Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday 22/6/15

Luna Quest
W. Eric Faber
Mon 22 Jun 2015 04:46
Position: 17.46S 177.23E

Port Denarau Marina

Run from Suva: 134 mlies

We were glad to be in Suva Harbour securely tied up to one of the yacht club’s mooring buoys as the weather unleashed fierce gales with masses of rain. It was cold and we needed to dress warmly. The Royal Suva Yacht Club is a grand name for the shabby conditions and services the club provided. The jetty was half worn away with rusty bolts sticking out and threatening any yacht that might want to come alongside for watering or fuelling up. As the tide went out, Luna Quest settled in the mud alongside for the night. The following morning the damage had been done; not irreparably, however. So we were glad to find one of the club’s mooring buoys available in Suva harbour as there was no space in the dirty and crummy marina, just as well. Then the gale struck Suva and despite being in the protection of the harbour, Luna Quest was straining at the mooring buoy, being swayed from left to right. The wind generator was working over time and some of the halyards were clattering against the mast. Our hopes were focussed on the strength of the mooring buoy, for if that were to break, we would have been blown on to the reefs behind that already had a few wrecks on it. The weather on the west side of the island was said to be good (Suva is on the south east side). At the first sign of an improvement, we would set sail to Port Denarau Marina on that side. In the mean time we busied ourselves shopping in the heaving city of Suva for items that we might donate to the victims of Cyclone Pam that flattened Vanuatu. We bought cooking pots, buckets, toys and implements, seeds, fertilisers and loads more.

The break came on Saturday. It was an overnight sail with a forecast of gentle breezes. However, no sooner were we outside the harbour and through the reefs in the open sea than fresh breezes from behind pushed us along fast. To make for Denarau, we had to pass through another set of reefs and only a very experienced local skipper might attempt that in the dark. It was therefore essential to reduce sail and slow the boat down to arrive there in day light, but soon the wind picked up to near gale force conditions. We took off all sail and under bare poles we were still making 4 knots of speed, rolling violently. Something had to be done about slowing down Luna Quest. Trailing warps by themselves would not be enough. We attached some lead piping to the end of the warps so that these would be weighed down and act like a brake. They slowed her down to 3.5knots. The seas were monstrous although, luckily, from behind. The curlers would rise may be four meters higher than Luna Quest, threatening to engulf her, but every time she would raise her stern and let the roar pass on both or either side. The Hydrovane steered the boat faithfully, so that there was no immediate reason for concern. That would come later nearer the reefs through wich we had to pass at 90 degrees to the wind direction…

Suddenly, the wind abated and the seas settled to a less tumultuous plane. The wind kept on reducing in strength and a little sail was warranted. It was about 10pm and pitch dark save for the occasional light that shone feebly from the Fiji coast on our right. The wind now became so light that we had to turn the engine on! We motored the rest of the way, making our entry through the pass at 8.30am and arriving in Denarau midday. We wear both exhausted for lack of sleep. We shall stay in Port Denarau Marina till the end of the month and then put into Malolo island from where in Musket Cove we shall depart for Vanuatu on July 4th. There is unlikely to be blog until that time. We are having lots of work done to the boat in Denarau including cleaning the diesel tank and putting in an extra inspection hatch.