Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sailing to Suva

We decided to break up the passage from Levuka to Suva with a stop over in Leleuvia. We sailed off the hook in Levuka, getting away on the wrong tack, headed straight for the shore a few hundred meters off. As I hurriedly winched in the rest of the chain, Rani rolled out part of the jib (the main already being up) and put us about quickly and neatly. We had a few tense moments avoiding uncharted coral heads as we beat out through the pass in the reef.

Once outside, we had a nice 8-10 knot ESE wind. I laid a course close-hauled to the NE for a few miles and we then tacked and were able to point south for pass into the Moturiki channel, skirting the reef as we went. There was a light chop but the consistent breeze kept Ladybug moving along well, heeled over at about 10 degrees. I was very glad we had waited for the much stronger SE winds of the previous day to die down. It is so much more pleasant when beating to do so in lighter winds and moderate seas!

The scenery on the passage was very lovely with the long thing shores of Moturiki island providing a green foreground to Ovalau's mountainous contours. As we reacehd up the channel to our anchorage, we saw a resort boat running tourists out to a nearby motu and Fijian longboats (outboard skiffs) running back and forth between the resort on Leleuvia and the nearby islands.

We anchored twice off the coral reef to the NE of Leleuvia, but were not happy to be so close to the corals. So we upped anchor and tied off to a mooring ball off the resort. We stayed only one night but managed to get in two delightful snorkeling trips at the reef.

Suva is about 45 or 50 miles from Leleuvia. This is just a bit too far to sail in daylight, so we opted for an overnight crossing. We left in the middle of the afternoon from Leleuvia so that we would have good visibility when tacking out of the pass. Once again, we sailed on a long board out to the NE before tacking at dusk and heading south. The wind held until early in the morning and we close-reached under 2-reefed main and partial jib with the wind vane steering. Around 3 am the wind went fluky and light in squalls and drizzle about 10 miles out from the approaches to Suva harbour. Perhpas due to effects from the island of Viti Levu, the wind clocked around 180 degrees, blowing out of the NW. We beat our way towards the glow of Suva, following the lights from one of the ships that had passed us earlier.

Suva harbour is crowded with commercial fishing fleets from various Asian countries. The yacht club anchorage is surrounded by these larger boats and we had read that holding can be poor and the conditions here unpleasant in a stronger wind. So we decided to anchor off a hotel near Lami in what is reputed to be a good hurricane hole. We will be here a few days while I attend to a broken tooth.

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