Fiji: Vuda Point Marina, Viti Levu, to Musket Cove, Malolo Lailai Island

Sunday morning we had a relatively slow start but soon got into the swing of things. It was time to give Morphie a proper spruce up. We had already washed her down and got all the salt off, so this time it was a thorough clean followed by a wax and polish. It took us most of the day but she sure looked lovely and we were getting lots of complimentary comments from passing traffic. In the evening we headed into the bar for sundowners and enjoyed chatting to some fellow cruisers.

Monday morning we decided to get a taxi into Lautoka (the second largest city in Fiji) armed with an optimistic shopping list. On the trip into town we were offered a touring half day out by the Indian driver but thought the price tag was a little steep so we declined his offer.

As we drove into town we went very close to the port and saw lots of commercial activity – from the rum distillery; the piles of sugar cane harvested and loaded; to the huge pile of pine chips that get exported to Japan to be made into paper. The town itself was interesting with the main area having four places of worship along the main road: a Mosque; a Sikh temple; a Methodist Church and a Hindu temple.

The Indian population is large here as originally they were imported to work in the sugar trade and is why Lautoka is known as Sugar City. The shops were bunched together along the roads, seemingly by industry. So we headed to a recommended auto store and managed to purchase a flexible hose for our grease gun – that will sort out that pesky squeak! One unexpected surprise was the amount of traffic, often in dual carriageways, and how the majority of the shops were operating behind prison bar-like grills. Makes you wonder about theft and security?!?

We then walked to the large supermarket and picked up most of the things from our list. I then left Richard sitting outside with our goods and crossed the road to the municipal fruit and vegetable market which was huge. I really liked that they had price tags on many of the goods on offer so I knew I was paying the correct local price and not an inflated ‘gringo’ one which had been my thought in Savusavu a couple of times.

We then picked up another taxi which appear to be the most normal way of getting around as there are certainly plenty of them parked up.

We got our new Fijian driver (most of them appear of Indian descent) to take us to a local bottle store and wait – then, fully provisioned up, we headed back to Morphie. The cab took us right to the dock and there was just the difficulty of getting the bags back onboard as it was a very low tide and the bow was almost five feet below the dock. We managed somehow, phew!

In the late afternoon we headed into the bar for sundowners and witnessed a boat dragging in the anchorage and the panic of everyone from that boat running for their dinghy and motoring fast out of the marina towards the last known position. We never heard the outcome, fingers crossed it was recovered undamaged. We then returned to Morphie and had a quiet evening back on board.

Tuesday morning and we were doing more boat jobs – this time Richard finished the cleaning and waxing of the transom while I cleaned down below. A top up of the water tank and we were all sorted to depart from Vuda Point Marina. We had a lazy afternoon and then went to the bar / restaurant and had a nice dinner as the sun went down.

Wednesday morning we were up early and I paid the (very reasonable) marina bill while Richard did engine checks. We then disconnected the power and water and stowed everything below. We then waited for the marina guys to come help us, as we were tied underwater to two mooring balls at the stern and needed to be released as well as for the balls to be moved out of our way as we reversed out of the tight spot. Come 11 am we were on our way working our way through the channel cut into the reef at low tide – and being met with a surprisingly strong current – but we got out safely.

Again it was a low wind day so we motored out along our course eyeballing for unexpected hazards. It was absolutely flat calm and we enjoyed spotting some beautiful tourist islands along the way.

After about five miles the wind picked up (from the wrong direction of course) and the sea became a bit lumpy, which meant that it wasn’t so easy to see the shallow areas, and slowed us down considerably. But we managed the turn through the multitude of reefs into Musket Cove and picked up the last mooring ball – that was a relief because it is almost 18m deep here and the anchoring spot would have been either a long way from land or just in front of a reef, neither option really appealed to be honest.

We quickly wiped all the salt off of Morphie and headed into the marina not spotting where the dinghies were supposed to be tied up. A friendly local helped us out – the entrance to the back of the pontoon which is used as the dinghy dock had been masked by a large monohull. We tied up and headed into the office, they gave us forms to complete and we then wandered the complex. We walked along the beach, visited the pool, the surprisingly well-stocked store, the coffee shop and the dive shop. We then went to the sand bar and enjoyed a few cold ones as the sun went down before returning to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Thursday morning and we headed into the resort mid morning. We completed our check in with the marina and organised to become Life Members of the Yacht Club. This gives us access to free showers, garbage disposal, laundry facilities and the facilities of the relatively up-market resort. Great deal for only F$20 a night for the mooring ball (around £7). We also booked ourselves in to do a two-tank dive on Friday morning.

We then went to the coffee shop to meet John who runs the Go West Rally and is also in the anchorage. We purchased the Rocket Guides to Vanuatu and New Caledonia from him, which he loaded and authenticated straight onto my computer. So we can now start planning the next stage of our trip. We also need to check out the entry requirements for Vanuatu as, apparently, it takes a while to get the authorisations back.

Afterwards we took up residence by the pool and lounged around before we went bobbing – the first time for a long while.

We thoroughly enjoyed the pool (although it was a tad chilly when we got in the first time) and chatted to some Australians who are here for a wedding. Later on we picked up some fresh provisions from the store and headed to the sand bar which is where the cruisers hang out watching the sun go down. We enjoyed catching up with some people we had previously met on our travels and then returned to Morphie calling it a day quite early.

During the night for some reason I barely slept at all so decided not to go diving as I felt too weary. Richard went ashore very early this morning (Friday) to let the dive shop know and rebooked us for Saturday instead. As a resort they are presumably used to this and they were very laid back about it all. So that was a relief. Really looking forward to getting back in the water again.

The wind has dropped significantly today so we are just floating around our mooring ball and we are having a lazy time of it. Will probably go and try the beach later, depending on the tide, as it dries out quite a long way. Enjoying this period of R&R right now!

Bye for now