Kuata Island, Fiji

We set out for Waya Island, intending to take a break after the “yard time” on Vuda marina’s central ball. It was nice to get out into the islands again, where the view of the sea and sky and our cushions are all matching shades of blue. We took the disco ball down for the sail, and hung it in the cockpit just for fun.

We were excited to get out into clear water again, after the scuzzy water in the marina and in the general Vuda/Denerau area. But as we crossed what we had gotten used to thinking of as the clean open area between the islands, we ran into several patches of gross brown water. Our first thought was that a cruise ship had had a holding tank accident, but as we saw more of it (and didn’t smell it), we realized it was probably a big algae bloom. Still gross, but much less so.

We had gotten a late start and were making kind of poor time with Villa’s dirty bottom, so as we passed Kuata island, we stopped to check out the anchorage. And it seemed really nice, so we dropped anchor. We had it all to ourselves for about an hour, at which point Sea Glub sailed in and anchored right next to us. It looks unnecessarily close in the photos, but in fairness there’s a lot of coral and only one nice patch of sand, right where the boats are.

It’s a lovely anchorage visually, but there are two caveats: first, there are a lot of flies, except in the cockpit where (we think) the disco ball kept them away. Second, when the wind shifts just right, you get a strong smell of bird effluent. A lot of sailing is like this: if it were perfect, there would be more people there.

It’s nice to be all alone, but sometimes it’s also nice to have neighbors: we had an absolutely stellar sunset, and when they saw us out in our cockpit watching it, they called us out to take an amazing photo.

We spent our first full day doing two dives. The nice thing about diving on our own is that there’s no time pressure: you can do one dive in the late morning and another in the afternoon, and you come up on your own schedule. We first went out to the detached reef to the west, and then along the coast to the north where we saw a mooring ball that looked like a resort dive spot. The outer reef had nicer coral, but the second had a new-to-us nudibranch and a pregnant shark that kept sneaking up on us. This distracted Jazz, who was already slowed by her broken and splinted-with-a-tongue-depressor toe, and she ended up bumping into the wall and getting a bunch of sea urchin spines in her leg.

Spines removed, we settled into the front deck for an outdoor family dinner.

The sun went down with its typical cycle of oranges, reds, and silver-purples, and we retired inside for a relaxing evening. Note the many bruises on Jazz’s legs, courtesy mostly of her several trips up the mast. Add the toe and the sea urchin spines and you have a very broken and tired Jazz passed out there on the couch with her kindle.

Because no vacation would be complete without work, and because New Zealand requires it, we also cleaned the hull. This involved several scrubbing sessions over two days, with Andrew under the boat scraping and watching the squid, who at some point got scared and inked the side of the boat (before cleaning!)

Meanwhile, Jazz was doing the waterline and the rub rail, and wearing appropriate sun protection. But we got it done, and we celebrated with pina coladas and a rainy sunset.

The break was lovely, but we saw the possibility of a weather window for New Zealand… well, more of an overly optimistic and half-hearted hope. More importantly, our dive tanks were empty. So with heavy hearts, we hauled anchor and headed back down towards Vuda, making better time with a clean bottom!

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