PASSAGE FROM OPUA NZ TO SAVUSAVU FIJI

After two false appointments with New Zealand Customs, we thought we finally had a stable weather window to get to Minerva Reef North and confirmed our departure from Opua, Bay of Islands NZ for Wed 22 May.

We were busy the few days before departing, now with a solid departure date. We subscribed to Chris Parker at Marine Weather Center in South Florida to guide us in choosing the best weather window for this trip of 787 miles from Opua to North Minerva taking us 5 days. We also are using the new Predict Wind forecasting model, and are planning our passage based on this. But it is nice to get confirmation that the window is good for us.  We have used Chris while in the Bahamas, and for our trip to Nova Scotia years ago, so we have good confidence in his team, even though they are located halfway around the world in Florida.

We needed to time our trip to the fuel dock within 24 hours of clearing out of the country, to save us the GST (tax). We also needed to time the tides, as any close maneuvering in the marina at the wrong times can mean strong currents and challenging boat handling.

Jenny also wanted to pre-cook for the 5-day passage, as we anticipate moving around in the galley during our passage, as being very limited.  And Jenny does a final load of laundry for the trip. Plus, everything needs to be put away for the voyage. All dishes need to be packed so they do not bang and clang. Anything loose needs to be stored, or it may find its way to the floor.

We did a final online provisioning from the Kerikeri Countdown, for delivery on Tuesday.

We also needed to cancel our NZ boat insurance, once we had the departure from NZ, as our horrifically expensive, PANTAENIUS will be in effect, and we can get refunded the NZ policy premium balance. We are very reluctant to use this insurance provider, after seeing the way they treated our friends on KYA (see our old blog story Carnage in Big Majors). But we have no other alternative in the market.

So, the few days before leaving were frantic. But we got it all done. On the day of departure, we had an appointment at 2:30 pm and would need to leave the dock by 3:00 pm, which was anti-climactic. We woke after a poor night’s sleep, anticipating the voyage. Made some breakfast, watered the boat, rinsed the decks, dropped the last of the trash at the marina facilities, paid the final marina bill, and dropped off the fuel receipt for the GST credit from yesterday’s purchase. And waited, and waited, for our appointment which went smoothly, taking only about 20 minutes as all paperwork and been emailed prior.

We scanned the departure paper to the marina for the GST credit after getting back to the boat. We unplugged, cast off lines, and departed the marina. I also had to change our Starlink service to ensure coverage when offshore. This was a bit frustrating, as one of the toggles to allow uninterrupted service if we used up the 50 GB data, would not toggle. I was stressed that we may get cut off. (But later the toggle to enable data beyond 50 GB was available.)

It was calm and the skies were clear when we left. We enjoyed the nice ride out of the marina and out of the Bay of Islands and set our course for our first waypoint on this long journey.

Our first watch started with me at 1500 on 22 May. At 1700 we start to switch the boat over to night mode, we are just out of the Bay of Islands, and starting to lose the protection of the New Zealand coastline, as the seas build some. In night mode, we turn on the Nav lights (recheck them visually) put the red film on the boat navigation laptop, and turn on both radars, the smaller radar and the big 72-mile range radar. We dim the screens for night vision passage. We run the small radar at a 6-mile range- and the big one at 12 miles, this gives us two options to see any boat traffic and approaching squalls. We also have the AIS (Automatic Identification System) on, and we are surrounded by boats, most of which have departed before us. We have about 6 rally boat AIS targets around us.

And so, we settle in for our first night passage for a few years (since Cape May, New Jersey to Rhode Island to deliver Southern Star to Happy Dover for transporting to NZ, Oct 2020). The seas are mostly on our port (left) side and aft (behind) the beam. So, a good direction for the ride. We are still enjoying the protection of the NZ Coastline from the SW winds and seas (our course to Minerva North is almost due North.

The further offshore we get from NZ, we find the seas increase in size, but more significantly the distance or time between them is quite short. We describe this as the intervals (in seconds between the swells, measured in meters (here). So, we had 2-3 meters, SSW, but the interval was only 5-6 seconds, and somewhat confused- in direction.

This causes the boat to roll, and before the stabilizers can mitigate the roll another wave comes. This complicated description means that the sea state was confused and unpleasant. The winds were gusty at 20 knots, blowing the wave tops off (white caps) and the boat would roll and start to recover and then roll again. The ride on the boat was tough. Jenny had spent days securing drawers and cupboards to prevent noise and breakage but, in these conditions, the few things left unsecured, such as the plant arrangement gifted to us by Sandra in Ft Lauderdale, were thrown across the cabin. The Starlink mesh router in the pilothouse was thrown off the shelf and was hanging by its power cable when I rescued it. The computer monitor in the forward cabin took a nose dive onto the desk, it was tied down, so it didn’t find the floor.

