30 September 2023 | Drawaqua Island
04 September 2023 | Raiatea, French Polynesea
First 10 days in Fiji
30 September 2023 | Drawaqua Island
We arrived in Savu Savu on Vanua Levu Island 10 days ago and got a mooring at the Waitui "Marina" which was not much more than a dock and a shack, but nice folks nonetheless and we were happy to moored in a calm bay right in front of town. We spent the next 6 days resting, drying out, stocking up on supplies and taking advantage of the many cheap and good restaurants within walking or dinghy distance.
Out first stop was the Namena Marine Reserve, famed for it's diving and snorkeling. unfortunately, by the time we got there it was raining and blowing 20 knots, so, after a rolly night we headed west through a couple of reef passes and into an area known as "Bligh Water" in honor of the good captain who sailed through here in a 25' open boat with 19 of his closest friends after the mutiny aboard the Bounty. We made landfall on Yandua Is. after 58 miles. It was rainy, with 25 knots of wind so we made good time, but not much to do by the time we got there but enjoy the calm anchorage and get an early start the next day.
Our next stop was Sawa-I-Lau Island in the Yasawa group. We had a beautiful sail under sunny skies which was helpful as there were a lot of reefs along the way to watch out for. All of the land and all of the water in Fiji belongs to someone and sailors are welcome to anchor pretty much wherever they please, but first you have to check in with the local chief to ask permission in a ceremony called "savusavu" which involves bringing a gift, traditionally a bundle of kava root, and receiving permission from the chief to anchor, snorkel, visit the village etc. We made our way ashore immediately after anchoring and were met on the beach by the chief's representative who took us to meet the chief. When he was ready the chief met us and brought us inside his house where we sat cross legged on the floor and formally presented our kava. The chief clapped 3 times and gave us his blessing to do as we pleased while in the area. After visiting for a bit we made our way back to the anchorage where we met some of the other sailors who invited us to a beach barbecue that night. Finally feels like we are doing something besides shopping for provisions and moving to the next spot.
Which we did the next day, anchoring near a pass where it is common to be able to snorkel with mantas up to 18' wide. We only saw one and it was more modestly sized, about 6', but the sun was out and the coral was beautiful. Later, we went to a local resort for happy hour with our friends aboard the French cat "Molipa" who we first crossed paths with at sea on the passage from Raiatea. We'll give the mantas another try tomorrow before heading south along the Yasawa chain of islands.
19 September 2023
LAND HO, we just passed our first Fijian island; Wailagilala. Tomorrow morning we will make landfall in Savusavu after passing through the Lau group of islands where it is forbidden to land before checking in. It is September 20, a day ahead and 5 hours behind California time. Happy Birthday Sabine, we get to celebrate you for 2 days.
For the record, last night on my watch, while Mike slept peacefully down below, I took the brunt of the evil seas and winds. Up top in the main cabin the boat felt like a walnut being tossed around on the ocean, waves breaking over the portside cabin top, filling the rear cockpit. It really is not dangerous but things that go bump in the night cause quite a fright. All the while as I am bracing myself for the next impact, I spot 2 AIS targets on the charts. One is 14 miles NW of us, a Chinese Fishing boat. I can see it will pass well in front of us on its way to Suva, where the tuna canneries are. The second AIS target is a 46 foot sailboat, 8 miles directly behind us on our exact course rapidly approaching. I saw on the chart that they were under sail doing avg 7 knots, while we traveling with bare poles at 4 knots in order to time our arrival in Savu Savu in daylight. It was not long before I saw their red running lights blink when it crested the waves. As they crept up behind us
I was tempted to put up the jib because any two boats within sight is a race. We could have easily left them in our wake, because we were regularly hitting speeds of up to 11 knots surfing down waves with the sail up. But I resisted, erring on the side of caution, High speeds in the dark are no fun.
17 September 2023
Annette and Mike
Or is it day 11?
We are still out here sailing towards Fiji, at an avg speed 6 knots. People jog faster than that
but on a boat with 3.5 meter seas it feels like we are flying and doing aerials. As of day 10 we only have 390 miles left of our 1700mile passage. We have crossed the international dateline and moved 1300 miles to the west, but time is irrelevant to us out here. It is breakfast time, lunch time, happy hour and dinner time and then alone time when the night shifts begin. Other than that I do not have a lot of exciting news to report.
Oh, except yesterday we nearly avoided 2 frightening situations. First, the jib turnbuckle unscrewed itself and came off causing the jib boom to go flying. Then shortly thereafter the spinnaker blew out and shredded itself. Poseidon was looking out for us because neither were troublesome. The winds were light only 16 to 18 knots when both incidences happened. The jib sail was not out at the time as Mike was making alterations to the rigging of the jib sheets and we were able to get the flogging spinnaker sail remnants down before they got tangled up in the rigging.
