Fiji: Taveuni Island to Savusavu, Vanua Levu

Tuesday afternoon we headed into the Paradise Resort for the final time and had lunch accompanied by a few cold ones enjoying the peace of the gardens. We also tried to pay our bill which bore no resemblance to what we had signed for during our stay. So we asked the manager to go away and try again which she did, and again, it was incorrect. I was relieved that I had actually kept a note of our daily expenditure otherwise it would have been very difficult to get this sorted. Finally we got to a mutually acceptable figure and I paid it – but this was very hard work! We said our farewells and headed back to the boat before dark and had an early night.

Wednesday morning we slipped away from our mooring ball as the sun came up just after 6am and passed a tug and a huge barge going in the opposite direction. We experienced much stronger winds than forecast (surprise, surprise) but the seas weren’t too lumpy and at least we were heading downwind. We had a great sail and thoroughly enjoyed it making very good time. Was grateful to have engine support as we approached the reef marker at Passage Point this time!

At 2pm we pulled into Copra Shed Marina and were very lucky to get the last available berth. Although we had made an advance booking people often don’t leave when they originally plan so “reservations” are really just “expressions of interest” rather than confirmed places. Was lovely to be back, knowing that we were safe from the forthcoming blow.

We cleaned all the salt off of Morphie, got ourselves linked up to the electricity supply and then went for sundowners and met up with some fellow cruisers before having a reasonably early night. Was great to see JP and Julie (SV Eleuthera) and Paul and Karen (SV Gigi) again.

Thursday morning we headed into town as we needed fresh produce and some more drinking vouchers from the ATM. We also met a few of the World ARC participants as the anchorage was filling up fast. There were a few mooring balls left way up the creek but that was it.

There was also some bother on the dock here when one of the WARC boats insisted that they had booked a berth and didn’t like the space they were offered so they kicked up a stink and, eventually, one of the others moved but it surely must have created some ill-feeling amongst the fleet. Certainly there were lots of derogatory comments being made near to us on the dock about the situation!

During the day we also met Lars from SV Sweet Dream (another fellow Island Packeteer) who are participants on the WARC. So that made three of us here in Savusavu so we quickly made arrangements for a mini Island Packet get together in the evening over a few beers. It was a lot of fun and we were joined by a number of other cruisers and WARC participants in the Copra Shed Marina bar. Here are the Island Packeteers altogether….from left to right Karen and Paul (SV Gigi), us in the middle, then Laura and Lars (SV Sweet Dream).

Later on people drifted away in various groupings and we headed out for dinner with Paul and Karen to the Grace Road Kitchen (the fantastic Korean restaurant) for another meal which definitely didn’t disappoint.

Friday morning and we were on board looking at possible routings for when we leave Savusavu again. We also popped into town again for some more bits. On our return we saw that a number of the mooring balls had been vacated as a tug was pushing a huge barge into the anchorage – and Sweet Dream was one of them. Later on the boats moved back into the anchorage ready to reclaim their mooring balls and it became clear that the ball Sweet Dream had been on was no longer a viable option. The wind was whistling around and the tide was ripping and they were not having a fun time……and of course by this time all the mooring balls had been taken by some last-minute WARC arrivals and Sweet Dream had been permanently displaced. They were clearly stressed and upset and had to anchor out amongst the reefs. So sadly we didn’t see them again. Was a very bad experience for them and I think they may even have touched bottom a few times whilst circling…. Felt very sorry for them.

In the afternoon we spent some time onboard Gigi (who have spent many seasons here in Fiji) looking at their waypoints and routes through the coral reefs which gave us a lot more confidence going forward (especially as there are many coral bombies and rocks that are uncharted).

In the evening we went ashore and met JP, Julie, Karen and Paul again and listened to the live music. During the evening an English tourist, Nicky, came over to chat. It was clear she was trying to avoid the attentions of a few drunken Fijian men so we welcomed her into our ‘gang’ LOL. Was amazed that she was travelling alone here in Fiji as you couldn’t say that the area was particularly disability friendly (she is in a wheelchair). The pavements are cracked and broken with lots of potholes and the Police had already told her she was not to push herself along the roads even though the pavements are not suitable and the kerbs are too high for her to manage. Anyway, at the end of the evening, Paul escorted her back to her accommodation to ensure she got there safely before we all called it a night.

