Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Great 30 Mile Sail

We enjoyed multiple days in the bay we learned was called Drata by the locals. It is a well protected and not very populated spot. We stayed to the front of the bay but found out you can go quite a way into the inlet where you get even better protection.

We met Nesu and his son who were setting nets from their canoe. He told us that at one point their were ten boats in the small bay – that would be a bit crowded. He told us we could have come in much further. We were fine where we anchored though every afternoon a sea breeze (or wind) picked up and blew into the bay. One night we had some squalls that lasted quite awhile and blew a good 20 plus for several hours. The holding was good for us (another boat that came in did drag – but they didn't put out much chain). We were in 20 or so feet.

Nesu and his son came to the boat for a visit – they always say the kids want to see the boat – but we know it's the adults! They say its a "Once in a lifetime experience." Later in the day, he came back with two boats – his canoe and a kayak and his five kids and wife! They all wanted to see the boat and take pictures. The baby was only 6 months (look for the picture of Michael holding a baby – a "once in a lifetime" capture!) Good baby though, never cried or threw up which is what we usually get! They had a cell phone and were taking tons of pictures aboard. They posed in every area of the boat – galley, bathroom, chart table, etc. What they take pictures of is funny to us – things like the small LED push on light in the walk through or the galley foot water pump and a box of Weetbix (a dry cereal popular in the islands and NZ).

We left on Wednesday as there was some bad weather expected starting on Thursday. The visibility was great so we took advantage of going through the reefs in good light. There are some pretty narrow areas with S-turns. We put our head sail up as soon as we got out of the bay and sailed the entire way. It took less than 7 hours to make the trip and we started pretty slowly but picked up speed as the wind built through the day. Sailing inside the reef is sometimes pretty scary but it is also terrific with good light. The seas are flat calm in the protected water so it is very smooth and comfortable. The wind was directly behind us so every time we had to turn 10 or 20 degrees we had to jibe.

We arrived in a crowded Saweni Bay – a popular anchorage near Lautoka and Vuda Point Marina. People stage here prior to checking out of the country from one of these two spots. There was one big problem though when we came in...all the boats were facing out of the bay with a lee shore and it was blowing a good 15-20 knots kicking up a big fetch. You could surf on the waves crashing in the bay. It looked incredibly rough – but we had no other options at this point and would have to drop the anchor and hope the wind subsided soon which would then make the waves disappear as well. A few hours – yes hours – later that happened but it was pretty uncomfortable until we turned to shore. Nothing like getting seasick at anchor. We have this great 30 mile smooth sail to come to an anchorage and get beat up!

It settled for the night. The anchorage is quite large and there are about 20 boats here now. We watched a Canadian boat come in at dusk and hit the reef in front of us. It is deceiving if you haven't done your homework as there is a reef about 200 meters from shore but some boats find the cut in the reef and do go close to shore. So you see these boats anchored close to shore and think you'll join them. And then, BANG you hit this reef you can't see because by now it is too dark. Luckily they weren't going to fast and a nearby boat sounded a horn trying to warn them.

We know a few boats in here so it will be nice to have some social times with yachties. We do enjoy village time, but sometimes it is a bit of work. There is also internet here so we can get some planning done as well as paperwork for our return to NZ. We will start looking for a good weather window in mid-October – earlier than we would normally go. We usually luck out with better weather later in November.

We'll have to make a trip into Lautoka at some point (a bus runs by here) and pick up some provisions. The last run was Ovalau, several weeks ago and there is a "Hot Bread Kitchen" in Lautoka so Michael can get his meat pie! Vuda Marine is totally booked up – so we'll try to get on a list to get in there at some point to fuel up and get laundry done before passage (and a much needed cook's night out!).
At 9/25/2017 3:27 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°23.36'S 177°47.65'E

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