Yesterday we left the Cousteau resort anchorage off Savusavu at 7 am, sailing off the hook and out past the reef. Once clear of the reef, the seas quickly built into closely spaced 1 meter swells with a 1 foot chop on top.
The wind was out of the southeast at about 12 knots and our destination, Koro Island, lay a little south of that direction, so we were close-hauled and heeled over all day. We bashed into increasingly lumpy seas, salt spray coating the dodger windows and the decks. I lubricated and set up the wind vane self-steering for the first time since our New Zealand passage and hunkered down behind the dodger. The motion below was not good unless one laid on the leeward settee. We took turns in the cockpit and snoozing down below, neither of us feeling like eating much.
As we neared Koro and tacked onto our third tack, the wind swung more into the east and it looked like we would lay our way point off Dere Bay, but soon the wind began to swing into the south, no doubt channeling along the west coast of Koro. This forced us to turn off to the west once again. We sailed through a confused sea for a few miles, the result of refracting swells coming together from both sides of Koro.
It was already 4 pm when we laid our last tack into Dere Bay and the light was dimming when we entered the wide pass an hour later. We took one of the free moorings off the Koro Beach Resort, having sailed more than 50 nautical miles to make good about 30. In choppy conditions like this, we tack through about 110 degrees. The waves impede progress and increase leeway, so even though we appear to tack through 90 degrees, we lose at least 10 degrees on each tack to leeway. Thus, a simple 25 mile passage becomes a tiring all-day experience!