Fiji: Vuda Point Marina, Viti Levu, to Musket Cove, Malolo Lailai Island

Sunday morning we had a relatively slow start but soon got into the swing of things. It was time to give Morphie a proper spruce up. We had already washed her down and got all the salt off, so this time it was a thorough clean followed by a wax and polish. It took us most of the day but she sure looked lovely and we were getting lots of complimentary comments from passing traffic. In the evening we headed into the bar for sundowners and enjoyed chatting to some fellow cruisers.

Monday morning we decided to get a taxi into Lautoka (the second largest city in Fiji) armed with an optimistic shopping list. On the trip into town we were offered a touring half day out by the Indian driver but thought the price tag was a little steep so we declined his offer.

As we drove into town we went very close to the port and saw lots of commercial activity – from the rum distillery; the piles of sugar cane harvested and loaded; to the huge pile of pine chips that get exported to Japan to be made into paper. The town itself was interesting with the main area having four places of worship along the main road: a Mosque; a Sikh temple; a Methodist Church and a Hindu temple.

The Indian population is large here as originally they were imported to work in the sugar trade and is why Lautoka is known as Sugar City. The shops were bunched together along the roads, seemingly by industry. So we headed to a recommended auto store and managed to purchase a flexible hose for our grease gun – that will sort out that pesky squeak! One unexpected surprise was the amount of traffic, often in dual carriageways, and how the majority of the shops were operating behind prison bar-like grills. Makes you wonder about theft and security?!?

We then walked to the large supermarket and picked up most of the things from our list. I then left Richard sitting outside with our goods and crossed the road to the municipal fruit and vegetable market which was huge. I really liked that they had price tags on many of the goods on offer so I knew I was paying the correct local price and not an inflated ‘gringo’ one which had been my thought in Savusavu a couple of times.

We then picked up another taxi which appear to be the most normal way of getting around as there are certainly plenty of them parked up.

We got our new Fijian driver (most of them appear of Indian descent) to take us to a local bottle store and wait – then, fully provisioned up, we headed back to Morphie. The cab took us right to the dock and there was just the difficulty of getting the bags back onboard as it was a very low tide and the bow was almost five feet below the dock. We managed somehow, phew!

In the late afternoon we headed into the bar for sundowners and witnessed a boat dragging in the anchorage and the panic of everyone from that boat running for their dinghy and motoring fast out of the marina towards the last known position. We never heard the outcome, fingers crossed it was recovered undamaged. We then returned to Morphie and had a quiet evening back on board.

Tuesday morning and we were doing more boat jobs – this time Richard finished the cleaning and waxing of the transom while I cleaned down below. A top up of the water tank and we were all sorted to depart from Vuda Point Marina. We had a lazy afternoon and then went to the bar / restaurant and had a nice dinner as the sun went down.

Wednesday morning we were up early and I paid the (very reasonable) marina bill while Richard did engine checks. We then disconnected the power and water and stowed everything below. We then waited for the marina guys to come help us, as we were tied underwater to two mooring balls at the stern and needed to be released as well as for the balls to be moved out of our way as we reversed out of the tight spot. Come 11 am we were on our way working our way through the channel cut into the reef at low tide – and being met with a surprisingly strong current – but we got out safely.

Again it was a low wind day so we motored out along our course eyeballing for unexpected hazards. It was absolutely flat calm and we enjoyed spotting some beautiful tourist islands along the way.

After about five miles the wind picked up (from the wrong direction of course) and the sea became a bit lumpy, which meant that it wasn’t so easy to see the shallow areas, and slowed us down considerably. But we managed the turn through the multitude of reefs into Musket Cove and picked up the last mooring ball – that was a relief because it is almost 18m deep here and the anchoring spot would have been either a long way from land or just in front of a reef, neither option really appealed to be honest.

We quickly wiped all the salt off of Morphie and headed into the marina not spotting where the dinghies were supposed to be tied up. A friendly local helped us out – the entrance to the back of the pontoon which is used as the dinghy dock had been masked by a large monohull. We tied up and headed into the office, they gave us forms to complete and we then wandered the complex. We walked along the beach, visited the pool, the surprisingly well-stocked store, the coffee shop and the dive shop. We then went to the sand bar and enjoyed a few cold ones as the sun went down before returning to Morphie for a quiet night on board.

Thursday morning and we headed into the resort mid morning. We completed our check in with the marina and organised to become Life Members of the Yacht Club. This gives us access to free showers, garbage disposal, laundry facilities and the facilities of the relatively up-market resort. Great deal for only F$20 a night for the mooring ball (around £7). We also booked ourselves in to do a two-tank dive on Friday morning.

We then went to the coffee shop to meet John who runs the Go West Rally and is also in the anchorage. We purchased the Rocket Guides to Vanuatu and New Caledonia from him, which he loaded and authenticated straight onto my computer. So we can now start planning the next stage of our trip. We also need to check out the entry requirements for Vanuatu as, apparently, it takes a while to get the authorisations back.

Afterwards we took up residence by the pool and lounged around before we went bobbing – the first time for a long while.

We thoroughly enjoyed the pool (although it was a tad chilly when we got in the first time) and chatted to some Australians who are here for a wedding. Later on we picked up some fresh provisions from the store and headed to the sand bar which is where the cruisers hang out watching the sun go down. We enjoyed catching up with some people we had previously met on our travels and then returned to Morphie calling it a day quite early.

During the night for some reason I barely slept at all so decided not to go diving as I felt too weary. Richard went ashore very early this morning (Friday) to let the dive shop know and rebooked us for Saturday instead. As a resort they are presumably used to this and they were very laid back about it all. So that was a relief. Really looking forward to getting back in the water again.

The wind has dropped significantly today so we are just floating around our mooring ball and we are having a lazy time of it. Will probably go and try the beach later, depending on the tide, as it dries out quite a long way. Enjoying this period of R&R right now!

Bye for now

Jan

Fiji: Exploring the north coast of Viti Levu

Sunday morning we were up really early and ashore by 9am and were met by Joe on the foreshore of Navuniivi Village. We walked up to his house and met a few visitors from other local villages who come together for Church on the first Sunday of the month. We also met their Reverend. This visit we took some simple toys for the kids and some hair slides for the girls along with some material for Mrs Joe (everyone called her that or Auntie which is clearly a term of respect). Then we headed out to wander around the village….these people are very poor but are very welcoming and happy.

