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Monday, May 10, 2010

May 11, 2010 - Final Approach and Arrival at SavuSavu, Fiji

May 9th, as we neared Koro Island, the wind dropped considerably and our boat slowed to between 1.5 - 3 knots. Our hopes of arriving before nightfall had been dashed, however we had received the good news that if we arrived after 6 PM on Sunday we would not be charged overtime fees. Rather than spend another night out we decided to carry on. It literally took hours for us to inch forward a mere 8 miles (if you don't sail this doesn't make much sense, but sailing for wind does not happen in a straight line. You may go 15 miles to move ahead 5). We saw another yacht several miles away and while we were wondering who that could be, Bill from Ivory Quays hailed us to say that he and Val were going to slow down so that they could guide us into SavuSavu Bay. Mystery solved. They were about 10 miles ahead, which in these conditions was a big time sacrifice for them although they did not see it this way. Good friends, those two! We still had at least 20 miles to go before reaching the lighthouse at Lesiaceva Point. This point guards the entrance to SavuSavu Bay and is encased by a large coral reef that extends 150 meters from shore.
So because the seas were flat clam and I do not idle well during times like these I baked a loaf of bread, solved several su doku puzzles and vacuumed the entire boat. Frank had to break away from the helm or lose his mind, so he tidied up with me. Progress was slow but steady until dark when we really did lose our wind and became a floating bob. By now it was black as pitch outside giving us a feeling we were in a dark tunnel with pinholes in the ceiling. It is an eerie feeling when you know there is land and coral out there but you can't see it. We finally began to make out a few distant lights dotting the shoreline. Frank had long since overlaid the chart with the radar and marked IQ on "Marpa" so that the instruments could guide us along. This is a good thing because some of those dots along the shore began moving. They were boats. A few of them were getting closer and were showing up as large "blobs" on the radar heading directly toward us. We turned on all of the foredeck lights so that incase their radar guy was snoozing at least someone would get a visual on us. One of these vessels looked like a moving city as it approached IQ just ahead of us. They were not monitoring VHF channel 16, so Bill began scanning and hailing them. He finally hit pay dirt when one of them responded that they were overnight vessel-carrying ferries and that yes, we were in their path. Bill put out a "securitie" to all stations alerting traffic in the area of our situation (that one of us has no power). Thankfully, they diverted and gave us the right-of-way. Eventually we were able to see the flashing light on the point so we gave it a very wide berth. By now it was getting quite late and we still had at least 5 miles to go in a very hazard-ridden area. Frank alerted Bill that we were going to try the engine and if it didn't give us the ungodly clang/knock, then we would carry on at just under 4.5 knots. We just couldn't risk drifting with no wind through this pass. If you feel worn out reading this and wish we would get on with it - imagine how we felt.
Every now and then the clanging and knocking would begin. Frank would ease off the throttle until it would taper off and then rev back up. By now it was 10:30 PM, over 10 hours since we had reached Koro island just 30 miles away. We were getting pretty tired - this straining to see and to be on guard and the adrenaline it pumps through a body takes its toll after a while. Our eyes were getting jumpy too. We finally negotiated our way into the bay when Bill called to tell us that we should be aware of two large unmarked and unlit shipping barrels that will be floating somewhere in our path as we enter the channel. Oh joy!
God Bless Ivory Quays! They slowed and began to align their boat so that they could give us a direct line to follow them into the channel. Thank goodness their mast light shone a line for us across the becalmed water of the bay. Although I was up on the bow by this time I couldn't see a blasted thing, I tried shining our 3-million candlepower torchlight into the water, scanning for obstacles but all I could only see about 5 feet out while it was deflecting too much light back into our eyes, nearly blinding us (the water was so calm it acted as a mirror). We passed one of the barrels just about 6 feet to starboard. The son of a gun was all but invisible until a small light from shore illuminated it for the few seconds during which I had happened to scan in that direction. Phew! We never saw the other barrel; therefore we surmised that we passed it unseen somewhere along the way. God was still large and in charge for sure.
We eventually navigated through the channel and into Nakama Creek in front of the commercial wharf at SavuSavu. After a few failed attempts at setting anchor because the depths here are erratic, dropping from 60 - several hundred feet in a heartbeat, we got well set. Bill and Val were so close we could hold a conversation. We thanked them profusely for a well done piloting effort and then settled in for a much needed rest.
May 10, 2010
The day began at around 8:30 a.m., when Dolly from The Copra Shed Marina hailed us on VHF 16. We laughed as we peeked out of the hatches to see that we had in fact anchored right on the fringes of the mooring field. Dolly informed us that Simon, the head of security, would be coming out to guide us to our mooring. She said once we got set, Simon would bring the Health and Customs officials out to clear us. We were cleared by 10:30. At around noon we dinghyed over to the Copra Shed to get acquainted with our new little home. We received our info packets and headed straight to the bar/café where we ordered some delicious curry lunches and settled in for the afternoon. We declared this a "do nothing day". After a short while, we disbanded to take naps and agreed to meet back at the Yacht Club for dinner.

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1 comment:

Judy and Bill aboard S/V BeBe said...

Thank God you had Ivory Quays to help you into that anchorage. It must have been nerve-wracking! Glad you made it safely and hope the part arrives on schedule. Positive thoughts are being sent your way for an easy repair.