Day 3 - Noon 18 45.06S 179 42.71E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 13 May 2012 03:21
Crossed the 180 degree line again during the night and are back in the eastern hemisphere, so our easterly longitude will now decrease as we go further west. Had a good run over the last 24 hours making 149 sea miles. The forecast of light winds was not the most accurate we've had - we've been getting 20-25 kts most of the day and we're back under triple reefed main and a tiny amount of genoa, making around 6kts. The sea is also very lumpy again and twists and rolls us every few minutes, so not the most comfortable ride. We don't want to go any faster as with 122 miles to go, we don't want to arrive until tomorrow morning. Arriving after dark is not recommended around these islands and the authorities (Immigration, Customs etc.) charge a hefty overtime rate if you arrive outside their normal working hours (8am to 4pm). What with ensuring we got to Minerva Reef in daylight,arriving/clearing in and going through the islands today, we seem to have spent quite a lot of time during this trip trying to slow down! We arrived at the outer islands at first light this morning. Fiji has hundreds of small islands around the two main ones, so we have to work our way through these and across the Koro Sea. You are not allowed to stop at any island until cleared in with the Authorities. If you do and they find out, it's a huge fine, so not worth the risk. We are also told that every habited island has a paid watcher to report on any boats stopping. The more boats they report the more they get paid! For weather forecasting at sea we use Grib files and they have been pretty good, but generally underestimate wind strengths by 10 or so knots. We've also been using the weatherfax that we have on board. It's real ancient technology, but still works well and we've been getting excellent faxes from New Zealand showing the synopsis (pressure/isobar charts) for the south west Pacific. Matching those with the Grib files (that show wind direction and speed) gives a reasonably good picture of what to expect.

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