We then headed to look at the original church which was damaged by Cyclone Winston. Although the Government generously supported villagers in rebuilding homes and donating food supplies for three months, all communal facilities have had to be managed by the villagers themselves. So it has taken time. But it is nearly finished and they have even decided to have proper pews rather than woven mats on the floor (as some of them are getting old and finding this a struggle). The church use drums to call villagers to service so here is Richard having a go the following day (and yes, he’s still wearing his sula).

We then went to the Community Centre (which also serves as the villagers’ cyclone shelter and the church right now) and met all the kids who were attending Sunday school. Mrs Joe had certainly worked fast giving out the hair slides as all of the girls were proudly wearing one and thanking Auntie Jan for the gift. Such wonderful children, beautifully behaved and no begging or requests for things. Truly humbling how they were so excited about very small inexpensive things.

We then returned to Joe’s house before heading to church. We were given a Methodist bible (written in English) and walked in to lots of Bulas (hello) and sat on the matted floor behind the choir who were all dressed in white. The kids were seated ahead of us and kept a close eye without getting into trouble for not paying attention LOL. One lady swiftly joined us and gave us the rundown on what was happening. When it was time for the hymns we stood up along with everyone else and listened to the beautiful harmonies. She then passed us a Fijian hymn book and showed us the words….we recognised the tune….and bravely attempted to sing along. It was surprisingly simple to follow and we were getting silent claps from the kids and approving looks from the congregation. What fun!

After the service we returned to Joes and left the other villagers to their communal feast. We had a simple but tasty lunch and we played with Joe’s nephew Ben who is five years old and showed him how to blow bubbles (part of the small gifts we had delivered). He was so excited and concentrated really hard on how to do it properly. Everyone walking past laughed and smiled enjoying Ben’s pleasure.

After lunch we said farewell and took Joe and Ben with us to visit Morphie. OMG the little boy’s face just lit up but he suddenly went really quiet and shy although that didn’t stop him trying out the helm seat. All children in the village have to board at their nearest school during the week so we were glad to be here at a weekend and got to meet them all. At the end of the visit we gave Joe some fish for his dinner (as we had returned with a local ‘pudding’ and ‘custard pie’ from Mrs Joe) and a citronella candle explaining that it deters the mosquitoes as he was fascinated by the concept. When Richard returned them to the beach he was met by all the other small boys and Ben was centre of attention regaling them with stories of the boat. We then had a quiet night onboard, feeling pretty tired from the heat of the day….not to mention our aching legs from sitting on the floor LOL.

Monday morning we returned to visit the lady from church as requested. She is Fijian (and is Joe’s sister) but worked as a missionary (with her Pastor husband) in Papua New Guinea for years and has since settled in Tasmania where her children were schooled. She built this house in her home village for her mum (who has since passed)and keeps it as her holiday home to return to her roots each year. Fascinating stories and the conversation flowed. Again it was Auntie all the way. She told us that everyone loved our singing (really?!?) and were very impressed by our pronunciation, apparently we were the talk of the village at the feast. We took tea with her (and gave her a small gift of some tea, noodles and biscuits) and had a lovely visit. We then headed over to Joe’s and chatted for a while before heading up the hill for a walk to see the view down into the bay.

Along the way we spotted ladies doing some mat weaving (which are sold elsewhere) and also spotted a baby wild pig tethered. Apparently wild pigs are a nuisance as they rut up the crops in their small plantations so the dogs are reared to kill them – and this baby must have been captured afterwards, probably to be fattened up for a special occasion. Joe had explained that the villages didn’t really eat reared pork, but they do eat wild pig.

Returning to Joes we were told that we were invited to lunch over the road with Auntie so we headed over there. To refuse was really not an option as the food had already been cooked and Mrs Joe joined us too. Afterwards we went to say goodbye to Joe, who was very sad. We promised to send photos to him and left….with Auntie and Mrs Joe in tow. We had to drag the dinghy into the water (as we had misjudged how far the tide would go out that day) and took them out to Morphie. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit and there were big hugs all round when they left. That evening we got dink up onto the arch and plotted our course to VoliVoli Beach Resort for the morning.

Tuesday morning we picked up our anchor and blasted our horn (as requested) as we left around 10 am. People popped out from lots of village doors and we got a royal send off. Felt quiet emotional, these warm and welcoming people had really touched my heart. The sun was up so we could see the reefs along the route. We arrived at the resort at just gone 1pm (it was only 15 miles away) and tried to anchor in the 30 knot wind that had suddenly blown up out of nowhere. We weren’t happy and couldn’t really get set properly in the 20m depths in very windy conditions so decided to retrace our steps to Nananu-I-Thake where the anchorage was more sheltered. We got a great set in mud in this remote uninhabited bay and had a quiet afternoon and evening watching the sun going down. I was disappointed though not to get that promised dip in the pool!

Wednesday morning we picked up anchor and headed out towards Vatia Point. Again eyeball navigation through the reefs was necessary. We had our anchor down by 2.30 pm. There was whistling onshore from people trying to get our attention so we dropped dink and went ashore.

Although this is an Eco Lodge there wasn’t any services that day as there were no guests and people mainly use the facilities for picnics on the beach.. Richard found out that there was a store nearby (30 mins allegedly) so headed out with his minders, Joe, Joe and Jim (who all worked at the resort for their Auntie). I took a seat in the shade and enjoyed watching the kids play in the sea but only after the eldest had scoured the water for jelly fish and given them the all clear.

Eventually Richard returned, laden with beer supplies having persuaded a NZ guy to give them all a lift back as the walk there was actually almost an hour and he was concerned to get back before dark. So we all sat on the beach chatting and watching the sun going down having a cold long neck each (that’s the name for the larger size bottled Fiji Gold beer). It was a lovely day and we had met some really nice people.

Thursday morning we picked up anchor around 9am and headed out again through the reefs. Destination was Saweni Bay almost 30 miles away which was another eyeball navigation passage and with no wind, we were motoring again. There was a strange contraption along our route which, apparently, is dredging for material to make magnets. Would have thought that a hazard to shipping like this would at least have had AIS? We enjoyed the sights along the way of the barren hills fronted by mangrove with the occasional village and resort dotted along the foreshore.

We arrived at Lautoka and sailed through the commercial port, checking out the dry dock as we went through, and then into Saweni Bay.

