Sunday 18th November 2012 - En Route for NZ

Jon & Carol Dutton
Sun 18 Nov 2012 00:26

23:20.14S 176:23.50E

Sunday 18th November – En Route for New Zealand

Clearing out of Suva on Thursday afternoon wasn’t quite as straightforward as we’d anticipated but it was do-able.  Customs are accommodated in the guts of the commercial port and to get to them you have to get through the security man at the main gate and all that.  Then he’ll probably have to take you to the office because you won’t find it otherwise – buried as it is amongst a plethora of other buildings and completely unsigned.  There is a co-located immigration office.

The first minor issue was that whilst customs are happy to clear you out up to 24 hours before your departure, immigration normally require you to clear out within 3 hours of departure.  As most will probably appreciate, 3 hours before departure on a 1,000+ NM journey, through what can be tricky conditions, by a couple on a yacht currently at anchor is the start of a pretty busy time.  Bunking off in the dinghy and getting a taxi to immigration doesn’t figure highly on the list of last-minute priorities.  So, the only solution is to explain that you plan to leave at 0700 the next morning – an hour before the immigration office opens.  Because, naturally, the weather gods decree that that must be so.  Of course, in the event, our plans didn’t quite work out that way but we did up anchor at around 1400 having collected laundry, paid the Royal Suva Yacht Club, given the rest of our gift-wrapped kava away, got the dinghy and outboard on board and stowed them (we may need the inner forestay if life gets tricky so that we can set either the staysail or the storm jib.  So, the dinghy can’t be lashed down to the foredeck.  It has to be deflated and go below), reefed the bimini, removed the sail cover, scrubbed the waterline, got the latest weather reports and so on.  Once we’d weighed anchor we tooled about a bit in harbour under engine whilst we got the FBA down below and lashed in stowage.  70lbs of galvanised steel is not a useful thing to have weighing your stem down if you are likely to have to punch through swell.  Then the anchor locker was locked up solid and the chain was sent home to skulk in its chain locker.

It is now a little after 1300 on 18th Nov We’ve now been at sea for almost  two days.  We’re doing well so far – the wind is from the east and about Force 5 (it’s largely 15– 20 knots).  We’re heading pretty well south and are making anywhere between 7 and 8 knots - initially under full yankee and 2 reefs in the mainsail but at daybreak today we shook out the reefs.  There is a bit of swell but, frankly, this is Arnamentia’s kinda weather.  We expect to encounter much lighter winds in a bit (dreary motoring perhaps) before we push through a trough and pick up NE winds following it.

So, currently around 335NM down – about 720NM to go to the Bay of Islands and Opua.  All well aboard.