Whilst out and about the day before I had found a beauty salon / hairdressers tucked away up an alley so had booked an appointment for Saturday morning and the girls had decided that they would join me for a girlie morning out. So at 9.30 am on Saturday morning we all met up and headed to the salon. It was an experience especially the unexpected cold water wash on the lay down chair tucked behind the counter. Also the hair dye (which was labelled mid-brown and I’d purchased it myself) turned out to be Fiji Brown (which is actually almost black). Never mind, everyone in the salon said I now had Fiji hair and were fascinated by how similar my curls were to them…..quite funny. Whilst I was there I also had my eyebrows threaded and the whole experience cost me around £15 – bargain or what?!?

Moving on we headed to the Sugarlicious cafe and had tea and cake. Huge portions but absolutely delicious! Was a fun time.

We returned to the marina (but not before the Police had warned Nicky about being in the road again sigh) and we parted company. I rushed back to Morphie as the heavens had now opened. It poured down and continued for the whole day. We sat in the cockpit inputting waypoints for a few hours and deciding on our route. So the plan is now to head out to Makogai Island and then to cross the remainder of the channel to travel inside the reef along the north coast of Viti Levu. So was useful time spent on a rainy afternoon.

In the evening, even though it continued to pour down, we headed to the bar for a couple of cold ones and ended up with a takeaway pizza back on board.

This morning, Sunday, and a few WARC boats have moved on. Which is, in my opinion, a bit premature as the sea state will be rough / very rough for a couple of days yet. And a P&O cruise ship has turned up.

The tenders are coming to the docks near us (having evicted some of the yachts) and it was fun watching them setting everything up for the masses to arrive later – they had even decorated the dock and there were a band of local musicians waiting to greet people. All very jolly!

We then headed out to the main road and enjoyed wandering around amongst all the new tourists and I even bought a small bracelet for myself from one of the local stalls which are only there on cruise ship days.

It remains rainy and cloudy but it is lovely to be sitting here down below listening to the local band playing – the last tender is at 3pm so I guess the peace will be restored by then. In the meantime there are lots of people everywhere and, when I tried to get back to Morphie, I was told not to jump the queue for the tender as they are using the same ramp. Their face was a picture when I said I was returning to my yacht! The cruise ship is registered in London so the tender captains are curious about us as they can see our red ensign and we have already had a few conversations with them today too. Oh yes and the marina security guard says he loves my Fiji hair LOL.

Tonight we are intending to go ashore to listen to the live music (if the rain stops for long enough for them to play). Going forward we think we may be able to depart on Tuesday but we will just keep watching the weather to make sure it is a good time to go, so not written in stone but looking good at this stage. So here is my final photo of the day… the Japanese pirate!

Bye for now


Fiji: Vanua Levu to Tavenui Island

Wednesday, after all our jobs were completed for the day, we did our pre-passage checks and then had a quiet night on board.

Thursday morning we had breakfast in the marina cafe and said hi to Paul and Karen (SV Gigi) who had just arrived from New Zealand. It was lovely to see them again, albeit briefly. At 11 am we slipped away from Copra Shed Marina and headed out down the creek and along the coastline to the end of the island near the Cousteau Resort.

We dropped our anchor and got what we thought was a good set but Richard wasn’t sure as it felt ‘wrong’. So he jumped in and snorkelled the chain to find out that it disappeared into a deep crevasse and there were coral bombies around – so we decided to pick up and move down to a sandy bottom anchorage tucked behind passage point reef. It took a bit of manoeuvring to pick the anchor up as, yes, it had got wrapped. We then motored to our next spot and got a great set in about 5m of sand. Richard snorkelled again and was very happy this time.

