Day 37, Year 2: Finally at Anchor in Vaga Bay, Beqa
Date: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Weather: Ugly Rain and Wind Causing Low Visibility
Location: Vaga Bay, Beqa Island, Fiji
Latitute: 18 degrees, 24.33 minutes South
Longitude: 178 degrees, 06.18 minutes East

Just how many times can a grandmother get the greatest thrill of her day by just turning on her computer and seeing her grandson on her screensaver? I know the answer to that and it is endless times. I just turned on my computer and there was Sam and his mommy on my screen. I’ve seen this picture countless times, but the thrill does not lessen. Sam (and Sam’s mommy and daddy), we love you!

Right now we are at anchor in Vaga (“Vanga”) Bay on the southwest side of Beqa (“Mbengga”) Island. We left Suva around 10 AM, but the weather deteriorted the further away from Suva we traveled. Our passage here was okay, but it was a rock and roll trip. The 20 to 25 knots winds were behind, which was a good thing as the gusts were 30 to 35 all day. But the seas were coming at us sideways and they were a good 2-3 meters. So we rolled a bit, but we also made good time, averaging about 6.6 knots.

As we approached Beqa around 1530, all of a sudden we were socked in with rain and clouds. The island was there and then it would disappear. Like most of Fiji’s islands, Beqa has an outer reef, reefs in the middle, and an inner reef just next to shore. This is when electronic charts are really helpful. Being able to watch us on the computer screen as we entered the bay was very helpful. But unfortunately, the charting software can’t help you anchor. We headed in and all of a sudden we were
getting depth readings of 10 meters, 9 meters, 8 meters, 7 meters, 6 meters, 5 meters, 4 meters, 3 meters. And it happened instantaneously. I signaled to Mark on the foredeck to set the anchor. He did, but it didn’t catch. We could hear it scraping against coral. So we tried to raise the anchor to try again. But it wouldn’t budge. I tried driving forward on it, but no movement. I really gunned the engine. Still nothing. We must have worked for over an hour and finally we are able to break
loose from whatever was holding us. We inched our way forward and the depths got immediately deeper. We must have been on some sort of shelf. We kept inching our way forward trying to stay in the center of the two arms of the inner reef that reach out into the bay. We anchored a second time. Even though we felt like we were caught, we kept hearing scraping sounds. We had plenty of depth, but something was just not right. And we were being blown right down on one of the arms of that inner reef.
So we tried again. By this time it was pouring rain, the torrential type, and it was nearing 5:30 and sundown. Three times must be charm, as we feel that we are safely anchored for the night. But both of us are a little ill at ease because of the wind direction and ferocity of some of the gusts that come blowing down off the island mountains. I think it will be a restless night, but so far, so good. We set the GPS to retrace our sail in here today. If we should break loose during the night,
we will just head back toward Suva. Again, this is where electronic charting and GPS mapping are wonderful. You can watch yourself retrace your steps and know that you will be safe because you were there before.

We are missing the safety of our anchorage in Suva and our friends there. The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) that is hanging over us is really making it uncomfortable out here. I’m hoping for better weather tomorrow or at least by Saturday. If the anchor holds overnight, then I will be a happy cruiser. Tomorrow we will visit the village of Naiseuseu that we can see from where we are anchored and present our sevusevu (gift of yaqona or kava) to the turagi ni koro or village chief. Once
we have met the villagers, maybe we will feel more comfortable here. Of course, better weather would certainly help!

As we send this we are both feeling more comfortable with the set of the anchor. We are staying put even when we get strong gusts off the mountains. so maybe this will be a peaceful night.

070531 Day 37 Beqa Island, Fiji– Arrival in Vaga Bay