Beqa Island to Likuri Island
Pos 18:23.16S 178:05.91E
20130716 Tuesday Cont..
After lunch yesterday we set off to the RFD workshop, glass bottles in hand. Once there the foreman ushers us into the workshop. There were two large 24man life raft fully inflated being serviced which included replacing the food and water kits they carry. We were offered some that had been replaced but were still in date for at a cut rate but we declined!
Our jars filled with the precious liquids, must be precious as it cost $45 for them, we returned to the club and after a well deserved beer, to the boat.
That evening we dined at the Club restaurant joining the usual crowd at bar afterwards. Peter the Dane was there and presented us with his home made pate we had ordered from him. We purchase a bag of ice from the bar and pay our bill and we’re off home.
The morning sunshine streams into my cabin and when I rise and look out I’m presented with the view of a bright multi coloured rainbow in the distance. This does not bode well methinks though once on deck I see that the rain is confined to the land and a large blue patch opens above us.
Breakfast over; the dinghy is hauled up into its davits as we make preparations to set sail for Bequ Island. (Pronounced “Mbengga”, and you though Welsh was an odd language) The anchor is raised complete with a large, sticky, grey smelly lump of harbour bottom which required some attention with boat hook and deck wash hose to remove it.
We join the shipping including a Chinese fishing boat coming in and out of the harbour and as we clear the reef, pick up a strong easterly with a parallel large swell that puts us on beam reach to our destination.
The wind increases, with gust up to 40 knots sending us speeding along at 10-11 knots. There is some impressive heeling as we take the 3 metre swell side on. The autopilot was having a hard time and dropping out at the most inconvenient moments, so in the end Lars took over the helm.
Going through the reef at Suva
On the charts “Sulphur Passage” through the reef looks miniscule at some hundred metres wide, but for once they all agree and we are able to see the waves breaking on either side as we approach and shoot through, like a rat up a drain pipe!
Once inside the sea flattened, though will still have the wind and the search for the “Never there” reef markers begins. Setting course for a nice long creek which should provide good shelter we head for it to drop the Main and look for an anchorage.
It’s not to be, as the wind is screaming over the top of the hills and funnelling with just as much force down the valley as outside. A swift jibe and were back out again, rounding the one Mark we did find that indicates a long reef running from one side of the entrance. Eventually, working our way through the reefs we arrive at and anchor off a small village half way down the west coast, where Lars and I had stopped on our first run out from Suva.
We had “woollies”, catabatic winds, the first time we stopped here but nothing like we were experiencing now. Gusting from 0 to 40 knots in as many seconds, the winds formed small cyclones some 100 metres across which spun the yacht through 360 degrees on her anchor chain.
The village at Beqa our track at anchor
Then a particularly impressive mini, some 10 metres wide, rode down our side whipping the seas into circular frenzy and sucking spray into its rotating column. The show continued all night long to the accompaniment of our graunching anchor chain as it’s was tugged and twisted along the seabed. It feels a bit like we’re in a “temporal anomaly” from Star trek and about to disappear into some “Time warping” worm hole “
Enough is enough we decided, heading for the nearby small island of Yanuca some 5nm downwind to the west. Skirting around its bottom we turn up the west coast. Then we decide that as we have good following wind we might as continue on to Likuri Island’s Robinson Crusoe resort, which although it’s 50nm away, in this wind we should make it before sunset,
In a following sea we’re making 9 knots on a 25 knot easterly just off our stern with just the nr2 Genoa out. Though its overcast the Sun is valiantly trying to break through and it’s pleasantly warm at 27C, we’re in our usual rig of swimming shorts.
The Autopilot’s taking the strain now we’re through the reefs and as we still have a good signal everybody’s emailing or on the web, except me, I have troubled with my 3G stick and I’m blogging anyhow. As we gently roll along, Rod Stewart’s singing, its beer o’clock and all is well with our little world.
The wind is dropping and we need to keep our speed up so we make the decision to run out the Nr1 Genoa and Goosewing the two head sails. The spinnaker pole is put up and the lazy sheet from Nr2 attached as we wish to put the Nr1 on the port side. During the operation to jib the Nr2 there is a nasty crack and the pole separates from the mast and ends up in the water, held on by the lazy sheet.
Broken spinnaker boom
After hastily retrieving the carbon fibre appendage the damage is assessed and having easily separated it’s component parts (It wouldn’t happen with 10 year old aluminium) it looks like the bolts have sheared their mounts. Fortunately we have the technology though not necessarily the right bolts, so repairs will have to await our return to Port Denarau and a visit to the Chandlery.
Lunch and we carry on regardless, the wind having now returned. As we run down the coastline outside the fringing reef of Viti Levu, the island seems be on fire with great palls of smoke blowing over the land. It’s the sugar cane cutting season and we can only assume it the smoke from the field fires they set before harvesting the cane.
Cane burning Sunset
Bob the Blog