Fiji: Preparing for the 2019/2020 Cyclone Season

With the Fiji Meterological Service forecasting at least two cyclones to affect Fiji during the 2019/2020 cyclone season, marinas have begun their preparations on Viti Levu.

Published 3 years ago


The Fiji Meteorological Service is the official body for cyclone monitoring and naming for all cyclones in the SW Pacific.  Fiji Met keeps regular updates on their website as well as sending weather bulletins by email if requested. Both Port Denarau and Vuda Marina take an active role in communicating alerts to visiting yachts and have detailed plans and procedures in place to keep visiting yachts as safe as possible during the cyclone season which officially runs from November 1 through to April 30.

Early Warning System

The Pacific’s first early warning system is now operational in Fiji.  It was designed to give the islands more notice of likely cyclones following the devastating effects of Cyclone Winston which tore through Fiji in 2016 and will be run by the Fiji Met Service.

Weather outlook

The peak period for tropical cyclone activities in the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) Nadi– Tropical Cyclone Centre (TCC) Area of Responsibility (AoR) is usually from January to March.

The Fiji Met Service says that activity in the 2019-20 cyclone season within the RSMC-Nadi AoR  is predicted to be near normal or below normal with five to eight cyclones expected to form.

There is increased risk of tropical cyclone activities for Tuvalu, Tokelau and Samoa, normal risk for Solomon Islands, Wallis & Futuna, New Caledonia, Tonga, Niue, Southern Cook Islands, and Austral Islands, reduced risk for Vanuatu, Northern Cook Islands, Society Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago and Pitcairn Islands and unlikely for others.

Similarly there is an increased risk of severe tropical cyclones for Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Wallis & Futuna, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga and Niue, normal risk for New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Austral Islands, reduced risk for Norther and Southern Cook Islands, Society Islands including Tuamotu Archipelago and unlikely for others.

Refer to the Fiji Met Service website for more detailed weather information.


On 7 November 2019, Port Denarau Marina, held their annual meeting for all yachts and yacht owners planning to spend the cyclone season in the Port Denarau area.

Anyone planning to utilize the natural cyclone protection area in the mangroves adjacent the marina (pictured left) is now required to go through the marina management to be allocated a suitable space. After extensive negotiations with the traditional landowners, the marina has been given this authority in order to ensure that all vessels in the area can be accommodated in the event of a cyclone.

However, while he landowners have granted permission to use the cyclone haven for the 2019/2020 season,  they have requested that owners and crew of the yachts that will be in the Cyclone Haven, please assist the local village in any way they can to help rebuild their kindergarten.

Cyclone Protection at Port Denarau

Denarau island is blessed with a well-protected natural cyclone hole easily accessed from the marina.

The cyclone protection is along a winding river extending well into the mangroves which provide good natural protection from wind and swell.

Depths vary with deeper draft vessels having to plan carefully and enter with the tide, and shallower draft vessels taking the spaces further in.

With careful planning and foresight, there is plenty of space for all vessels in the area to utilize the cyclone protection. Port Denarau Marina operations manager, Geoff Deutschmann, will be in charge of allocating space and managing boat traffic into the mangroves.

Following the meeting, a detailed map of the mangroves with space allocations and contact details for all yacht owners/caretakers is to be circulated among all concerned. All are hoping for a smooth and uneventful season ahead.

The meeting takes place every year during the first or second week of November. Yachts in the area are notified of the meeting through the marina noticeboard and also through email by subscribing to Port Denarau weather reporting platform. Regular weather updates will also be sent to subscribers. Anyone looking for more information about spending cyclone season at Port Denarau can contact marina manager, Cynthia Rasch, at Port Denarau Marina.


In recent years, Vuda Marina on Viti Levu’s west coast has become a popular place for cruisers looking for a safe haven during the cyclone season in the South Pacific. Having detailed plans and cooperation from the cruising community has allowed the marina to weather some very serious storms (including Cyclone Winston in 2016) with very little damage.

The weather is closely monitored by Fiji Met Service who communicate alerts through various channels. The marina also passes this information on to yachties via email, VHF and their Facebook page.

Severe Weather Preparation Plan

The marina has developed a thorough Severe Weather Preparation Plan that outlines all requirements that must be followed by all yachties to ensure the safety of their own yacht and others. In this document, the procedure is outlined in detail for vessels in water and also in the dry dock. The SWPP is given to all yachties who are staying at Vuda marina over cyclone season on upon arrival. A copy can also be requested by email. Regular communication is kept through VHF channel 16 and 11.

Vessels choosing to stay in the water will moor stern to, 3m from the basin wall. Mast and spreader bars will be offset from neighbouring yachts to avoid entanglement. Anchors will be removed and the anchor chain run out to an underwater mooring and secured to this mooring using shackles. Marina staff may be able to assist with this. Procedures for securing lines and line placement are given in detail in the plan.

The Severe Weather Preparation Plan also outlines in detail steps to be taken to secure vessels on hardstand and in cyclone pits.

Cyclone Pits

Vuda Marina has a unique dry storage system that has proven to be very effective in protecting yachts in cyclone conditions. There are forty-eight cyclone pits available for the safekeeping of vessels over the cyclone season. These are keel pits with very simple technology. Vessels are slowly lowered into a pit and cushioned on either side with tires. The majority of the weight of the vessel is taken by the keel on the bottom of the pit.

These pits are extremely popular and the marina recommends booking at least six months in advance to avoid disappointment. However, it is possible to be placed on a waitlist. Discounts are offered to those who pay in full before the end of March. Pits are also available for yacht storage outside the cyclone season at a discounted rate. Contact Vuda Marina for bookings.

Cruiser Testimonial

“Cyclone season in the South Pacific is once again here and preparing my 42’ Benteau to get safely through it, is well underway. This sailboat has been through 7 cyclone seasons in the Vuda Marina in Fiji and has come through 2 major cyclones, Evan in Dec 2012, and Winston in Feb 2016, with almost no problems.  i.e. 2 broken stanchions during Evan in 2012.  I leave the boat in the water and carry out all the preparations put forth in the “Cyclone Prep Guidelines” issued by the Marina, and this year I will be away for the entire cyclone season. I do that with confidence, knowing that I’ve followed all the preparation guidelines,  and also knowing that the staff of the marina will troubleshoot any problems if they occur. Thank-you Adam, and all of the staff.”

Peg Morris


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