Fiji's havens for Sailors
Sailing through Fiji’s tropical warm waters is one of the best ways for a complete and immersive Fiji island experience, and there’s 333 of them! Passing through the South Pacific region on a yacht can be the adventure of a lifetime with some of the world’s most beautiful backdrops, however it is worth noting that the islands are also subject to their cyclone season during the warmer months from November through to April each year.
Cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons to those in the northern hemisphere) although infrequent, can sometimes happen and are unpredictable by nature, so if you are planning on sailing through the South Pacific, you should always stay alert and be ready during this season.
Fortunately for sailors, Fiji has weathered many tropical storms and have become resilient in that there are cyclone anchoring recommendations scattered throughout the islands. One may seek a haven at any of these locations during their time in Fiji waters.
Apart from Fiji’s main marinas, here is a list of other recommended spots, compiled by Tony Philp, one of Fiji’s most experienced yachtsmen with decades of cruising experience throughout Fiji and the Pacific Islands.
Tony is a 3-time Olympian sailor, a boat builder, charter skipper and world circumnavigator. He is also the principal owner of Marina, as well as The Marina in Savusavu.
|REGION||PLACE||COORDINATES||IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW|
|Southern Lau||Fulaga||19°06.5’S, 178°35’W||North East section of Inner lagoon.|
|Southern Lau||Matuku Harbour||19°06.5’S, 179°45’E||Inner harbour southern section. Avoid central shallows.|
|Northern Lau||Nabavatu, Vanuabalavu||17°11’S, 179°00’E||“Turquoise Harbour” Anchor and/or plantation moorings. Absolutely secure “Fish Patch “with central mooring accessible at high tide for catamarans and shallow drift vessels.|
|Vanua Levu||Nasasobu/Dakuniba Bay Village||16°45’S, 179°51.2’E||Clear all tide entry in and NW to good mud holding & mangrove surroundings completely land-locked when tucked right in.|
|Suva & Surrounds||Bay of Islands, Lami Bay||18°06.3’S, 178°22’E||8 Cyclone moorings, deep water, well proven haven.|
|Savusavu||Nakama Creek, Savusavu||16°46.6’S, 179°19.6E||Coprashed, Waitui & Savusavu Marina’s all have cyclone “Swing” moorings.|
|Vanua Levu||Navatu Island, Kubulau, Vanua Levu||16°55’S, 179°18.01’E||Tight concealed basin behind small islet & shoreline opportunities.|
|Kadavu||Daku, Kadavu||18°58’S, 178°16’E||North coastal inlet in Central Kadavu - tidal entry.|
|Nadi||Denarau Mangroves, Viti Levu||18°58’S, 178°16’E||Long mangrove sided inlet offset from Marina basin.|
|Nadi||Vuda Marina, Viti Levu||17°41.0’S, 177°22.02’E||80 in-water “Proven” insurance rated berths with central “Spiral” direct chain mooring system, plus “Surge Boom” protected channel entry and dry land cyclone pits.|
Important tropical cyclone tips for sailors:
- Always check with local media and keep up to date with local weather reports. There are a few stages of the cyclone warning system, and you should understand them if you are travelling to a tropical destination.
- The Fiji Meteorological Service and MetService New Zealand monitor all cyclone activity in the Pacific and are assisted by Australia and the United States. They are able to forecast and draw up a five-day forecast, predicting where the cyclone may be for the five days ahead, as well as the areas which might also be affected by storm strength winds. The forecast on the map is cone shaped because the exact path is unpredictable, meaning the storms range is within the cone.
- Contact local authorities as soon as possible and update them on your location and sailing status. Note all local emergency contact numbers and have a plan in place for all possible scenarios. Helipro Fiji and Emergency Medical Services offers on-site paramedic services, aero medical evacuation and after care services of insurance and corporate compliance during emergencies.
Emergency Phone Contacts
|Namaka Medical Centre||Nadi||(679) 6722288|
|Zens Medical Centre||Denarau||(679) 6703533|
|Oceania Hospitals PTE Ltd||Suva||(679) 3303404|
- If you are sailing in the outer islands, plan to head to the mainland once a cyclone warning has been activated or if time is against you, do not risk it, and seek shelter as soon as possible once it is confirmed the island is in the firing line of the cyclone.
- Leave as much time as possible for making berthing arrangements and securing your boat in local ports and marinas. It can be quite busy before a cyclone with owners securing their own boats, so take note.
- When sheltering in the outer islands, it is recommended that you base yourself within a small community to ride out the storm. Additionally, it is advisable to be considerate of the locals’ advice as they are familiar with such weather experiences and would be more ‘in the know’ of how to weather such storms.
- Make sure you have plenty of bottled water, and non-perishable food. The power may be out after the cyclone around the country and it could be a couple of days before shops reopen to the public. Acquiring mini portable solar systems is advisable.
- Stock up on batteries and ensure that you have restocked your first aid kits and have torches on standby.