Monday afternoon we decided we’d had enough of Suva and put to sea into stiff trades and rough seas. We had to choose the lesser of two evils: sail into stiff trades but have settled weather, or wait for the low, bringing a break in the trades, rain, poor visibility, and a roll of the dice…. We chose settled weather. With that decision came a tough bash around the corner for 8-10 hours until we could put the trades on the beam and tear off for Vanua Levu. Ellie handled it way better than we did. The poor Mermaid was feeding the dolphins all night. I held it down but swallowing was a real chore; it was VERY rough. Topping off all the fun was incompetent and poorly lit Chinese fishing vessels dancing all around us showing every heading and and light combination possible. I must have tacked half a dozen times within 10 miles of Suva harbor, but we finally left them behind and once we rounded the island we were able to put the wind on the beam for a (relatively) much better ride north. We dodged some ferries and other shipping traffic but other than a visit from the dolphins the next morning the rest of the passage was uneventful.
We spent Tuesday night anchored off Nabouwalu Jetty. Poor anchorage due to the swells wrapping in and rolling us around all night. But the holding was excellent and I was able to go ashore in the morning to take care of some business for our property. Later that afternoon we sailed to Bua Bay and finally escaped the swells. We love the protection this bay affords and we had an excellent nights sleep. Yesterday was spent on boat chores like making water, changing the heat exchanger zinc, and organizing the boat.
Today we have been scrutinizing the forecast which is calling for the tropical depression (17F) to pass through Fiji in the next 36 hours. It has a moderate chance of becoming a cyclone but the current forecasts are calling for winds out of the NW then WNW up to 40 knots. Given the forecast we debated running for Savusavu but it was upwind and guaranteed a tough bash which we could not accomplish in daylight. We considered going up the river here but with only 6″ under our keel at high tide we though it was >50% chance of us running aground and getting stuck. Since our friends were tied up and couldn’t assist with their long boat we took the third option. We headed for the N side of the bay, found a big flat sand/mud patch in 12 feet of water, put out 150 feet of chain shackled to two anchors in tandem and a huge snubber. If the forecast doesn’t change substantially we will ride out the passing low here with minimal issue. Right now it’s a lee shore in the SE wind but the wind should start backing around to the E then NE tonight and come from the N then NW tomorrow. We are expecting heavy rain and lightning. Once again we prepare for battle with Mother Nature; hope she is nice to us again!
Wish us luck for what is hopefully the last potential cyclone of the season. We’ll let you know how we fare.
16 48.58 S, 178 33.42 E