Passage to Fiji
We left New Zealand on May 15th, 2004 as a low pressure system was just passing the North Island. We had about three days before the next one was expected and that would put us about 500 miles north and, hopefully, well above the center of the next low. The seas were in the 8-10 foot range and a bit confused. This is pretty normal leaving New Zealand as waves refract off the land mass and combine with the wave trains coming across the Tasman Sea and over the top of New Zealand. It lasts for the first 150 or so miles and then the swells start lengthening out and the ride is more comfortable. As we got further north, we saw remnants of unstable weather, mostly to the east of our rhumb line. At night, we could see lightening. But, it was never that close to us and the sailing in 15-22 knots was very good. After the first few days, the seas began to calm down and the wind lightened. It was a delightful trip after that.
After a few days, we were back in the routine of 24 hour watches and maintaining the boat at sea. A big part of the day was checking weather reports via e-mail, participating in radio schedules and navigating and routing the optimum path to our destination based upon changes in the weather and wind direction. We also ran the generator twice a day to charge batteries, make fresh water and keep the freezer and refrigeration ice cold.
Steven's an avid fisherman and he caught several fish on the passage. We kept the two mahi mahi and Suzy prepared some excellent dinners and sushi along the way. We also caught a sea bird. He dove for our lure and somehow wrapped his wing and foot in the line. Steven carefully reeled him in so he wouldn't drown and then Clark held the bird while Steven unwrapped the line. The bird pecked at my gloves, but, seemingly realized we were just trying to help. When he was untangled, we launched him and he joined his friends. They stayed with us for about two hours hoping we would catch something more to their liking next time.
When we were just a few hundred miles south of Fiji, the wind lightened and moved more westerly. So, we decided to raise the spinnaker and enjoyed a nice run along very smooth South Pacific seas. As we got closer to the tropics, the air temperature was getting noticeably warmer and it was beginning to feel like summer again, despite the fact it was late May and that's almost winter in the Southern hemisphere.
The passage was truly becoming picture perfect even to the point that Suzy could do her watch from a deck chair with the sails set and the boat running on autopilot. It took us seven days to arrive at the Koro Sea marking our entry into Fijian waters. But, our destination was Savusavu on the northern island of Vanua Levu. To get there would take an extra day. On Saturday, May 22nd, we sailed through the reef at the entrance to Savusavu Bay and headed up Nakama Creek where the town lies.
It began to rain just as we headed down the Bay shortly after sunrise. It was actually quite nice to have those showers which helped wash off the salt we had collected over the past several days at sea. We were directed to a mooring ball just in front of the Copra Shed marina office where we would stay for the next three weeks. It was good to be back in the tropics and visiting Fiji for the first time. We looked forward to the adventures that lied ahead.
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