To Fulanga Island
Anchor up at eight we waved a fond ‘farewell’ to our cul-de-sac in Batavu Harbour and set off for the overnight passage to Fulanga Island some one hundred and forty miles away, a pass to challenge us at three in the afternoon on the inbound tide.
A bird stood sentry on the reef marker.
Bear lined up the leading marks which would take us out to deep water while I set up the lure line to troll behind us. Main soon up and we settled on a good wind. The original plan had been to head for Bird Rock and anchor for a couple of hours to take some sea bird pictures but the left turn would see us beating into wind so sadly the idea had to be scrapped.
To our left was the outer reef of Mbulva to our right, the outer reef of the next island, we must have been in a fish highway as Scott-Free radioed to say they had heard their reel scream but a cunning chap had got away, we had the same just a few minutes later – then – a beautiful mahi-mahi. Her colour was simple stunning, sadly, as soon as you land them their colour fades in seconds. She was given her mouth and gill-full of gin and soon slipped into the land of peace. Bear posed and I had a good look at her tiny, sharp teeth.
Within a few minutes our catch was in her ‘handbag’ bucket for me to get her downstairs to be dealt with. Sadly, Beez was leaning hard to the right, hardest for me to get close to the sink, but after half an hour there was a tail end for a curry, a midriff for a supper in the freezer, supper when we get in - with roe for Bear and a supper or two for Scott-Free.
The afternoon sky was quite benign and led into a pretty sunset.
As Bear laid down for a rest he was heard to mutter try and miss Maafu Rock. This rock is interesting - other than the fact I was heading directly for him, he only shows up by name on a big scale map, once you reduce to forty eight miles or lower he loses his name and becomes a small dotted circle. Being curious I honed in on him, he is actually eight metres below the surface and is therefore only a problem to big ships or I guess if the swell is big enough for him to show his face, very doubtful though. I did in fact skirt slightly to his left, just because I could......... Mmmm, did I just hear an insubordinate tone. No captain, of course not captain, go back to sleep captain......... Grrrr.
Meanwhile, to the gentle sounds of the skippers snores, I enjoyed the rest of the sunset.
I never tire of watching the changing colours, soon over and darkness falls.
I handed over at ten, half way there, Fulanga showing in the bottom right of the chart plotter. Bed was an interesting venture. Normally when we lean slightly right, I can Fosbury Flop; two revolutions gets me perfectly placed on Bear’s side of the bed – his pillows on their side becoming a soft backdrop to rest against. Leaning as hard right as we were, I lifted my leg and a second later was pinned to the wall, pillows squadged hard and me fighting to inch away as my hoodie was threatening to stop me taking my next breath. The noise of the waves made for little peace. It took me fifteen minutes to extract myself into an upright position and I bleary-eyed reported half an hour early for my two o’clock shift warning the skipper he would be better off and safer sleeping in his nest in the cockpit. This he did and I was pleased to be listening to a good audiobook that once I was into the story helped mask my now snoring leader. A fast ride at six point eight knots in gusts of twenty eight winds.
I did get a decent sleep from six until ten and rose to see Fulanga on the horizon.
We had to dawdle at this point as we needed to enter the pass at three in the afternoon. Just as well we were in no hurry as the chart plotter decided to throw a hissy fit and lose position, bleeps and warnings threw themselves about in gay abandon and the depth monitor disappeared altogether. I went below and switched everything off and on a couple of times to no avail. Nothing for it but to make a cold start hoping the instruments would find or re-find the satellites necessary. Good to have Scott-Free nearby. We radioed to say we had a position fix but at this moment in time still no depth. They kindly offered to lead the way. A few circles, sails down and we were ready to follow.
We tucked up tight behind Scott-Free and just as we neared the pass – well colour me happy, the depth went immediately from forty one to eight metres, we had depth once again. To our left and to our right the fifty five metre wide pass let us through on a gentle ingoing wave.
The next wave seen breaking over the reef – now behind us.
Once inside the pass we kept straight in five metres of water below us, away to our left we could make out the Sand Spit, another anchorage.
Next came the big rock we had to keep close to our left. Scott-Free looks very handsome as she passes by.
A few more rocks to pass.
Then out into the deeper lagoon, us ladies acting as figureheads to guide our men around the odd coral head or two.
Amazing scenery as we headed to the anchorage.
Limestone rocks of all shapes and sizes.
The anchorage ahead.
We settled in front of a big rock, four feet of water below us in the easy-to-dig-in-sandy-bottom. Our view to the front.
We tucked into our mahi-mahi supper, Bear relishing his roe – don’t they look like mad sausages and early to bed. Sevusevu on the morrow.
ALL IN ALL A FAST AND ENJOYABLE TRIP
A GREAT SAIL