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