We anchored in mud and got a good set. I went to have a wash and found no water coming out of the taps. What the heck? Checked the tank and it was down to 45% from 90% the day before. So we checked everything and realised that the pump was continuously working and where had all the water gone as the bilges were dry?!? So we swapped the main water pump out (in another pretty inaccessible area under the back of the stern cabin berth) and the taps worked again, but we were now down to 10%. OMG what now? Richard checked all the system and found a loose hose to the new hot water tank so fixed that. Everything was then working as it should but virtually a whole tank had been pumped out – but why hadn’t we heard the bilge pump?!? All we can think of was that as we were motor sailing all day with Richard on the helm and me on the deck spotting the reefs and markers, we were so engrossed we didn’t hear it. Certainly that’s the only explanation at this stage but it was clear we needed to go into a marina while we trouble shoot it (and fill up of course). There are three nearby but two were full because of the World ARC boats so we rang Vuda Point marina to get a berth. Thankfully they could fit us in so that was that. No hot showers for us just strip washes – of course we could have had a salt-water shower but didn’t fancy that as there are huge purple jellyfish around (and a few turtles too as that is their favourite food). Another reason to love turtles LOL.

So we had a quiet night in this peaceful anchorage and admit to having a few long necks before bed.

Friday morning we had breakfast, picked up our anchor, and motored around to Vuda Marina where we’ll stay for a little while. If you have been checking the tracker you’ll see that we have crossed the top of Viti Levu and it all looks so simple – see the image below.

Now compare this with the image from Ovitalmap showing our route through the reefs. Pretty scary or what?!?

At Vuda we went straight through the narrow channel (having been told it was clear) and was taken to our berth. Bows to a tiny dock with two long stern lines tied to lazy lines. Kind of Mediterranean mooring with a Fiji twist! The space was relatively small but we got in easily enough between two unoccupied boats so we were all set. I checked us in and Richard got the water hose sorted. He started to fill the now almost empty tank (but no further leakage thankfully) and we then connected to the power. Afterwards I headed to the laundry area laden down while Richard continued to check out the plumbing….finding a leaky connection to the new pump and changed an o-ring which completely solved the problem. Yay!

We then washed Morphie down and climbed off her (which isn’t easy at any stage of the tide) and having had a busy day we went out for sundowners and had an enjoyable dinner in the marina’s Boatshed bar and restaurant. There was live music too which was nice.

This morning, Saturday, we were up early and headed to the resort next door for the weekly market hoping for fresh fruit and vegetables. But it was really an ‘artisan’ market more aligned to a visiting cruise ship than for cruisers. Never mind…. We then returned to Morphie and I’m blogging while Richard is cleaning the transom. This afternoon we are heading to the bar to watch the rugby – the Fijians are playing the Maori All Blacks (here in Fiji but sadly too far away for us to get to see the game live). So that should be a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

Bye for now

Jan

Fiji: Vanua Levu, Makogai Island and Navuniivi Village, Viti Levu

Sunday night the rain eased so we headed ashore to listen to the band. We ended up joining a big group of people and had a really nice social evening.

Monday morning and it was time to do last minute jobs….so we filled the water tank, I headed out for some last minute provisions, and Richard did his engine checks etc. We then headed into town for lunch with Karen and Paul (SV Gigi). At 4pm we said sad farewells to Karen and Paul and waved them and Savusavu goodbye. It is unlikely we’ll see them again any time soon but hope to cross paths with them at some point, perhaps in Australia. Fingers crossed as we had really enjoyed being back in their company again.

So on a lovely blue sunny afternoon we slipped away from the dock and motored towards Passage Point where we anchored for the night behind the reef. It wasn’t so easy to spot the reef at high tide so we were thankful for our previous waypoint to keep us safe. About 30 minutes later JP and Julie (SV Eleuthera) turned up and we spoke on the radio and made arrangements for the following morning as we were buddy boating to the next anchorage. We turned in really early enjoying being back on anchor again.

Tuesday morning – at 4am – we picked up anchor and headed out in the dark following our tracks through the reef and into the Koro Sea. Here’s Eleuthera underway in the early morning light.

The sea was pretty flat but sadly there was little wind so we motored on and around the Namena Barrier Reef before we turned towards Makogai Island which is part of Fiji’s Lomaiviti Island Group.

And Richard caught a fish!!! He was very happy so I quickly filleted it and shared the good news with Eleuthera on the radio.

Nearing the island we worked our way in through the pass between the reefs and then into the anchorage to find it was 70 feet deep. We dropped our hook but it really wouldn’t set so we picked up and moved again. Then we dropped in 60 feet but this time got wrapped on a coral bombie so we tried for the third time and, thankfully, got a good set. Had been a long day as we weren’t settled until 2.30 pm having covered 51 miles.

We didn’t fancy going ashore at this stage but were invited to Eleuthera for sundowners (and to enjoy the ceviche that JP had made out of some of our catch earlier that day) so we headed over there at 5pm. Was a nice evening in the cockpit and was the first time we had been on their boat – she is huge in comparison to Morphie. I was particularly jealous of the washing machine on board!

Wednesday morning and we picked up JP and Julie from their boat to go ashore. Was a bit dodgy going to the land through all the coral bombies as the foreshore was full of them. Finally we made it and quickly donned our sulas (over our shorts).

We were met by Paul who, with due reverence, accepted our gift of kava (but no formal sevusevu ceremony) and then took us for a guided tour of Dalice village.

It really wasn’t a proper village more like a few houses for the workers who worked for the Government doing conservation work at the Marine Research Station. They are rearing leatherback turtles for release into the wild and also breeding giant clams to be repositioned back onto the reefs. This was fascinating in itself seeing the process, especially when we realised that the giant clams take up to 40 years to get to a decent size.

The island itself has an interesting history as this was a leprosy quarantine colony and housed the Makogai Leprosy Hospital from 1906 to 1969. The patients were segregated according to their gender and, if they were found together, would face time in one of the many jails. There are ruins around testament to this fascinating history especially when you see the graves of the Sisters and Fathers that undertook this difficult work (and who often then succumbed to the disease themselves). But it didn’t appear that life was perhaps all grim as there was even ruins of the original cinema building. And in fact they called this the Island of Hope at the time.

After the hospital was evacuated (with the patients moved to the mainland) the army came in and bulldozed the majority of the buildings making the island deliberately uninhabitable for 30 years before the research station was allowed to move in. In 2016 Cyclone Winston (a category 5 storm) hit the island and it was devastated with the few workers running for their lives across the top of the hill to avoid the storm surge which came above the tops of the houses. We found this a really interesting visit.

Afterwards the workers helped Richard and JP lift our dinghy over to deeper water to avoid the bombies. Assistance was very gratefully received.

In the evening JP and Julie came to us for dinner – only a simple pasta meal – but was good fun.

Thursday morning we were joined in the anchorage by SV Dazzler and we said hi to them as they headed ashore. We decided to stay aboard and have a lazy day which was really nice. Later on we headed over to Eleuthera for dinner (which was fantastic including cakes for desert, thanks Julie) and said more sad farewells as we were now heading off in separate directions. Hopefully one day we’ll see each other again.

