Cruising the South Pacific with Tackless II
Tackless II, along with her two captains, Don and Gwen, cruise from Fiji to Australia
Sunday, August 26, 2007
23-25 August 2007- Vuda Point Marina
Vuda Point Marina (17*41'S; 177*23'E) is the first real marina we have seen since Raiatea, French Polynesia. It is quite a distinctive facility. Instead of the usual lineup of docks and finger piers, the marina is a perfectly round basin with a zig-zag key-hole entry conceived to make it a safe haven in cyclones. Inside the boats are moored around it like the spokes of a wheel. At this time of year, boats come and go, nosing their bows in to the wall and hanging their sterns from fixed underwater moorings. The finger piers here are stubby platforms, maybe six feet by four feet, perched on the basin wall between the "slips."

I say "slips" advisedly, because the space into which we were directed was surely no more than five feet wide…or was until George, in his work boat pulled one boat over so we could wriggle in, separated from our neighbors by no more than the width of our fenders! During cyclone season, boats left here for storage tie up stern to the wall with their anchor chains shackled to an underwater fixture in the center of the marina. Hopefully, there are fewer boats accommodated, and hopefully they stagger the masts!

Around the yacht basin is the boatyard. It is also the first haulout facility we have seen since Raiatea. The plan is to store Tackless II here this coming cyclone season and to have some major boat work done both before we leave and after we come back. So arriving during the work week was another motivation for getting here quickly so that we could get quotes from Baobab Marine for all the projects we are considering.

Fiji, like many countries, requires regional check-ins in addition to your intial check-in upon entering the country. For this area Lautoka is the check-in port, and Jane, Bill and I made our way by taxi to customs on the commercial wharf. Our reception was not quite what we might have hoped. A burly official informed us we must have the boat in the harbor to check in, and we politely insisted that published materials told us we were allowed to check-in by bus from Vuda Point. He kept stabbing his finger at a paragraph on our cruising papers that said we had to check in at Lautoka, and Jane and I kept firmly, but politely pointing out that, we absolutely wish to abide by all the rules and requirements and here we were, checking in. In the end he bowed to feminine persuasion, and by writing a letter stating that we had gone on to the Marina based on published materials advising us to do so, we were allowed to complete the check-in without fetching the boats….which would have been very inconvenient since Don had a salon window removed so that he and Brian of Baobab could devise the best design for our replacements.

Although a bus runs several times a day from Vuda to Lautoka, Jane of Lionheart had persuaded us to hire a taxi to run us around town. This proved a good idea because Sen was able to take us right to the bank, the supermarket, the hardware store, the liquor store and the meat market, pretty much giving us an orientation to the usual rounds of the cruising yachtsman! We were particularly stimulated by the savings on booze over Savusavu and by the exotic selections of meats at Fiji Meats.

Although we only stayed two nights at Vuda Marina, they were, as you might guess, quite social. There were quite a few boats we knew (including a fellow charter captain from St. Thomas!), and the yacht club's little sundowner bar is a pleasant place to hang out. Next door to the marina and yard is the First Landing Resort (named for the landing place of Fiji's first settlers) where registered yachties can eat, drink and even get pool passes, a salvation since the marina is well known as a very hot spot. We were in time for First Landing's Friday half-price pizza night which drew over thirty cruisers!

By Saturday midday we had our quotes and saw no need to stay longer. Bill has three days left before flying back to Florida and it seems only right he should get a chance to see the word famous yachtie hangout of Musket Cove before he leaves. And so we set out to Malolo Lai Lai Island in the Mamanuca Island group, conveniently only about fifteen miles away from Vuda.

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