Already it is hard to think back to our passage from New Zealand to Fiji, it seems a long time go. Fiji time is easy to slip into and easy to just be in the moment here, so lucky I wrote some thoughts during the passage.
Our passage to Fiji was a mix of it all. We left surrounded by a skyline of squalls and although we found it hard to find our best edge for sailing, we started off with some excellent sailing and even felt fast! At night we glided across the flat ocean under good sails and bright moon, followed by a night under motor when the wind dropped. Then sick of motoring, we just stopped. Drifting, bobbing in the ocean, waiting for the wind, a deep water mid pacific swim, we enjoyed the the sun, met up with fellow sailing (ie drifting) friends from yacht ‘lafiesta’ where Jarrah and Natalie had a between boat swim.
Surrounded by squalls, leaving New Zealand.
A family swim in the blue, blue pacific. No wind, blue sea and sky, warm, sunny and silky smooth ocean.
Jarrah and Natalie between the drifting yachts.
Within a few days of leaving Opua we had become aware of a strong weather system further north between us and Fiji. We initially planned to get to North Minerva reef before it hit, and seek shelter there. When the wind dropped out we changed our plan to ‘go slow’ and wait for it to pass to the East before we headed further north – this would mean at least four days trying to go slow.
After a couple of days drifting, the wind picked up and we sailed under bare poles to slow our northerly movement. To aide steering we had unfurled a tiny bit of the jib. As the wind and sea continued to build it felt we were wasting good wind by going slow (although later we were glad we had). It was pretty yuck sailing with constant rolling side to side, as the swell hit us on the beam. It became hard to slow, with the rising, messy sea and strengthening wind and times when we were mostly inside due to the rain…rolling, rolling.
We sailed on hoping for improved weather and watched for any sign of a break.
On an inside day we watched a wild, mad sea with our heads out the hatch. Slam, crash into the boat…mountainous grey swollen swell approaching and pushing us, the flotsam aside. Sort of exciting and loved watching with Jarrah and Khan.
From Diary 19th May: “Last night when we thought we’d past the worst and were on the home stretch, a reminder to be ever vigilant and ready for a change. In an instant a deluge of rain upon us from above, wind and breaking swollen sea, the moon taken from us by mist and cloud swirling and blocking our night vision. Hard to get the genoa furled, me at the helm, thunderous rain in my ears and eyes, Justin working hard and yelling at the wind and Jarrah and Khan once again shivering tears and scared at the crashing sound of ripping winds and sea in the sails and against the hull…and mum and dad outside in it”.
“Tonight we are cautious and hesitant, not wanting a repeat of last night, seeing danger in every cloud“.
Day 10. After a long night…bed to far away to get to!
Day 10 Some welcome sun to dry off our wet weather gear.
With some sun, blue sky and calming waters, a surprisingly rapid shift from ‘why would anyone in their right mind think this is fun?‘ to an ‘exhilarating, top of the world feeling, at one with the ocean and extraordinary to be here, what’s not to love?!!‘
Heaving mountainous ocean rolls up behind then underneath. For a moment we are top of the world, looking down across and down into the valleys of rolling ocean swell. Touch the sky then return gently as the ocean breathes out and the swell passes beneath and away.
Nights under a full ish moon. Slicing through the silvery water, bright as bright. Big moon. Big Pacific. Big adventure. Big fun!
Beautiful today, blue, ever decreasing swell, ride the highs and bask in the wind and sun with clearing skies. Onward.
21st May. First island of Fiji in sight! Let the next chapter begin.
Dolphins welcoming us to Fiji.
Jarrah has been ready for Fiji since we left home.