After a few days in Savusavu doing boat projects we headed out to Cousteau’s resort for a few nights. We met some new friends, Bob and Julie, who just built a new house here. We offered to take them sailing and when we were out we hooked a 100+ lb yellow fin tuna! It was a herculean effort by Bob and I to bring it within arms length of the boat. When I had the leader in my hand to bring him within gaff shot range the knot snapped at the swivel!! There was much screaming and lamenting but we all enjoyed the fight and were happy that the beautiful fish got away……this time. We then enjoyed a pleasant evening aboard QUIXOTIC with delicious appetizers, an amazing Mahi dinner and fun with new friends. See you guys next year!
We then caught up with Bruce and Jenn on SKABENGA. We all decided to race the two cats to Namena Island. We invited our new neighbors Bob and Anna to join us. We prepped them and pulled the hook the next morning. QUIXOTIC and SKABENGA are both South African-built catamarans and were very evenly matched. We averaged between 8.5 and 9.0 knots during the 25 miles course and both had huge waves and spray flying over the boats as we pushed hard upwind into the swells. It was a blast with much goading over the radio. Almost to the finish line, Bruce hooked a Marlin and effectively forfeit the race to fight him in, ensuring our victory! Once we were anchored we donned SCUBA gear and explored the underwater world. Namena got hit hard by Cyclone Winston and it shows beneath the surface; it’s still beautiful but we hope it fully recovers soon. Another great night with good friends ensued into the evening.
The next day we sailed for Bua Bay. It was a relaxing downwind sail, wing-on-wing, around the SW end of Vanua Levu and into protected and picturesque Bua Bay. We came here to load our shipping container that Bruce very graciously gave us and brought out here. I also had to fit in one last motorcycle ride before tucking her away for the cyclone season. The ride was epic and the scenery gorgeous. I was less than 15 minutes from our property, surrounded by tall pine trees, and it felt like I was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California; the only thing that reminded my I was in Fiji was the heat and humidity (see pic below). I rode the southern coast of the island and beat both me and the bike up on the rough roads. I passed friendly frantically waving locals, shared smiles with kids on the side of the road and steered clear of the wandering cows and sheep. The landscape turned from rolling hills of pine to lush jungle and lined with palms with the sea as the backdrop. There were beautiful churches in the middle of well-manicured villages and set on rocky fresh water rivers. I only had to turn back when I realized I left without grabbing any money for fuel! It was a great last ride for the season.
We “winterized” the bike, spread bug and rodent poison around and locked our container, said thank you and goodbye to Bob and Anna and returned to QUIXOTIC. We were going to sail west today but are staying put until a low pressure trough rolls through. We just put out 100 feet of chain with a new (more stretch) snubber system and we’re anchored in 9 feet of water over good holding mud – we should be fine here while the weather passes over us.
This morning we also continued our New Zealand passage prep. Today we prepared the parachute sea anchor system as if we were deploying at sea. It’s much easier to do here in a calm anchorage then out in big seas in storm conditions. We are going to run the parachute to 10 feet of chain shackeld to a 250ft nylon rode tied to a 60 foot nylon bridle. The bridle will be led through the cleats/fair leads on the crossbeam and then aft through blocks to the cockpit winches. That way we can adjust the lines and manage chafe from the safety of the cockpit. It looks like it will work – only real world deployment will tell. We hope to manage the weather forecasting and routing so we avoid storms but you can never be too prepared.
We are planning to depart early next week and sail for Viti Levu via Yadua Island. We have one last errand to attend to before looking for a weather window to sail to New Zealand. Stay tuned.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend. We miss you guys!
Bua Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Anchored: 16 50.858 S, 178 36.673 E