Underway for Fiji
18 October 2008 | Pacific Ocean
Our night sail went well, although we are sailing dead down wind again. Our boat is just not set up for running. During the day we're ok if we can get the spinnaker up but typically a 2 meter swell will roll us enough to make any headsail collapse in light air. 135 degrees is about as deep as we can sail calmly. At 180 we can sail wing and wing but this again only works if the swell is coming the same way.
I'm not sure if I'm used to having crossed the date line yet. We went from UTC-11 in the Cook islands to UTC+13 in Tonga. Same time, different day, and slightly confusing. Fiji is UTC+12, so we'll gain an hour on the passage. It is also going to be strange crossing the 180th meridian. We have never sailed in the eastern hemisphere before. Hideko is better at the differences than I am due to the Japan phone call time calculations she used to make for calls from California.
We were in sight of the light at the south end of the Vava'u group from sunset until about 15 miles out. Nice to know some countries out here actually keep their charted lights operational. When we left Vava'u a New Zealand survey cutter was making some rounds. In retrospect Vava'u was a pretty easy place to sail in. Very protected water, few surprise reefs, most islands are steep to. Anchorages with good bottom composition are a little hard to find but you can't have everything I guess.
There is a low forming south of Fiji that is supposed to bend the wind to the NE. We have been waiting all day for this and the beam reach it will bring. Unfortunately we're still running dead down wind. We did get the overcast and gloom that the troughy tail of the low has spread across the area though.
We are struggling to keep up 6 knots but even so we should be at the Exploring Islands (entre to Fiji's reefy barrier and the Koro Sea) before noon tomorrow. This should allow us to clear the reefs and line up for Savusavu across open water be night fall. Fiji is really strict when it comes to clearance procedures and Curly advised us to go straight to Savusavu and to arrive during business hours! This is going to work out fine as we will likely get in early Monday morning at this rate (36 hours from now for the dateline challenged).