Wind, What Wind? 16 48.546S 179 17.295E

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 8 Jul 2012 10:56
The forecasters had been promising wind for several days, but we saw nothing of it in Viani Bay. The original plan had been to leave for Savusavu on Saturday, but with no wind again, we hitched a ride on a catamaran going out to snorkel on the reef and spent most of the day out there, seeing some different corals, particularly the Cabbage Patch (pictures below). Today (Sunday) again no wind, but the forecast was for even stronger winds, so we decided to give it a go. Leaving in flat calm, the wind got up a bit as we left the Bay and our hopes were up, along with the sails, but once through the Somosomo Strait it dropped out again. Oh well, we'll just have to motor the 50 miles, we thought until we passed a yacht going in the opposite direction well reefed down and with the crew in wet weather gear. At the time our mainsail was full up and outer genoa fully out (over 1,000 sqft of sail), but not for long! The wind hit, a good 20-25kts just forward of the beam - we haven't reefed so quickly in a long time. With 2 reefs in the main and the inner (working) genoa rolled to the second reef point, Aurora B was steaming along at between 7.6 and 8.2kts. The sea got up quickly and was quite nasty for a while, but it settled down as we got further out. The sun came out and the wind shifted further aft, making it a lovely down-wind sail, albeit a bit rolly, all the way back to the anchorage off the Cousteau Resort, 3 miles or so from Savusavu. We've stopped here as it's well sheltered from the south easterly wind and easy to get into. It also looks like we hit gold when dropping the anchor - sand rather than coral! Just up from the resort is Split Rock, a good snorkelling location. We missed this on the outward passage, so tomorrow morning we'll see what it's like and then head back into Savusavu. 
Having headed back west we're now on the western side of the Dateline and expect to stay this side from now on. Although , traveling west to the western side of the line, it is measured east from Greenwich so our longitude is now east and not west. Sounds confusing, but it's not. We're at 179E and this will decrease as we head further west.
Jack at the helm of the catamaran. Jack is the local 'Head Man' in Viani Bay and guides visiting
boats to all the dive and snorkelling sites on the reefs surrounding the Bay. He's been doing it
for years and takes the helm, whether monohull or catamaran, big or small, positioning the boat
in just right spot (very important given the strong currents around this area). 
The reef containing the Cabbage Patch, with the island of Taveuni in the background.
And the Cabbage Patch itself. Looking down on it, with an obliging 6ft White Tip Reef Shark
coming in from the left to give some idea of size.
Some of the other corals we saw on the day.