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Fiji, Vanua Levu, Savusavu: Local information and security update - March 2015

By SV Mylady — last modified Apr 27, 2015 01:01 PM

Published: 2015-03-26 00:00:00
Topics: Piracy & Security Incident Reports 2015
Countries: Fiji

This is our 5th year cruising in Fiji. This cyclone season of 2014/15 we have been on a mooring of Savusavu marina.

Local Information Updates

- The shower and toilet facilities ashore at Waitui Marina are below sub-standard.

- Waitui Marina has had major problems with their VHF radio for the season of 2013 and 2014/15 that we've been here. Therefore most clearing assistance goes through the COPRA SHED Marina.

- The toilet and shower facilities at Copra Shed need lots of maintenance.

- Helix and similar as well as traditional moorings are used throughout Nakama Creek (not just at Waitui).

- Rats are a problem as are invasive birds.

- The creek from top to bottom is regularly stinking and soiled with waste - a disgrace. If not oil and diesel, then household and farming waste. Not to mention the black snow that creeps into everything.

- Your readers are missing an opportunity if Curly is not mentioned as a mooring provider http://curlycarswell.blogspot.com/p/moorings.html

Security Issues

Statistic's just for Marine/Cruiser Crimes - Jul/Aug/Sept/Oct 2014

5 x Yacht Break-ins - Damage to most yachts - items stolen -one yacht a large Cat was left in a terrible mess as it was turned over, opening every locker etc.

2 x Yacht attempted Break-ins- Criminals fled due to new alarm systems being installed - nothing stolen.

1 x Dinghy stolen from behind a cruising yacht - recovered by a fellow cruiser who saw and heard drunks with the dinghy, they fled when illuminated.

2 x Local Dinghys stolen - Recovered by friends and relatives.

2 x Local small runabouts stolen and recovered by public/friends.

2 x Cruiser Ladies had their Handbags stolen when enjoying a night out in town - one hand bag recovered via the local Taxis locating the Criminal and leading the police to him resulting in an arrest and nothing lost from the Handbag.

Since the above crimes, 2 more yachts (my neighbours) have been broken into.

Monthly meetings are held to combat the growing criminal activity in and around Savusavu. Up to now (March 2015), eight months down the road, not one of the 9 marine cases has been solved by the police. Nor do the marinas act in defense of their visiting yachts. Curly (curlycarswell.blogspot.com) however, is doing his best to curb the new trend.

To top it all, I was disgustingly, verbally abused (http://peterparsley.blogspot.com/p/bad.html) by local young fishermen.

There is no way I can say Savusavu is a safe place. Savusavu is merely an interesting old fashioned island town. It is a FALSE paradise, where one should visit with the necessary precautions. Crime is everywhere in the world. But here, those who need to care and do something about it, don't.

Eelco and Mi-sá-lê
SV Mylady

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Apr 27, 2015 01:00 PM

The post by SY Impi (referred to above by Mylady) was temporarily removed for some corrections and is now re-posted on their behalf:

BULA BULA and 'Hi' Fellow sailors,

It is unfortunate to read this post - we have met SV Mylady - we find their experience of Savusavu sad, but feel we should share our experience in the same anchorage. We are a couple cruising around the world and are currently / have been for a while using the anchorage at Savusavu Marina.

The name Savusavu Marina is a little confusing in that it really is a sheltered bay full of mooring balls and has a spot to tie alongside a dock for perhaps 3 or 4 yachts - used for provisioning, water filling and so on.

Let me start out by saying that the yacht posting this report is in attendance here at Savusavu Marina at a similar time to us.

These are our experiences:

First off, we have now nearly sailed around the world on our catamaran Impi, having stayed at numerous anchorages around the world. Sailors need to remember that there is a marked difference between choosing to stay at an anchorage verses hauling out the wallet and staying at a marina.

Savusavu Marina offers a great source of shelter during cyclone season and a great spot to be generally tied to a mooring.

