Heading West, Momi Bay

Sat 22 Aug 2015 03:11
17:54.923S 177:15.989E

Bumpy seas and bumpy hills along the coral coast.

Unfortunately, time was ticking by and Jon had to return to the UK to continue his get his GCSE results and continue his studies. But as he had sailed up from New Zealand with us he was officially ship’s crew, so we needed to go to Immigration in order to get him signed off the ships documents, otherwise when we checked out of the country we’d be in trouble for one of our crew members jumping ship in Fiji! So we headed around the island towards Lautoka, also hoping to find more sunshine before Jon had to leave us. 

There was plenty of wind once we were out of the reef surrounding Beqa and quite a swell rolling in directly on the beam so we changed our initial plan to stop at  Natadola harbour overnight as the swell coming up from the south would have made it unsafe to anchor there. We decided to head on up to Nauvula passage, get safely inside the reef and overnight in Momi Bay. Although it would be dark by the time we got there the passage is well lit with leading lights that you can follow right into the bay. 

We spent the day watching the Coral Coast slide by, mostly softened by the spray where the big swell was crashing into the reef, but sometimes broken by estuaries where sand dunes caught the sunlight.

Surf filling the air with spray as it hits the reef.

We put a line out but had no luck fishing, despite sailing right through the middle of hundreds of birds after a bait ball.

We would usually be wary of night entries through an unknown pass but this one is so well marked and constantly used by big shipping that there was no worry so we enjoyed the puzzle of matching lights with those marked on the charts - especially tricky when they had changed since our main plotter was installed, they used to be quick flashing white and are now flashing red. The other fun bit is dropping you anchor in pitch black, with  a few lights twinkling on shore, the chart, your depth sounder, radar and a good strong flashlight to tell you where you are and that there are no hazards around, but not really knowing quite where you are until you wake in the morning light and can look around you. The change was dramatic, gone were the lush dripping forests of East Viti Levu, replaced by a brown, arid landscape. Apart from the mangroves and palm trees in the foreground it could have been parts of Scotland in winter, the burnt brown grass looking like a covering of bracken. We’d got away from the rain.