Yasawa Part 1: Getting Away

yasawa fiji dolphins, sv cavalo

So we’ve been parked in Musket Cove for a silly amount of time now. The surf has been pumping ever since we showed up and we haven’t been able to create an excuse to sail away from it. Even on windier days it provides some ideal grounds for kiting, and after a brief encounter with a palm tree I’m finally starting to pick up the sport. So many activities! But all good things must come to an end, and after a four-day downpour both the wind and swell died with no forecast of resurrection. Time to look elsewhere for fun.

Though we didn’t make it to the Yasawa last year, the southern end is only a day’s sail away from Musket. We figured we could spend upwards of two weeks exploring the island chain, and still be back fairly quickly if the surf were to reappear. And even though the Yasawa are known for their howling winds and rolling anchorages, the aforementioned ebb of both wind and swell meant this would probably be the ideal time to go. Not to mention a handful of islands that were off-limits for the filming of Survivor were once again open to visitors, including one island in particular that we’ve had our sights set on for a while.

Navadra is appealing for one very particular reason: nobody lives there. Even with all the qualities that Musket possesses, the anchorage and mooring field can get crowded, the people you surf with become the people you have drinks with at the bar, have dinner with every night. The entire island staff knows your name. This social point is probably responsible for keeping many of us sane, but eventually you’ll find that what you really need is to walk around naked, yell, and burn things. So, with paper charts in hand (it always feels like more of an adventure with paper charts), we set off for Navadra.

Getting anywhere within Fiji requires a bit more diligence than usual. It’s a maze of reefs, and from what we’ve learned a number of them aren’t even on the charts. Fortunately four sets of eyes are better than two, and we arranged a buddy sail over with some friends who were keen for a bit of rogue fun. Between their high perch and some waypoints we got from another boat, we were able to manage a confident sail along with an impromptu and well-matched race. It’s always a race. We came around into the anchorage just as a third boat was appearing, and though there were already two others there, they were up and gone by the time we set our anchor. Only three of us?! Peace at last.

Cyclone Winston did his due damage to the area, and figuring we’d do our part to clean up the debris, Matt and our friends off Kairos II sourced some firewood while I went on a fruitless cray hunt. In hindsight, the snorkelling was pretty good and the waves coming over the reef were perfect for bodysurfing, so it’s possible that attentions were divided… Nevertheless, we had plenty of fresh food on board and managed to throw together a decent grill packet. Food, drinks, music. Check. Malin the Wilderness Guru had the flames roaring in under a minute, and for the first time in far too long we had ourselves a proper beach fire.

The island provides much for the explorer at heart. At low tide it can be circumnavigated with a good pair of shoes, and the surrounding waters are rife with pretty corals and sea life. Cliffs and caves make up a good portion of the island’s structure, spanned by sandy patches, palms, and thick climbing vines, all of which are made conveniently accessible by a well-trodden network of paths. Paths? To say that nobody lives on Navadra isn’t entirely accurate. There is, amusingly, a small population of wild goats. I have no idea how long they’ve been on the island, or how they were introduced in the first place, but they’re really stinking cute. At dawn and dusk they can be seen high on the cliffs, snacking on shrubs and watching over the anchorage. They have no interest in greeting you, however.

We gave ourselves a few days here, just enough to get the Wild Things out of our systems, but eventually moved on to find a calmer spot to anchor. Carrying north to the next destination, Navadra finally disappeared behind the other islands.

Cruiser’s Notes:

  • Anchorage accessible from either northeast or west entrance- mind the reef between them and stick someone with good eyes up on the bow.
  • Anchor in 9 to 22 meters. Sand and seagrass. Possible coral.
  • Even in the calmest of conditions you’ll be rolling gunwale to gunwale, most likely in the middle of the night when you’re trying to sleep. Set up a stern anchor or a flopper-stopper if you can.
  • Follow the goat path up the cliffs for a birds-eye view of the anchorage and sea floor.
  • The beach is steep and mostly coral at the water’s edge. Approach at the sandy neck between the two land masses where there are rocks sticking out of the water. Smallish waves break on the shore, so drag your tender above the high tide line, if it’s heavy you’re better off anchoring.
  • Timing is everything- cruise ships come here.

 

* These notes are offered as observations only and are not meant for navigational purposes.

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