Moving around the boat was challenging, staggering from handrail to handrail, or anything to hold on to. Our first night, we had some mocktails (no alcohol on passages), while we sat in the pilot house, unable to let go of our glasses. We had a small helping of Jenny’s cottage pie, heating it in the microwave and serving it in a bowl. My engine room check, which is warm down there 30 degrees C = 100F- left me hot and not feeling great. So, our appetites were minimal during our first dinner at sea.

I left the watch to Jenny at 1900 (7 pm) and tried to get some sleep. I tried the various bed, like Goldilocks: the forward bunk is too noisy with water-slapping noises and bouncy.  The master bunk is also noisy from water slapping and the drone of the engine and is rolly. The aft bed, made up in the salon was the best place to be, the least of the slappy noise but bouncy as all others.

Sleeping underway with these conditions is difficult. If you are trying to sleep on your side, the boat will roll and try to push you over, and then it rolls the other way and tries to pull you back. So even lying down takes effort.

Moving around, we look like drunks, bouncing from the handrail, walking quickly during a lull down the steps to the cabin or the salon. Then wedging yourself in the galley, trying to open the fridge door, to get the water jug out. Closing the fridge door so it does not start swinging. Then try to pour the water into your water container.  Then reverse the process, while the boat does a disco/reggae two-step dance to the seas.

After four hours of mostly laying on my back with my eyes closed and listening to the boat, I am back on watch to relieve Jenny to try to find some rest. I take the engine room check for her (the oncoming crew usually does an ER check and records it before coming on watch), and look around in the hot ER. Coming back up, I feel nauseous again and stick my head out the starboard side door for some fresh air. I feel better and ready to take the com. Jenny stumbles down the steps to the master cabin and stays there.

On watch, we continue to look at all screens- our two radars, our computer with AIS, and we use our eyes, scanning the areas ahead and alongside for navigation lights.  I like to sit in the helm chair, as it is not so comfortable that you are tempted to close an eye. Instead, I play some Neil Young and rock out to his Psychedelic Pill album- Drifting Back a 30-minute song. (Jenny choses Pink Floyd when she came on watch and got the stereo control.)

No boat traffic close- only one AIS target and he is going the same direction and speed as we are, and he is 12 miles away.

Thursday 23 May

We slowly grow back into the watch routine- 4 hours on and 4 off. This route has little boat traffic compared to the trips we made in the US, where we had to watch for Cruise Ships and Container Ships, fishing boats, and other recreational boats. The watches turn into long moments of self-reflection, for me. I listen to music, and my mind drifts- the boat lurches just to keep me on script.

During our first 30 hours or so, we both grew frustrated with the conditions, as we became more sleep-deprived. Finally falling asleep despite being rolled around, our rest was limited.

To add some stress to the trip, the boat had appeared to be running well. ER checks show nothing seems to be going wrong. Jenny comes to me after an ER check and reports that there is some oil around the port side stabilizer. I check it out. Hoping, perhaps it is left from the hydraulic hose change made a few months ago. I clear up around it, with a paper towel, and put an oil diaper under the actuator cylinder, to monitor the leak.

Next ER check, four hours later, I had some oil seepage at the rear of the actuator cylinder. The fins are working very hard in these conditions. So, I will monitor and see if it gets any worse. It is only a tablespoon or so in 4 hours. If it gets really bad, I can shut off the fin and use the starboard side fin only. I hope we do not need to do this, as running only one stabilizer fin in these conditions would not be great…

We sight another vessel 25 meters long on AIS- they are doing 9 knots, and on our rhumb line coming up behind us. As he approaches, we see he is a large modern-looking trawler- sleek with a blunt bow, called “Nyla”. He calls Jenny and says hello- and that he left Auckland and is on his way to Fiji, and he has lost his stabilizers… we watch as he steams on past us, he rolls widely in his tracks. I am happy to have our stabilizers working.

Friday 24 May

Last night on the 2300 to 0300 watch, I noticed that the seas were calming down. What, can that be so?  The boat’s motion gets smoother and the ride is getting nice again. Hey, this is why we do this. To have these times to ourselves, surrounded by an empty ocean, with a full moon- peeking through the clouds. To have some time to think, and not just hold on.

I awake from my off-watch at 0700, feeling fully rested and relaxed. I happily take the watch from Jenny, knowing that she is in for a real treat- a good 4 hours sleep.

This morning, there is a low cloud cover, and a squall moves over us. I have a sailboat off my port side on AIS and have a visual as well, I see him turn his boat straight into the wind to hove to for the oncoming squall. The rain passes, with some 30 knots of wind, while I am comfortable in my helm seat. The boat is moving nicely now, our speed is back up to 6.5 to 7 knots.

