Vuda, Fiji - Visitors!

Category: Ships Log
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September 13th - September 21st

Enjoying a visit from Alena's parents and exploring the east side of Viti Levu.

 

It took us two days of motor-sailing from Savusavu on Vanua Levu to reach Vuda on the eastern side of Viti Levu. Except for having to motor, it was a pleasant passage with almost no swell. My parents, having arrived the day before, were waiting for us at the Vuda marina as we motored in. The marina was full when we arrived, but thanks to my parents hanging out at the marina waiting for us and chatting with the marina workers, we were allowed to tie to the wall until a berth came available (a couple other boats had to wait on anchor outside the marina).

 

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Green Panther entering the Vuda marina (photo by Althea Pribyl).

 

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We managed to get a berth the next day. They really pack in the boats here!

 

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Aerial view of the marina from the top of our mast. The marina is an interesting circle design where all the boats are pointed bow-in.

 

For the first time since Mexico, we will now stay in one place for over a week. It’s a nice feeling to know we won’t have to move in the next couple days and can actually relax a bit! Shortly after arriving, we headed next door to my parent’s hotel and jumped in their pool. It was a hot day and it felt so good after being cooped up in the boat the last couple days! Next it was time for Christmas. For the last several months, we’ve been ordering items online and sending them to my parent’s house. They managed to haul all of our stuff with them and still find some room for their own clothes! One of the items we’ve been looking forward to getting is a tiller pilot that we hope we can connect to our windvane so we can finally use it to steer us downwind. Other things included a new wind indicator (we haven’t had one since Mexico when it got taken out by a bird), an assortment of stainless steel nuts, bolts and shackles, new fishing lures and chai tea!

 

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Enjoying the pool at my parent's hotel (photo by Althea Pribyl).

 

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Complimentray rum punch!

 

Over the next week, we squeezed in a whirlwind of sightseeing, shopping and motor-sailing. We visited the major Fijian towns of Latouka, Nadi and Sigatoka. All the big towns have a heavy Indian influence, so along with Fijian handicrafts you can also find anything you might desire from India, as well as numerous Indian restaurants. That is one of the neat things out here, you can get good and cheap Indian food almost anyplace! We haven’t seen Indian food since leaving the States. We were also able to stock up on kava roots (which we will need to gift to the village chiefs when we visit the outlying islands), and fruits and veggies at the markets. Papayas are in season now and super cheap. It was about $1 US for four large papayas! All over the towns were also large billboards encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election. We happen to be here at a historic time; Fiji is having their first democratic election since the military coup 8 years ago! Observers were sent from around the world and we even met one in the grocery store in Nadi. He said they didn’t expect any trouble from the election, and he was correct. The voting went smoothly with a voter turnout of 84% (compare that to the US, where voter turnout is generally between 50% - 58%)!

 

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Piles of kava root are for sale at the market (photo by Althea Pribyl).

 

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Besides papayas, tomatoes are also abundant. One of those plates was only US $0.60 (photo by Althea Pribyl).

 

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We also visited an orchid farm started by Raymond Burr in 1977.

 

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We had a nice walk through the landscaped grounds.

 

One day we drove to the southern part of Viti Levu to an area called the Coral Coast. Twenty-five years ago (when I was 12) my family visited here and we stayed at a hotel along the Coral Coast where there was excellent snorkeling nearby. I still have vivid memories of snorkeling among huge boulders of multi-colored brain corals. I was eager to snorkel there again and see if it was still as amazing as I remembered it. We actually found our old hotel and to our surprise it had changed very little! The hotel management was very nice and let us park our car there, explore the grounds, and walk along the beach so we could go to the snorkel spot. We managed to find the place and I swam out to see the corals. It was still nice, but interestingly, the coral ecosystem had completely changed. Where there were once huge boulders of brain coral, only the large coral rock skeletons remained and the rock is completely covered by soft corals. There were still a few brain corals here and there, but overall the ecosystem is completely dominated by soft corals now. It makes me wonder if it was a hurricane, or changing ocean conditions that caused such a shift? From a brief look online, I haven’t been able to find anything about it. Would love any info if anyone knows more about this!

 

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The hotel we stayed at 25 years ago has changed very little.

 

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The beach was still nice too!

 

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Although there are still a few heads of brain coral scattered about, the coral ecosystem in this area has shifted from being dominated by hard brain corals to being dominated by soft corals.

 

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Close-up of a soft coral. Up to now, most of the places we've snorkeled have been dominated by hard corals - the soft corals are a new thing for us!

 

On two different days, we took Green Panther for day trips to the nearby motus. Our first trip we visited Bounty Island and were happy to learn we could use their moorings free of charge. We jumped in and did a bit of snorkeling, had a bbq on the boat, and then took Li’l Panther out to explore the island. After enjoying some nice cold beers at the hotel and being shown how to weave a basket out of palm fronds, we got a tour of the area from one of the Fijians working there. The hotel has a small sea turtle nursery where they raise hawksbill turtles for eventual release into the ocean. They also have many, many papaya trees which we got to sample. On another day we visited South Seas island, which is a marine reserve and supposed to have excellent snorkeling. Again, we were able to use a mooring free of charge. Unfortunately, most of the corals were wiped out by a hurricane that hit in 2012. The fish were still here, but the coral was mostly gone. Some small patches of corals were starting to re-colonize the large coral skeletons but it will be awhile before the area regains its former glory.

 

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Dad and me scouting for coral heads as we approach Bounty Island (photo by Althea Pribyl).

 

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The hotel at Bounty Island. They were nice enough to let use their mooring for free.

 

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Our Fijian tour guide around the island.

 

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Juvenile hawksbill turtles awaiting release into the ocean.

 

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Snorkeling out to the reef by South Seas Island.

 

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The rock skeletons of former large coral heads are slowly being re-colonized at South Seas Isand.

 

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A hungry Titan triggerfish was on the prowl.

 

Before we knew it, our week with my parents was already coming to an end. It always amazes me how fast time flies by out here! We were thoroughly spoiled this week with great food, few dishes to do, fun sightseeing trips and relaxing by the hotel swimming pool. Now it is back to reality (that is, boat reality) for us. We will spend the next few days trying to make a dent in our long list of boat repair projects before starting to explore some of the outlying Fijian islands.

 

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Sunset at Vuda marina.

 

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Comments  

0 #1 Lisa 2014-10-19 07:02
Hello, Thanks for your nice postcard! I have received it 2 days ago! So jealous!
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