We have arrived in Aoteroa – the land of the long white cloud and indeed we spotted some impressive clouds coming close. I haven’t written since the Somosomo Strait and Rainbow Reef and much has happened since then. It seems we had too good a time enjoying Fiji to spend much time on the computer.
In fast forward mode: Left Rainbow Reef, visited the hot springs in Fawn Harbour, stopped over in Savusau, visited Namena Reef with Haveachat and Silhouette, sailed on to the Yasawas via Nabouwalu and Yandua, sailed up and down the Yasawas and Namukas twice and finally took off to NZ.
Diving Namena Reef was stunning although I must say that my best dive in Fiji was clearly that on the Purple Gardens near Savusavu. But Namena has great potential and we clearly did not explore enough to find the best spots.
After our first trip down the Yasawas we went to Vuda Point Marina to pick up Gaylyn’s Brother Alec. We enjoyed a beautiful downwind sail in the calm waters of the Yasawa Islands. It was perfect timing too because once we were safely moored in the marina a front hit Fiji with gusts of 40 kn which would clearly have been very uncomfortable to weather on anchor.
With Alec on board we headed to Musket Cove and to to allow him to have a go at Cloud Break. Again the timing was perfect as there was no wind and the Swells were just right – Alec ended up having a great day on the surf spots around Namotu Island.
We cruised up the Yasawas once more and had a beautiful time. The Island group although way more touristic than Vitu Levu offers a lot of beautiful beaches, stunning coral reefs and remote villages where sailors are still welcome. We attended our first ever kava ceremony. Although we went through several cups of kava (high tide) we did not get very stoned. I guess you have to spend half a day drinking with the boys before you get a properly drunk on kava.
Alec caught 3 beautiful big Spanish mackerels and a bonito which supplied delicious fish meals most of our time in the Yasawas. All the same our dwindling food supplies and an upcoming weather window for the trip to NZ put an end to our cruising and we returned to Vuda Point Marina.
After restocking on fresh food and checking out we left Fiji on Wednesday the 26.10 at 13:00. We were surprised to find a lot more wind on the open Pacific than the forecast had lead us to expect. Our strategy was to maintain a comfortable close reach around 50 to 60 degrees apparent and thus go rather further west than the direct route would suggest, hoping to catch a westerly breeze once closer to NZ. This approach worked well – we spent almost 6 days close reaching at good speeds, sailing rather by the wind than by a set course. Day 7 brought several hours of a nice north-westerly blow and then a nasty little front with heavy gusts just a day sail north of Cape Reinga.
After getting seriously soaked by the front we spent 12 hours fighting against a southerly breeze that forced us to go west again with hardly any progress towards NZ. Just when we were forced to tack, to not get on the wrong side of NZ the wind turned to SW as predicted and we had a beautiful sail down the east coast of the North Island. We made it into the bay of Islands under sail and moored up on the quarantine dock in Opua at 6:00 on Friday 04.11 after 8 days and 17 hours.