Friday morning at 6am we picked up anchor (heaving a sigh of relief that it hadn’t got wrapped around a bombie during the time we had been there) and followed our track back out through the reef. As we motored out of the anchorage the sun came up and we found that the reef was just visible with waves breaking over it but the depth of the water was not possible to gauge in the poor early morning light.

The wind was almost non-existent to start with so we motor-sailed towards Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji). We took the opportunity of making water as we went along. About 11 am we started to cross into the narrow passages and chicanes through the reefs.

Some of these reefs are marked and we had waypoints from Curly combined with some from Karen and Paul but we kept a good lookout as we knew that the charting here isn’t complete. We topped our plotter up by using Google Earth images on Ovitalmap as another check. One uncharted reef was on Google Earth so we knew about it. But a second wasn’t on either device – luckily we got quite good at spotting the different hues of the water!

Finally at 3pm we had anchor down opposite Navuniivi Village, Viti Levu Bay.

Safely on anchor we were able to pick up a Digicel signal for the first time since Savusavu so caught up with all the news. Sadly we found out that a close and dear friend had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away whilst on a sailing trip – RIP Chris, you will be sorely missed by everyone who knew you. Glad you got to meet Morpheus and spend some time in the BVIs with us before we went cruising. We have many happy memories of our times together. In the light of this news, feeling a bit stunned, we decided not to go ashore and raised a glass in his honour instead.

Saturday morning we got ourselves dressed up and headed across to the village. We were met by a couple of guys on shore who dealt with our dinghy for us. The shoreline here dries out completely so they were very kind in allowing us to not get wet, then took dink out and tied him to a re-bar which had been embedded in the black volcanic sand. This meant that we would not be stranded high and dry later at low tide. That was a lovely welcome!

We then were escorted up to meet the chief Joe and his wife. We were also joined by his nephew. We passed over the kava and they made up the bowl and so we had our first formal ceremony sitting on the floor of the outside verandah to their property. The kava (its real name is yaqona) is the traditional ceremonial drink made from pounded roots of a local pepper plant mixed with water in the tanoa bowl and is consumed from a communal coconut shell. There are also chants and claps that you have to do and, thankfully, we managed to get through our first sevusevu without a hitch!

We also gave over some small foodstuffs to the Chief’s wife who reciprocated with three large papaya picked from their tree and some oranges. The Chief decided Richard was the King so he ended up drinking four huge bowls while I managed to get away with just a single small ladylike bowl LOL.

We chatted for a while and sent Paul and Karen’s best wishes to them (as they had told us about their times here in the village) and, lo and behold, they got out some photos of them all together. They are clearly looking forward to seeing them again at some point this season.

The nephew showed Richard how they mash up the kava roots into powder to make the grog and revealed that they often don’t have the roots as they are so expensive, using other parts of the plant instead which they purchase in a cheaper powdered form. They were delighted with our bunch as it was ‘good quality’. Phew! Bit worried about that.

Whilst we were talking to the chief some kids came along to see us appearing quite fascinated by us (and it was clear one of them got a ticking off for not looking me in the eye when I asked them their name!). We were certainly glad we were dressed appropriately for the occasion although I have to say a skirt over the top of a pair of shorts is not the most comfortable attire (but needed for the dinghy trip / landing).

During the conversation we were invited to go to the village on Sunday which, in Fiji, is a great honour. So tomorrow we are going in to meet the Chief, go to church as his guest, and then join his family for lunch. We will also be given a tour of the village as everyone will be home on Sunday to welcome us. Really looking forward to the experience, these people are just so friendly.

So we came back to Morphie and quickly changed and rinsed our clothes out ready for another wear tomorrow as this is our Fijian finest attire and the only things we have suitable for the events planned.

Bye for now

Jan

Fiji: Taveuni Island to Savusavu, Vanua Levu

Tuesday afternoon we headed into the Paradise Resort for the final time and had lunch accompanied by a few cold ones enjoying the peace of the gardens. We also tried to pay our bill which bore no resemblance to what we had signed for during our stay. So we asked the manager to go away and try again which she did, and again, it was incorrect. I was relieved that I had actually kept a note of our daily expenditure otherwise it would have been very difficult to get this sorted. Finally we got to a mutually acceptable figure and I paid it – but this was very hard work! We said our farewells and headed back to the boat before dark and had an early night.

Wednesday morning we slipped away from our mooring ball as the sun came up just after 6am and passed a tug and a huge barge going in the opposite direction. We experienced much stronger winds than forecast (surprise, surprise) but the seas weren’t too lumpy and at least we were heading downwind. We had a great sail and thoroughly enjoyed it making very good time. Was grateful to have engine support as we approached the reef marker at Passage Point this time!

At 2pm we pulled into Copra Shed Marina and were very lucky to get the last available berth. Although we had made an advance booking people often don’t leave when they originally plan so “reservations” are really just “expressions of interest” rather than confirmed places. Was lovely to be back, knowing that we were safe from the forthcoming blow.

We cleaned all the salt off of Morphie, got ourselves linked up to the electricity supply and then went for sundowners and met up with some fellow cruisers before having a reasonably early night. Was great to see JP and Julie (SV Eleuthera) and Paul and Karen (SV Gigi) again.

Thursday morning we headed into town as we needed fresh produce and some more drinking vouchers from the ATM. We also met a few of the World ARC participants as the anchorage was filling up fast. There were a few mooring balls left way up the creek but that was it.

There was also some bother on the dock here when one of the WARC boats insisted that they had booked a berth and didn’t like the space they were offered so they kicked up a stink and, eventually, one of the others moved but it surely must have created some ill-feeling amongst the fleet. Certainly there were lots of derogatory comments being made near to us on the dock about the situation!

During the day we also met Lars from SV Sweet Dream (another fellow Island Packeteer) who are participants on the WARC. So that made three of us here in Savusavu so we quickly made arrangements for a mini Island Packet get together in the evening over a few beers. It was a lot of fun and we were joined by a number of other cruisers and WARC participants in the Copra Shed Marina bar. Here are the Island Packeteers altogether….from left to right Karen and Paul (SV Gigi), us in the middle, then Laura and Lars (SV Sweet Dream).

Later on people drifted away in various groupings and we headed out for dinner with Paul and Karen to the Grace Road Kitchen (the fantastic Korean restaurant) for another meal which definitely didn’t disappoint.

