Monday, September 14, 2009

Finally Back at Viti Levu Island

September 14, 2009--After spending ten days at Yadua Island, we were finally able to get back over to Viti Levu. Most of those ten days we had winds from 25 to 30 with some gusts to 40 knots. The anchorage was rolly and there was quite a bit of chop on the water, which made snorkeling difficult. Getting ashore was even difficult because the water was so rough. Neither of us wanted to cross Bligh Waters in those conditions.

We spent time in the anchorage with Rick and Terry from sv Morning Star and Sigrid and Ben from sv Optimus. Steve went with Rick one afternoon out to the southern reef at the entrance to the anchorage. They had decent visibility, and Steve said that it was excellent snorkeling. He even saw a five-foot white-tip shark swimming around them. Terry and Rick went ashore with us one afternoon to look for a grapefruit tree that the locals had told Rick about so we hiked around for about two hours but never did find it. Steve and I did find a lemon tree so we gathered up six lemons, and then we added two papaya that we found. When we returned to the boat, I made a lemon meringue pie, which turned out to be very good.

One afternoon we went over to Optimus to enjoy afternoon tea with Sigrid and Ben, who are Danish, and then we invited them over the next evening for chili. Friday afternoon Sigrid went with us on a hike up the hill. We wanted to hike to the light at the top, but we never did find the path from the ridge over to the light. Still we got some good exercise.

This past Saturday we decided to go back and snorkel the reef that Steve had done. Sigrid joined us while Ben stayed in their dinghy to read. The sun was not out; however, it was bright enough that we were able to enjoy all the lovely coral on the reef. We did spot a lobster, but Steve was not able to get him out of his hiding place, and, luckily, we did not see the white-tip shark while we were there.

Finally on Sunday the weather looked pretty good to cross back over to Viti Levu. The wind was forecast to be around 10 knots for the northeast, which would be good for our crossing. The best part was that the seas were supposed to be low with a decent time period between waves. The stretch called Bligh Waters is notorious for having short, choppy seas, which make for a very uncomfortable crossing. We experienced those on our crossing from Viti Levu over to Yadua on our way to Savusavu. We did not want repeat those conditions on our crossing back over.

We got underway on Sunday morning just as soon as we had good light. Optimus left with us, and we both made it through the reef and out of the anchorage with no problems. We put up our sails and were able to turn off the engine soon after exiting the bay. The winds were light, but we made pretty good time. About half way across, we had to start the engine and motor because the wind had died to almost nothing, and the skies were getting dark so we wanted to get across before bad weather set in.

We made it across the bay and had just gone through Nananu Pass when the thunder, lightning, and rain started. We had low visibility because of the rain, but we were able to follow our previous track right back into Nananu-i-thake anchorage. Unfortunately, Steve had to go to the bow in the rain to drop the anchor, but it grabbed immediately so he did not get too wet. Optimus came in about two hours after us and anchored close by.

After saying goodbye to Sigrid and Ben this morning, we left in the rain and headed west. It had rained all night and looked as though it was going to continue, but we still had our previous track back to Lautoka so we were not too worried. The first two hours we had quite a bit of rain, but then it cleared a bit. Unfortunately, we had to motor because there was no wind. About half way to our stop at Vatia Wharf, we decided to just continue on to Lautoka. We made good time, but around two in the afternoon we had a huge rain shower go over us. The other showers along the way had no real wind in them, but this one did. The winds piped up to about 25 knots and the seas became very choppy. Our visibility was about 50 feet, and with no radar, we felt a bit uneasy. The cell stayed with us for about 15 minutes and then moved off. Luckily, that was the last of the rain.

We arrived in Lautoka at 5:30 in the afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. We will check in with Customs early tomorrow, do some shopping, and then head back over to Musket Cove.

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