Here is the picture of the President. Lets see if it goes through this time.
10/22/2011, Vuda Point Marina, etc.
We got here on Tuesday and on Wednesday, I searched out the local boat repair folks to get them started on installing an electrical conversion unit to step down the 240 volts that Fiji runs on to the 120 that Zephyr runs on. I happen to run into the owner of the yard as he was checking out another boat here and he dispatched two electricians to look at out system with in a couple of hours. From their response, you would have thought that they had never seen another boat with our situation. Just about all the boats that come here from the US are running on 120 volts and all(if they want to use the existing power) need to have their system converted to work. It's a simple converter box that plugs into the existing box on the wharf and then plugs into your existing wiring on the boat. No big deal(I thought). These two guys made some calls and were stumped as to how to proceed. They thought they might be able to get a converter from Nadi(just South of here) and have it shipped in. They would check and let us know. Off they went. Hearing nothing from them by Thursday morning, I hiked up the hill to their offices to search them out. One of the people in the office told me that the one they had tried to get was taken by another boat for the cyclone season. They would have to find another and I would have to buy it. I'd told them that I wanted to buy the unit while they were at the boat, not rent it for the six months we would be here as the same problem would exist if we ever went to any other marina anywhere else in the south Pacific. They said they would get on the internet and let me know.
Friday, we decided to go into town figuring that we wouldn't hear from the boat people(Baobab Marine). We hopped on the 10:45 local bus($1.60 Fijian each) and took off for town. Let me tell you, this bus doesn't take a straight ride into town. He goes off the main road and up side roads picking up and leaving off passengers. We'd go up one road, pull a U turn and come back down it. It took us about a hour to make the 12 kilometer ride. It may have taken some time, but we got to see the back roads of Fiji. Great fun to see the rural areas outside of Lautoka.
One of the primary reasons we were headed for Lautoka was to sign up for Vodafone as our internet carrier. We had originally signed up with the only local(at Vuda Point) carrier(Tomizone) that charges $50.00 Fijian(about $30.00 US) for a 7 day access or 1.2 gig usage which ever comes first. We'd found a different contract(same company) that allowed us 90 days usage but only 500 megs of usage. We had no idea when we signed up that the 500 megs was for the entire 90 days. Let me tell you, 500 megs gets used up fast out here. That's not a lot of info on the internet. The first day, we used over 150 megs. 500 wasn't going to last long. We talked to other cruisers that were staying here and they all talked about Vodafone. It uses a dongle(like a flash drive) that plugs into your computer similar to what we had used with Verizon up in Washington state before we left there. Vodafone would be fine for what we needed.
Having been away from "civilization" for a week or so, we had run out of veggies and other fresh things and since Lautoka has one of the largest fresh markets we wanted to search it out. We also needed to find a "Super" market for the day to day things we would need. We found the fresh veggie market just a few feet from the bus station. It was HUGE!!! Stall after stall of all types of veggies, many of which I had no idea what they were. Up and down the isles we went taking it all in yelling out "Bula"(Hello in Fijian) to all the folks we met. What a great bunch of people. Smiles and welcome glances every where we went. We decided to make the market the last stop before our return to Zephyr. Best not to carry the veggies we needed all over town.
We found a local restaurant(Tiger Bites) that specializes on a somewhat Chinese menu. We stopped in and each had a huge plate of chicken fried rice($3.00 Fijian, about $1.80 US) and two bottles of Coke. All for a total of only $10.00($5.46 US). Man, I'm going to love it here. We'd be hard pressed to cook up what we got for the same amount of money. There are a tremendous amount of restaurants in Lautoka so it is going to take us a while to find the perfect one for us. The search for it is going to be fun.
We continued around town stopping at various shops seeing what was available. "Diwali"(a huge Hindu festival) is coming next Wednesday so many of the store were advertising specials for the holiday. There is a huge division of cultures here in Fiji with it split just about evenly between Fijians and Indians. The Indians were originally brought here many years ago to be the workers for the Fijian. Now, over the last 100 plus years, the Indians have taken over much of the business and wealth of the nation creating a lot of civil strife between them. There were riots here in Lautoka several years ago. Many of the Indians have returned to India to escape the persecution they felt they were receiving. I will admit that the majority of the businesses we went into were controlled by either Indians or Chinese.
