Bula. Hello and greetings from Savusavu, Fiji. After 1171 nautical miles, we have safely docked into the Copra Shed Marina on Wednesday, June 22. It took nine days almost to the hour to make the passage.
Let's start with the good news. It was fast. We made some record breaking (for Astarte) sailing days. We passage plan for 110 mile days and we exceeded that every single day hitting a high day (actually two) of 138. We sailed all of it except 14 hours (and that was mostly into and out of the marinas), Guess that made up for all the fuel we used on the first attempt to leave New Zealand and having to motor almost the entire way back. The new roller furler got a good workout and it worked great. Nobody got hurt. We are still married and talking to each other. Astarte sailed magnificently. Carl (the engine) when called upon for his short duty, did it well and the star was "Nigel" the autopilot who never gave up even for a tea break. There were moments of truly great sailing when the seas flattened out just a bit and the winds stayed a consistent speed. Astarte would just find her groove and sail fast and comfortably. Michael's newly designed and built rain/wave curtain was a game changer. It made the passage much more comfortable not getting hit with those rogue waves or the sudden rain shower. Plus it kept the wind noise and cool air from the cockpit making the ride more comfortable. The weather was cold to start but with every degree of latitude towards the equator – the breezes got warmer, the water temp got warmer and we started to shed layers of clothing and get more comfortable as well.
The bad news – (and if you don't want to hear us whine stop reading here). The bad news was that it was a very boisterous and rambunctious voyage. Between very inconsistent wind speeds and really large swells from various directions...it was to say the least, an uncomfortable voyage. In the cockpit, it was bearable, but trying to sleep or move about the cabin was near impossible. Getting tossed out of bed was as normal as staying in it. Making a meal or cup of tea was tricky – so we just didn't eat much (good for the Astarte weight loss program). The winds would go from 12 knots to 28 knots in a blink – no indication it was about to happen – it would just happen. Then it would drop down to next to nothing in the same manner – sailing along gloriously and then flogging sails. We reefed and unfurled sails constantly. We'd try various combinations to find the best way to settle the boat's erratic movements, But we kept knocking off the miles...sometimes not gracefuly.
No fish were caught – other than a few flying fish that landed on the deck. But that was probably because a line never hit the water the entire trip. It was simply too rough to even think about landing or cleaning a fish. Not much sea life was even seen. A fair amount of sea birds – a few types of petrels, albatross and sulas (ganetts).
Now we are back in the charming town of Savusavu. We got in around 12:15 and were cleared in with health, biosecurity and customs by 3:30. They were charming and helpful and very friendly. So we parted with some Fiji dollars and got some much needed showers. Tonight, pizza and beer out and early to bed...don't know if we can sleep with the boat so still.
Another passage completed. Thanks to all who sent us good vibes, messages and wishes. And special thanks to the boats on the adhoc "boomerang" net GypseaHeart, Cavallo, Whistler and Peregrine. Also a giant thanks to the "David and Patricia daily weather program" - from before we made the call to depart (twice) to the finish, they provided us with excellent advice and the YIT site to keep track of our whereabouts. And a final thanks to the "hams" on the Tony's Maritime Net for keeping watch as well.
Now time to enjoy Fiji.
At 6/21/2016 7:01 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°03.11'S 179°28.75'E
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