Fiji turns it on, Big Time!

2021 Bula Rendezvous Cruise in Company part 2

Many cruisers missed out this year, not taking advantage of Fiji’s “Blue Lanes”. To be honest it was almost us too but, we still had a good number of participants still willing to go.
The problem was getting a good weather window, establishing it early enough to get covid tests then getting approval from Fiji, mind boggling but oh so worth it.

Many of you will have seen the images and read the first instalment which covered our arrival into Fiji, quarantine and clearance then the festival at Copra Shed Marina in Savusavu then the Lau as far south as Vulaga (Fulanga) and Ogea (Ongea) if not check it out HERE

For many the Lau was a first and they weren’t disappointed. Having made the introduction with the fleet many chose to head back up through the Lau at their own speed. many kept in touch via the PredictWind Tracking adding a blog entry to the C&OC page so that all could follow their progress, check it out TRACKING PAGE

Ship Cove – Bay of Islands – Vanua Balavu – Norhthern Lau – Fiji

The next “Muster Point” was Vanua Balavu the most northern of the Lau Islands. Ship Cove is one of those quintessential anchorages, we managed to find a spot for Windflower there and many of the remainder of the fleet got lost in the many other anchorages in the area known as the Bay of Islands. We enjoyed a pleasant week there, no phones, no internet, plenty to do if you wanted it, or not was good too.

Bay of Islands – Vanua Balavu – Northern Lau – Fiji

There are a number of good anchorages around Vanua Balavu but anchoring off the villages was not welcome while Fiji tried to get the Vaccination Rate up. Fiji did a marvellous job getting the outlying islands vaccinated, for us the restrictions made little difference to us but ensured the locals stayed Covid free long enough to get fully vaccinated.

With the boats now congregating in Vanua Balavu it was time for our next event, a Lovo at Bavatu Harbour, home of the Royal Exploring Isles Yacht Squadron. A huge thank you to Greg and Jean Lawlor and the Philp family for granting us free access to the club and the plantation. We bought a couple of sheep (mutton dressed as lamb) and cooked them in a lovo,. We all brought along a dish to share and respecting Fiji’s Covid regulations kept the numbers down and kept our Social Distancing, just!

Bavatu Harbour – Vanua Balavu – Northern Lau – Fiji – Looking West

With Viti Levu and surrounds still out of bounds to InterIsland travel Vanua Balavu was the last stop on the official Cruise in Company. Many heading back to the Somosomo Strait for more diving or back to Savusavu for provisioning. A number of the boats opted to head over the top and cruise the Northern Coast of Vanua Levu.

We were fortunate enough this year to finally get to the lower Ringgold Islands with a visit, along with three other fleet boats to Budd Reef, simply drop dead gorgeous.

Willy, the ubiquitous yacht welcome committee gave us the run down of things to do then took us around to the village for what was our first full experience Kava Ceremony this year, it was getting on dark before we convinced Willy to take us back around to School Bay where the boats were anchored.

Cobia Crater, Looking South to Yanuca Is and the School Bay anchorage – Budd Reef – Fiji

The following day Willy took us over to Cobia Island, an volcanic caldera . We climbed to the ridge, not for the faint of heart, then walked the ridge line right around to the horns of the reef where the entrance to the crater is formed, great views and a great experience. then lunch on the beach and a swim and snorkel before back to the boats in the longboat. Very pleased we took the longboat or as Willy calls it the Fiber, the trip over was fine but the trades were pumping in the afternoon and it was a bumpy wet ride home.

For Windflower;- now heading back through the Somosomo Strait, Savusavu then west from there, our agenda was to get the work done we had planned at Vuda Marina on the western side of Viti Levu. Until this point the Western Side had been a no go area with no Inter Island travel allowed from the main Island. Approval from the Navy to create a “Vuda Bubble” changed all that. As long as we didn’t leave Vuda Marina and continued to wear masks and social distance we had permission to head for the islands once we were finished with our work.

Viani bay looking over the Somosomo Strait towards Taveuni in the background

Eighteen days on the hard gave Windflower a new paint job and antifoul and nearly a burst foo foo valve for the skipper and crew. We were well looked after by the Team at Vuda Marina and were welcomed into a family atmosphere with the other boats there. Our time on the hard would have been much longer if we hadn’t had access to Vuda’s Casual Labour pool, Eli, Mafi and Inia worked like Trojans removing the old wrap, endless sanding, me filling and undercoating then more sanding before we had the top coat sprayed by the professionals at Revmarine, awesome!

Windflower at Blue Lagoon – Yasawas – New topsides paint!

The participants this year have hailed the 2021 Bula Rendezvous and Cruise in Company a roaring success. So lets do it again, the 2022 Bula Rendezvous is a GO!

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