We searched out the local(and some say the best)meat market(Fiji Meats) in the local shopping center(bares no resemblance to shopping centers in the US). There they had a nice selection of meats. Not a lot of beef as Indians don't eat it but tons of lamb. If we ordered some meats, they would make sure they were frozen when we were ready to pick them up. Always a bonus for us cruisers with our tiny freezers. We picked up a half kilo of "Minced Beef"(hamburger) and a packet of "precooked" lamb sausages. We had the "minced beef" last night and it was so lean that there just just about no juice running out of it as it cooked. Tasted just fine to us. One test completed. Tonight, we will be barbecuing the lamb sausages to see how they stack up. Another day with no curry. What am I to do? We boarded the 1540 bus for Vuda Point and got back here about 1630. Just in time for a quick shower. Nice to get all that perspiration off me.
Yesterday we were invited to attend an party given by the Fijian Cancer Society at one of the local homes. We were told that the President of Fiji would also be there. We, along with 7 others from the marina met at the parking lot this morning for the ride to the party. Our driver, in classic fashion, had no idea where the party was to be held so with cell phone in hand and the help of one of the others that were going to the party, we finally found our way there. We paid for our tickets and joined the more than 100 people milling around the estate. Eventually the President gave his speech and then tea and sandwiches(along with a ton of cakes and cookies and fruits) were served. As I waited for the line for food to lessen, along came the President. I introduced ourselves to him and had a quick word about our arrival here and then off he went to meet others at the party. Not bad. In the country for less than a week and we've already met the President!! I did go back later and more formally introduced myself and told him about our arrival and how helpful the Customs and Immigration people had been upon or arrival. Seems to be a nice guy but from what we have found out, he is just a figure head like the Queen of England. He puts a face on the government but has no real power. It resides in the military junta that took over power were back in the 1990s.
So now we are back at Zephyr with the generator running on the back deck getting our batteries charged. I hate running it(as the folks on the boat next to ours quickly picked up their things and walked off their boat)but there is little I can do at this time. I may be forced to buy a converter while I'm back in the US and bring it back with me. I contacted a company that sells them and while they can ship it to Fiji, Fed Ex charges over $500US to get it here. That's one of the reasons I'm heading home. This next week, I'll be getting all the paper prepared and taken care of with Immigration. I'll need a letter to allow me to reenter the country upon my return and that has to be procured before I leave not after I get back. If you don't have that letter, they won't even let you on the plane.
We're about to shut off the generator and head over to the "Yacht Club" for an afternoon beer. We finally finished what we bought in Tahiti. It was hard work but we did what we had to do to get rid of it.
I tried to add a picture of the President but the internet here just can't handle it. Go figure. It locks up the computer every time.
10/19/2011, Vuda Point Marina
We finally made it into Fiji!!! We rounded the south side of the island and had to "Heave to"--that's sailor talk for setting the sails in a special way so that there is little to no progress so that we would arrive at the entrance to the channel at the correct time. That time being after sun up. Of course with our normal way of doing things, that also happened the be the time that a big container ship decided to show up on horizon and they wanted to go through the same channel we wanted to go through. We tried calling them on the VHF radio with no success. They were headed right for us and started to slowly change course so that they would pass us on our starboard side. They zoomed right past us and went through the channel long before we got there.
