by Christine Kling
We are enjoying a blissful Sunday afternoon here with Learnativity swinging on a mooring ball here in Savusavu, Fiji. We arrived Friday afternoon at about 3:30, just in time to clear in with Customs, Immigration, Health and Biosecurity. We still have to apply for our cruising permit on Monday, and that must be faxed to Suva for processing which will take about 3 days. We will also have to go to the various offices tomorrow to pay our fees. In case you’re interested, here is what it will cost us to clear in for our six month stay in Fiji – and remember, this is in Fiji dollars and it’s 2 Fiji to 1 US dollar, so cut all prices in half to know the US cost.
Clearance fee to Copra Shed Marina for use of their (very short) dock while clearing $15.00
Health quarantine fee $172.50
Refundable bond for the dogs $1500 each = $3000
Cruising permit $8.00
The actual costs add up to less than the $300US it takes to clear in to the Bahamas for a 3-month stay, but the bonds for the dogs are a bit of a pain. The dogs are not allowed off the boat, and if they are caught ashore, we would forfeit the bond. Otherwise, we are to go to Biosecurity at whatever port we depart from and inform them of our departure one week before we leave. The bond will be refunded then. Wayne has come in and out of Fiji several times and this has never been much of a problem.
We had anchored two nights en transit across the Fijian waters to get to this Port of Entry, the first night in a sheltered bay at the western end of Yadua Island, and the second night off a small Fijian town called Nabouwalu where there was a ferry dock and the anchorage was tucked in behind a reef.
There are really only four ports of entry in Fiji and we wanted to clear in here because it is the farthest east. Since the winds blow from the east, it’s easiest to start in the east and then work your way downwind back through the islands. We did our two upwind legs just trying to get here, and typical of the last week’s passage, it was blowing 25 and gusting to 30 so it was a quite a wet motorsail.
Once we were cleared in, we went ashore for a walk around the town. Savusavu is only about 5 blocks long, but it was late on a Friday afternoon and things were bustling. Fiji has a large Indian population that settled here through having been brought as indentured labor in the 19th century, and a group was singing and beating on tambourines on a corner. The bus and jitney station was crowded with people making their way back to their villages. This is probably the second largest town on the island of Vanua Levu. The bigger town is Lobasa, but it is at least a 3-hour bus ride away on narrow winding roads, so this is the big city for many around here. There were several clothing stores, lots of little miscellaneous shops that sell canned goods and phone cards, a bakery and the open market. We visited one of the three banks and got some Fiji dollars, and by the time we made it back to the Copra Shed Marina, the sun was setting and the bar was calling our names. In the end, we stayed for dinner and made it cook’s night off. The fish curry I had was excellent, and Wayne’s tuna was super, too. The Australian Shiraz was $7 Fijian a class and the entrees were about $20 Fijian each. The restaurant in the marina is one of the more expensive places in town to eat.
Yesterday we went to the market and bought our first fresh produce in three weeks. Papayas (1.50), pineapples (2.00), cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, bananas, tomatoes — it was like sensory overload, and the prices are very reasonable. We added fresh bread at the bakery, and we had the makings for a wonderful dinner and breakfast on board. I got a sim card for my iPhone and I now have a working local phone with a data plan, and we signed up for the wifi from the Copra Shed Marina, 7 days unlimited $30 Fijian. Tomorrow, we will buy a cellular stick for the router. With the cell towers on the high mountains here, they have very good cellular coverage throughout most of the islands.
Deadlines are always a bit of a problem for sailing, but I’m pleased to say we made it here in plenty of time – even with our 3- week passage. I’m supposed to start the edits on the new book on the 26th, so the numbers have worked out very well.
It’s great to be back in Fiji, and I look forward to seeing more of how much these islands have changed in the last 40 years.
ChristineShare on Facebook