I was desperately clinging to shore, not ready to change countries just yet. But sadly, the time to depart Fiji had arrived.
We left Denarau to check out at Vuda Point at an exceptionally low tide and proceeded with caution. As we entered the Vuda channel, the depth sounder was showing only 2.5 m of water (with an additional .5 m of depth ‘safety’) and Amandla’s keel is 2.3 m.
We set out about an hour behind our friends John and Leilani from SY Amazing Grace in Force 5 winds and sailed fast covering 180 nm the first day. The Single Side Band Radio (SSB) allowed us to keep in touch with SY Amazing Grace twice daily throughout our journey.
I have to admit that I am a bit uncomfortable on my first day out on passage, especially if we leave in the evening as we did from Fiji. It takes me a bit of time before I get used to the boat’s movement, the watch cycles, and responding without having to think about what I am doing. But somehow, after the first night, I reconnect with the sea and it all seems as it should be, absolutely fabulous.
On our second day out, The Captain caught a beautiful Mahi Mahi while I was happily slumbering in my bunk. I woke up just in time to take a picture.
After 2 days of flying at an average of 7.7 kts, the winds shifted to the east and we slowed tremendously with sails flogging. We rigged a wing- to -wing configuration and then unrigged it because the wind disappeared and we were dead in the water.
We decided to motor sail but just before we cranked up the ‘Iron Genny’, the winds kicked in again and we started sailing at an acceptable 5 kts. At the end of my night watch, we were treated to a majestic moon set.
On the fourth day out, the winds completely died at 2200 hours and we had to turn on the engine for 17 hours. The seas were calm enough to allow me to sleep far away from the engine in the forepeak so I managed to get some rest. At 1500 on our fifth day out, the winds finally kicked and we were flying again.
‘Are we there yet’ is the furthest question from my mind when sailing a long passage. Arrival always seems to come too quickly. While looking forward to seeing all that New Caledonia had on offer, I knew I would miss the peaceful rhythms I find only at sea.
We entered Havana Pass in New Caledonia behind a cargo ship in the early hours of our sixth day.
And now the excitement of arriving in New Caledonia started to take over. The 56 nm passage to Noumea was très jolie!
The only disappointment when I hit these shores was when I was adjusting my polarizing lens and it rolled into the drink.
So how am I liking my new backyard? Well, too soon to tell really. So much to explore and not much time. We plan to sail to Australia with the next good weather window, so change is coming again soon. The longer we can stay here, the happier I will be.
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