We followed them through the channel and made our way north heading for Lautoka, the second largest city in Fiji and our destination for the night. We called the Harbor Master to let them know we were coming and to ask permission to enter their harbor plus to advise them that we needed to check in with Customs, Immigration, Health as well as Bio Security. It takes a while to get into countries now. The Harbor Master made all the arrangements so that we would first take the Health as well as Bio Security to our boat and then proceed with Customs and Immigration. Our appointment was for 1340 or 1:40. We arrived at the anchorage just North of town and dropped the anchor just before 1:00 and launched Puff. Dragon had stopped working while we were in Tonga but Tracy suggested giving it one more pull on the lanyard. Amazingly, she started right up!!! YEA!!! I didn't have to row to the dock! I showed up at the Bio Security office promptly at 1:40 only to be told that the office were closed till 2:00. Maybe what the Harbor Master said was 1400, not 1:40. Oh well. I cooled my heals and waited till 1400 when I was ushered into his office. We filled out lots of forms plus was advised that to bring our cats into Fiji required a bond of $1,600 Fijian dollars to be paid for each cat. We filled out more paperwork and then he said I should go to the Customs Office next. I hopped into Puff and headed out to get Tracy as checking into Immigrations requires all people on board to be there. With Tracy by my side, we entered the office only to find it packed with six other people trying to get exit papers to leave Tonga including some friends we had met along our travels. When we entered Immigrations, we were greeted by the head of the department. Nice guy. He placed a call to the Health Department so they could send an officer over to inspect our boat. The officer that arrived just happened to be his wife!! We filled out LOTS of paperwork, much of it in duplicate(they still use carbon paper out here). Lots of stamping and stapling and lots of information being entered into the computer. I'm just glad we had emailed them most of the info they needed before we left Tonga. By the time we finished the paperwork, it was to late to go to one of the banks to get US dollars exchanged for Fijian dollars so we made an appointment to meet again on Tuesday morning at 10:00. Tracy and I walked into town to find a bank so we would know where to go in the morning. We scoped out a small grocery store on the way. Strangely, Fijian banks don't open till 0930 so we were going to have to rush to get the money exchanged and make it to Bio Security on time.
At 0900, Tuesday morning, we headed to the bank using a small cove nearby so we wouldn't have to walk so far after getting the funds. Tracy stayed with Puff while I hiked the short distance to the bank. I got there at 0910 only to find 15 people already waiting outside for it to open. By 0930, there were about 40 people waiting!!! There was little chance we were going to make the 10:00 appointment. I struck up a conversation with a local woman and told here why I was there. She suggested I go a bit further into town and go to one of the "Money Exchanges". She said they had better rates and probably no waiting. Off I went and found them just a short distance down the road. She was right--no waiting and because I needed so much changed out, they gave me a better exchange rate! As I waited for the transaction to be completed, in walks the woman I had spoken to at the bank. She wanted to make sure I had gotten there. How's that for being friendly. Once I got the money, I walked briskly back to Puff and we headed to the main wharf and the Bio Security Office. I paid our fees and filled in more paperwork. The woman from the Health Department showed up and collected her fees also. More paperwork plus we needed a special receipt for the money since it was so much. For that, the head of Bio Security had to go to another office to get the receipt. It would take another 20 minutes or so. I'm glad I brought my book to read. Upon his return--more paperwork, it was finally time to head out to Zephyr so they could inspect the boat and see the cats. The Health Officer was no where in sight. Bio Security had decided that she didn't need to come out. He could handle it by himself. Fine by us. We both piled into Puff and headed out. He checked out the kids and took pictures of both. I'm sure he has never seen a cat like Snowshoe(white Persian) before. After looking in our freezer and checking out some cabinets and under a settee for more food, I took him back to the wharf. We'd discussed trash the day before and I'd brought in a bag to be incinerated(fee of $15.00). He told me to just bring him by the money when we both came ashore later.
