Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sailing Through the Reefs in Fiji

June 28, 2009—We left last Tuesday from Wainaloka Bay on the southwest side of Ovalau Island. The sun finally came out, and while the winds were forecast to remain around 25 knots with gusts to 30, we decided to leave.

The trip through the channel to Viti Levu was rolly, but we had no problems. We continued up the east side of the island and arrived at Viti Levu Bay around two o’clock, but we decided not to go any further because we had not thoroughly studied Volivoli Passage through the reef, and the sun would now be in our eyes, so we found a nice spot in Viti Levu Bay and dropped the anchor.

That night we carefully went over our way points and compared two electronic charts in order to plot our course. At nine o’clock the next morning we left the bay. When you are going through these reef passages you should do it at low tide, have the sun overhead, and light winds. Well, we were barely at mid-tide, and the winds were 25 knots gusting to 30. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad.

We had some trouble finding the first mark for the entrance to the passage. Steve told me that he would be turning to starboard in a few minutes, and when I told him that if he did he would hit the reef, we threw out the electronic course and went with eyeball navigation. I was up on the bow standing on the dinghy with the radio in my hand spotting the marks and giving Steve directions. We made it through the pass with a few more grey hairs than when we left but had no mishaps.

We continued around the channel between the island and the reef and arrived at Vatia Bay around 3 p.m. where we anchored for the night. The next morning we left early for Lautoka so that we could check in with Customs. We arrived in Lautoka around noon, so we called Vuda Point Marina and asked if we could just come on in rather than waiting until the next day.

We pulled into the marina at 1:30 and picked up the center mooring while they got a spot ready for us. This marina is set up in a circle, so we carefully pulled into our spot with fenders ready. The “finger” for the dock is all of four feet long so we have to climb up on our bow pulpit in order to get off the boat. We are becoming quite the acrobats especially at low tide. The first night we were here I was climbing back on board when I hit my glasses pulling them off the lanyard and sending them into the drink. Steve quickly reached down and was able to grab them but went a bit too far over and ended up on the water. Luckily it was high tide, and he was able to easily climb back out. That was our entertainment for the evening.

We spent the day Friday checking in with Customs and shopping in Lautoka. We did laundry and some chores on Saturday and will finish them up today. James arrives tomorrow morning very early, and we are excited to see him.

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