So we sat in the cockpit and had dinner as the sun went down…..and then this big French catamaran drove fast through the anchorage and dropped his hook right in front of us with very little scope out and ended up sitting right over our anchor. Now, I’m always fed up about this happening but rarely does Richard get exercised about it. But this time he did! All his protestations were met with a Gallic shrug but later on they picked up and moved further away from us. Phew! So we did manage to sleep soundly with just the noise of the waves crashing over the reef in front of us keeping us alert.

At 6.15 am on Friday morning we were underway towards Paradise Resort, Tavenui Island. This was a 40+ mile run so easily achievable at our average 5 knots. Or is until you get a swell head on, confused seas, and quite strong winds dead on the nose. So we worked hard, sailing close hauled and tacked backwards and forwards but the current was also pushing us towards the reefs of Vanua Levu. So we had to make a call – run for our secondary port Fawn Harbour which was now about five miles away – or motor sail to reach our destination before dark?!? So we motor sailed and arrived just after 5pm and were met by a young woman on a kayak to tie us up to a mooring ball and welcome us to Paradise. Well, it certainly looked like it from the anchorage! But we were tired so didn’t go ashore.

Saturday morning we tidied up and did some boat jobs before heading over to the resort around 2pm. The people were so friendly and welcoming it was great – we were shown the complimentary facilities for yachties (such as hot showers, use of the mooring ball and use of their gardens and pool). Fantastic. We had a few cold Fijian beers sitting by the pool.

I did bob on my own for a while but Richard thought it was a bit too chilly, so I gave up and returned to the lounger. We had a lovely afternoon just chatting, chilling and enjoying the beautiful gardens and views out across the bay. We even saw a humpback whale spouting and broaching in the channel – it doesn’t get much better than this. We enjoyed the sunset and headed back to Morphie just before dark to have a quiet night in.

Sunday morning we decided to tackle some cleaning – I worked my way around doing all the stainless steel while Richard cut and waxed the cockpit. Pretty tired at the end of it so we rested up before heading ashore to get hot showers, enjoy happy hour, and then had dinner on a communal table and, as it was Sunday, it was a Fijian roast dinner which was absolutely lovely. We enjoyed chatting with our neighbour in the anchorage who were an American catamaran on the World ARC. We knew they were heading this way so expect crowded anchorages for the next two weeks LOL. A very sociable evening was had by all.

Monday morning we were up very early and headed to the resort to go diving. There were nine other people on board (excluding staff) but we were the only divers.

So we first dropped two couples off at a deserted beach in Viani Bay along with cooler, mats and member of staff to serve drinks (seriously!).

We then headed out to the Rainbow Reef. We kitted up and jumped in with our dive leader and then I assume the snorkellers jumped in with theirs… Both Richard and I descended easily enough but struggled to get our buoyancy sorted out in the first 10 minutes or so. But once we had settled down we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular reef, fish and amazing soft and hard corals. I don’t think I have ever seen clams quite so big either! The colours were amazing and we even found quite a few Nemos but our favourite was a nudibranch called a Spanish Dancer. We did the maximum 50 minutes at 19 metres so were happy with our performance in the end. During our service interval we were served complimentary cake and fruit and were entertained by spinner dolphins. Amazing.

The second dive was also on the Rainbow Reef (which is renowned as one of the best dive spots in the world) and was called Cabbage Patch. When we saw the reef we understood the name. Neither of us had ever seen anything quite like this before. The ‘cabbages’ housed a mass of beautifully coloured baby fish, almost like a nursery, with the odd bigger species like grouper and parrot fish coming through. Spectacular. We thoroughly enjoyed this dive – another maximum 50 minutes at 18 metres – and were delighted to be back in the water after quite a while.

After the diving was over we returned to the beach and picked up the guests from their Robinson Crusoe experience and headed back towards the resort. On the way we were surrounded by a combination of dolphins and pilot whales – hundreds of them – and they were pretty happy to come up close. What an experience!

Back at the resort we had showers and rinsed our kit before having lunch and a few cold ones. Again we stayed until the sun went down and returned to Morphie. In the meantime a large Oyster on the ARC turned up and we asked the guys to move him as he was too close for comfort. Most of the staff do not understand about swinging room. Anyway they did this pretty quickly so we were happy.