Earlier in the day, when I was hiking up to the bank, I'd passed a small restaurant that was advertising Lamb, or Chicken Curry for lunch as a special. Both for only $5.50 Fijian--about $3.00US. Guess where we were headed for lunch! I went in and paid our $15.00 and headed for the restaurant. For the $5.50, you got a big pile of rice as well as a nice bowl of Curry(I had Lamb while Tracy had Chicken Stir Fry) a small bowl of a salad of some sort. The one drawback is that the meat was still attached to the bones!!! You have to be very careful when you eat out here and not just bite into what you are eating. You can loose a tooth that way. Let me tell you, even with the bones, it was some of the best Curry I have had in any restaurant in years. Just the right amount of spice to let my mouth know it had hit the jackpot. We each had a Coke with the meal and the bill ended up at $14.00 Fijian--about $8.00 US. What a deal!!. We headed into town to try and find the local veggie market as well as a bigger grocery store. We found the store by only bought a drink. As we headed out of the store, it had clouded up and looked like it was about to pour and I mean buckets, not some little sprinkle. We hopped into taxi and took off for the wharf. Into Puff and back to Zephyr getting there well ahead of the storm. Actually that storm passed us by. We upped the anchor and headed for Vuda Marina about 6 miles down the coast. We'd radioed ahead to let them know we were enroute. As we approached, the heavens let loose with a whole lot of rain. Perfect timing. Plus the wind piped up from the south just to make it more interesting. We finally turned to Port and headed in the last 1/4 mile toward the marina with wind on our starboard side, more rain threatening and a nice set of waves hitting us from the side. Add in that it was at low tide and it was a bit unnerving. We had been advised by the office(over the radio) to just pull into the marina and attach a line to the center buoy and one of the men would assist us backing up into a slot in the marina. There are no docks or fingers in the marina. You are attached to a line that goes to a center buoy and then back into a slot along the wall of the marina. Two lines are then led ashore and fastened to rings in the wall. There is a small "dock" that comes off the wall of the marina that comes just short of making it to your boat. Well, we pulled into the marina just after 1700 and as we pulled into the main basin of the marina(where all the boats were) we found no space available for us!!! It was full. The man that was supposed to assist us with pulling in told us to just pull up to the fuel dock and spend the night there. We would get assigned a dock space in the morning. Works for us. We spent our first night at a marina in over 6 and a half months tied to the fuel dock. Hey, any port in a storm. Within 15 minutes of us pulling in, the storm suddenly stopped and all was calm. We were tied up in a nice slice of heaven.
Once settled--Dock lines all secured-- we took a tour of the marina and finally found our selves at the "Yacht Club". It's more a restaurant that a "Club". We settled in for a nice dinner(I had Chicken Curry and Tracy had a huge hamburger). Much more expensive than lunch but the view out over the water was great. It may have cost more but mine still came with lots of bones. Try that in the US and get ready for a lawsuit. We walked around the marina later looking at all the boats and finally made it back to Zephyr where we crashed for the night. Ten hours of sleep!!.
We arose this morning and filled in the rest of the paperwork with the marina and waited for a boat to leave so we could take their place. About 0900, a boat pulled out and we were told to come on in. It was the last space just before you enter the marina basin. Nice but once in, we found that there was no way for us to get off Zephyr short of putting Puff in the water and rowing where ever we needed to go. What a pain that would be for 6 months. Once we discovered that we couldn't get ashore, they suggested we more over two slips as another boat had just left. Fine, over we went. Now please keep in mind that we have rarely backed Zephyr into any thing let alone any where. Her stern wouldn't go in a straight line with the prop moving for love no money. I made it into the first space with no trouble and amazingly, we made it into the second space trouble free. It took some doing but we did it with not a bit of yelling at each other. Lines were lead forward to the mooring ball and two lined were led ashore and tied to rings in the wall. We had one of those small "docks right behind Zephyrs stern so we could get off with just one big step. We were set. Home for the next 6 months.
I happened across the owner of the local yard that does most of the work at the marina and discussed with him getting an electrical converter box installed on our boat as we are wired for 120 colts and just about all the rest of the world is set on 240 volts. He sent over an electrician about an hour later who looked at our wiring and made some calls and should be back tomorrow with what we need so we can have shore power and won't need to run our Honda generator any more.