Friday morning and we were on board looking at possible routings for when we leave Savusavu again. We also popped into town again for some more bits. On our return we saw that a number of the mooring balls had been vacated as a tug was pushing a huge barge into the anchorage – and Sweet Dream was one of them. Later on the boats moved back into the anchorage ready to reclaim their mooring balls and it became clear that the ball Sweet Dream had been on was no longer a viable option. The wind was whistling around and the tide was ripping and they were not having a fun time……and of course by this time all the mooring balls had been taken by some last-minute WARC arrivals and Sweet Dream had been permanently displaced. They were clearly stressed and upset and had to anchor out amongst the reefs. So sadly we didn’t see them again. Was a very bad experience for them and I think they may even have touched bottom a few times whilst circling…. Felt very sorry for them.

In the afternoon we spent some time onboard Gigi (who have spent many seasons here in Fiji) looking at their waypoints and routes through the coral reefs which gave us a lot more confidence going forward (especially as there are many coral bombies and rocks that are uncharted).

In the evening we went ashore and met JP, Julie, Karen and Paul again and listened to the live music. During the evening an English tourist, Nicky, came over to chat. It was clear she was trying to avoid the attentions of a few drunken Fijian men so we welcomed her into our ‘gang’ LOL. Was amazed that she was travelling alone here in Fiji as you couldn’t say that the area was particularly disability friendly (she is in a wheelchair). The pavements are cracked and broken with lots of potholes and the Police had already told her she was not to push herself along the roads even though the pavements are not suitable and the kerbs are too high for her to manage. Anyway, at the end of the evening, Paul escorted her back to her accommodation to ensure she got there safely before we all called it a night.

Whilst out and about the day before I had found a beauty salon / hairdressers tucked away up an alley so had booked an appointment for Saturday morning and the girls had decided that they would join me for a girlie morning out. So at 9.30 am on Saturday morning we all met up and headed to the salon. It was an experience especially the unexpected cold water wash on the lay down chair tucked behind the counter. Also the hair dye (which was labelled mid-brown and I’d purchased it myself) turned out to be Fiji Brown (which is actually almost black). Never mind, everyone in the salon said I now had Fiji hair and were fascinated by how similar my curls were to them…..quite funny. Whilst I was there I also had my eyebrows threaded and the whole experience cost me around £15 – bargain or what?!?

Moving on we headed to the Sugarlicious cafe and had tea and cake. Huge portions but absolutely delicious! Was a fun time.

We returned to the marina (but not before the Police had warned Nicky about being in the road again sigh) and we parted company. I rushed back to Morphie as the heavens had now opened. It poured down and continued for the whole day. We sat in the cockpit inputting waypoints for a few hours and deciding on our route. So the plan is now to head out to Makogai Island and then to cross the remainder of the channel to travel inside the reef along the north coast of Viti Levu. So was useful time spent on a rainy afternoon.

In the evening, even though it continued to pour down, we headed to the bar for a couple of cold ones and ended up with a takeaway pizza back on board.

This morning, Sunday, and a few WARC boats have moved on. Which is, in my opinion, a bit premature as the sea state will be rough / very rough for a couple of days yet. And a P&O cruise ship has turned up.

The tenders are coming to the docks near us (having evicted some of the yachts) and it was fun watching them setting everything up for the masses to arrive later – they had even decorated the dock and there were a band of local musicians waiting to greet people. All very jolly!

We then headed out to the main road and enjoyed wandering around amongst all the new tourists and I even bought a small bracelet for myself from one of the local stalls which are only there on cruise ship days.

It remains rainy and cloudy but it is lovely to be sitting here down below listening to the local band playing – the last tender is at 3pm so I guess the peace will be restored by then. In the meantime there are lots of people everywhere and, when I tried to get back to Morphie, I was told not to jump the queue for the tender as they are using the same ramp. Their face was a picture when I said I was returning to my yacht! The cruise ship is registered in London so the tender captains are curious about us as they can see our red ensign and we have already had a few conversations with them today too. Oh yes and the marina security guard says he loves my Fiji hair LOL.

Tonight we are intending to go ashore to listen to the live music (if the rain stops for long enough for them to play). Going forward we think we may be able to depart on Tuesday but we will just keep watching the weather to make sure it is a good time to go, so not written in stone but looking good at this stage. So here is my final photo of the day…..spot the Japanese pirate!

Bye for now

Jan

Fiji: Vanua Levu to Tavenui Island

Wednesday, after all our jobs were completed for the day, we did our pre-passage checks and then had a quiet night on board.

Thursday morning we had breakfast in the marina cafe and said hi to Paul and Karen (SV Gigi) who had just arrived from New Zealand. It was lovely to see them again, albeit briefly. At 11 am we slipped away from Copra Shed Marina and headed out down the creek and along the coastline to the end of the island near the Cousteau Resort.

We dropped our anchor and got what we thought was a good set but Richard wasn’t sure as it felt ‘wrong’. So he jumped in and snorkelled the chain to find out that it disappeared into a deep crevasse and there were coral bombies around – so we decided to pick up and move down to a sandy bottom anchorage tucked behind passage point reef. It took a bit of manoeuvring to pick the anchor up as, yes, it had got wrapped. We then motored to our next spot and got a great set in about 5m of sand. Richard snorkelled again and was very happy this time.

So we sat in the cockpit and had dinner as the sun went down…..and then this big French catamaran drove fast through the anchorage and dropped his hook right in front of us with very little scope out and ended up sitting right over our anchor. Now, I’m always fed up about this happening but rarely does Richard get exercised about it. But this time he did! All his protestations were met with a Gallic shrug but later on they picked up and moved further away from us. Phew! So we did manage to sleep soundly with just the noise of the waves crashing over the reef in front of us keeping us alert.

At 6.15 am on Friday morning we were underway towards Paradise Resort, Tavenui Island. This was a 40+ mile run so easily achievable at our average 5 knots. Or is until you get a swell head on, confused seas, and quite strong winds dead on the nose. So we worked hard, sailing close hauled and tacked backwards and forwards but the current was also pushing us towards the reefs of Vanua Levu. So we had to make a call – run for our secondary port Fawn Harbour which was now about five miles away – or motor sail to reach our destination before dark?!? So we motor sailed and arrived just after 5pm and were met by a young woman on a kayak to tie us up to a mooring ball and welcome us to Paradise. Well, it certainly looked like it from the anchorage! But we were tired so didn’t go ashore.

Saturday morning we tidied up and did some boat jobs before heading over to the resort around 2pm. The people were so friendly and welcoming it was great – we were shown the complimentary facilities for yachties (such as hot showers, use of the mooring ball and use of their gardens and pool). Fantastic. We had a few cold Fijian beers sitting by the pool.

