Day 82, Year 2: Passage Across Bligh Waters to North Coast of Viti Levu
Date: Sunday, July 15, 2007
Weather: Partly Sunny Morning; Mostly Overcast Afternoon
Latitude: 17 degrees 25.29 minutes
Longitude: 177 degrees 44.857 minutes
Location: Bay Just South of Vatia Wharf, Viti Levu

It was up early this morning and out of Cukuvou Harbor. The captain decided that it looked like a good day for our passage back to viti Levu, so off we went. Steve was in the chain locker, Mark was on the deck bring up the anchor, and I was at the helm. Just before Mark went forward to bring up the anchor, he asked me if I wanted my camera. I always do, so I answered in the affirmative. He went down to the main salon to get it but came back and said he couldn’t find it. I said that was fine
and that I would just use his new one. We continued with bringing up the anchor, and as soon as it was up, I decided to do down below and get my camera. I couldn’t find it, either. This is all happening while we are trying to get out of the reef safely, and things got a little tense. Where could the camera be? We started brainstorming. Steve had worn my backpack with the camera inside to the village yesterday. All of us thought we had seen the backpack in the cockpit after we returned, but
this morning that backpack was nowhere to be found. We couldn’t imagine how someone could have stolen it from the cockpit with so many boats around, and then Steve wondered if he had left it on the beach when he was taking off his shoes to get into the dinghy. We called friends back in the anchorage, and Joe and Cindy on Maggie Drum said they would go to shore to look after they finished breakfast. By this time, I am totally catatonic. It was not only my camera that was missing, but all of my
memory cards and batteries. I have a back-up camera, but stupidly have only a small memory chip in that one. After what seemed an eternity, Joe called on the radio and said that they found the backpack on the beach. I know Steve felt terrible about leaving it there, but when you are not used to traveling with a backpack, it is very easy to leave one. We have trained ourselves to always have the pack on our backs, but it took weeks of training to get ourselves at the point of awareness. I was
just so very, very relieved to know that it was found. It will be a week or so before anyone catches up with us to return it to us, and in the meantime, we will have to rely on Mark’s new camera and my back-up with the 250MB memory card. I won’t be doing any videos, but I can still be taking pictures. A special thanks to all our friends back in Cukuvou Harbor for searching for and finding the backpack.

As we motored out of the reef, we saw Safina coming our way. We thought they were coming to Cukuvou Harbor, but then they just kept going. We got into radio contact with them and found that they were headed in our direction. Jean-Pierre said that he was going to Manava Passage. That was a great deal further west than we had planned to go, and after looking at the charts, Mark decided to go on as planned. Later in the morning, I had a chance to review the charts, and I talked with Mark wondering
why we weren’t going to go in the same pass as Jean-Pierre. It was miles closer to our destination, and I found some information in cruising guide saying that it is an easy pass to the inside of Viti Levu. After some thought and discussion, Mark decided to head that way. The winds were blowing 20-25, sometimes up to 30 knots from the East, and our turn to the more westerly harbor put the wind more behind us. That actually made for a more pleasant ride. It was a very nice passage the entire day
and at about 3:30 PM we started our trek into the reef surrounding Viti Levu. Reef passages are always tense, but I must say this one was easier than most. The Mavana Pass is wide and there are marks all along the port side. We passed the cutest little sandy island with a couple of palm trees and some short of shelter. It looked like the perfect South Pacific get-a-way. This was on the Sali Sali reef. Once inside the passage, we made a turn to starboard and found our way on the inside passage
to the bay just south of the Vatia Wharf. Safina was already there, so it was an easy find.

We have spent our evening wondering what percentage of American women wear lipstick and what percentage have tattoes. Why this has been the topic of conversation is beyond all of us, but the amount of disaggrement on these topics is amazing. Tomorrow we will arrive in Lautoka, a city with internet, and we might just have to spend some time online figuring out the answers to our questions. By Wednesday, we should be well on our way north to the Yasawas–land of long white beaches and great snorkeling.
We are looking forward to our trek through these beautiful islands.

Got an email from our daughter Heather last night and she reported that grand baby Sam is now starting to pull himself up into a standing position. She ended her email with “That’s the news from Cape Cod, where all the women are brilliant, all
the men are athletic, and the babies are just to-die-for!” Just had to share that.

070715 Day 82 Viti Levu, Fiji–Yadua to Vatia on North Coast of Viti Levu