Heading West - Makogai Island 17 26.527S 178 57.102E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 18 Jul 2012 10:18
Having arrived in Savusavu last Monday, provisioning and refueling was completed by Friday. So it was then the 3 miles or so back to anchor off the Cousteau Resort to wait for suitable weather to head to the western side of Fiji. They were originally forecasting the winds to ease on Sunday, but the winds weren't listening and continued strong. Monday or Tuesday looked even better, and as we now had another reason to stay somewhere with good Internet access it was an easy decision to stay longer, as did all of the other boats waiting in Savusavu to leave. The weather in this part of the Pacific is definitely not as settled as in other parts of the tropics where generally good days are the norm and you only get the odd bad day. Here you have to pick your weather windows quite carefully and when one comes along that allows you to go where you want to go, you have to use it or be prepared to wait days, if not weeks, for another to come along. It makes planning quite difficult. Our other reason for staying was to sort out the insurance renewal for Aurora B. It should have been very quick, but on closer inspection we found the insurance company had inserted a new clause that reduced the level of cover they were providing below what we considered adequate. After several calls and emails, the company agreed to amend the clause, but by that time we had had a quote from another company. It was a lot more expensive, but it did appear to provide much better cover. So lots of reading of policies and calls and emails with the companies concerned. Good communication was essential for this and with the current policy running out in a few days time, a decision had to be made before we left. And it was, at midnight last night! As this process has involved discussions with the UK, we've been up very late for the last 3 nights - around 2am! Not something we wanted to do.

So with only a few hours sleep it was an early start this morning to make the most of the good weather window forecast and sail the first leg of the passage west, 50 miles to Makogai. It's a small island between the 2 main Fijian islands and used to be a Leper Colony, but is now an agricultural research station and, we are told, they also run a giant clam development programme. We hope to find out tomorrow; having arrived at 17.00 today we have yet to go ashore. There are no communications signals here - no telephone or Internet access, so this will be sent via the SSB (or Sat phone if short-wave propagation is poor), which means no pictures. The passage here was mixed - the ESE winds being forecast turned out to be SE or further S, and stronger than forecast, so for the first 20 miles or so we were hard on the wind to avoid the island of Namena and the reefs surrounding it. After that we could bear away and ease the sheets,making 7kts with 2 reefs in the main and a well rolled genoa. That was good sailing, but the day was overcast and the sea shades of black and grey, apart from the white horses that looked quite menacing at times, so plenty of room for improvement! As I write this it's now pouring down, heavy tropical rain, and that wasn't forecast!

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