This morning, Tuesday, and we were awake early as the anchorage was a bit rolly in the night. So we spent our time wisely in checking out the weather looking for a possible routing towards the Lau Group of islands. Sadly the forecast is absolute rubbish. Strong winds are coming through on Thursday night into the weekend (with gusts to 35+ knots) and then calming down briefly before another blow comes through. The direction remains from the east / south east and it doesn’t look like there is much hope of getting to these islands (which are against the prevailing winds and tides) in the next few weeks. As our mooring here at Paradise is exposed we will need to get out of here tomorrow to seek shelter. But the question is which way? East or West? We have realised, sadly, that time is against us in sitting out a perfect window to get to this group of islands and we still may not make it. So we have decided tomorrow to return to Savusavu and wait there for the winds to die down before heading west along the bottom of Vanua Levu and over the top of the main island Viti Levu. This northern route will take us behind the reef and through many villages so we will see the ‘real’ Fiji as well as the reward of some spectacular anchorages and resorts over on the west towards the end of our stay here. It is sad that we will not get to see the Lau Group but, as the famous Curly of Savusavu says (the routing guru), it takes at least three seasons to see it all.

Oh yes and remember what I said about the ARC boats, well, this is the anchorage this morning when we woke up. We are surrounded…..

Bye for now


Exploring Vanua Levu, Fiji

Friday morning we picked up our 4WD truck to go exploring along with Sarah and Phil (Serenity of Swanwick). And it wasn’t raining – yay! We headed out of town, realised we had taken the wrong road so turned around until we found the right road to the Waisali Rainforest Reserve. Maps and road signs are pretty scarce and not detailed so we were led by instructions like ‘turn right at the bus stop’ LOL.

The walk through the rainforest was billed as relatively easy and I was up for it, particularly when we found out that the whole trail had a footpath. So we started off – expecting it to be about 30-40 minutes stroll – and it was very muddy, the steps were large, and it kept on going downhill flattening off for a while then continuing downhill. The forest was lush and green and we heard the sounds of barking pigeons and frogs but actually never saw anything of note throughout the walk. But the plants were amazing.

At the bottom we came across a stream with a picnic area so we took a little while to sit, enjoy and get our breath back.

Then we started the long walk back uphill….through the mud which, in places, looked like it had been disturbed by something snuffling through it, so we thought perhaps wild pigs?!? They do exist here apparently.

Eventually we ended up back on the road and not a minute too soon for my poor old legs! Wow had been quite a struggle for me towards the end of the trail as it had taken at least an hour and a half to get round. We then spotted the ‘scenic lookout’ but laughed at the view which was just into the jungle….

Moving on from here we headed back down the hill towards Vuadomo. This was a bit off the beaten track but we found it OK. Once parked we duly donned our sulas and headed over to meet the chief. The chief wasn’t there but his daughter was so we handed over our kava and they did a little bit of clapping and a few words but no actual sevusevu ceremony. We then wandered the village for a while. We asked about the chapel and were surprised to find that this village was Methodist so that is why visiting on a Sunday (when they have to attend church three times a day) is taboo. The villagers live on tourist income ($10 pp – just over £3 – to visit the waterfall) and they mainly eat fish and vegetables which they grow themselves and then supplement their income by selling any surplus in the town market. Their fishing rafts are pretty basic….

We then walked to the waterfall and thoroughly enjoyed our dip in the cool water which was especially refreshing after the heat and humidity of the forest, and we all felt very clean afterwards.

It was now past lunchtime so we headed back into Savusavu admiring the beautiful views along the way. We also saw, for the first time, the extent of the reef that we had sailed around to enter into the bay towards Savusavu.

We had difficulties getting back up the hill from the village due to a slipping clutch but made it back into town and went to the local Korean restaurant (called The Grace Road Kitchen) which prepared a fresh and excellent plate of food. This was the cleanest place we had been in since we arrived in Fiji. Afterwards we headed to the coast road to see if we could go swimming.

We took the wrong road (again) and, this time, we ended up at the Cousteau resort. Never mind, ready to turn around, and then the clutch went completely!!! We managed to get it off the main road and rang the hire guy. He wasn’t surprised at all (we think he knew it was dodgy) and turned up with another jeep for us which was a bit small but at least we were back on the road.

