Passage from Savusavu to Vuda Point Marina- not what we expeted

We stayed in Savusavu only for a few days to rest up and wait for a decent weather window to cross over to other island of Viti Levu, where Vuda Point marina is located and where we had a scheduled haul out to do some work on the boat. The Koro sea (to the east of the islands) and the Bligh waters (area between the two main islands) create a very localized weather scenario as wind wraps around the islands in different directions and between the islands, the wind effect is accelerated.  Additionally, there are many reefs, some that are submerged so traveling during daylight hours we thought would be a prudent strategy.

There was a local VHF net for all the cruisers and “Curly” was our host who is an expat now living in Savusavu for many, many years.  He loves cruisers, we are told and read and helps cruisers make passage plans for weather etc.  We, Slow Flight with Mayo as crew and SV Me Too, left on a Tuesday for a 3 day (traveling by daylight) to make it to Vuda Point.  As we are leaving the bay, we say “goodbye” over the VHF net and Curly basically said…to everyone listening to the net ….we are crazy to leave in these conditions and should head back to Savusavu NOW.  We had looked at weather, no issues… but we did not have the local knowledge he had.  So we turned back to re-assess the weather just to be safe.  To his credit, the seas were big, the clouds cut into our visibility to see reefs, but the wind seemed fine.  After all of it…we thought we would of been ok….last famous words!!!!

Here is our path…If you look close enough you can see a pink line headed out of Savusavu and then it stops…that is when we decided to turn around and head back into the bay on Tuesday.  When we did leave Savusavu for good, follow the pink line from Savusavu to Vuda Point Marina. The arrow was an “oh shit” moment and the ‘”ferry” was a close call.

SV Me Too left the next day, keeping the original 3 day sailing itinerary.  We needed to make sure Mayo could get to a ferry (faster than sailing with us) that left on Thursday from Savusavu so she could continue her search for a boat to take her to Vanuatu so… we took a different approach…an overnight passage through deeper waters but we had to head closer to the Koro sea and then though some passages to get to the more protected waters of the main island Viti Levu.


Yeah…this is how close we were to the ferry, Mayo was actually on board. As you can see, the dotted black line is our path, the pink line was our planned course….you can also see the reef to our right. Trevor was a little upset when he woke up to us being off course 4 miles. I just didn’t want to take any chances as we ended up only being about 1-2 miles off the ferry’s port side.

Oh SHIT!!!! –  Well, it’s always hard to take photos when shit is hitting the fan, but in words… it’s about 3am in the morning and Trevor is taking us through the pass in the photo below.  However, I wake to the motor on and lots of waves hitting the boat!  The wind had shifted on us as it wrapped around the islands (we were headed south and close to the Koro Sea) and we were headed directly up wind.  This means even with the engine on, we were only moving forward at a speed of 2-2.5 knots!  Our sails were up and reefed so we were getting pushed a bit to the NW and to boot….a ferry went by us to the island!

The reef on the left side of this photo was completely submerged so you could not see it, of course it was also 3 am. We could barely see any lights from the ferry and the dock on the island to get any bearing of where we were at. It took us hours to go through this “little” pass due to the wind angle.  According to our Garmin charts, we were headed directly in the middle of the pass….however, when I looked on Open CPN (it uses charts with  Google maps images on top of it) looked like we were headed directly for the reef (see how the pink line changes directions?!). We changed course and relied on the Open CPN. Finally we turned around the reef, as you can see our pink path, and the wind was again at our beam (side) and we could sail once more.

Anchorage, photo opportunities, and welcome to the “dry side” of the island – We finally made it to the north side of the main island of Viti Levu and though the outer coral reef to a decent anchorage… the one SV Me Too would meet us.  The landscape reminded us of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez with a desert landscape and magical blue waters. The next morning, we motored to an anchorage called Saweni Bay very close to Vuda Point Marina and inside the reef where the wind and waves were calm and protected.  Both Me Too and us took advantage and took photos of each other’s vessels…maybe our Christmas card this year?  All is well!

Slow Flight at the anchorage near Rakiaki island…photo courtesy of Me Too. There looked to be mooring balls here but they were not! Unfortunately Me Too snagged one of the derelict lines while pulling up their chain the next morning and Clay had to jump in to untangle it. Never fun when your anchor gets snagged!
Going through the pass to our anchorage by Rakiraki island, there is local fishing going on on the outer reef.
Motor sailing to Saweni Bay, the desert hills with blue waters
Looking back at the anchorage we just left
SV Me Too flying their “kite” (spinnaker)…being silly as they are….Briley is climbing up the mast and Clay is climbing on the boom, Jill looking fab!
Slow Flight….photo courtesy of Me Too
Looking out at Saweni Bay from the beach. We arrived at Saweni bay just before dusk…never a good thing because the sun position is not good to see reefs….. To say the least when we arrived I saw a break in the 10-15 something boat and thought it was a good place to drop the hook…well as we head into the “sweet spot”…another cruiser is yelling “REEF” and by god we just missed it by a few feet…then we see another spot closer in with no boats….we’ll go there…. another boat then tells us “REEF”….ok so now we know why there are no boats in either spot. We head out to a WIDE open spot outside of everyone and drop the hook…..whew…that could of been a disaster!

Next up, Trevor’s Birthday and Vuda Point Marina and our “yard” family…..

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