The heat was building as the Sun rose higher in the sky so out came two of our tarps and with lots of bungie cords, we had shade over most of Zephyrs decks. While not fully covered, it was much cooler. Once covered, we took off for a resort that is right next to the marina where we are allowed to swim in their pool. It had been free but they have decided to start charging $5.00 Fijian(about $3.00US)per person to use it. Nice pool and fresh water at that. After inspecting their pool, we headed for their restaurant. Hey-- what do you know-- they have chicken curry on special for lunch. It's only $15.50--three times what we paid the previous day in town. I ordered it any way while Tracy had the Fish and Chips. As always, the butcher took the day off and it came with lots of bones. Tasty but what we had the first day for $5.50 was much better and had more food on the plate. After lunch, we hiked back to the marina and made arrangements to have one of the dock lines from the boat next to ours moved a bit. With the tidal changes, the boat next to ours had a dock line that could have snagged our Hydrovane and ripped it off the stern. Not a good thing to have happen. The dock men suggested we move to another space. The heck with that. Where we were had no dust problem as much of the marina has plus the breezes that enter the marina come right through our boat keeping it a bit cooler than others in the marina. I figured it out that if we attached one of our lines to his, half way to his boat, we could pull his line far enough away form our stern that it would no longer cause us any concern. The dock men thought that was just fine and once the line was attached, off they went. For the rest of the afternoon, we sat on Zephyr and read and sweated like there was no tomorrow. It gets hot here and with the little wind we had today, it was miserably hot and humid. Once the electrician gets our power set up, I figure we will be heading for town to buy a small air conditioner for fit in the companionway. It's bad for us but far worse for the cats. We will have to adjust and get the boat cooled off some how. At least when I ran the generator this afternoon, I could run the big fan we have to stir up some air inside.
So that what has been going on. We're safe a sound and tucked away for a while making new friends around the marina. It's going to be a long Winter(Summer here)!
10/14/2011, Into Fijian waters
Sorry about not posting yesterday. We were in search of wind of any kind. I know I have been writing about keeping Zephyrs speed in check so we get into Lautoka on Monday morning and yesterday, Mother Nature obliged us by shutting off just about all the wind there was. Friday morning, we were hit by rain squalls with so much rain, that the water came right through the canvas top of the dodger. I'd applied more sealant while we were in Tonga, but the rain was so intense that it went right past the "sealed" fibers and into the cockpit. Not everywhere, but in enough places that I sat out there with a towel over my legs in the only available spot that wasn't getting poured on. I could have put on my foul weather but I would have had to go below to get it and with the wind and rain being what it was, there was no chance of that. We were still running under reduced sails so Zephyr had no problems. Tracy got her first good night sleep since we left Tonga and slept right through it. Good for her as sleep is one of the things that you snatch as much of as you can as you only get it in a maximum of 4 hour shifts. As the storm raged, the winds just about died and then shifted directions so that we ended up doing a 360 degree spin in the water as what wind we had just kept shifting it's direction. It was like doing a "doughnut" in a race car only a lot slower. As dawn broke, the winds died to less than 3 knots so we just sat and rocked back and forth in the swells. We added more sails all to little or no effect. We were stuck and that was just fine. It's not like we are in a race to get there early. We finally started the engine to motor for a while as the Sun was setting as we were just North of a set of "uncharted" reefs. We had gotten a list of 60 "uncharted" reefs before we left Tonga and I'd entered their position into our chart plotter. We knew where to avoid. Once we were safely past them(a couple of hours later) we shut off the engine just as the wind was beginning to come back and we sailed through the night.
Just after 0000 hours, we officially crossed the 180 degree mark and we are now "East" instead of "West" on our longitude reports. It's like crossing the Equator all over again. Now that we are in Fijian waters, we had to move our clocks back another hour so we are now -12 on the UTC clock. We're currently at 19 17.627S 179 31.891E for all you Google Earth fans. I have my computer set up to automatically report our position every time I log into my sailmail account so it's not hard to see where we are.
We now have about 180 miles to go to Lautoka and are still gauging our speed for a good time of arrival. We don't want to even enter the pass to the islands until sunlight so we are checking the speed and time we need numerous times during the day. The last thing we want to do is upset the Customs officials.