We then went back through Savusavu and headed past the airport to the coast road expecting to be able to access the sea. Sadly that was not the case as the waterfront was predominantly taken over by large private resorts and private islands with big ‘no entry’ signs on them all. There were a few villages that were waterfront but we didn’t want to impose ourselves on them either. Slightly disappointed we headed back to Copra Shed marina and had a few cold ones watching the sun set over Morphie. Had been a tiring but fun day.

Saturday we had a bit of a lazy one after the exertions of the previous day and headed to meet Chris to go to the Planters Club for an evening BBQ. Of course it poured with rain just before we left but we managed to avoid the worst of it by staying at Watui Marina for a beer before heading down the road further. This was an experience as a lot of local guys were in there and appeared quite drunk and exuberant! We were surprised, on arrival, to find the Club pretty empty as this had been billed as a special event with live band the works. Well there was no music and no other cruisers….. Then a few turned up and we made up a big table and that was it. The BBQ was OK but nothing special and no music – never mind. The other cruisers headed back to the Copra Shed later (as they wanted a dessert) but we stayed put for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday morning it was more boat jobs…..stripping beds, cleaning the fibreglass down below (there was signs of some mould developing in this hot and humid environment) and we also polished all the wood. Phew….hard work! We dropped the laundry off and had a quiet movie night on board.

Monday morning we started to look at waypoints and doing a bit of planning. We are not exactly sure of our destinations right now but know that our first stop will be to anchor just off the point here to enjoy swimming in blue water. Really looking forward to that. We then plan to move to Paradise Resort on Taveuni Island which is about 40 miles away. This resort is right across from the Rainbow Reef (which is a famous dive site) and has free mooring balls and welcome yachts to their facility. So we intend to do some diving with them and, if it turns out to be good, we may stay a little while. After this there are a few routes we could take but our next destination will probably be the Bay of Islands in the Lau Group which are supposed to be beautiful. Navigation looks a bit tricky so we spent quite a bit of time doing that – we are also getting a letter from Copra Shed to give us permission to anchor in a private bay over there that they own.

During all this planning which we did on the verandah of the bar here in Copra Shed (but we were drinking coffee, honest) we met Kyle and MaryAnn (SV Begonia) who we had not seen since Nuie. What a coincidence they would end up here at the same time as us so it was nice to see them again.

Tuesday we headed into town as we needed to purchase items to give to the villages that we visit. So we purchased 1kg of kava and had it made up into five bundles for future sevusevu ceremonies with the chiefs. Richard was bitching because he could have bought two slabs of beer for the cost of the kava ($150 = £52 for some twigs!).

The idea of this ceremony is to receive approval to anchor and fish in their bay; visit their village; and generally be hosted by them. To supplement the kava we also purchased small bags of rice, lots of ramen noodles, cheap teabags and breakfast biscuits which we will give away as gifts to families that are particularly helpful to us on our journeys. We have also purchased some beautiful local material so if we give away 5 yards to each family they will have a lasting gift from us when they turn it into a shirt or a sula etc.

In the evening we had sundowners on board Morphie with Chris, Sarah and Phil coming aboard for drinks and pizzas. Was a nice evening and probably the last time we’ll all be in one place together as we start heading out as the weather improves.

It is now Wednesday and Richard has headed into town for a couple of things we need while I’m blogging down below. We plan to leave on Thursday just to the anchorage at the point and then cross to Tavenui the following day. All very exciting.

Bye for now


Our first week in Fiji

Saturday morning after a really good sleep we headed into town in the drizzling rain. We got cash, fruit and veg from the market, some fresh bread from the bakers and a SIM card for our internet hotspot. The town was bustling and busy but very friendly with BULA (hello) being called out to us by everybody. Back at the boat we caught up on the hundreds of emails we had missed and after dinner on board we went to our marina’s bar for a nightcap.