We passed Samoa yesterday and are passing through the Tonga Islands today. We had one of our longest day's run the other day with 171 miles. Once the wind filled in on day 3 it has been from the same direction, varying only a little in strength. Although, last night in the wee hours a trough passed us bringing rain and winds up to 30 knots. By the time I got the main down and everything squared away the sun was up, the sky was clear and the wind had dropped to 15 knots. Bugger.
One thing that has been consistent on our passages is that we usually make landfall with the boat in better shape than when we left. Maybe because we are actively sailing and have nothing else to do but fix stuff. Since leaving we have fixed a air in the fuel problem and leaking water pump on the port engine and improved our jacklines and jib running rigging so all in all better than when we left. Except for the spinnaker. That sucker is toast.
Day 7 Passage to Fiji
15 September 2023
Our blog also serves as our ships log, sort of, so we write things that are not exactly news worthy for most but significant to us.
Day 7 on our passage to Fiji, 1000 miles done, 700 more to go. Once we reach Fiji we will have logged 45,000 miles on Rum Doxy, And we have not even left the Pacific. We will be passing between Samoa and Tonga in the next couple of days and crossing over the Tonga Trench which is 35,000 feet deep. Yesterday we covered our furthest 24hr stretch, 171 miles with an average speed of 7.1 knots. This really is not a very fast speed or a very long distance for a lot of cruising boats but for us it is a big deal. Our average speed is 5 knots, and we get excited when we cover more than 100 miles a day as we value comfort more than speed.
So far we have had two guests join us for short stays on the boat, a petrel that came and hung out on the surfboards for a couple of hours, crapped and than left, and a Boobie who landed on the same spot, got bored and left shortly after. The only other appearance was seeing a tanker on the horizon en route from Taiwan to Chile. We first saw it on AIS so it was not a surprise.
We were lucky, even though we left on a Friday, to begin our passage with really light winds, it gave us time to re-aclimate to being on a sailboat both physically and mentally. But when the winds came on the 4th day, it came with a vengeance and has not let up much since. It is a whole 'nother level of acclimation. Like I said before we keep life really simple on board but when the boat feels like a never ending roller coaster, rising and dropping out from under our feet, our tasks are reduced to the bare necessities. Even the accomplishment of ones Daily Duty is a major task.
First few days
12 September 2023
We left Raiatea in the morning 5 days ago, motoring in light air and sailing when we could. We quickly left Tahaa and Raiatea in our wake, then soon after Bora Bora and Maupiti dropped below the horizon. The next day we passed Maupihaa and Manuae atolls, officially leaving French Polynesia behind. The next land we should see is Fiji, another 1500 miles away.
After 3 days of light to no wind a low pressure trough came up from the south and we were off and running with 20 to 25 knots of wind from behind. By nightfall it was 25 to 30 and we were surfing at 15 knots. We dropped all sail and were still doing 7 to 9 knots under bare poles. As we were finishing dinner I saw a wall of white water headed for the port side of the boat and had just enough time to say hang on and to grab my beer before it hit, sending everything not strapped down flying. Annette was taken by surprise as she assumed I was talking to my beer, but both survived unscathed.
The wind continued to build during the night with gusts to 38 knots on Annette's shift. By the time I got up at 0100 it had settled a bit and by sunrise the jib was back up with life proceeding on a more even keel.
We are now sailing wing and wing in 20 knots under cloudy, rainy skies. Should have mellower conditions tomorrow and we are looking forward to some sunshine for the solar panels and to dry out a bit.
Sailing off to Fiji
10 September 2023
Yesterday, French Polynesia faded into a memory as we sailed out the pass into the open ocean. We set a course 270 degrees due west for Fiji. The sun was shining and the wind was light, 10 knots and less, perfect conditions for setting out on a 1700 mile passage. The variable winds required us to shake out all our sails in order to find the right combination for optimum comfort and speed. In doing so we discovered that every sail had either a mechanical or foul line issue which we were able to correct without stress.
Once the sails are set I begin to melt into the motion of the ocean shedding the anxiety and tension that I impose on myself or is put on me by the convenience of technology. Also, the transition of leaving our lives in Ventura, saying goodbye to family and friends, is always, for me, very difficult especially now that we are grandparents. But once we are out of the boatyard and out on the open ocean, I feel a familiarity, I am home again. With the horizon stretching out as far as I can see in every direction, my mind is free to relax and shifts into the present moment. My heart opens up embracing the joy and beauty all around me. I am consumed with the love from my husband, my family and all my dear friends in a way that I don't experience when I am at home. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Out here on the open ocean the reality of what we actually have control over becomes really apparent. Not much. Our needs are very simple, and everything we have is all we have. So be it.