Denarau Marina. We had, amazingly, managed to get a reservation for one week on a mooring ball within the marina. This apparently is pretty unheard of so felt quite smug! Of course the wind was stronger than expected – the forecasts really can’t be relied upon in this area – and it was pretty cloudy so spotting reefs wasn’t as straightforward. On the journey we came across the superyacht Senses doing some sea trials at 28 knots even with the helicopter on board.

We arrived around 1pm and were told to go around in circles as the boat on the mooring ball had not yet moved off (despite the deadline being 12 noon). OK so we stooged around and had a sandwich while we waited. The anchorage was actually pretty nice – wide open with only 15 feet of water in sand.

At around 2pm we were told to come into the marina and to come alongside a floating pontoon while they tried to resolve the problem. Well, the people on the mooring ball were not answering their phone and were off the boat. So we waited…and waited….and waited. This was frustrating as I had wanted to make use of the facilities in the afternoon to do the laundry etc but as we couldn’t leave the boat this wasn’t possible. We also knew that we could not stay on this floating pontoon overnight as it was where the tour boats docked. Finally the people on the boat came back and then there was an argument as they said the office had double booked the ball as they weren’t leaving until Friday. So then there is the question of what to do with us? Well some of these docks have permanent owners/residents and one of them had just headed out for a trip so we were moved over there for the night.

We were grateful to be finally secured so headed in for (lovely hot) showers and then walked the waterfront and also visited the shopping area. Port Denarau is a major tourist hub with many people being transported from the airport to here and then onto their tourist resort by ferry. So it is pretty lively.

We also watched some entertainment while we were having a look around.

We had happy hour drinks in Hard Rock Cafe (BYGOF) followed by a fantastic curry in the Indian restaurant. Was fab food but phew was a bit spicy, glad we had only ordered the medium varieties, as our lips were numb by the time we had finished LOL.

Moving on we were hailed from a table at Lulus, another hostelry on the waterfront. To find Paul (Bay of Islands Marina Manager), Nigel and Amanda (organisers of the Pacific Rally) who were in town to do a talk to cruisers on Friday about cruising to New Zealand. So we joined them for a beer before saying farewell and headed back towards Morphie. We had a final pontoonie in the Rhum Bar which overlooks the docks and then straight to bed. Had been a long and tiring day.

This morning, Friday, and I was up early and headed to the laundry room to snaffle the machines before anyone else turned up. I got lucky and managed to get both of the washers. I have just finished the laundry and we heard that we can’t stay on the dock but that the mooring ball will be vacated for us by noon today. So just after 12 we slipped from the dock and moved across and picked up our allocated mooring ball, our home for the next six nights.

This afternoon we will probably attend the cruisers chat and then take it from there. We hope to do a bit of exploring of this area before heading off towards Vanuatu. Port Denarau is closest to the shipping channel to leave Fiji and also has a customs presence so it makes sense to re-provision and leave from here. We are now watching for a weather window so this is potentially our last week in Fiji.

Bye for now