It doesn’t really count as going aground when the ‘ground’ is mud, right?
We motored into the port of Suva yesterday at noon. It was overcast and raining, hard. Port Control directed us to anchor by the Suva Yacht Club and we could see at least a dozen boats there. We made our way over to the anchorage area which our charts showed as blocked by a shallow area. Which way to go around? Our charts also showed a 25ft area on the starboard side of the shallow area and there was indeed a big red marker on that side it. “Red LEFT return” (it’s opposite here) so we figured we should proceed through the channel.
What channel? We edged past the marker, quite close to the big docks on shore, with Will at the wheel. Something didn’t feel quite right. We slowly watched the depth sounder countdown: 10ft, 5ft, 2ft, 0ft. Zero feet!!! Hydroquest came to a stop and Will threw the engine in reverse. Thankfully she moved backwards without too much trouble.
Our plight was watched by three Fijians on a raft nearby. They looked rather confused as to what we were doing but waved and gave us big smiles nonetheless.
We tried to radio the Suva Yacht Club again, as well as a boat another yacht that had anchored an hour before us. “How do you get into the anchorage area?!” No one could understand what we were trying to ask.
We reversed out of the “channel” and into the path of a 200ft ferry that was leaving the dock. They altered course for us. We proceeded to the other side of the shallow area, figuring we would have to anchor way out. Suddenly the anchorage entrance became very clear – you just go straight in, past two sunken ships, of course. We set the anchor in 12ft of water with all the other cruising boats.
Clearing into Fiji was no problem, although it was a bit of a runaround today to pay all of the invoices (we had no Fiji $ onboard yesterday). Suva is a big city, but that’s okay with us. Everyone is incredibly friendly and everything is very cheap. We’ll be here for a couple more days before we head west.
Hopefully our depature from Suva won’t be as embarrassing as our entrance!