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Old 02-08-2011, 16:42   #1
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Six Months in Fiji ?

We're South Africans planning on spending a 6-12 months cruising somehwere on the planet. Departure is most likely June 2012 from anywhere. Family of 4 with kids (8 and 10). I have UK coastal skipper cert, but no major cruising experience. Wife & kids no experience. We're looking for somewhere safe, beautiful & not too touristy. Can you give us "big-picture" advice re Fiji/Cooke Islands? Best time of year? Out of bounds for unseasoned sailors etc?
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Old 02-08-2011, 19:03   #2
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Its a long way to...

Fiji is a long way from anywhere by boat.

Noonsite has a page on Fiji which may answer some of your questions.

Not having been there, but being familiar with reports from boats that have, you may care to keep the following in mind:-

* Being in the South Pacific cruising during the cyclone season is unwise.

* During the cooler months in the southern hemisphere large low pressure areas may move north. There have been reports of yachts proceeding from Fiji to New Zealand experiencing "incidents".

* The run from Panama to Australia/new Zealand is sometimes referred to as the "Milk Run". Reports suggest that an above normal standard of boat preparation and seamanship is desirable.
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Old 02-08-2011, 19:55   #3
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Re: 6 months in Fiji?

Hi,
Cook islands are great, but not that many safe anchorages is you have more than 4-ft draft. Fiji is tricky navigation with lots of reefs everywhere; however, plenty of good anchorages and a few friendly marinas. There are boats that stay in Fiji for the cyclone season in either Vunda point (Viti Levu) or Savusavu (Vanu Levu), but you would be restricted to go anywhere far from those safe hurrican holes during Oct-April. Most boats head south for the summer - NZ, Australia, or even New Caledonia is an option. If you plan right, you can see a lot of Fiji (and Tonga or Vanuatu) in 6 months, then do some great summer cruising in NZ or Oz.
Fair winds and following seas,
Ron on Freewind
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Old 02-08-2011, 20:17   #4
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Re: 6 months in Fiji?

Hi Savuti - Boracay knows his stuff & makes some good points, but we spent a year in Fiji with our 2 kids & loved it. We've posted over 10 illustrated pages on Fiji that start here, including dive sites with GPS locations. Our Fiji Cruising Info page is a bit dated but more detailed than Noonsite.

Fiji is lovely but there are lots of reefs around, not all of them well charted. We often sent our kids up to the spreaders to guide us around (they loved it!) I've already posted our sailing tracks in MaxSea format for others to download & I'm currently working on an OpenCPN version of those tracks which I hope to post Real Soon Now...

I don't like the passage to NZ - too many boats get beat-up either coming or going, those "incidents" that Boracay mentions. We found 4 good cyclone holes in western Fiji, & in Savusavu up north you can rent a "cyclone mooring". While I'd spend cyclone season in Fiji again, we kept a very close eye on the weather (& we pulled a cruiser off a reef when a squall hit at 0:dark:30 & everyone was dragging).

You might want to read our Pacific Weather page as the Pacific is different from the Indian or the Atlantic. We also published a South Pacific Schedule to get the most out of your time there.

But it sounds like you may be new to cruising. Fiji is almost certainly a very long way from wherever you'll buy a boat. There's LOTS of fun stuff to see & do along the way - read our website for examples. Do yourself & your family a favor - don't rush it. You'll want the experience you gain from your earlier cruising.
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Old 02-08-2011, 21:39   #5
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Re: Six Months in Fiji ?

Thanks for all the info and advice - extremely helpful and much appreciated. Our plan would be to avoid long passages, i.e. buy (and sell the boat afterwards) in Fiji. Will do some more research...
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Old 02-08-2011, 22:11   #6
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Re: Six Months in Fiji ?

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Originally Posted by savuti View Post
...Our plan would be to avoid long passages, i.e. buy (and sell the boat afterwards) in Fiji. Will do some more research...
Research is good. There actually aren't that many places where one can easily buy or sell a boat - USA, Med, & the N & E Caribbean top the list, with NZ & Aus down a bit. The Somali pirate situation is creating a buyers market here in Malaysia & Thailand (& Chagos is magic any time of year, but you have to sail there). You can buy new boats in ZA but not many used boats. There are certainly other places, but those are the easy ones.

BTW, my mom's from Potch & dad's from Hartley. And we plan to sail to Richards Bay about Nov 2012. You might want to ping me privately for some alternatives to buying...
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Old 02-08-2011, 22:29   #7
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Re: Six Months in Fiji ?

Thanks Jon - I'll get in touch direct via your site.
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:21   #8
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Re: Six Months in Fiji ?

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Thanks for all the info and advice - extremely helpful and much appreciated. Our plan would be to avoid long passages, i.e. buy (and sell the boat afterwards) in Fiji. Will do some more research...
Selling in Fiji would be tough. Could be good to buy there though. Buying on remote islands can be brilliant. You just have to go there and hunt around the marinas. Right place, right time etc etc.

Better to sell in Australia or NZ even if you have to pay a crew to take it there.
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:29   #9
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Re: Six Months in Fiji ?

As has been said, Fiji has a number of places to hide during Hurricane season, so that shouldn't limit you (I grew up in Suva and the occasional jaunt moving our boat into the mangroves was not uncommon). My family are now based in Nadi and the boat that I sail on when home has survived unscathed for the last 6 years, so odds are, you'll be fine too.

The main thing you might like to think about though, is that the Hurricane/Cyclone Season is also when it is uncomfortably hot. Not HOT like here in the Middle East where I now work, but hot as in Humid, Sticky and Not Much Wind. A number of years ago, I took some time off and went home to sit on the beach and do some windsurfing. We had one Hurricane in the whole time I was there (December to May) and the Trades didn't really kick in until late April. It sucked!

April through October will be the most pleasant time. Although it is also "Tourist" season too.

On the Nadi side, Port Denarau (Port Denarau Online) and Vuda Point (Vuda Point Marina Fiji - Yacht Haven) are pretty small scale Marina's, but both have a bunch of boats for sale throughout the year, so you may like to buy out there, sail (and cruise to Tonga, Samoa, etc...) then sell when you've had enough. A lot of the boats we saw up for sale when we were home in August, were well set up cruisers where the sellers had just had enough and were happy to quit. Can't remember what the lot at Port Denarau were called, but anyone of the Philp family (the folk behind The Yacht Shop The Yacht Shop - Fiji should be able to help).

Cheers, PT.
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