Thursday, 18 June. 09.00hrs, Sophia had left and we up anchored to tackle the route through the reefs NW of Bavatu Bay. We had Anthony on the bow and the Ship's Boy mid station to relay, while Skipper had his finger on the iPad, the cockpit Garmin chart display still being a non runner, with another display showing Peregrine's route on the computer and with the Skipper's wife keeping the boat on as straight a course as possible. As we approached the Bay of Island anchorage, we all agreed we should do the right thing and follow Sophia to Daliconi to report to head of the village who owned the area. This meant a 6 mile motor South and then back again, but it was worth it for the scenery and the ceremony. We were met on the beach by a charming man who put on a Fijian skirt in honour of the occasion and escorted us to meet the son of the village chief, who was standing in for his father who was in Suva. We sat around on a large woven mat and exchanged gifts of Kava for permission to anchor in the Bay and make free use of the area. As we only had powdered Kava from Tonga, we were relieved to find it a very acceptable gift, Tonga Kava being apparently strong! Protocol completed and with some additional gifts of rice and tins from both boats, we left the village and it's beautiful views and motored back to the Bay of Islands, which was somewhat crowded. Wishanger, PF, Take Off, Aliena, Blue Summit and Belafonte in one area and the German speakers, Toujours Belle, Ain't Fancy and Chilli Bee in another. We ended up anchored with a stern line to an island, Mediterranean style after Take Off very kindly marked a large rock pretty much in the middle of the anchoring area with her dinghy. This rock was not on any of the charts and it was substantial, so thank you Take Off!
After an afternoon of siesta and snorkelling and goodbye to Wishanger, PF and Take Off, we had cocktails with Blue Summit and an early night. Friday was a proper explore in the morning in the beautifully calm waters and round the fascinating rock formations and lovely coral "bombies" followed by siesta, by which time, Aliena and Alcedo were the only 2 boats in the bay. After a look at the latest GRIB file, which showed less wind in the morning, we decided a 70nm day sail was probably not the correct thing to go for, so a rather hurried departure at about 3.30 meant we were on our way shortly after Aliena at about 3.45. To our surprise, Aliena did not leave but seemed to be about to anchor again the other side of the infamous rock, while we made as good a time possible retracing our tracks in order to negotiate the Qilaqila pass before the setting sun made navigation through the the reef too exciting. With Anthony on the bow, Ship's Boy on the leading lines and Skipper on the iPad, we were through the pass without drama and on the radio to tell Aliena the leading lines were good. She then followed our track in the fading light and set off on a more southerly course for Suva while we set sails and a course for Viani Bay, Vanua Levu.
Sent from my iPad