Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 0- Full sails and mellow seas

Time: 2300 Zulu Tues 10/30 (noon Fiji time Wed 31 Oct)
Position: 17-deg 59-min S 177-deg 04-min E(!)
Wind: SSE 10 Seas: S 3-ft
Avg. Course: 222-deg T
Avg. Speed: 4.3-knots
Rig: 100% jib, full mains'l
Distance anchor up to noon point: 34.7-nm

Planning for this passage has felt a bit different. We're not exactly sure why, but some mix of:
(1) it's been awhile (nearly 2 months),
(2) food management is completely different instead of packing every nook and cranny, we have bought very little fresh food and are planning to attempt to consume most of the stores that we still have before Australia where much will be confiscated. We have noticed much improved performance in Tao's sailing as provision loads have dwindled (that's less water, food, and souvenirs taken back to the US on our last visit), and
(3) we decided to pay a weather router (Bob McDavitt) to back up our personal weather analyses.

After hemming and hawing about whether we could check out from an outer island with a group of boats bound for NZ, we finally decided to just sail downwind to Lautoka, check out on our schedule, and retrace our tracks back upwind to exit Fiji. This has turned out to be a great decision for us thus far as we've been able to manage our own schedule nicely. Yesterday we were at the Customs/Immigration facility before the doors opened. After formally checking out with Customs, we found that an Immigration Officer needed to come out to inspect our vessel. This meant an extra round trip half mile each way rowing in Fatty. For a moment we thought we may get out of the inspection when the officer found out there was no dinghy engine and the dinghy was "tippy," apparently we are not like most other cruisers... No such luck, however, and he didn't really do much besides poke his head inside... All of this took us until 1000, no longer enough time for us to reach the exit pass during the morning ebb flow.

Instead, after leaving the port within the hour, we holed up in nearby Saweni Bay and prepped. Shawn was a rockstar cooking up several feasts, from homemade pizza for dinner to curry sauce for night 1 dinner, plus a loaf of bread, a half dozen hardboiled eggs, and tending our small sprout farm. Most excitingly, for the first time, she managed to be prepared to relax with every dish clean by 2000. Chris however has been the MVP. Usually he is the one ready by 8pm, but scrubbing Tao's bottom, getting jacklines hung, navigation waypoint management took longer than expected when McDavitt sent a route of over 50 waypoints, and squeezing in one more easy shower took later into the night.

After a brief restful sleep, we weighed anchor from Saweni Bay at 0400 this morning. Initially motoring, we found that our autopilot is still not working- or should we say it is overworking, as it is over-correcting taking us on a wandering path. "Good thing we're a sailboat," was Chris' response to this challenge and we turned off Yannie and put up full sail in the moonlight. Luckily the winds were excellent and the protected bay smooth so we were able to make the 20+-nm transit to reach the pass as the tide ebbed at our planned 1000 on the nose. Chris had gallantly offered to let Shawn sleep a bit and scrubbed our anchor and chain of the clinging Fijian mud (earning him bonus stars) as he sailed close to famous Cloudbreak surf spot. Shawn, up after a brief sleep, made breakfast as we closed in on Navula Pass. We easily managed to sail through, seeing speeds up to 7.2-knots, and rode the current out to the other side of the reef under one cloud spitting rain, saying goodbye to us, and otherwise mostly sunny sky. By the noon point we had replace the 80% jib with the 100% trying to keep speeds up in the beautiful light wind day. Our goal is Brisbane, Australia, but we are fully prepared to pull into Noumea, New Caledonia if the weather requires. Only time will tell, so we are enjoying the present moment with full sails and mellow seas, trying not to look too far into unpredictable future.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shaw and Chris,

    Steen and Angela on Radiance here. I guess we are a little late, since you just left for Australia.

    Landfall in Australia is easy, just remember the 72 hour notice.

    If you call on Brisbane, the piles at the botanical garden is a great place.

    Let me know if you are on a pactor modem, then I will make a short worded list of tips for Bris.