Sunday, September 11, 2016

Blue Lagoon South to Musket Cove Resort – July 23 2016 – Sept 11 2016

After a restful stop in Blue Lagoon replete with visits to the Tea Shop located on the far side of the island, getting our Vodaphone sim card and new Wi-Fi unit delivered by the Yasawa Flier we headed south to the Manta Ray Resort. 

With luck the Manta rays swim daily thru the channel located adjacent the Manta Ray Resort, thus the name.  However, unfortunately for us, they had not been seen for a week and they did not appear on demand.  After spending a couple of nights in what proved to be a very rolly anchorage we decided to move on.  We sailed south to the island of Waya only a few short miles away.  The northern most anchorage was poorly protected in the prevailing conditions and we opted to continue farther south to the most southerly anchorage.  This was a very nice stop in quiet soft water with only a few other boats in the bay.  We enjoyed a couple of quiet days before heading off to Navandra. 

We had heard much of this tiny island but found the reef in poor shape.  Kaija did manage to find a rare Turban shell ashore and a Crown of thorns Starfish and Juvenile Angle fish in the shallow water.  The anchorage was gunwale to gunwale rolly and we left the following morning.




We decided to make for the quite popular Musket Cove Resort where we were looking forward to reconnecting with a number of our sailing friends.  The day sail was brisk thru reef infested waters and we were happy to have the CruisingFijiBlogspot routing available to follow.


Blue Lagoon to Musket Routes


Musket Cove Resort and Marina is a veritable cruisers haven.  It has all the amenities. Hiking is great on the island and it is easy to find world class surfing, snorkelling, diving, tennis, golf and enough eateries and drinking holes to satisfy any desire.  Also it has a market as does the adjoining Plantation resort who makes the best cheese buns and fresh bread daily.  For a small fee anyone can partake in the daily offering including watersports, basket weaving, and misc. activates. There is also a local airport and a total of three resorts owned by different members of one family.  In short there is something for everyone and it is a great place to spend a lot of quality time while exploring the adjoining island including Tom Hanks Castaway Island which is only a short sail away.
During our time here, Gary enjoyed tennis a couple times a week with an old acquaintance from Cartagena, joined with a couple of cruising buddies to do some diving and we typically enjoyed a daily regimen of snorkelling Sunflower and adjoining reefs which we found to be some of the best snorkelling we have had here in Fiji.
Gary even managed to find a new buddy...albeit he was a little standoffish...a lovely Leopard Shark allowed him to swim up close and personal.

Kaija as usual had great fun finding all manner of underwater wildlife to amuse her including a very happy Coral Snake and dancing Octupus.
Gary along with friends Alison and Greg explored the Pinnacle a very nice dive indeed!
especially swimming thru the cave
It was during one of the dive/snorkelling expeditions that we had a new experience and we were quite happy that it was not on our boat.  We had been invited by Alison and friend Greg aboard Alison’s sailboat Cachalot to join them for a day sail to Mana Island.  It was a pleasant sail and fun day.  We dove the Supermarket and Sunset Wall and then traversed to the Sandbar where we explored the Cabbage Patch and saw schools of large fish including one very big grouper.

The day was fast waning and we headed back to Musket.  We were within site of the anchorage and it was just past 6pm. The light was fading and Alison had just commented that she was just slightly off her track when we went CRUNCH!  This is not a sound you want to hear EVER.  We were on the reef.  And the bad news was…we were on a falling tide.  Despite our best efforts to heel the boat, pull ourselves off with the dinghy and help from two local boats…we were stuck fast.  As darkness fell, so did the water and boat ended up on a rather uncomfortable 45 degree heel.  This is how we spent the night.  Thankfully good friend Don Salthouse Sv Caro Vita, came out from the anchorage at about 10pm.  With the aid of a flashlight he packed some old sail cloth under the boat topsides to protect the gel coat from the coral.  It was during this exercise that he noticed the prop had fallen off.  A note to those buying a boat with a sail drive.  Please be aware that the prop is only held on by a single small nut which is easily displaced when the drive is in reverse.  This is what happened when Alison was attempting to reverse drive back off the reef…it is no wonder we didn’t get anywhere.  To make matters worse, the prop could not be put back on in the water and so we were going to have to rely on a tow back into the anchorage.  When morning broke, and the tide started rising we were able to refloat the boat and tow her back to Musket.  It was lucky for Alison that the wind was down that night and she suffered no real hull damage and other than her bruised pride survived the experience virtually unscathed.  As for me, it was a reminder to not transit Fiji waters in the dark.  There are just too many reefs and many of them uncharted.

After spending nearly two months enjoying this fabulous location and all the amenities including a wonderful Sunday all you can eat buffet it was time to say goodbye to good friend Greg who was leaving Sv Cachalot and Skipper Alison to return to New Zealand. 
It was also time for our return Vuda Point to complete some unfinished work on the boat and see if we couldn’t lose a few pounds.