16:46.42S 179:19.59E Paying Attention to the Wind
Paying Attention to the Wind
Its 6.00am and I awoke to the sound of a vessel passing us on our port side. Strange as the main channel up to now has been on Zoonie’s starboard side. Have we turned for the first time in 7 days? Indeed we have, so up to now all of us floating vessels have been facing the stronger force of the wind, paying it attention. So that mighty blow really has ceased.
It certainly enlivened the last stage of our arrival. By midday we could clearly see the headland at Lesiaceva Point marking our point of entry to 15 mile wide Savusavu Bay on the shores of which Savusavu rests up a little windswept Creek, Nakama Creek. But as I steered to Rob’s pre-marked waypoint it seemed to be putting us well to the west of the land which was the darker and closest of the layers of land that lightened the further away they were.
A look at the larger scale paper chart we were now using showed the coral reef extended three miles to the westwards from the headland and on the end was a light tower, so we started looking for that. When I could see it with the naked eye it all became clear.
Three hours later we said goodbye to the big ocean after 1200 miles and entered the bay that is similar to Poole Harbour but maybe a little bigger. The flat reef was just awash and two tree topped islands sat on it. By the darker water we could see our safe passage in and Rob’s waypoints would have seen us safely inside had we arrived in the dark after 5.30pm.
Copra Shed Marina weren’t answering our VHF calls, maybe the land between us was blocking the calls, so we decided to pick up the first available buoy, of which there were a few. Not so now as the three marinas here are full with yachts sheltering from the strong wind.
We were secure at 3.45 and at 4.27 the Health and Biosecurity Officers arrived. “How are you feeling?” The young Indian gentleman asked,
“Fine thank you,” and that was personal health done. There were numerous more questions then the Fijian Lady asked,
“Did you see Waipawa in Minerva, the big motor yacht with the mast?”
“Yes and they flew a drone over us one night.”
“Really, no, that is unacceptable. The skipper is under arrest for concealing ammunition on board. Last year he hid guns and ammunition and got the same treatment.” One shady character in our view. So he gets into trouble concealing guns AND ammo, how does he think he will get away with just ammo and why is he carrying them anyway?
As soon as they left we dropped the yellow practique flag as a signal we were ready for Customs and Immigration. Again a male Indian and female Fijian filling these roles. Both friendly and helpful. Customs guy had a look around, didn’t count the open bottles of gin and Jamieson (phew) and couldn’t believe we had no beer left. He looked into the empty depths of the fridge and felt sorry for us, indeed I think he may have been on the verge of offering to go to the supermarket for us when Immigration lady said, “you were just in time to be checked in today as tomorrow (Friday) is a public holiday and it would have cost you much more to be checked in then”. Four times more in fact. That is why it was fortuitous when I released some of the Genoa to bring up Zoonie’s speed to 8 knots at times. Another hour at sea and we would have had to wait till the next day for clearance on the Youth Sports Day.
“On Monday you must go to all these offices to pay these invoices, we are done could you please call the office for our taxi and welcome to Fiji have a wonderful stay.” They are fiercely anti corruption here, the officers issue the invoices and take no money at the time. Standing on the afterdeck awaiting their transport they joked on how they had been on Muktuk (who arrived 6 hours before us, so we had made up 18 hours on her) a few minutes ago when the gentleman had a call from his wife to hurry him home with some food offerings they would take to a shrine the next day. “I told her we were on our last boat of the day, but then you came in and I hoped she would not call again so I would have to tell her about another ‘last boat’.” They had missed the last boat back to shore so a few more pumps on the foot pump and we launched the dinghy, lowered down the outboard and Rob motored them ashore.
Then they were gone and we were free to soak up the surroundings and look forward to a normal night’s sleep in our snug aftercabin.
I was determined, before the next setting of the sun, to clean most of Brian’s mess of our cherished boat. As you know British vessels flying the red ensign are not allowed to carry arms. That was just as well for Brian because knowing the mess his like can make the next such visitor may not get such a benign welcome.