We had a perfect day of sailing as we left Namena reef: 18 knots of wind, flat seas, and an easy, three hour jaunt north toward Savusavu, the second largest town on Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji.
In town to do some heavy provisioning (the next few stops on our itinerary offer very little by way groceries, carrots and bok choy if we are lucky), and to amuse ourselves in town as the weather promised rain, we came to think of Savusavu as the most charming town we have visited in Fiji yet.
Savusavu is a small town with a large ex-pat community. There are a handful of resorts nearby, but nothing of the tourist fervor we found in and around the Mamanucas. The restaurants were excellent (seared yellow fin tuna wrapped in bacon, home made rum-raisin ice cream, yes please!), the groceries stores abundant, and the butcher was even open the last day we left.
We also had a first and favorite cultural sighting for our time in the South Pacific—a local youth sailing club. Dominic and I were shuttling groceries from the farmer's market to Helios, when we saw 20 kids between ten and 14 putting on life jackets and rigging Opti dinghies on shore. Later, as we motored up the coast and out of town, we saw them again, tacking backing and forth at the edge of the mooring field.
We cruised through the fleet without collision, despite one kiddo who did a few 360's twenty feet off our port bow, did lots of waving, and said many "bula!"-s, happy to see so many locals enjoying sailing. Aside from a documented fleet of traditional Polynesian catamarans that tour the Pacific rim—we were docked next to one in Samoa, and watched their documentary in Tonga—this is the first community of kindred sailors we have found, despite the legacy of sailing in the local traditions of all the islands we've visited.