Arrival into Fiji
13 September 2021 | 17 44.915'S:177 22.373'E, Quarantine anchorage, Denarau, Fiji
17 44.915 S
177 22.373 E
Weather; Sunny, wind 5-8 knots, waves 1-2 meters
I'm writing this update from the relative comfort of the boat salon, we are at anchor in the quarantine anchorage in Denarau, Fiji, at last!
When I left off yesterday we were making our way through the many outlying islands and atolls that make up Fiji, the wind finally settled to give us a bit of a better run along the coastline, not a moment too soon. The worst thing was that the final part of our trip would be inside the reef highway which meanders for a good 36 plus miles along the coast to the port of Denarau and we would be doing this part of the trip during the night (I don't know how we always seem to manage to arrive somewhere in the dark, but we do). Before we entered the reef highway, which is very similar to the Intracoastal in the USA, we made sure that we had eaten dinner and furled away the jib and staysail, it was still just light enough to see everything at this point and we debated whether we should drop the main and just motor through the reef, I was all for dropping the main right there and then as I hate having to do things in the pitch black with Gerry out on deck. After much debate Gerry finally gave in and we turned into wind, what little there was, dropped the main and tidied up the lines, I was much happier that we wouldn't be doing that inside the reef highway and in the dark. So from there we motored into the reef entrance, following the centre line on the chart as it wound around and between coral heads and outcrops, it was a clearly marked channel and fairly wide so not too difficult to negotiate. We planned on following the centre line all the way through to the quarantine anchorage, Gerry took first watch whilst I had a sleep, he told me that he had encountered a tug that was towing a large barge but there was plenty of room to pass comfortably where they crossed paths. I took over and Gerry slept in the cockpit as it was too hot below with the engine running. Not much happened on my watch apart from one encounter with a small fishing vessel that had no lights apart from a flash light, luckily he was out of my way so I didn't have to run him down. I steered us through a couple of narrow parts of the channel and as I was going through a wide part of the channel there was an AIS alert that we were on a direct collision course with another vessel, I peered out and saw his lights and changed course slightly to indicate my intent, at this point Gerry woke up and wanted to poke his nose in, the Tug came alongside us and hailed us to let us know that he was towing a large barge and we needed to keep well over to Starboard until the barge had passed us. Gerry acknowledged the hail and I kept us on track to clear the barge which only had a red light at its stern which was hard to see in the now pitch black of night against the millions of various coloured lights dotted along the shoreline on either side. That was the extent of the excitement for the rest of the passage as we ducked and wove our way to the anchorage. Our agent had given us co-ordinates for the anchorage and as we approached it the AIS went off, there was another boat in exactly the same position that we had been given, we guessed they must have the same agent! Anyway we found a spot close by and dropped the anchor at 4.15 am. After checking that we weren't drifting or dragging anchor we switched everything off, Gerry cracked a beer and we relaxed for a short while in the cockpit. Our instructions were to stay at anchor and the navy would come out to see us in the morning between 8 and 9 am. There was just enough time for a brief sleep before we needed to be up and dressed ready for the Navy guys. I woke up first, it was 7.30, time for a quick shower, breakfast and paste a welcome smile on our faces. Of course the Navy guys didn't turn up until 8.45 - could have had another half hour in bed! We put out the fenders and opened up the life lines expecting the guys to come on board, they didn't, opting instead to chat to us from the comfort of their rubber duck. This was just a form filling exercise, to say we had arrived, they didn't want to see any of our paperwork or passports but told us that they would return later with the health authority personnel to carry out Covid testing - oh joy! So we did a couple of odd jobs, Gerry changed the oil and filter on the main engine whilst I made soup and made more muesli bars to use up the vegetables and honey that I knew would be confiscated by the bio security people when we finally get to check in.
So a little later the Navy guys returned with 2 health personnel and we went through the process of having swabs poked up our noses YET AGAIN! The results could be back in 24 hours or 36 at the most we were told, so despite the fact that we left Tahiti with negative PCR results and are fully vaccinated and have spent 16 days in isolation on our boat we have to wait a possible 36 hours out in the quarantine anchorage (there are only us and one other boat in the anchorage) for the "all clear" to check in with customs and immigration which we will be able to do at the marina once we are cleared and have our "Blue Lane Flag", at least it will give us time to catch up with our sleep and get rid of the last of our alcohol. The good bit was that the Navy guys and the health personnel were all very friendly and helpful but no one can explain why we needed to have a PCR 72 hours before leaving our previous port of call - it's a mystery! They did ask us what tracking we have on the boat
(that would be the AIS) as we think they are supposed to check that we haven't made any other stops on the way to here and that Tahiti was really our last stop over, but we can't be sure. After lunch Gerry stripped out the overhead cabin liner near the mast as we had another one of those annoying leaks that spring up out of nowhere, it was just a small drip but as they never get smaller and vanish it needed to be investigated. So we currently have bits of ceiling liner, bolts and screws, spanners, tape, thickened epoxy cans, spatulas etc decorating the salon table. Gerry has traced the leak back to a couple of blocks near the mast, removed the blocks, screws, bolts and filled all of the holes with thickened epoxy which is now being left to cure until tomorrow when he will drill though the epoxy and re seat the blocks and with any luck the leak will go away!
The anchorage is lovely and flat calm, the holding appears to be good so we will probably have plenty of mud on the anchor when we pull it up, it's not too hot and we have a view of the very green coastline which fronts the marina.
I have just enough coke left for 2 cocktails so we had better get the all clear pretty quickly or the navy will be bringing us out supplies!
For our final stats we covered 67.9 NM in 13 hours and ran the engine for 10 hours, surprisingly our average speed for the entire trip worked out to be 5.142 knots, I had thought it would be around 4 knots given the slow progress we made at times, just shows that a few fast bullets helps the average speed!.