A short distance from here one can leave the bay and anchor off Cousteau Resort, a convenient little spot where one can snorkel and do night diving off the point, and close enough to run back for shelter from cyclones. Also, a little further on and also within reach of a safe return, are the islands of Lomaiviti which includes the delightful world renowned dive sites of Namena Reef. One is also able to sail to other destinations in close proximity making Savusavu uniquely a safe and interesting spot to stay during what would otherwise be a very boring season. Also, here is Namena Divers who we went diving with during cyclone season at very affordable rates (more so than in other parts of the world) - this makes Savusavu a terrific place to be.

Robin, who runs the entire Savusavu Marina establishment can only be described by me as a person who has an incredible 'soft spot' for sailors in general, and keeps costs down as much as possible whilst providing sailors with as much convenience as possible. Honestly, this is one of the better deals we have had anywhere in the world ... especially for a country so beautiful as Fiji.

Here at Savusavu Marina we paid roughly US$ 150 per month which includes free water at the dock, free internet at the mooring and in the bay plus a host of other conveniences at the Savusavu Marina base such as washing machines and the staff even handle all propane filling for us and assist with any issues sailors may have in Fiji - they are great!!!

The mooring is not just a mooring - it is a triple helix screw type mooring complete with swivel and two ropes at the surface to which our catamaran attaches to. Let me say, that the establishment has only been available for around 2 years now ... it is very basic ... though it offers everything one needs and it has access to other convenient locations such as 'Copra Shed' - where as a member of the yacht club (automatically given on arrival for free) around it with all shops, restaurants etc.

The staff are absolutely delightful people and the cruisers who have been in the bay for any length of time have certainly extended huge welcomes and incredible friendliness to us ... they invite us to 'full moon parties', the local vet and his wife have on a number of occasions presented us with free fruits and vegetables which they share if the timing is such that you are around when they are given these gifts by the locals - they do such great work for the community here in Savusavu and operate out of the marina complex. They are also people who offer terrific moral support and encouragement when one faces difficulties.

As for being verbally abused by local young fishermen - we have NEVER experienced this problem. I would imagine that to get such a reaction from Fijian people who are the gentlest friendliest folks around, there would be other reasons for that ... for every action there is a reaction ... perhaps.

What does happen in Savusavu is that the folks who have little, swim out to catch fish and generally fish hang around boats so the locals sometimes come close to the boats to catch fish. If one speaks nicely to them and asks them to respect ones space the way they would want their homes respected they will gladly and willingly do so. We have first hand experience of this. Ana does feel however, that a woman alone is not necessarily respected by male Fijians. It is still a very traditional country where women are in the 'shadow of their husbands', the chiefs are male and it is a patriarchal society where a woman alone is not always understood. Unlike Polynesians where women are the driving force in society, here it is unusual in their eyes to be without a male companion. This is a developing and necessary change in Fijian culture. We have met many educated older Fijian women who have indicated the need for such change.

As for theft ... yes ... there are some incidents as there has been in most places around the world we have been to. Unfortunately, these incidents are a reason to lock ones boat when leaving for town and to have someone 'baby sitting' ones boat if you leave for another country. A well known man by the name of 'uncle Peter' will do this for you at a fee should you leave your boat for any length of time. Do keep an eye out for theft, but also know that unlike some countries there is NO THREAT on ones person or life in this regard ... it is our opinion that the theft is petty and in the cases of the dinghies for example, was mostly youngsters who take the dinghies for a 'joy ride' ... if you do what we do all over the world and that is to lock ones dinghy at the dock, then it is our experience you will NOT have this as an issue and really is not half the issue we have found true of the Caribbean for example.

In comparison to the Caribbean, Fiji is paradise in terms of theft and safety. However, in my view, there should be a stronger reaction by the police force to catch these miscreants ... it really will be one or two people causing the issue and the police must engage and crack down on this! In Raiatea we became friendly with the manager of the base and were told that they too had this type of theft and after the police cracked down and caught the perpetrators the following seasons had nothing.

Lets look at the comments on rats ... folks ... rats are found in anchorages all over the tropics. One does not necessarily see them but they are there. In many anchorages, including the delightful anchorage in Raiatea we would place funnels over our ropes to prevent rats from swimming to the boats and climbing up. It is good practice to do this in any tropical anchorage in close proximity to palm trees and mangroves ... as said, most will probably never see them but they are there. Spiders and birds - yes - there is an ecosystem out here - this is not the city where all has been exterminated!

