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Date: 11 Sep 2012 08:05:36
Title: On passage; Tonga to Fiji

Lat 18:35.90S
Lon 179:39.03W

Monday 10th September

We're currently on passage from Tonga to Fiji. It was meant to take 3 days but today the wind has eased and we have spent quite a few hours flailing about at less than 3 knots. It actually only takes one day to get from Tonga into Fijian waters, but we have to sail for a further two days to get to our Port of Entry in Savusavu on Vanua Levu.

The crossing between the two countries is littered with reefs that until the mid nineties were uncharted. We have a document that lists 56 known hazards to navigation and had to cross check these against our proposed route to make sure they were all on our chart or we knew about them! The passage is too long to do during all daylight hours so you kind of have to hope for the best and hope that there aren't any other nasty surprises that haven't been charted yet! We got across that bit fine, although in finding a safe route away from the reported shoals our passage is significantly longer than the rhumb line would have been.

Leaving Tongatapu

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Unfortuately Fiji has very strict laws about cruising yachts and the penalty for stopping anywhere before you've checked in at a port of entry is severe. We also had to submit a form to the Fijian authorities at least 48hrs in advance, to avoid facing a F$20000 fine!!

We are really looking forward to arriving. This passage is one of those that looks deceptively short on the chart, and in reality is just frustrating as we're now officially in Fijian waters but still two days away from landing! Still, we're just past Totoya island and hopefully less than 24hrs away...although surrounded by some very wet looking rain clouds...

This will also be my last blog with a Longitude of West in it! We are about to cross the 180th meridian and will be exactly half way round the world from London. From that point we will be considered "East" of London rather than "West"! Our ipad charts also "run out" at the 180th meridian - meaning we have to flick across to the other side of the world map to continue our journey. These probably sound like very trivial things, but it will only happen once on this trip so is fairly significant for us. (Although I will draw the line at calling it exciting!)

Cool clouds this morning

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Oh and we caught another Mahi Mahi yesterday afternoon using one of those crappy wooden bung lures - who knew?! A naughty fisherman whizzed passed too close to our stern in Tongatapu and got our famous pink squid lure and 200 metres of fishing line caught around his propeller, never to be seen again as he sped off with it trailing behind him into the distance - luckily Mike managed to cut the line with two inches to spare before we would have lost or at least broken the rod as well!

Re-stocking the freezer...

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