Sunday morning it was still raining. We were up early and went to church to say thank you for our safe arrival. We are not particularly religious but this was something we both felt we wanted to do. So we wandered up the hill and found a multi-faith, multi-racial chapel and joined the 8am service. It was in Hindu and English (as we had stumbled across the Indian service) and we were very much welcomed and included. It was a very intensive couple of hours with lots of clapping, swaying, singing, praying combined with loud and passionate speakers. What an experience!

Back at the marina I got all the laundry delivered to the on-site lady who does a ‘wash, dry and fold’ service for a very reasonable £4 a bag. So we got our duvet laundered to be put away for the next time we are in colder climes…plus all the damp sailing gear and passage sheets. Was nice to get it all off the boat. We did some cleaning and filled up with water (and, again, we needed to buy new connectors). In the afternoon we went to Curly Carswell’s seminar about sailing in Fiji and cultural requirements when anchoring near villages. Got pages and pages of waypoints and some chartlets – all information is helpful as charts here are woefully out of date and Fiji is ringed by reefs. Afterwards we went out to eat with Chris, Sarah and Phil at a nearby Chinese, which was OK but nothing special. Afterwards we returned to our marina bar for a pontoonie (in the rain) enjoying live music from a local band.

Monday morning and I made myself scarce by heading to the shops on a mission for a few things. I then sat in the marina bar blogging whilst Richard dealt with the diesel mechanic as I would be trapped either in the cockpit or our cabin once the companionway steps were removed and tools were scattered in the saloon. A few engine issues were resolved and identified, but more to do. In the evening we went out for an Indian with Chris, great food but an unlicensed property, so we made do with pontoonies after in the marina. Eating out here in Fiji is cheaper than cooking for ourselves – the Indian Thali plate was only just over £3 each! In the evening the mosquitos and no-see-ums come around and they have decided to leave Richard alone and feast on me….

Tuesday and I took off again – armed with another list – and also had coffee with a neighbour whilst Richard got on with a few things. Unfortunately our mechanic (having the only tow truck on the island) had been called to an emergency so wasn’t coming today after all. We carried on with boat jobs and resolved the network issue with the instruments (which was, as expected, just a plug that had come loose) and I collected the laundry. We did some more general tidying / cleaning (all the rugs and foulies this time) before having a quiet night on board.

Wednesday and I went to the customs office to get our inter-island cruising permit made official. So we are good to go once we have an engine and if it ever stops raining LOL.

Later on our mechanic returned and, finally, the engine was fixed. Lots of little problems – impeller not working properly, water pump being sluggish, thermostat failing and cruddy heat exchanger – and they all came together at once. Having swapped everything out plus a complete service we now have a working engine with good water flow throughout. Yay! We celebrated over sundowners in the bar with our marina neighbours Julie and JP.

This morning Thursday and it is still raining and we continue to go through the boat job list that we generated on our passage. Early afternoon we headed into town for more cash and to organise a 4WD truck for tomorrow to go exploring and have fingers crossed that it will stop raining by then. We also purchased sulas (Fijian skirts, think plain sarongs) and Fijian shirts in order to be respectful when we do sevusevu (kava drinking ceremony) at the local villages…..

Bye for now

Opua, New Zealand, to Savusavu, Fiji

Well, we finally arrived in Fiji after a pretty eventful passage of 1244.3 miles. We started out in strong winds and had to work hard not to get blown too far to the east. Gusts of 40-50 knots were experienced in very short interval swells. We made good time and worked our way north as quickly as we could to avoid the next low coming through. The early part of the trip was very tough. Then we hit low winds and our engine started playing up. So Richard went down the hole and I kept the boat running. We ended up doing this numerous times so neither of us got as much sleep as we needed. But, at this point, we were optimistic that he would fix it so not a problem.

Despite numerous attempts and efforts dismantling and checking the systems end to end the result was that we couldn’t fix it in a seaway. By then we were closer to Fiji than New Zealand (and don’t forget that deep low now being felt over New Zealand) so we carried on. The passage was stressful in the circumstances but we had good strength winds most of the time and, although the sea was lumpy and bumpy, we made good time. But then, of course, we had no wind and got pushed by a current towards an island. We realised what was happening so made sure we moved in the opposite direction (at less than 1 knot but it kept us out of trouble) until we were able to start back in the right direction. We encountered some beautiful skies whilst at sea and check out the colour of the deep water.