I can understand that if one is alone here and mostly in a yacht tied to a mooring ball, that it could become gloomy for one ... there are many, many opportunities here to see the outlying areas and there is plenty to do during a season where most are sheltering from cyclones ... our opinions of Savusavu Marina and of the area in general are somewhat different to these described above ... after all ... thats what makes life interesting ... to be different and to be free to share!

One thing to note is the speed limit in the anchorage. We drove our dinghy too fast through the anchorage and upset some of the liveaboards here. Beware of creating the slightest bit of wake, whilst there is no official speed limit it is locally known that the anchorage is a wake-free zone.

Savusavu is a SAFE town and a terrific place to bounce off of into the surrounding islands that truly are a paradise ... one needs to get out there and explore!

On another more serious note ... I am disappointed in Fiji ... their rugby team is beating South Africa! Vinaka!

SY Impi

Mylady
Mylady says:
Apr 13, 2015 04:46 AM

It is a good post by Impi. Most Fijians are very friendly and helpful. It must be one of the reasons why we are now 5 years visiting Fiji. Unfortunately there are few exceptions.
It is also a fact that only the unfortunate few dies in a fatal accident. Most other people are onlookers.
It is also a fact that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And painters paint the same picture in many different ways.
A few comments on Impi's posting:
-The 'anchorage' is advertised as a marina.
-Free internet has no reception in the village-side of the marina. Impi stayed at the town-side.
-Robin, owner and manager lives in New Zealand and only sometimes visits in Fiji.
-Automatic yacht club membership is limited. The Copra Shed charges for the use of its facilities.
-"For every action there is a reaction." Agreed. Perhaps that's why Mylady had such a reaction - since there was a reason.
-"because we drove our dinghy too fast through the anchorage" Many inconsiderate cruisers chase with such a speed through the creek that even the locals on their bamboo rafts dare not fish in the creek in fear of being overrun. Other cruisers with children specifically would ask Curly on the net in the morning to address the problem.
-"Ana does feel however, that a woman alone is not necessarily respected by male ijians." [HOORAY, for admitting]
-"This is a developing and necessary change in Fijian culture. We have met many educated older Fijian women who have indicated the need for such change." [BRAVO for aknowledging]

Knowledge and choices are everybody's right.

Alan
Alan says:
Apr 13, 2015 02:47 AM

That is sad to hear, if it is universally true. We have visited Savusavu a number fo times in the last 5 years, last in July 2104 and never experienced crime or rudeness at all.
In fact in our experience Savusavu was the best place to clear in to Fiji if coming from the south or the east. The officials were friendly and helpful as were the staff at Copra Shed.
In all my years cruising in the South Pacific the only place I have encountered what could be called crime was in Luganville Vanuatu where a number of us had the red emergency cords stolen from our dinghies on the beach, but we all agreed at the time it was probably kids and not really serious crime.
As to the facilities, 10 years ago you would be lucky to find ANY facilities in Fiji outside of Suva, but isn't that part of why we do it ? To get away from the modern world and all its conveniences.
I never complain about lack of facilities, I am surprised and happy when they exist at all.
If one wants first class facilities, perhaps one should stay at home, or cruise the cruising grounds where they are and pay through the nose for them.
Fiji is a beautiful place, the people are kind and friendly and I hope the above doesn't put sailors off going there...you miss something special if you don't.
SV Elyse

ty-yann
ty-yann says:
Apr 10, 2015 11:00 PM

The security report written by SV Mylady does not reflect the real situation in Savusavu. Of all security issues reported, only one was a serious incident. Some cruisers are over-reacting when they syndicate "to combat the growing criminal activity". What is next? Police patrol or legal action in court ?

Savusavu is a well protected place for moorings, in a very small city with friendly people and near by nice spots for cruising. It is not a western world style marina. If you are looking for "clean toilets", "no invasive animals"..., you had better go to Port Denarau where you will probably feel like home.

Like most cruisers, I travel around the world to meet different people and different places. Let the local people run their country. Do not try to change their way of living, espacially if it is to promote your own business.

Yannick
sv TY-YANN
Savusavu

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