Monday, July 25, 2016

Blackjack Bay

Traveling where few other boats have been has been interesting. The northern side of Vanua Levu is certainly off the beaten track, though you would wonder why. It hosts the third largest barrier reef in the world. You would think divers would be all over it! There is not much infrastructure to support a tourism business on this side, as it is where most of the sugar cane is grown. There are large sugar plantations and a sugar refinery in the largest town on this side. So we are traveling thanks to the help of some other cruisers who have ventured this way and left some information, way points and small chartlets to help us along.

We left Also Island early on Monday morning to make our way through a different cut in the reef. It had a few doglegs, but Michael did some good work looking at Google Earth charts and the various bits and pieces of info we could gather. We made it through, put the sails up and had another great downwind sail for about 25 miles. Our destination was another good opening in the barrier reef. This pass was called Sau Sau and was pretty straightforward. There were four fishing boats near the entrance and it was very deep. Our Garmin charts were pretty accurate except for depths. We saw much deeper water than the charts indicated (a better problem than the opposite). We made our way to a tiny inlet against the main island. We faced a beautiful long white sandy beach with palm trees. On each side were these rock faces. The rocks are very interesting. Many are hollowed out creating this strange landscape of cave like rocks with large overhangs. A series of them on one side at low tide looked like "hobbit" houses."

The bay has been named "Blackjack Bay" by one boater in a Fiji guide. It was named by the author for the other boat in the bay with him. It is near Wainikoro River. The river gets a fair amount of small boats going into it. This morning a boat stopped by to say "bula" and told us they were heading up the river to a small store and the medical center that is there. They also wanted to take pictures of themselves with our boat. You can tell cruising boats are still pretty rare here. But cell phones are everywhere. And "selfies" are universal.

Yesterday, a different boat with a large family aboard went by and didn't stop but all yelled "bula" and waved. We are guessing we'll have a few stop by. We'll call this home for at least a few days and perhaps take a dinghy explore up the river. We may also try to figure out where the nearby village is to go and do our "sevu sevu" ceremony. Because they see so few boats here, we are thinking it will be much more interesting to meet some of the local villagers and see a different side of Fiji village life.

We also have this beautiful sandy beach to walk in search of the nautilus shell. Lots for us to do. We are anchored in about 35 feet of water with what seems like a good sandy bottom. The water is not very clear here inside the reef though – so probably not much snorkeling. The river outflow probably gets it pretty murky.

Blackjack Bay:
Lat: 16 14.53s
Long: 179 31.92e

No fish caught on this passage either – though we had one bite that tore up the lure pretty good – have to sharpen the hooks!
At 7/25/2016 8:13 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.52'S 179°31.92'E

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