With no wind forecast for entry into Savusavu we wanted to organise a tow from outside the passage….this was done but people just didn’t reply in a timely fashion to emails. I understand that they are just emails to them but, for us, it felt like we were sailing into oblivion heading towards a tow which may or may not be there waiting for us. We prayed a bit at this point…..

We arrived, 15 minutes late (on Friday 7 June) only to find no tow there waiting but, hang on a minute, the wind just blew up from nowhere and also from the right direction. We sailed through the passage on a reach, hardened up and went at 30 degrees to the wind to sail up towards the creek. At the top we were then hip tied to two boats and were taken in and placed on a mooring ball.

Within 10 minutes the biosecurity guy was on board, followed quickly by customs and immigration – then, voila, we were legally in Fiji. All very easy and pain free. We were then pulled across into the marina berth by a long line and were secured in place. Fantastic!

That afternoon a diesel mechanic (recommended by the marina) came to see us. Chris (Sea Bear) and Phil and Sarah (Serenity of Swanwick) came over to say hi and later on we went to a BBQ with them and caught up. I have to say we might have had one too many beers that night! What a relief to be here….

Bye for now

Passage to Fiji – part 5

For those of you who had been watching the tracker you may have been wondering what has been going on in terms of both speed and direction. So here was a quick explanation.

During the night the wind died and our speed crashed. The wind has still not picked up and we were getting blown down towards one of the islands. Hence the u-turn you see which was designed to get us further back up above the rhumb line.

We have now turned towards our destination again but know that we are unable to get there in daylight hours with the current low wind speeds we are experiencing. So we are now planning to make landfall tomorrow morning (Friday 7 June). So we are going to continue to move very slowly towards our destination.

All is well on the good ship Morpheus.

Bye for now


Passage to Fiji – part 4

Monday 3 June (continued)

In the afternoon Richard continued to troubleshoot the engine while he waited for some advice. It is increasingly looking likely that the problem is not something we can fix at sea. So we need to start thinking about sailing in. Not something either of us relish but we need to be realistic. Just hoping that Seapower can come up with something to suggest. So crew stress levels were quite high.

Tuesday 4 June

We heard from Seapower and they think the same….but have gone away to consider further advice. In the meantime we were at least able to contact Copra Shed Marina to alert them to our predicament. Not totally sure they understood but at least they are now in the loop. We ran the engine lightly to see how long before it gets overheated…and the answer was 23 minutes. So, if the wind is on our nose (worst case scenario) we can have engine assistance through the passage into Savusavu. Once through we can perhaps do an emergency anchor while we await assistance and use the time wisely by getting dink down, motor on, and then hip-tied to Morphie just in case we have to do this on our own. The distance from the gap (which is 1 mile wide) to the beginning of the creek (where the marina is situated) is 6 miles and we don’t know whether it will be possible to sail this until we are physically there.

Richard continues to spend time inside lockers working hard at eliminating and double checking everything. He is working really hard and is frustrated that this has happened – he checks / double checks the engine all the time and keeps a maintenance log so that services are done at appropriate intervals etc. And the engine has been absolutely fine with no sign of any issues until this.

What is also causing annoyance is that the wind continues to blow from the north east so we are beating into it….and then it goes very light and we slow down horrendously…and then comes back with a vengeance. All very challenging. We are determined to remain high of our rhumb line as the next waypoints have islands to port and, with a predicted east trade wind and current, they are lee shores so we want to give them as wide a berth as possible.

In the afternoon we had a SSB conversation with Serenity who remain around 45 miles ahead of us and are heading to the same place. So they will also help to alert Copra Shed on their arrival to our need for assistance. It was nice to hear a friendly voice out here.

