Friday 26th May 2017
Thursday as we neared Fiji, the stormy weather of the past five days had gradually disappeared and was thankfully replaced by rapidly calming seas and light breezes. As we finally relaxed the evidence of what we had been through lay all around us. Every inch above deck was encrusted with salt, damp wet weather gear hung from hooks and door knobs in both heads, one shower contained a pile of soggy clothes, the seats in the salon were a makeshift bed, general untidyness filled every corner. I had the odd bruise and bizarre muscle strains under my armpits where I had been hauling myself up and around with the handrails, Rick battled with a ‘too much stugeron’ headache.
In less than a day we had gone from putting our heads above the sprayhood to be blasted by spray filled cold air and risking a wave straight in our faces, to the delightful feeling of soft warm tropical air, from wearing two or three layers of clothing under our wet weather gear, to wearing shorts and applying sun cream and from having trouble getting any food down at all to enjoying a delicious lamb curry. Having spent most of the passage with extremely reefed sails, for over a day we had sailed with less than half a main and part of the staysail, now with every scrap of canvas out, we struggled to reach 5 kts and the engine had to come on. With delight we spotted our first sight of land the most southerly island in Fiji, Matuku, all was well.
As dawn approached on Friday we were just 20nm from Savusavu, during the night we had seen our first boats in six days, a couple of fishing vessels passed us by, one a little too close, coming straight for us, at about 100m Rick spotted the whole crew waving hello from the deck. Then two more AIS targets appeared on the chartplotter, they were two boats we knew well. After sailing over 1150nm and leaving Opua 48hrs apart from each other we were converging on Point Passage, the pass through the reef into Savusavu Bay, within the same half hour.
By 9.30 we were all tied up to the dock in the Copra Shed Marina and after the initial euphoria of arriving, swapping tales of 60kt gusts, gigantic waves and how fast you can go with just a handkerchief aloft, and of course, drinking a very well deserved got here beer, we were ready to drop into our wonderfully still beds.
Alas, formalities still had to be completed. Officials from four departments, Customs, Immigration, Biosecurity and Health took it in turns to file onboard to fill a myriad of forms and inspect the boat. If that wasn’t enough we then had to traipse around town to three different offices, paying fees and collecting our passports. In our tired state and swaying from land sickness,in temperatures of over 30 C, we hardly noticed the town around us but it definitly feels friendly and welcoming, plenty of time to explore, when we’re rested.