Day 101, Year 2: Flying Out of Fiji
Date and Time: Friday, August 3, 2007; 1820 Fiji Time
Weather: Clear Skies; Very Windy, SE 28-33 knots
Latitude: S 17 degrees 55.758 minutes
Longitude: E 176 degrees 54.980 minutes
Location: Passage from Lautoka, Fiji to Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

The rule is to never, ever start a passage on a Friday, but we defied that little bit of knowledge and started our passage to Vanuatu today. And contrary to the GRIB files and New Zealand Metvue reports, the winds out here are NOT 15-20. They are 28 to 33 with occasional gusts to 40. Where did this come from? The seas are rough–a very large swell coming in on the beam. We are going WSW and the seas are coming from the S. The wind is from the SE and just a little behind the beam. All of this
means we are rockin’ and rollin’ our way to Vanuatu, traveling at a speed of 6.8-8 knots. That is the equivalent of flying for Windbird. It is just after sunset and Ranger is out in front of us. There is not a cloud in the evening sky. It is a dusky red-range sunset and I see the evening star in the sky just above the spot the where the sun went down about an hour ago. The only other light I can see in the red-orange sky is the light atop Ranger. It is beautiful out here, but certainly rougher
than we expected. Once again, I can’t sing the praises of a cockpit enclosure enough. We are sitting in the cockpit and we are dry even though a wave every few minutes hits the side of the plastic enclosure. When we talked to Marie just before sunset, she said she was down below attempting to cook and Paul was in the cockpit getting wet. Sailing in rough waters is really no fun, but doing it while you are soaking wet is no one’s idea of fun.

While I’m writing the log, Mark is below heating up a spaghetti dinner. I cooked the sauce and the noodles yesterday, so all we have to do is heat them up. I had envisioned a leisurely dinner with salad and wine, but those additions will not be happening. This is definitely a one-dish night.

I’ll backtrack just a bit to this morning. Bob and Dianna of White Swan, Joe and Cindy of Maggie Drum, Paul and Marie of Ranger, and Mark and I all went in to the Custom’s Office to check out at 8 AM. We all needed to go into town to buy things before leaving, so the first thing we had to do was get the official form that would let us out of the commercial wharf complex. We did that and walked to town. The only stop for Ranger and for us was at the liquor store to buy beer and soda. While there,
we decided that we would go back to the boats and leave as soon as we got everything secured. White Swan and Maggie Drum decided to go further into town and leave tomorrow. Marie and I loaded the dinghies while Mark and Paul checked out. Just before noon, we were on our way. There was almost no wind close to the islands, so Mark and I took showers while the conditions were calm knowing that it could be a day or so before we might get the chance again. I used the shower water to do a laundry
which I had to finish once we were outside the reef–not smart, but it is done. It wasn’t until we went through the outer reef that the winds hit us and things got rough. We talked to Maggie Drum and White Swan and warned them of the unexpected rough conditions. They will check carefully and not leave tomorrow morning if it is still like this.

It’s time for dinner and time for me to go to bed. Night watches begin at 7 PM. I have many thoughts that I want to share about our wonderful three months in Fiji, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

070803 Day 101 Viti Levu, Fiji–Check-out and Off to Vanuatu