Anchored at Makogai
25 October 2008 | Fiji
We decided to leave Savusavu yesterday at the 11th hour. We are meeting our friend Margaret at the main airport (Nadi) across the Koro Sea on Viti Levu. It is only 150nm or so but the span between is almost totally covered in reef. After some route planning we determined that we would need three days to get there comfortably. A wise man once told me that Fiji was for day sailing.
We got up early and went ashore to take care of some final errands. A wet suit from the Cousteau resort ended up in our bags and we had to leave that at the office for them to pick up and we also wanted to hit the big Saturday Farmers Market (they call it a fresh market here) to get veggies and Kava. The Kava is offered as Sevusevu (a gift) to the village chiefs along our route. Failing to do so, particularly if you go ashore is considered rude and potentially grounds for being run out of the anchorage. I have not had any of the Kava drink that they make up from the root but I must say, after getting a good look at it, I'm in no hurry. Hideko did manage to buy a Kava bowl, as the shop in the Copra shed opened just as we were leaving. It is a beautiful dark wooden bowl with carvings and pearl inlay.
We said goodbye to all of the new friends we had made on the radio as we left the harbor. All but one boat were New Zealand bound. Hawkeye was headed north but they were going to the Marshall Islands. The harbor was flat calm as usual and the land breeze was in control out in the bay. We motored along with the main up and flapping, nose to wind, until we reached point reef. Once clear of the island the wind started to come around and before we knew it we were on one of the best sails of the last two years. We had 14 knots apparent about 45 degrees off the port bow and we were doing 8 plus knots in a flat sea. I love the undisturbed sound of the boat really moving through the water under sail. In a flat sea it is moving by magic.
We took turns on the helm and did chores around the boat as if were were at anchor. The 30 degree turn to starboard around the coral reef park killed our apparent wind and brought things behind the beam. This brought the wind down to under 10 knots and spoiled the fun. We put on a motor to finish off the last 10 miles of our day sail.
By 3:30PM we were entering the Makogai atoll, about 20 miles off the coast of Viti Levu. We used Curly's waypoints (from the Bosuns Locker in Savusavu) to guide us in, but as we have seen in the past, they pretty much match the waypoints I put on the chart. The nice thing is you know someone with experience has sailed that route with a draft deeper than yours. They also lead you to the preferred anchorages. I had picked a different spot to anchor in Makogai and I'm now glad we're hooked up where Curly's waypoints lead. The Waypoints are pretty Spartan (a chartlet with the waypoints lat/long on it) so hopefully he'll add a little narative in the future.
Tomorrow Curly's waypoints will be really put to the test. Today's route had maybe 8 waypoints. Tomorrow we enter the Viti Levu reef and our 50 mile trek has 33 waypoints.
The anchor set first try, though the water is hard to read (at 15:30) and there are some nasty rocks closer in to shore. Hideko directed us to the anchoring spot from the bow. After it was set she snorkeled to check it over. We anchored in sand but our chain is running over some rocky bits. We dropped it in about 30 feet of water, if you put it down a little farther back (40 feet of water) you have pure sand.
There is a NZ catamran anchored off to our port. I thought they were French at first because it is a French built catamaran and they were all running around naked.
There is a small traditional village here on Makogai. We have the dinghy up and plan to leave early tomorrow. I am sort of bummed that we didn't go ashore and get a chance to offer the Kava we bought to the chief. It is a nice spot though and the sunset was brilliant.