We heard on one of the SSB radio nets we monitor that Bill and Susan on Dilligaf might be looking for a delivery skipper to take their boat the rest of the way to New Zealand. Bill was hit by a high(105) fever just after leaving Tonga. Susan got Dilligaf into Nukalofa, Tonga all by herself. Because of the net, there were doctors and other cruisers waiting for them when they got in. Bills been under a doctors care ever since. It's things like that that you can never foresee when you come out here. We have an extensive medical kit on board but would still be hard pressed to remedy a fever like that out here. At least one of the other cruisers that met them is a doctor.
Yesterday, we saw our fist dolphins in a long time. A group of about 8 came along side and stayed with us for about 10 minutes before taking off as we were not doing the speed they like to play in. We also saw our first boat(fishing) we have seen since leaving Tonga. All this while pretty much sitting still in the water. Today, at least we are moving again.
It's been cloud for the last day or so but so far hasn't dropped hardly a drip but we just keep on waiting. It's raining in Neiafu, Tonga(where we left from) this morning.
Stay tuned for more a the day progresses.
10/12/2011, Open ocean west of Tonga
Well, we're moving right along on our way to Fiji but we're going to fast. We don't want to be there till Monday so we set about slowing Zephyr down. It's a rarity that we have had to slow her down but today we took the extreme measure of putting a triple reef in the main sail and still ran with the storm sail up at the bow. With the main up with one reef, we were still doing over 5 knots and that's too fast. Now with three reefs in, it ha slowed us down to 2.5 to 4 knots. Normally when we are out, we are doing everything we can do to get as much speed out of Zephyr as we can but we knew when we left Tonga that we were setting off on the wrong day to get in at the proper time. The first day, we did 136 miles and yesterday, even with smaller sails out, and a bit less wind, we still did 118. The distance to our destination is just shy of 600 so we have got to get it down to about 100 or less a day. With what we have up now, that should work out about right. We don't want to get in early and have to sit off shore waiting for the Sun to come up on Monday. When we were doing 6+ knots, we would have gotten in early Saturday morning.
We were at 19 27.961S 178 02.624W with winds out of the east and swells that match. We're just slowly gliding along. The kids don't seem to mind as Blue is sitting on one of the cushions in the cockpit while Snowshoe lays on the floor of the stern head where it is nice and cool. With a lattice floor, air can circulate all around his furry body.
As I have said in an earlier post, I told you about Fiji's restrictions on what you can bring into the country. We we spent about a half hour this afternoon shredding my last Playboy magazine. "Pornography" isn't allowed into the country and so it got torn into little tiny pieces and cast adrift in the ocean. Now we might not consider a Playboy magazine porno, but we were not about to take the chance of the inspectors thinking that it was. Those kinds of problems we don't need. It was sad to see it go, but some sacrifices have to be made for the "greater good"(Tracy and myself being the "greater".
We had a nice salad today for lunch with the last of our lettuce. It doesn't keep long out here and normally needs to be eaten within a few days of purchase. It was one of the last things we bought before we left. At the urging of Paul off Gigi, I bought some chicken flavored potato chips. There are a few flavors to choose from out here--Chicken, Vinegar and salt, regular, barbecue and an occasional cheese bag or tube. You can find Pringles and Lays in tubes out here but you have to search for them. Some of the stores carry ETA brand from New Zealand. They are like Ruffles but not quite as good(in my humble opinion). One thing that is a real rarity is candy bars with chocolate. The last ones we saw were in Tahiti and they were in their own refrigerated room. Left out, it's so hot out here(many stores have no air conditioning) that the chocolate would melt on the shelves and never get home in one piece. Well, maybe a solid chunk of melted stuff in the bottom of the wrapper. So if you like chocolate and who doesn't, don't bother to come out here. There just isn't much(if any) to choose from.
I remarked about fixing the stern head in out boat the other day. I'm proud to report that it is still working just fine. We're not alone in the battle of the heads out here. Paul and Karen on Gigi have been facing the same battle we have and are probably still working on it. They have a more advanced toilet(vacuum style) than ours and they have been working on it for several days. One day, Karen thinks it's fixed and the next day, it stops up again. Out here, you have to be prepared to face what ever comes your way. The morning we left, just as we were about to pull up the anchor, our electric gauge that monitors our electrical system went haywire and said we were using between 100 and 500 amps!!! There is nothing, even with everything turned on that would use that much amps aboard Zephyr. It looked like it was going to wipe out our batteries in a couple of minutes or less. As it turns out, Tracy had been working in the spice cabinet(doubles as the place all the wires reside for the monitor) and a wire had come loose. We checked all the wires and found the loose one and tightened it up and we were back in business. Since we were motoring out of the harbor, the alternators put much of what we needed back into the batteries and we were all set to go. Who says cruising isn't fun?
