We’re back in beautiful Fiji after a seven-day passage from New Zealand to Savusavu! Quixotic did great on the passage and she saw us across that nasty stretch of water safely and without breakage or incident. The weather is always the wild card on this passage but five out of the seven days were idyllic sailing and the other two were tough beats, but we all took our licks and made it safely to the other side in great shape. This year the seas were much calmer than the same passage at the same time last year, so for that we are grateful for Neptune’s grace.
By 1600 on Saturday we had managed to clear out of the country, take on GST-exempt fuel, snag a few last minute ankle bites from those midges that we will miss dearly, and set sail into the open ocean bound for Fiji, 1,200 miles to the north. The first night was windy and on the nose with the familiar pounding and slamming that comes with driving a cat hard into the seas. Thankfully on the second day, sunrise brought some more orderly seas and the wind started to clock around onto our beam. We sailed NE with as much canvas as possible; we were trying to get away from the NZ coast as quickly as possible before the arrival of a NW front on Monday. By Monday afternoon we had made 400 miles and we were clear of the oncoming storm. Monday night we sailed on the edge of the NW front with a nice steady breeze in the high teens.
Tuesday morning we were becalmed and gladly fired up the iron genoa and motored over clam glassy seas for the next 36 hours. It was wonderful to relax and be so comfortable while making miles! We had showers, baked some pizza, watched an amazing sunset, and just enjoyed this gift from the weather Gods. We used the calm seas to make some more easting in anticipation of reaching the other side of the high the next day and with it, the building easterlies. We were also trying to make Minerva Reef, a mid-ocean atoll that is used as a storm refuge in rough seas. And the weather fax was calling for some very strong reinforced trades in the 25-30 knot range over Minvera on the weekend, so we wanted to try our best to get in before the winds built.
By Wednesday night and into Thursday morning we were met with quickly building easterlies that came up to 20-23 knots overnight. We spent Thursday morning bashing hard into 7-10 foot waves trying to push us back and away from the safe haven of Minerva. It was a tough bash but Quixotic is tougher then her crew so we tried our best to hang on while she battled it out with the seas and ultimately made ground to windward. By 1000 we had reached the lee of North Minerva Reef and relief was quickly replaced by the excited anticipation of entering a small pass in a mid-ocean reef. There was 3 knots ebbing from the lagoon and mixing with the confused seas outside the lagoon, but with the trusty Mermaid on the bow guiding us in, we slipped inside the reef and were immediately relieved from the rocking and pitching motion of the offshore sea state. We motored the three miles across the lagoon and set the hook hard in 40 feet of pure white sand just behind the substantial barrier reef that was doing a great job of breaking the seas in all but high tide, when the ‘popple’ comes over the reef and rocks us around a bit.
The next two days were spent watching the weather and the anchor position while winds to 35 knots and driving rain pounded the reef. On the third day the skies cleared and the trades returned to a lovely 16-18 knots. Out came the new windsurfing rig for an idyllic and magical sail through some of the most beautiful hues of blue and turquoise I have ever seen. We relaxed and also visited with the two other catamarans here that had also sought shelter from the weather. The next day the forecast looked promising so we set sail for the last 450 miles to Savusavu, Fiji.
The last two days were good sailing over typical heavy trade wind seas just aft the beam with apparent winds in the high teens also just aft the beam the whole way in. We sailed the last 450 miles in 2 days and 7 hours. The last few hours were spent surfing at 10-13 knots with full genoa and both engines cranking away; a very fun sleigh ride into Savusavu Bay. We grabbed our mooring just in time to soak in a beautiful Savusavu sunset and reflect on a successful passage.
We had a great summer in New Zealand refitting and upgrading Quixotic and we are excited to start the 2018 charter season up here in beautiful and remote northern Fiji! We look forward to welcoming all of our guests aboard soon!
Lewis & Alyssa
-Buca Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Fiji to New Zealand 2018 Passage Summary:
Bay of Islands Marina, Opua, New Zealand
35 18.815 S; 174 07.323 E
Waitui Kelekele Marina, Savusavu, Fiji
16 46.618 S, 179 19.755 E
Total miles sailed: 1,310 NM
Rhumbline distance: 1,115 NM
Total elapsed time: 7 days, 1 hours, 30 minutes
Average speed: 7.7 Knots
Top Speed: 14.9 Knots
Average miles sailed per day: 186 NM
Average rhumbline distance per day: 158 NM
Total engine run time: 110 hours (67% of total passage time)
Average RPM: 2100
Fuel consumed: 100 gallons
Fuel remaining aboard at arrival: 50 gallons
Propellers used: Bruntons Autoprops
Water tankage at departure: 120 gallons
Water consumed on passage: 90 gallons
Water desalinated at Minerva: 40 gallons
Water remaining at arrival: 15 gallons
Average wind speed: 16 knots
Lowest wind speed: 2 knots
Highest wind speed: 36 knots
Average swell wave height: 1.5m
Highest estimated swell height: 3.2m
Average wind wave height: 1.0m
Highest estimated wind wave height: 2.2m
Small Issues: None
Air temp on departure: 62 F
Air temp on arrival: 87 F
Sea temp on departure: 63 F
Sea temp on arrival: 83 F
Total mutiny/arguments amongst crew: 0
Estimated number of times the bridgedeck slammed/bombed: a lot
Fish caught: None; but lost two hand lines to very large mystery fish
Number of Squid we had to pry off the deck: 2
Number of Fish that flew into Alyssa while on watch: 0 but one near miss and into helm seat