Wednesday 5 June

We had a slow night in terms of speed trying to sail 45 degrees to the wind on a starboard tack. Not something Morphie likes doing much. So this morning, at first light, Richard spent time on the bow and fixed the staysail. We then deployed it immediately – so we are running with all three sails in 15-20 knots of breeze. Immediately it made a difference with Morphie feeling more stable and we picked up speed. If we can maintain 5 knots or better we should make landfall on Thursday afternoon….if the wind drops again then we might have to stay out here a little while longer. We will not consider arriving after dark as it would be just too dangerous.

We are passing our first Fijian island Matuku to starboard right now and usually we are really excited about land ho! Sadly it doesn’t have the same effect this morning.

Despite our tale of woes we are excited to be back in the tropics with beautiful deep blue seas and sailing in t-shirts LOL.

Bye for now

Passage to Fiji – part 3

Saturday 1 June (continued)

Late in the afternoon the wind direction changed so we furled the main and started running downwind on the genoa alone.   By the time we had eaten dinner it had switched back so we pulled out the main (again) and reefed down the genoa for the night.   Immediately we picked up speed to 7+ knots and we were screaming along.   Was bumpy though as the seas built.

Sunday 2 June

The wind hovered between 15-23 knots all night and we had a really good run although it remained bouncy which is not an aid to good sleep for either of us.   In the morning it was clear that the swells had increased and it was another grey squally one with showers although there was at least a pretty sunrise.

We tried the engine and got the high temperature alarm again.   By this time Richard knew the results of the Champions League match and declared that everything had gone a bit Spursy!  Anyway, he left me running the boat in the cockpit while he went back down the engine hole.   He also checked the engine manual and I read Calder’s boat bible to see if I could help shed any light.  Obvious stuff like fan belts, coolant and impellers had already been checked numerous times.   Everything pointed to the sea water flow/intake so Richard started at the thru hull and worked systematically throughout the boat checking all hoses and couplings along with everything in its path like heat exchangers, water pumps all the way through to the exhaust.    At numerous points along the route he checked water flow levels all of which were good.   Finally at the exhaust he realised that the flapper had come apart and the following large sea may well be causing water to flow up the pipe so he tied himself on while I slowed the boat and he leant off the transom steps to replace it.   All done (he was a bit soaked and pretty fed up by this time) and we started the engine.   And it stayed on.   And it didn’t alarm.   OMG looks like it could have worked.   But I’ll reserve judgment for another day without problems (fingers crossed).    Richard’s reward was a hot shower and a pasta bake for tea.

During the day we also lost connectivity between some of our navigational units although they are all working individually.   So we know that they have not failed it is clearly a problem with the network itself.   It could be something simple like a cable coming loose or getting frayed during all the banging and crashing through the waves we have been doing.   But the brain is buried beneath lee cloths below and behind the port saloon so, as we still have access to all the information we need, it will wait until we get to Fiji.   It doesn’t matter how much time, effort and money anyone puts into a boat something always fails on an ocean passage.   Very frustrating but that’s life!    Our boat jobs list is growing again, sigh…..

During the night we had light winds 8-14 knots so just coasted along slowly running abaft the beam but not quite downwind as the waves were causing Morphie to roll from side to side.

Monday 3 June

Despite best efforts to keep the rolling to a minimum we found sleeping difficult, but at some point sheer exhaustion catches up!   

At 6am (shift change) we gybed across our rhumb line and are sailing under genoa alone downwind in light airs.   The wind is definitely switching and we anticipate south winds shortly then, as we near the islands, it will shift to the east which are the normal trades for the area. At this point in our passage we had done 795 miles, with the best 24 hour period racking up a 151.5 miles which, for us, is a record run.   There was also a fantastic red sky this morning.

The wind dropped to around 8 knots and the batteries needed charging so we started the engine.   Within 20 minutes we had a high heat alarm again.   Richard has done everything suggested in the manuals and we are flummoxed, so he has written an email to our mechanical guru, Bruce at Seapower in New Zealand, asking for advice on what else it could be and what else he suggests we try to resolve this.   We anticipate a Thursday arrival into Fiji so there is still some time to get this resolved.

In the middle of all this we had a pod of humpback whales pass by within 15 metres of us going down both sides of the boat.   But by the time the camera was to hand they had gone. They were very close to us and they certainly startled Richard LOL.   How amazing……

Bye for now