Sailing Through East Fiji
19 October 2008 | Koro Sea
We had a lovely night last night. The sailing has been calm and peaceful if not all that fast. The sky looked a little foreboding at the end of the day yesterday, with dense and complex layers of clouds forming. There is a low forming south of here so I was worried that we were entering thunderstorm territory. Other than one small shower that passed to starboard it was a perfect evening. The big excitement was having to jibe as the wind backed to the NE under the effect of the low pressure and a big commercial fishing boat that had a CPA (closest point of approach) of 0.25nm until we maneuvered. This was the first non yacht we have seen at sea since the Marquesas. We passed behind him astern a mile and a half off. I always worry passing behind these guys because the long liners often have lines out well over a mile. If we have crossed any they've all been 5 feet or more bellow sea level.
We have a little portable stereo that we bought in Panama that we play music on some nights. Hideko always has me load up a USB memory stick with all Beatles tunes for the stereo when she needs help staying awake. The first night out is always the roughest but Hideko was still listening to the Beatles last night. Hideko covers 8PM to 2AM and I cover 2AM to 8AM. I usually have a hard time getting to sleep at 8PM the first night, not to mention a hard time getting up at 2AM. The second night is no problem though, perhaps because I am tired after the first night, and then I am good for the rest of the passage.
We made landfall at about 9AM this morning, passing south of the Exploring Islands (close to the middle of the Eastern Lau Group in Fiji). The pass between Malevuvu and Katafage gives you a radar target on each side. The Katafage atoll (different but similar name on some charts) has a raised island on the west side and the Malevuvu atoll has two ship wrecks on the NE side that provide a pretty good return. The water is deep and the narrowest bit is 6nm wide. You can almost sail a rhumb line from the Vava'u entrance to the Savusavu entrance. One of the islands off to port (pictured) reminded me of King Kong's island.
Day two was about as sunny and pleasurable as can be, nice even wind on the beam and flat seas in the reef cluttered Koro Sea for the first part of the day. The Lau Group is quite lovely. There are high islands, atolls, raised limestone islands, reefs and sand spits. Too bad the Fiji government is so dysfunctional right now, it would be nice to stop at a few on the way through.
The sun has just set and the wind is falling apart as predicted. After wallowing along at 3 plus knots we fired up the port auxiliary and put the jib away. Given the forecast we will probably motor into Savusavu with an ETA of around 8AM, just when customs opens (tomorrow morning is Monday out here).