I did bob on my own for a while but Richard thought it was a bit too chilly, so I gave up and returned to the lounger. We had a lovely afternoon just chatting, chilling and enjoying the beautiful gardens and views out across the bay. We even saw a humpback whale spouting and broaching in the channel – it doesn’t get much better than this. We enjoyed the sunset and headed back to Morphie just before dark to have a quiet night in.

Sunday morning we decided to tackle some cleaning – I worked my way around doing all the stainless steel while Richard cut and waxed the cockpit. Pretty tired at the end of it so we rested up before heading ashore to get hot showers, enjoy happy hour, and then had dinner on a communal table and, as it was Sunday, it was a Fijian roast dinner which was absolutely lovely. We enjoyed chatting with our neighbour in the anchorage who were an American catamaran on the World ARC. We knew they were heading this way so expect crowded anchorages for the next two weeks LOL. A very sociable evening was had by all.

Monday morning we were up very early and headed to the resort to go diving. There were nine other people on board (excluding staff) but we were the only divers.

So we first dropped two couples off at a deserted beach in Viani Bay along with cooler, mats and member of staff to serve drinks (seriously!).

We then headed out to the Rainbow Reef. We kitted up and jumped in with our dive leader and then I assume the snorkellers jumped in with theirs… Both Richard and I descended easily enough but struggled to get our buoyancy sorted out in the first 10 minutes or so. But once we had settled down we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular reef, fish and amazing soft and hard corals. I don’t think I have ever seen clams quite so big either! The colours were amazing and we even found quite a few Nemos but our favourite was a nudibranch called a Spanish Dancer. We did the maximum 50 minutes at 19 metres so were happy with our performance in the end. During our service interval we were served complimentary cake and fruit and were entertained by spinner dolphins. Amazing.

The second dive was also on the Rainbow Reef (which is renowned as one of the best dive spots in the world) and was called Cabbage Patch. When we saw the reef we understood the name. Neither of us had ever seen anything quite like this before. The ‘cabbages’ housed a mass of beautifully coloured baby fish, almost like a nursery, with the odd bigger species like grouper and parrot fish coming through. Spectacular. We thoroughly enjoyed this dive – another maximum 50 minutes at 18 metres – and were delighted to be back in the water after quite a while.

After the diving was over we returned to the beach and picked up the guests from their Robinson Crusoe experience and headed back towards the resort. On the way we were surrounded by a combination of dolphins and pilot whales – hundreds of them – and they were pretty happy to come up close. What an experience!

Back at the resort we had showers and rinsed our kit before having lunch and a few cold ones. Again we stayed until the sun went down and returned to Morphie. In the meantime a large Oyster on the ARC turned up and we asked the guys to move him as he was too close for comfort. Most of the staff do not understand about swinging room. Anyway they did this pretty quickly so we were happy.

This morning, Tuesday, and we were awake early as the anchorage was a bit rolly in the night. So we spent our time wisely in checking out the weather looking for a possible routing towards the Lau Group of islands. Sadly the forecast is absolute rubbish. Strong winds are coming through on Thursday night into the weekend (with gusts to 35+ knots) and then calming down briefly before another blow comes through. The direction remains from the east / south east and it doesn’t look like there is much hope of getting to these islands (which are against the prevailing winds and tides) in the next few weeks. As our mooring here at Paradise is exposed we will need to get out of here tomorrow to seek shelter. But the question is which way? East or West? We have realised, sadly, that time is against us in sitting out a perfect window to get to this group of islands and we still may not make it. So we have decided tomorrow to return to Savusavu and wait there for the winds to die down before heading west along the bottom of Vanua Levu and over the top of the main island Viti Levu. This northern route will take us behind the reef and through many villages so we will see the ‘real’ Fiji as well as the reward of some spectacular anchorages and resorts over on the west towards the end of our stay here. It is sad that we will not get to see the Lau Group but, as the famous Curly of Savusavu says (the routing guru), it takes at least three seasons to see it all.

Oh yes and remember what I said about the ARC boats, well, this is the anchorage this morning when we woke up. We are surrounded…..

Bye for now

Jan

Exploring Vanua Levu, Fiji

Friday morning we picked up our 4WD truck to go exploring along with Sarah and Phil (Serenity of Swanwick). And it wasn’t raining – yay! We headed out of town, realised we had taken the wrong road so turned around until we found the right road to the Waisali Rainforest Reserve. Maps and road signs are pretty scarce and not detailed so we were led by instructions like ‘turn right at the bus stop’ LOL.

The walk through the rainforest was billed as relatively easy and I was up for it, particularly when we found out that the whole trail had a footpath. So we started off – expecting it to be about 30-40 minutes stroll – and it was very muddy, the steps were large, and it kept on going downhill flattening off for a while then continuing downhill. The forest was lush and green and we heard the sounds of barking pigeons and frogs but actually never saw anything of note throughout the walk. But the plants were amazing.

At the bottom we came across a stream with a picnic area so we took a little while to sit, enjoy and get our breath back.

Then we started the long walk back uphill….through the mud which, in places, looked like it had been disturbed by something snuffling through it, so we thought perhaps wild pigs?!? They do exist here apparently.

Eventually we ended up back on the road and not a minute too soon for my poor old legs! Wow had been quite a struggle for me towards the end of the trail as it had taken at least an hour and a half to get round. We then spotted the ‘scenic lookout’ but laughed at the view which was just into the jungle….

Moving on from here we headed back down the hill towards Vuadomo. This was a bit off the beaten track but we found it OK. Once parked we duly donned our sulas and headed over to meet the chief. The chief wasn’t there but his daughter was so we handed over our kava and they did a little bit of clapping and a few words but no actual sevusevu ceremony. We then wandered the village for a while. We asked about the chapel and were surprised to find that this village was Methodist so that is why visiting on a Sunday (when they have to attend church three times a day) is taboo. The villagers live on tourist income ($10 pp – just over £3 – to visit the waterfall) and they mainly eat fish and vegetables which they grow themselves and then supplement their income by selling any surplus in the town market. Their fishing rafts are pretty basic….

We then walked to the waterfall and thoroughly enjoyed our dip in the cool water which was especially refreshing after the heat and humidity of the forest, and we all felt very clean afterwards.

It was now past lunchtime so we headed back into Savusavu admiring the beautiful views along the way. We also saw, for the first time, the extent of the reef that we had sailed around to enter into the bay towards Savusavu.

