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Positive Experience At Vuda Point Marina

By doina — last modified Jul 24, 2005 05:19 PM

Published: 2005-07-24 17:19:02
Countries: Fiji

Having voyaged from Trinidad to Fiji in 2003-4, we left our British-registered 36-foot cutter "Caliburn" at Vuda Point Marina (174 deg 41 min S, 177 deg 23 min E) and flew home to the UK for seven months.

While we were away Caliburn sat in one of the "graveyard" holes, propped up on piles of tyres. We were very impressed with the care taken by the yard to ensure she was properly levelled and she wouldn’t move if a cyclone did hit the marina. The marina has comprehensive cyclone preparation requirements to minimise the potential for cyclone damage, plus a wave boom across the entry channel. Fortunately, there wasn’t one, and we returned in May 2005 to find Caliburn safe and sound.

We set to work painting, varnishing and fitting the items delivered to the boat as a "yacht in transit". Once again, we were surprised and impressed by the range and quality of the work we could get done and the items available locally. We had an electrician rewind the alternator and supply a "smart charger", the topsides rubbed down by Willie’s Boat Painting Services, paint supplied and new wooden hatch surrounds made by Pacific Marine Services (the carpenter even came in on his day off to finish them because he knew we were itching to get cruising again). Having seen the huge doghouses and spray hoods on boats coming up from New Zealand, we decided we’d better get one before heading for New Zealand, so we had a new spray hood made by Marshall Sails (based at Denerau). Alan Marshall took time discussing our requirements and advising us on the best way to get the hood we wanted, and we’re delighted with the result.

At Vuda itself is a small chandlery, fuel dock, a coffee shop, internet access and grocery store. Food and drinks are available at Vuda Yacht Club, whose thatched building is a great place to sit and watch the comings and goings through the marina entrance. Other local hotels also offer "yachtie specials" for dinner; First Landing Resort is next door and you can also get a pass to use their swimming pool; the Anchorage will collect you and deliver you back to the marina free of charge. Any of these places offer grandstand seats to enjoy the sunset while sipping sundowners. Pacific Marine Services, run by New Zealander Geoff, carries out boat repairs and maintenance and provide security for unattended boats. The marina itself also has 24-hour security guards and we haven’t heard of any problems while we’ve been here. Everyone is very friendly and pretty much anything we couldn’t get in the marina itself we’ve been able to track down in nearby Lautoka. You can get to Lautoka either by using the marina taxis or on the bus with the locals, an enjoyable and colourful experience. Milika Wata-Marshall, the marina manager, is very approachable (as are all her staff) and she can help with, among other things, arranging extensions if you want to leave your boat in Fiji longer than 12 months.

We’ve been so pleased with the low cost of keeping and maintaining Caliburn here, the care taken of her and the ease of getting repairs done that we plan to leave her at Vuda again this December while we fly home, returning next June to set off for New Zealand via Vanuatu, the Solomons and New Caledonia.

Kevin and Christine Gooch

S/Y Caliburn

June 2005