Cyclone Season in Fiji officially begins on November 1st and ends on April 30th although technically, a tropical cyclone could form at any time. Here in Fiji, tropical cyclones are monitored by the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in Nadi, using the ‘Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale’. This scale measures tropical cyclones using a six-category system that is based on estimated maximum wind gusts. Cyclones vary in severity from category 1 (least severe) to category 5 (most destructive).
Of course it is a very individual decision as to how to prepare your vessel for a cyclone but with advanced planning for such an occurrence, you can save yourself some valuable time once a warning has been issued as the combined effects of a storm tide and waves can most definitely loosen mooring buoys and even run ships aground.
As the cyclone season approaches, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location of cyclone anchorages around the islands (see box). If possible, take the time to travel to the nearest suggested shelter area. Ensure your contact details are updated with the authorities ([email protected]) and have plenty of line onboard to secure your vessel.
While at a Marina/Yacht Club
If moored at a Marina / Yacht Club, it is important that you read any Cyclone Preparation Requirements and Safety Procedures they issue.
As a general guide
Vuda Marina is very protected and secure with an additional wave boom that can be placed along the channel entrance to impede any kind of rough seas from entering. Port Denarau Marina is fairly well protected and offers in-ground cyclone holes. However, under a cyclone warning, all vessels must leave the marina. Musket Cove’s inner basin is accessible in the event of a cyclone. The Royal Suva Yacht Club has a hardstand onto which (if there is space available) you can pull up. However, many yachts head to the Bay of Islands or alternatively (if draft allows) the Veisari Creek is popular. In Savusavu, the Namaka Creek is well sheltered from strong weather with all three of the Marinas offering cyclone moorings.
During the Cyclone
Take down all that could potentially catch the wind – including sails. Secure all hatches and loose articles below deck. Keep your vessel heading away from the eye, or anchored facing the waves. Use a sea- anchor (para-anchor) to help hold you stationary as you wait for the cyclone to pass. Stay below deck.
Cyclone Anchorages Around the Islands
Within the pages of the Fiji Nautical Almanac, the Fiji Hydrographic Office lists some used anchorages that you might like to take note of – more detailed information and chart references can be found within the Almanac. See directory for stockists.
LAU • Mutuku Harbour • Fulaga • Ogea • Malaka, Vanua Balavu • Namuka-i-Lau
OVALAU • Wainaloka
KADAVU • Soso Bay • Kavala Bay • Galoa Bay.
BEQA • Malumu Bay.
VITI LEVU • Bay of Islands, Suva • Nadi Bay • Namarai • Vitogo River, Lautoka.
VANUA LEVU • Bua Bay • Buca Bay, Loa • Dawson Bay, Rabi • Fawn Harbour • Galoa Ba, Bua • Kubulau • Koroinasolo • Malau • Rukuruku Bay • Savusavu Bay • Tabuta, Dakuniba • Qamea Island, Naivivi.
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