Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sailimg 40 miles to make good 7

We set off today under sail at dawn - 6:20 am - from the anchorage off the Jean Michel Cousteau resort, sailing quietly out of the anchorage so as not to disturb our slumbering neighbors. The wind was from the east - dead in our face, so we set full sail and sheeted everything in for a run to the SE. The sea were still sloppy from the higher trade winds of the past week and when the wind died out for a few minutes, the motion was so awful that Rani was sick. She lay down for an hour and was back to at least functional form after that.

Around 11 am we tacked, only 10 miles north of Koro island, with more than 26 miles still remaining to our intended destination of Fawn Harbour. The wind was now up to 15 knots, gusting 20 and we bowled along for a few hours at 20 degrees of heel before I pulled down a second reef. Ladybug, who had been so clean when she left in the morning was now coated in salt spray right up to and over the dodger.

Then as so often happens, the wind came around dead in our face. The day was waning and it is dangerous to enter through passes in the coral reefs late in the day, for the sun shines at too low an angle to show up any dangers. Having 12 miles left to go to Fawn Harbour (requiring maybe 18 miles of tacking to make good) we made the decision to bear off for Bakabaka, where we had a sketch map and entrance way point from our 1993 Calder cruising guide.

The pass into Bakabaka lies between between two islands and is quite narrow. We motored in with Rani at the helm while I climbed the ratlines to the spreaders. Even from this height I could not see far in advance because the sun was low and in my eyes. The surf pounded reefs on either side were obvious, but we were on top of a large coral head, no more than 5 feet below our keel, before I could see it. I hollered for Rani to turn and run back at this point, but she judged the pass too narrow for this maneuver and carried on into safety in deeper water just beyond the isolated coral. If you try this pass yourself, keep to the starboard side at the entrance to avoid a large detached coral head. Better still - come in the late morning with the sun behind you!

After we pushed our hearts back into our chests we continued a little way toward the river, dropping the hook in between the two islands. There are plantations on the mainland and a few homes on the larger island. The highway runs nearby, crossing the river below a large salt 'lake'. At dusk we saw some fishermen wading waist deep in the water, but there is no village here and no obvious public landing.

As the fruit bat flies (and there were hundreds of these huge bats overhead near sunset) it is only 7 miles from the anchorage off the Jean Michel Cousteau resort to Bakabaka inlet. Rani pointed out that we could have taken the bus from Savusavu in an hour - a journey that took us more than 9 hours of tiring sailing.

We will likely carry on to the east tomorrow, to Dakuniba or Fawn harbour, using the predicted light NE to N winds.

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