We had difficulties getting back up the hill from the village due to a slipping clutch but made it back into town and went to the local Korean restaurant (called The Grace Road Kitchen) which prepared a fresh and excellent plate of food. This was the cleanest place we had been in since we arrived in Fiji. Afterwards we headed to the coast road to see if we could go swimming.

We took the wrong road (again) and, this time, we ended up at the Cousteau resort. Never mind, ready to turn around, and then the clutch went completely!!! We managed to get it off the main road and rang the hire guy. He wasn’t surprised at all (we think he knew it was dodgy) and turned up with another jeep for us which was a bit small but at least we were back on the road.

We then went back through Savusavu and headed past the airport to the coast road expecting to be able to access the sea. Sadly that was not the case as the waterfront was predominantly taken over by large private resorts and private islands with big ‘no entry’ signs on them all. There were a few villages that were waterfront but we didn’t want to impose ourselves on them either. Slightly disappointed we headed back to Copra Shed marina and had a few cold ones watching the sun set over Morphie. Had been a tiring but fun day.

Saturday we had a bit of a lazy one after the exertions of the previous day and headed to meet Chris to go to the Planters Club for an evening BBQ. Of course it poured with rain just before we left but we managed to avoid the worst of it by staying at Watui Marina for a beer before heading down the road further. This was an experience as a lot of local guys were in there and appeared quite drunk and exuberant! We were surprised, on arrival, to find the Club pretty empty as this had been billed as a special event with live band the works. Well there was no music and no other cruisers….. Then a few turned up and we made up a big table and that was it. The BBQ was OK but nothing special and no music – never mind. The other cruisers headed back to the Copra Shed later (as they wanted a dessert) but we stayed put for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday morning it was more boat jobs…..stripping beds, cleaning the fibreglass down below (there was signs of some mould developing in this hot and humid environment) and we also polished all the wood. Phew….hard work! We dropped the laundry off and had a quiet movie night on board.

Monday morning we started to look at waypoints and doing a bit of planning. We are not exactly sure of our destinations right now but know that our first stop will be to anchor just off the point here to enjoy swimming in blue water. Really looking forward to that. We then plan to move to Paradise Resort on Taveuni Island which is about 40 miles away. This resort is right across from the Rainbow Reef (which is a famous dive site) and has free mooring balls and welcome yachts to their facility. So we intend to do some diving with them and, if it turns out to be good, we may stay a little while. After this there are a few routes we could take but our next destination will probably be the Bay of Islands in the Lau Group which are supposed to be beautiful. Navigation looks a bit tricky so we spent quite a bit of time doing that – we are also getting a letter from Copra Shed to give us permission to anchor in a private bay over there that they own.

During all this planning which we did on the verandah of the bar here in Copra Shed (but we were drinking coffee, honest) we met Kyle and MaryAnn (SV Begonia) who we had not seen since Nuie. What a coincidence they would end up here at the same time as us so it was nice to see them again.

Tuesday we headed into town as we needed to purchase items to give to the villages that we visit. So we purchased 1kg of kava and had it made up into five bundles for future sevusevu ceremonies with the chiefs. Richard was bitching because he could have bought two slabs of beer for the cost of the kava ($150 = £52 for some twigs!).

The idea of this ceremony is to receive approval to anchor and fish in their bay; visit their village; and generally be hosted by them. To supplement the kava we also purchased small bags of rice, lots of ramen noodles, cheap teabags and breakfast biscuits which we will give away as gifts to families that are particularly helpful to us on our journeys. We have also purchased some beautiful local material so if we give away 5 yards to each family they will have a lasting gift from us when they turn it into a shirt or a sula etc.

In the evening we had sundowners on board Morphie with Chris, Sarah and Phil coming aboard for drinks and pizzas. Was a nice evening and probably the last time we’ll all be in one place together as we start heading out as the weather improves.

It is now Wednesday and Richard has headed into town for a couple of things we need while I’m blogging down below. We plan to leave on Thursday just to the anchorage at the point and then cross to Tavenui the following day. All very exciting.

Bye for now

Jan

Our first week in Fiji

Saturday morning after a really good sleep we headed into town in the drizzling rain. We got cash, fruit and veg from the market, some fresh bread from the bakers and a SIM card for our internet hotspot. The town was bustling and busy but very friendly with BULA (hello) being called out to us by everybody. Back at the boat we caught up on the hundreds of emails we had missed and after dinner on board we went to our marina’s bar for a nightcap.

Sunday morning it was still raining. We were up early and went to church to say thank you for our safe arrival. We are not particularly religious but this was something we both felt we wanted to do. So we wandered up the hill and found a multi-faith, multi-racial chapel and joined the 8am service. It was in Hindu and English (as we had stumbled across the Indian service) and we were very much welcomed and included. It was a very intensive couple of hours with lots of clapping, swaying, singing, praying combined with loud and passionate speakers. What an experience!

Back at the marina I got all the laundry delivered to the on-site lady who does a ‘wash, dry and fold’ service for a very reasonable £4 a bag. So we got our duvet laundered to be put away for the next time we are in colder climes…plus all the damp sailing gear and passage sheets. Was nice to get it all off the boat. We did some cleaning and filled up with water (and, again, we needed to buy new connectors). In the afternoon we went to Curly Carswell’s seminar about sailing in Fiji and cultural requirements when anchoring near villages. Got pages and pages of waypoints and some chartlets – all information is helpful as charts here are woefully out of date and Fiji is ringed by reefs. Afterwards we went out to eat with Chris, Sarah and Phil at a nearby Chinese, which was OK but nothing special. Afterwards we returned to our marina bar for a pontoonie (in the rain) enjoying live music from a local band.

Monday morning and I made myself scarce by heading to the shops on a mission for a few things. I then sat in the marina bar blogging whilst Richard dealt with the diesel mechanic as I would be trapped either in the cockpit or our cabin once the companionway steps were removed and tools were scattered in the saloon. A few engine issues were resolved and identified, but more to do. In the evening we went out for an Indian with Chris, great food but an unlicensed property, so we made do with pontoonies after in the marina. Eating out here in Fiji is cheaper than cooking for ourselves – the Indian Thali plate was only just over £3 each! In the evening the mosquitos and no-see-ums come around and they have decided to leave Richard alone and feast on me….

Tuesday and I took off again – armed with another list – and also had coffee with a neighbour whilst Richard got on with a few things. Unfortunately our mechanic (having the only tow truck on the island) had been called to an emergency so wasn’t coming today after all. We carried on with boat jobs and resolved the network issue with the instruments (which was, as expected, just a plug that had come loose) and I collected the laundry. We did some more general tidying / cleaning (all the rugs and foulies this time) before having a quiet night on board.

