Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. We're sailing up and down the east coast of Australia after a summer back in Britain.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Leaving Fiji - and Happy Diwali!

The weather window looks ok for a departure from Fiji tomorrow so we moved up to the port of Levuka yesterday and spent today getting ready for the off.

Levuka is a wonderful place. It was the first capital of Fiji and was the site of the first school, post office and bank in the country and it was the place where Fiji ceded to Great Britain in 1874; Prince Charles came here to hand the country back in 1970. Its expansion was limited by the high cliffs surrounding it so the capital moved to Suva and Levuka has remained mostly undeveloped ever since. It was accorded World Heritage Site status last year - see this website for more: http://levukatourism-com.webs.com/about-levuka

The anchorage just off the main street which runs along the seafront is ok but suffers from a few assaults on the senses. A huge, modern tuna-processing factory lies upwind of us (so the boat has a not unpleasant aroma of cooking fish around her), the town's very noisy diesel generator is also upwind of us and, for today especially, the cliffs have echoed with hundreds of loud explosions.

Fish cannery to the left, generators to the right, Maunie in between

The less industrial side of the town
The town is a bit like a wild-west street with clapboard shops and buildings. Today was a national holiday (and the reason for the explosions) so it was fairly deserted when we went for a walk around this morning.

Quay Street in the morning light

The first MH supermarket (the main brand in Fiji) now  the town's rather run-down museum

Quay Street

A great 'we sell everything' Indian shop, in the same family since 1934

Hopefully World Heritage status might lever some funds to maintain some of the decaying buildings 

Others are lovingly looked after

Above and below - Colonial churches

The Anglican church, built in 1904

Inside the church

One of many exampled of British involvement

As ever, we were stopped by friendly Fijians. They'd all worked out that we were the yacht crew and wanted to know about us. Here Dianne chats to Talley who has invited us to tea when we return next year!

The reason for the public holiday is that it's Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light. Everyone, native Fijians particularly, seems to love the opportunity to buy industrial quantities of Chinese fireworks (of the 'light it and 25 rockets go up' variety) and so we've had prime seats for an amazing display. Some couldn't even wait for it to go dark!

Daytime fireworks!
So, assuming we get some sleep tonight, we'll go into the port to clear out with Customs and Immigration and leave at lunchtime. The forecast suggests a gentle start to the passage, then 3-4 days of good sailing; unfortunately we'll meet a weather front with adverse winds on Wednesday but hope we'll punch through that fairly quickly and, all being well, we'll be back in Opua on Sunday 1st. The temperature change will be a shock - were were melting in 32 degrees and no wind today whilst it's about 16 degrees in NZ!

We'll aim to update the blog each day of the voyage with a short story on our progress but, as ever, don't worry if there isn't an update as there's always the risk of computer or satellite phone problems. We'll be reporting in to the daily radio net so will have regular safety contact with other boats should our computer comms let us down.