Our next stop was Matacawalevu Island
in the Yasawa group on the western side of Viti Levu. Seen from
at sea the island group looks like a sunken mountain range with
submerged valleys forming narrow channels and peaks rising out
of the sea. The entry to the group was difficult. We arrived
before sunset. According to the chart the reefs extended a mile
off shore. The charts were admittedly inaccurate to over a quarter
mile and as we later learned the reef area was exaggerated. With
the sun in our face and having no local knowledge of the area,
it was unsafe to enter the channel into the lagoon.
It was a dark, moonless night, we had
to motor into a fresh headwind and tidal current all night to
keep from being swept onto the reefs to leeward behind us. The
windward side of the Yasawas was scattered with shoal patches
and coral heads dropping off into deep water. It was either too
deep to anchor or you run aground. It was a long night keeping
us on the narrow course.
The next morning, with the sun behind
us it was an easy passage through the lagoon at Sawa-I-Lau to
the western side of the island chain. It was a beautiful 14-mile
passage down the leeward side of the islands to the anchorage
on the southern shore of Matacawalevu.