With our auxiliary motor back in operation and ”Blue Rodeo” refueled and restocked with fresh food, we departed Suva and began sailing west along the southern shore of Fijiʼs island of Viti Levu toward a group of smaller islands know as the Mamanucas and Yasawas. Lying in the lee of the much larger island, these islands are known for reliably sunny weather and are where most of Fijiʼs resorts are located. Our plan was to be anchored at popular Musket Cove on the island of Malolo Lailai a few days before the arrival of friends from Seattle who would, after two nights at an exclusive resort on nearby Tokoriki Island, spend the remainder of their two week vacation “roughing-it” with us aboard our boat.
On the way to Musket Cove, we had time to stop at Likuri Island, now known as Robinson Crusoe Island, where the quaint resort there puts on what is supposed to be one of Fijiʼs best traditional dance shows. Two days were spent anchored off the island. The resort is very yacht friendly and a one dollar per person fee granted us life time membership to the Robinson Crusoe Yacht Club and use of the resort facilities. The evening dance presentation followed a scrumptious buffet dinner and featured a fire walking demonstration and an enthusiastic display of talent and acrobatics. The finale was human pyramid of traditionally-clothed young men deftly juggling flaming torches. We, along with several boat loads of visitors brought to the island for the evening, really enjoyed the show.
From Likuri Island, it was on to Musket Cove passing the famous surf resort islands of Tavarua and Namotu. Sailing past the iconic surf spot of Cloud Break, we were treated to a water-side view of surfers dropping into overhead-height waves breaking over the jagged and shallow coral reef. Markʼs desire to anchor “Blue Rodeo”, jump aboard his surf board and paddle in to join them was, fortunately, tempered by his knowledge that this surf break was for experts only and well above his skill and fitness level. The sight did rekindle his desire to find the perfect surf spot where he could get some wave riding time and give Anne a chance to add that to her water sports repertoire.
When cruisers talk about yacht friendly resorts, Musket Cove Marina and Resort always gets top marks. Itʼs hard to imagine a more comfortable and welcoming place. Built on the small island of Malolo Lailai by a former cruiser, the facility offers dozens of moorings for rent in addition to a long, floating dock where yachts can tie up “Mediterranean” style with an anchor set off the bow and sterns secured to the dock. There are shower and laundry facilities, a well stocked grocery market and an amazing outdoor bar with bar-b-ques and picnic table seating. Every evening, the wood fire grills are lit and cruisers gather to cook food that they have brought ashore and socialize with friends while enjoying the sunset over the anchorage. Itʼs easy to see why some cruisers “swallow the hook” here and linger for most of the cruising season.
Although our plan had been to sail “Blue Rodeo” about 12 miles north of Malolo Lailai Island to Tokoriki Island to rendezvous with friends Carol and Bevin, overcast and showery weather conspired against us. Since the reef strewn waters in the area are
poorly charted, without “local knowledge”, travel by boat is safe only during periods of good light and visibility. Fortunately, our friends were able combine a morning snorkel excursion aboard their resortʼs skiff with a drop-off at our boat in Musket Cove. They arrived sporting big smiles and bearing an extra duffel bag stuffed full of boat parts and miscellaneous items that we, and several other cruising friends, had requested from the States. It was a bit like Christmas morning as we gathered and distributed the treasures they brought.
With Carol and Bevin aboard, we settled into the “vacation mode” and put our boat chores on the back burner. Soon, weʼd be off the explore the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands.