Schooner Seawanhaka

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Postings - Fiji '05

Date and Time:

May - October, 2005


Fiji Islands - 2005

View Photos from Fiji '05:


June 11 - Suva Harbor

It was a snap checking into the Republic of Fiji Islands this season, knowing all the steps through customs, immigration, health, agriculture, and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs. Many of the officials recognized SEAWANHAKA and her captain. We had chocolate chip cookies waiting, but they didn't even want to visit the boat!

We managed to escape the night life of Suva and cruising community at the Royal Suva Yacht Club after only 5 days, determined to see the sights, villages and anchorages of Kadavu Island and the Great Astrolabe Reef. We spent a glorious 3+ weeks there. We were early in the season, were the first boat to visit many of the villages this year, and didn't see another cruising yacht for the first 3 weeks!

We had a great time snorkeling, diving, and exploring the islands of Kadavu, Ono, and the Great Astrolabe Reef. We spent most of a week inside Namalata Reef while our Dutch crew Marjolein picked up her PADI Open Water Dive certificate. We sailed the entire north shore of Kadavu, our favorite anchorage being at the west end tucked in between Cape Washington and Nagigia Island. Phenominal snorkeling right off of the boat with 60 feet of visibility, and a very nice little village on the beach.

While in New Zealand before the passage to Fiji we picked up about a hundred kilos of school books when the Russell school library was doing an upgrade, and have had a great time distributing them to the school libraries in the villages we have visited. The schools are very short on educational resources. The most sought after items by the village kids are pens, pencils and paper! Of course the chief of every village anxiously awaits our "sevusevu" ceremonial presentation of the traditional kava. We even had the chief of Nabuwalu village scold Bill for waiting a day and a half to come to shore to make the presentation.

All of the villages we visited were very friendly and hospitable. We always had a fresh supply of oranges, bananas, coconuts, taro and breadfruit, but fishing has been very poor in the islands, and we were never able to catch or buy a fish. As SEAWANHAKA has traveled across the Pacific, we have consistently found a deterioration in the fisheries. Most of the local folks blame the foreign "long-liners", but there also seems to be a general decline in the health of the habitat, primarily the reefs, and an always increasing demand for more food from the sea. In the village of Solodamu we were invited to share a traditional Sunday afternoon lunch with the very large extended family of Henry, who greeted us upon our arrival in the bay.

We sailed back into Suva with a couple of villagers from Nabuwlu, Ono Island. The two elder gentlemen "Dicks" and Simon had a very pleasant day being "passengers" on SEAWANHAKA. The only big surprise being when they showed up with the school lawnmower to haul to Suva for repairs. Another first for SEAWANHAKA.

June 26 - 10th Anniversary of Owning SEAWANHAKA

Yes, it has been 10 years since I bought SEAWANHAKA for my birthday in 1995. What an incredible 10 years.

SEAWANHAKA and I have traveled 35,408 miles together, checked into 16 different foreign countries, and were able to share the thrill of sailing on this classic schooner with 163 different crewmembers. I've almost forgotten that I worked for 6 years in there as well!

Of course, it has been a pretty incredible 10 years for my son Walker as well, from junior high, to graduating from high school, Stanford University, and living the life of the young professional in Washington D. C. Fortunately he has been able to share many of the miles on SEAWANHAKA with me. Also pleased to report that my mother has been a frequent visitor to SEAWANHAKA, from Glacier Bay in Alaska to as far south as New Zealand.

We celebrated the 10th by sailing out of Suva, across the channel to Beqa Lagoon, anchoring in the wonderful cove on the west side of Yanuca Island. Of all the wonderful places SEAWANHAKA has dropped the hook, this is still one of my favorites. A great place to celebrate last night. Don Cleveland, Political/Economic Officer with the US Embassy in Suva, who hails from Lebanon, Oregon, and Kimberlee Lear, from Bend, joined me for the sail and the festivities. Nice to have an Oregon crew!

The crew at Batiluva Resort on the island put on a special traditional Fijian "lovo" feast, everything cooked underground covered with palm fronds and banana leaves. Topped off with chocolate/coconut ice cream cake. It was also the birthday of one of the Japanese surfers staying at the resort, so everyone was in the mood to celebrate. And we sure did.

All's well on SEAWANHAKA. We will be spending a few more days here at Yanuca before sailing back to Suva to pick up some new crew for the next trip: a month of sailing to the northeastern Fijian islands of Vanua Levu, Taveuni and the Lau Group.

August 17 - Savusavu Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji Islands


SEAWANHAKA is back in the water after another successful haulout with the Whippy crew in Suva. We spent 5 days in the yard, and then another 5 on a work dock finishing up projects on deck. Below the water line the crew repaired the seams that were showing some leakage, did upgrades to the stem and horn timber, and applied new antifouling and boot stripe. We did a complete deck and cabin renovation. We completely stripped the deck and cabin, repaired and rebuilt the sections that needed it, applied a layer of resin, then impregnated the non-skid sections with resin/sand. The chain plate seals were replaced on both masts. The result of all the work is that SEAWANHAKA looks sharp, is in better shape than she has ever been since I have owned her, and has no water getting in either above or below the waterline!


After all the yard work it was great to be back out on the water for some sailing. We did a 5 day trip for a "sea trial" to my always favorite anchorage at Yanuca Island and Batiluva Resort. While we were anchored there "SEAWANHAKA Marine Services - Search and Salvage Division" had a great opportunity to do a project for a stranded sailor.

A German boat, fairly inept sailor, I had met Reinardt a few times, came into the cove and anchored up next to SEAWANHAKA. He dropped the hook until it hit the bottom, locked up the windlass and headed for the bar. He did have a pretty hefty anchor, but unfortunately did not have a tide book on board. The tide came up 1.5 meters. When I came back from dinner I noticed his boat was not there! It had drifted out of the bay, 2 miles across the lagoon and up hard on the reef. My buddy Silas who does photos at the surf resort and I searched most of the night without finding HROSCHIK. At dawn we could see her from up the rigging very high and dry on the reef. Fortunately it was a solid steel boat and a day on the reef didn't hurt her much. I took some great photos that I'll be adding to the Fiji "05 page. At hight tide at midnight she was able to power off the reef and was towed back to Pacific Harbor. As she departed she had to cut away her anchors, which the SEAWANHAKA crew were able to salvage for her the next day. The reefs in Fiji are notorious, but the bars seem to be getting most of the boats these days, and I thought the only tough ones were on the Pacific coast of the NW! I did make $500FJD for my efforts.

After a quick re-provision in Suva and a great Sunday afternoon charter with the Australian Embassy, SEAWANHAKA set sail across the Koro Sea to the islands at the NE corner of the Fiji archipelago. We stopped at Leleuvia Island, the historic original Fijiian capital city of Levuka on Ovalau Island, Makongai and Koro Islands, and beautiful Viani Bay on Vanua Levu, with a great view of Taveuni, the "Garden Island" across the Somosomo Straits. 240 miles of great trade wind sailing. We had a very fast close reach and smooth seas all the way across the Koro Sea, averaging almost 9 knots. Had some great swimming and snorkeling, including the real highlight, the giant clams of Makongai lagoon. They are multi-colored, a good meter across, and were only 2 meters below the surface. Also saw whales, sea turtles, dolphin, sea snakes, and eels. Makongai is also the "Molokai of Fiji" previously having been the site of a colony for those afflicted with leprosy. While spending a couple of days anchored at beautiful Leleuvia Island I was able to assist the Dutch boat MARIDA with a problem with his diesel engine. They had been anchored up there for several days with sea water in the crankcase oil, a real bad sign. We were able to diagnose a leaking seal on the raw water pump, and had them up and running in less than 24 hours! They were very appreciative, with a fine bottle of SE Australian wine being added to our stores.

SEAWANHAKA is presently moored at the Copra Shed Marina in Savusavu, the cruising base on the island of Vanua Levu. We are doing a crew swap here, before heading west around the north coast of Viti Levu, through "Bligh Water" to Lautoka, where we plan to check out in a week, bound for Vanuatu.

August 28 - Suva Harbor

SEAWANHAKA had another great sail across the Koro Sea, stopping at several anchorages along the south coast of Vanua Levu, Namena Island, and an overnight sail back into Suva. Great fishing along the way, which made for great meals on board!

SEAWANHAKA will be spending a month on a mooring in Tradewinds Bay as I head back to the west coast of the USA to assist my mother with her health issues. My plan is to be back into Fiji October 5, and depart for Vanuatu and Australia shortly thereafter. It is important to cross the Coral Sea before the 1st of November. The Coral Sea is a large body of very warm water, where tropical depressions breed, and eventually grow into cyclones, tho the latter doesn't usually begin to occur until December. Good to have a month buffer on the cyclones! I will be looking for crew for the passage to Australia, so if anyone out there is interested, start working on your Australian visas.

October 12 - Saweni Bay, Lautoka

WHEW! What a week. A short one as well as I lost a day to the dateline! It started out in Santa Barbara, California, Air New Zealand LAX-Nadi, Coral Sun Queen's Coach to Suva. It was great to get back to SEAWANHAKA and find her in good shape after a month of being away. A quick 2 days in Suva; a good scrub, fueling and provisioning, then off for the downwind run to Nadi to meet my Vanuatu/Australia crew.

For the trip to Nadi I had the pleasure of having Kayla and Philomena on board. They are both living in Suva, Kayla hailing from Victoria, B.C., studying at the University of the South Pacific, and Philomena, Hunter Valley, Australia, working on development of a new resort in the Astrolabe Reef. Of course we couldn't sail by without another great stop at Yanuca Island and Batiluva Resort. We spent 2 nights anchored in what is still my favorite South Pacific anchorage, then had a very nice overnight sail along the southern coast of Viti Levu to Nadi.

SEAWANHAKA and her new crew of Seth, Sharon and Silke will be checking out of Lautoka today, provisioning, and sailing out to the Yasawa Islands for a couple of days before the passage to Vanuatu.

View Previous Postings:

April - May, 2005 -Voyage from New Zealand to Fiji
December, 2004 - April, 2005 -New Zealand
November - December, 2004 - Voyage from Fiji to New Zealand
September 15 - November 14, 2004 - Fiji Islands
July 26 - September 14, 2004 - Kingdom of Tonga
July 5 - 24, 2004 - Apia, Samoa
May 31 - July 3, 2004 - Pago Pago, American Samoa
April-May, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
May 17 - 21, 2004 - Fanning Island, Kiribati
April, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California

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