How felicitous was it to arrive in Fiji after a 12 day offshore sailing passage and learn that the topic for this week’s photo challenge is ‘On The Way’? The premise of the challenge is that the ‘in-between moments can be just as memorable as grand finales’
Well that premise certainly held true for the crew of Amandla en route to Fiji.
After a lively sail from Gulf Harbor, we had planned to relax for a few days in Marsden Cove before checking out of New Zealand. But the weather had other ideas and so we departed 24 hours after arriving.
The first few days out were cold with light winds and cross seas but it still felt fabulous to be on passage again. The Captain held up remarkably well. You’d never have known that he’d had liver surgery 47 days before this passage. He was charting a course, hoisting (and trimming) sails, cooking yummy meals, standing watch, doing boat maintenance and ‘barking orders’ as if the surgery had never occurred. On Day 2, he reeled in his first catch. A small tuna, but enough for three yummy Poke Bowls.
We were fully into the rhythm of a passage by Day 3 and started to enjoy blue skies and a bit of warmth by Day 4. Unfortunately, the winds COMPLETELY died and we had to do a bit of motor sailing on Day 5 and 6.
But we enjoyed warm indoor showers courtesy of the engine and the boys managed to tempt a Mahi Mahi onto our lure while motoring along.
In the middle of Day 6, near the end of my 0400 to 0600 watch, I was greeted with the welcome site of South Minerva Reef light on Amandla’s port and the beginnings of a sunrise on her starbord side. So excited!
We arrived at the North Minerva Reef pass a few hours later (giving me enough time to enjoy a nap after my watch).
North Minerva is a circular reef in the middle of the South Pacific that is approximately 2.5 miles around with one entry. It’s a volcano that never made it to the surface, but just a few tenths of feet below.
Eventually, the caldera collapsed forming a lagoon and a reef grew along its rim.
Due to up-thrust of the earths’ crust, the reef has been pushed near enough to the water line enough to be exposed at low-tide.
Unfortunately, on this visit, low-tide occurred near sunrise and sunset, limiting our time walking the reef. (If you want to get a full taste of how amazing this place can be, check out the photos from our November 2014 visit here).
While daytime walking of the reef was limited, we managed to find other ways to entertain ourselves.
We visited with old friends and made a few new ones and on the second evening, The Captain and Steve set out with a few other yachties in search of lobsters. The boys managed to bring home two.
On Day 8, just when we were starting to get comfortable, the winds clocked south (earlier than expected) so we departed Minerva and continued on toward Fiji.
The remainder of the trip was quite lovely with beautiful skies and dolphins to welcome us to Fiji waters.
We spotted our first Fijian island, Matuku, on Day 10 of the passage. We left her to starboard and were treated to a purple sky at nightfall.
On Day 11, we continued on to Savusavu, and arrived after sundown, dropping anchor near to the commercial wharf. We were up early on Day 12 and headed to the Corpa Shed Marina to check in with Customs, Immigration, and Biosecurity.
I entertained myself by photographing a local fisherman while waiting for the officials to arrive for clearance.
The officials were thorough but efficient and completed the clearance a few hours after our arrival on the ‘Q’ dock.
It is great to be back in the tropics!