Wednesday and I went to the customs office to get our inter-island cruising permit made official. So we are good to go once we have an engine and if it ever stops raining LOL.


Later on our mechanic returned and, finally, the engine was fixed. Lots of little problems – impeller not working properly, water pump being sluggish, thermostat failing and cruddy heat exchanger – and they all came together at once. Having swapped everything out plus a complete service we now have a working engine with good water flow throughout. Yay! We celebrated over sundowners in the bar with our marina neighbours Julie and JP.

This morning Thursday and it is still raining and we continue to go through the boat job list that we generated on our passage. Early afternoon we headed into town for more cash and to organise a 4WD truck for tomorrow to go exploring and have fingers crossed that it will stop raining by then. We also purchased sulas (Fijian skirts, think plain sarongs) and Fijian shirts in order to be respectful when we do sevusevu (kava drinking ceremony) at the local villages…..

Bye for now
Jan

Opua, New Zealand, to Savusavu, Fiji

Well, we finally arrived in Fiji after a pretty eventful passage of 1244.3 miles. We started out in strong winds and had to work hard not to get blown too far to the east. Gusts of 40-50 knots were experienced in very short interval swells. We made good time and worked our way north as quickly as we could to avoid the next low coming through. The early part of the trip was very tough. Then we hit low winds and our engine started playing up. So Richard went down the hole and I kept the boat running. We ended up doing this numerous times so neither of us got as much sleep as we needed. But, at this point, we were optimistic that he would fix it so not a problem.

Despite numerous attempts and efforts dismantling and checking the systems end to end the result was that we couldn’t fix it in a seaway. By then we were closer to Fiji than New Zealand (and don’t forget that deep low now being felt over New Zealand) so we carried on. The passage was stressful in the circumstances but we had good strength winds most of the time and, although the sea was lumpy and bumpy, we made good time. But then, of course, we had no wind and got pushed by a current towards an island. We realised what was happening so made sure we moved in the opposite direction (at less than 1 knot but it kept us out of trouble) until we were able to start back in the right direction. We encountered some beautiful skies whilst at sea and check out the colour of the deep water.

With no wind forecast for entry into Savusavu we wanted to organise a tow from outside the passage….this was done but people just didn’t reply in a timely fashion to emails. I understand that they are just emails to them but, for us, it felt like we were sailing into oblivion heading towards a tow which may or may not be there waiting for us. We prayed a bit at this point…..

We arrived, 15 minutes late (on Friday 7 June) only to find no tow there waiting but, hang on a minute, the wind just blew up from nowhere and also from the right direction. We sailed through the passage on a reach, hardened up and went at 30 degrees to the wind to sail up towards the creek. At the top we were then hip tied to two boats and were taken in and placed on a mooring ball.

Within 10 minutes the biosecurity guy was on board, followed quickly by customs and immigration – then, voila, we were legally in Fiji. All very easy and pain free. We were then pulled across into the marina berth by a long line and were secured in place. Fantastic!

That afternoon a diesel mechanic (recommended by the marina) came to see us. Chris (Sea Bear) and Phil and Sarah (Serenity of Swanwick) came over to say hi and later on we went to a BBQ with them and caught up. I have to say we might have had one too many beers that night! What a relief to be here….

Bye for now
Jan

Passage to Fiji – part 5

For those of you who had been watching the tracker you may have been wondering what has been going on in terms of both speed and direction. So here was a quick explanation.

During the night the wind died and our speed crashed. The wind has still not picked up and we were getting blown down towards one of the islands. Hence the u-turn you see which was designed to get us further back up above the rhumb line.

We have now turned towards our destination again but know that we are unable to get there in daylight hours with the current low wind speeds we are experiencing. So we are now planning to make landfall tomorrow morning (Friday 7 June). So we are going to continue to move very slowly towards our destination.

All is well on the good ship Morpheus.

Bye for now

Jan

Passage to Fiji – part 4

Monday 3 June (continued)

In the afternoon Richard continued to troubleshoot the engine while he waited for some advice. It is increasingly looking likely that the problem is not something we can fix at sea. So we need to start thinking about sailing in. Not something either of us relish but we need to be realistic. Just hoping that Seapower can come up with something to suggest. So crew stress levels were quite high.

Tuesday 4 June

We heard from Seapower and they think the same….but have gone away to consider further advice. In the meantime we were at least able to contact Copra Shed Marina to alert them to our predicament. Not totally sure they understood but at least they are now in the loop. We ran the engine lightly to see how long before it gets overheated…and the answer was 23 minutes. So, if the wind is on our nose (worst case scenario) we can have engine assistance through the passage into Savusavu. Once through we can perhaps do an emergency anchor while we await assistance and use the time wisely by getting dink down, motor on, and then hip-tied to Morphie just in case we have to do this on our own. The distance from the gap (which is 1 mile wide) to the beginning of the creek (where the marina is situated) is 6 miles and we don’t know whether it will be possible to sail this until we are physically there.

Richard continues to spend time inside lockers working hard at eliminating and double checking everything. He is working really hard and is frustrated that this has happened – he checks / double checks the engine all the time and keeps a maintenance log so that services are done at appropriate intervals etc. And the engine has been absolutely fine with no sign of any issues until this.

What is also causing annoyance is that the wind continues to blow from the north east so we are beating into it….and then it goes very light and we slow down horrendously…and then comes back with a vengeance. All very challenging. We are determined to remain high of our rhumb line as the next waypoints have islands to port and, with a predicted east trade wind and current, they are lee shores so we want to give them as wide a berth as possible.

In the afternoon we had a SSB conversation with Serenity who remain around 45 miles ahead of us and are heading to the same place. So they will also help to alert Copra Shed on their arrival to our need for assistance. It was nice to hear a friendly voice out here.

Wednesday 5 June

We had a slow night in terms of speed trying to sail 45 degrees to the wind on a starboard tack. Not something Morphie likes doing much. So this morning, at first light, Richard spent time on the bow and fixed the staysail. We then deployed it immediately – so we are running with all three sails in 15-20 knots of breeze. Immediately it made a difference with Morphie feeling more stable and we picked up speed. If we can maintain 5 knots or better we should make landfall on Thursday afternoon….if the wind drops again then we might have to stay out here a little while longer. We will not consider arriving after dark as it would be just too dangerous.

We are passing our first Fijian island Matuku to starboard right now and usually we are really excited about land ho! Sadly it doesn’t have the same effect this morning.

Despite our tale of woes we are excited to be back in the tropics with beautiful deep blue seas and sailing in t-shirts LOL.

Bye for now
Jan