We anchored outside Vuda Marina, and started thinking about leaving Fiji. We didn’t want to sail to New Zealand with our Spinnaker still out of commission, so we bit the bullet and broke out the Sailrite. All the barnacle bites were tiny, and probably would have been fine, but we’d hate to have something small become something bigger, so we put in some reinforcement.
And then we almost immediately got a chance to test it out: we had intended to hang out with our friends on Sauce Sea, but we found out that they had hitchhiked over to Musket Cove. We’d planned to offer a day trip to the floating bar in Musket Cove anyway, so we downgraded our offer to a ride back. There was wind, so we sailed over there: a rare opportunity in the Land of Motoring aka Viti Levu’s wind shadow.
We picked them up, and took the boat back out to Seventh Heaven for a late lunch.
Unlike on our previous visit, the weather was good, if a little windy, and we decided that it was time to get in the water.
The fresh water shower is a little temperamental when the wind is gusty.
We tried to sail back to Vuda, but the wind was still kicking up from the wrong angle, an6d the best we could do was Denerau. We anchored and were treated to a gorgeous moonrise; one of these photos in from the Nikon, and one from Jazz’s Pixel 6, and it’s impressive how little difference there is until you zoom way in.
We couldn’t sail to Vuda, so we made our way back to Musket Cove, and dropped the hook in a nice sheltered spot where the bad weather wouldn’t hit us too hard. Then we hunkered down and started prepping for our passage. That meant lots of time staring at weather maps, and going through our stores for things we knew would be taken away at immigration.
It rained and squalled off and on for several days, but there were some calm periods, and one of them was even adjacent to sunset. We also went swimming, leaving the GoPro behind, so of course we saw a bunch of cool shrimp and some giant sea slugs.
Our window looked to be bad, but acceptable: we were likely to have more dead wind time than we can motor through. But we can sit and float comfortably out in the blue, and we were getting to the end of the acceptable window for Captain’s first appointment to count for New Zealand entry, so we made the call to go. We booked our cat-exit-appointment, and headed back to Vuda to pick up their center mooring again. Of course it rained on us as we hauled the anchor. But we made it over, no drama, and the vet came out to give Captain his certified dose of medicines to treat all the parasites he hasn’t been exposed to because he’s stuck on the boat.
We had one last dinner with Wes and Susan…
And we took one last trip to the fresh market, where we picked up just enough fresh veggies to get us to the NZ border. We timed this poorly and arrived hungry, so we had some street samosas. We’re pretty sure that this was a mistake, though of course we didn’t know that at the time.
We also got Andrew arguably his worst haircut of the trip. Everything about this is comically asymmetrical.
We had a little extra time, so we took a taxi ride out to the Sleeping Giant orchid garden. (It’s half the distance to town, but costs more than twice as much, because Tourism!) Right by the entrance is a curated garden with many orchid varieties in surprisingly different shapes and sizes.
A short walk brings you through the tropical forest, past a coi pond with really big water skimmers, whose oversized shadows also look kind of like orchids. Then you emerge at a hilltop viewpoint, which we learned later is where you can see the “Sleeping Lady” that gives the garden its name, outlined in the shape of the mountain. We didn’t see this, but we did make friends with some other tourists at the top of the hill, and stayed to chat over a fruit smoothie — it turned out that they had been aboard the Reef Explorer, the big diving cruise ship that had been following us all through the Yasawas.
And that was it, and it was time to go! We took one last hot marina shower, and went to meet customs to check out.