So that's about it for now. We're slowing gliding along doing little speed but getting where we want to go. Squalls build, drop a few drops and move on. At least if one of the really nasty ones comes up, we already have the right sails up.
10/11/2011, Open ocean west of Tonga
We upped the anchor yesterday and headed out for Fiji. Our weather router(Bob McDavitt) had finally given us the go ahead for the trip though he did warn us of some higher winds for the first two days or so. So a 1015, we said goodbye to Paul and Karen on Gigi and headed out. We motored through the pass till we were safe to roll out the genoa sail at the bow and let it take over. We were moving right along at over 5 knots with just the one sail out. Once clear of the island, we turned off the engine and just kep on going. I'd plotted in a course so we knew where we needed to be to avoid any reefs that might come our way. Our one encounter with a reef clear back in Nanaimo, BC had taught us to avoid them at all costs.
So here it is, 24 hours later and we made 136 miles in our first day out here. That's too fast. Leaving on Tuesday, we don't want to arrive at Fiji till Monday. The trip should be a bit over 600 miles and with that speed, we will be there on Saturday or Sunday. Coming into Fiji on a weekend can really rack up some hefty fines as they don't like it and make you pay dearly if you do. So we are taking advantage of the winds we have now--14-16 knots and making time. We will slow down later once past all the reefs that are along the way. One thing that will slow us down, is that as always, the wind direction is such that we have to do boomerangs for a course. We can't just go straight there. Instead, we go north of the course for a while and then change direction and go south of a while intersecting the route. It's slower but does get us where we need to be. We have plenty of time till we arrive at landfall in Lautoka on the west side of the island. Lautoka is just north of Vuta Point Marina where we expect to be spending cyclone season. Lautoka is the second largest city in Fiji so many things that were not available in Tonga should be. Plus there are busses to Suva, the capital.
We changed our sail configuration late yesterday afternoon. Knowing that storms can come up here unexpectedly, we changed out our forstaysail sail for a storm jib. Now if a big blow comes up, we will be ready for it. We currently have the main up with one reef and the storm sail up and are still moving along at over 6 knows. Zephyr can move well given the right winds. James(our Hydrovane) is steering Zephyr on a nice even course and taking all the abuse so we don't have to. As the wind shifts, James corrects and we still head where we want to go. We had a quick shower earlier this morning. Tracy was catching a few Zs making up for what she lost the previous night, so I tightened down the hatches and closed up the side of the cockpit. It started raining about 45 minutes later. Not a lot, but we were nice and dry in the cockpit.
For those that are interested, we're currently at 19 02.353S 176 34,806W. During this trip, we will officially cross the 180th parallel and be east instead of west for the first time in our longitude. Another mile stone for us and Zephyr. It's like crossing the Equator all over again.
So, the kids are adjusting to being out again with Blue spending most of her time with Tracy and Snowshoe hold up in the stern cabin meowing feeling he is being ignored. During the passage, Tracy normally sleeps in the main cabin on one of the settees while I still bunk out in the stern.
We have a few more reefs to find our way through, but most of those will be tomorrow in the morning. After that, it's quite a while before we see any again during this voyage.
One thing we did before leaving Tonga was email the Fiji Immigration our arrival plans so we should have little problems when we arrive. There are still a few more forms that need to be filled in plus a bond paid for the cats but all will be revealed in good time upon our arrival. I'm sure they will go through our storage cabinets or want to know what we have on board that might be confiscated. Just about every nation has a list of what is allowed and what is not allowed to enter their country. It' s all part of the life of cruising out here from country to country. Always the adventure.