Monday, July 30, 2012

Arrival at Budd Reef

July 18th

From the north end of Taveuni, it was a short daysail up to Budd Reef. Yes, we actually sailed!! (This is a rarity moving upwind in Fiji--you wait for the light air days and motorsail.)

Budd Reef on the chart looks like an atoll reminscent of places like Bora Bora in French Polynesia--solid reef around a center set of islands. But the reality is that the reef is not as solid as it looks on the chart. We were using the Opus/Billabong set of waypoints, who's original source was Curly. Using that set of waypoints, and a Google Earth chart that wasn't perfect, and no other information, it looked like we could go in a SW corner pass, and make our way up to the village anchorage.

We ended up with 5 boats headed for Budd Reef, and it seemed like everyone took a different path in through the reef and headed for a different anchorage. Eagle's Wings and Sidewinder headed for the "school anchorage" on the north side of the main island. Us and Challenger headed for the "village anchorage" on the south side of the main island, and Chesapeake, coming late, was trying to decide which group to follow. We found that the ESE winds, which gained a little in strength after we took our sails down, was not conducive to either anchorage.

As Soggy Paws and Challenger were wandering back and forth in front of the village, scoping out the village anchorage, and preparing to anchor in a small patch of sand with not enough protection, we got a call from the Chief's son Willy, on a hand-held. He suggested that the best anchorage in the prevailing winds was neither of the ones we were collectively looking at, but on the west side of the main island. This was one we didn't have a waypoint for, and the light was getting worse due to clouds and late afternoon sun. But we agreed the village anchorage wasn't that great, so we all headed for the west side of the big island.

What we found there was enough space for about 3 boats to squeeze into the lee, and not much more. Eagle's Wings, a larger boat, opted to anchor out in 70 feet of water, and Chesapeake went back to the rolly "school anchorage". A day later, the wind went a little more south, and our tiny lee was gone. We ended up anchoring on the west side of the westernmost island, and that turned out to be a pretty good anchoring area, with enough space for all 5 boats. It was just a little far from the village.

After we got anchored, Willy came by in the village launch and picked up the crews from all boats to take them into the village for sevusevu. This was very nice, as it would have been a long wet dinghy ride.

We found a small, clean, and neat village of about 100 people. Willy assembled us on the floor in house, and collected his father the chief, to perform the sevusevu. Again, it was short and sweet, in Fijian, and with our presentation of kava and a prayer, we were accepted into the village. Willy gave us a short tour of the village and answered our questions, some of the ladies bought a few craft items, and then Willy took us all back to our boats before dark.

Village Anchorage: 16-29.96S / 179-41.29W - OK in E-NE thru W
School Anchorage: 16-29.69S / 179-41.77W - Southerly winds
West Anchorage: 16-30.09S / 179-42.12W - E-NE
Better Anchorage: 16-29.9S / 179-42.98W - SE-NE less wind and swell

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