I make some coffee, and I clean the galley from the dishes left in the sink when we were unable to wash them. I have two hard-boiled eggs, and some fruit cake (made by Sandy in Bayswater) for my breakfast. Maybe we are getting closer to our tropical paradise.

At about 1100 we decide to take our first eDNA sample. The seas are down some, and we set up in the salon for our first real samples of DNA of organisms that have passed through these particular waters. This is part of the Citizens of the Sea program that I mentioned in the previous blog.

Jenny and I share the sampling processes. I handle all the on deck work- I have my lifejacket on, and I have a harness to the boat. Jenny does the sterile work. She wears gloves- uses alcohol wipes to clean the two tweezers she uses to manipulate the sample filters, to insert into the filter housing which screws into the torpedo fish we tow. Before and between each sample, Jenny uses the wipes to clean the filter screen, and the o-ring that fits inside the filter cone. She handles the filter cone with her gloves- removes it from the fish while I hold it.

I launch and retrieve the fish from the cockpit. We tow each sample for 5 minutes. Upon retrieval, Jenny removes the sample cone, she then removes the o-ring and then the filter. She folds it so that it can fit into the sample tube with a liquid preservative. She does all of this with tweezers.

When the boat is rocking and rolling this process can be pretty challenging. I then use my phone with a special app, to scan the QR code on the sample test tube. And this can be fun- the boat is moving, and pitching back and forth, while I try to focus my phone on the tiny QR code. Moving back and forth to get the code to focus in the camera. Our first three samples takes us about 45 minutes.

We settle into our own watch routines. The day moves on, the seas get a bit choppier.

I decide to start the generator to give the batteries a zap, and to make some water with the water maker and heat water for showers. A few minutes after start up, I notice the generator temperature is too high. I run down to the engine room and pull off the sound shield to see the generator. The raw water-cooling pump feels cool. It seems to be pumping. The coolant is down a little in the header tank. The belt on the coolant pump looks fine. I go on deck to see if I can see if we have water pumping out from the exhaust. The boat is rolling so much, I cannot tell.

Back down below, I cannot see anything obvious. CRAP. I shut the generator down- it is too uncomfortable, and the boat is rolling too much to try to troubleshoot it now. I will need to go over it when we reach Minerva Reef- a couple of days ahead.  This is very puzzling, as I ran everything, the main, wing and generator the day before departure.

The calming of the seas turned out to be only a temporary condition.  By evening, the seas are building again. We had the seas of 3-4 meters off the port beam again. The boat returns to its bucking, and lurching with the short period waves. We had 20-25 knots of wind all day, and were surrounded by big cumulus clouds all day. The bumpy ride continues all night.

Saturday 25 May

Today, is our third full day at sea. I am now back on watch, after Jenny has transitioned into day mode. She had the 0400-0700 watch and heads off to the cabin to get some sleep. We have learned that if we sleep diagonal in the master bed, the rolls are less disruptive.

I check our nav system, I turn off the large radar, and turn the little radar up to 12-mile range. We have just passed the half way point in our passage. 390 miles behind us, 390 miles to go.

I scan the area around us. The seas are a little calmer, but not exactly postcard conditions. Whitecaps blow off the waves, we have 20 knots still on the port beam, and the boat rolls but the stabilizers are better at dampening the rolls, as the waves are a bit further apart. There is no visible traffic, on the horizon, on AIS, or Radar. The nearest Rally Boats are 20-40 miles from our position. I decide to have a bagel for breakfast, and juggle the toaster, the cutting board, the bagel, and the cream cheese in the galley, successfully.

Afterward, I walk the outside of the boat. I check the cockpit, water is gushing in through the scuppers, and rolling out through the drains when the seas splash on board. The side deck and bow are all good. I walk around the Portuguese deck, holding firmly to the rails, and up the boat deck. The tender is secured, the blow-up dinghy outboard is secure, and the Starlink is secure. I wrapped the Cook Islands flag on the back of the boat deck, so it does not blow into the Starlink dish. Also, all is good on the flybridge. I turn up the brightness on the Simrad plotter. Nothing to report.

Back down to the wheelhouse. I am running with the starboard door-top open for some air. I also have the salon’s top door open as well—good air circulation, with no chance of water slopping in.

And so, day three starts. Finally, it does feel like the sea state is calmer. We seem to have less violent rolling now, and less frequently. Winds are consistent but behind us and not impacting our ride. We review the detailed forecast we received from Chris Parker’s team and find this is very consistent with what we have experienced, and that from our current position, we can expect better conditions for the rest of the passage. Later in the day, we received a question from our other Nordhavn friends waiting in Opua, asking if the forecast was accurate as they are considering also using Chris for their passage in a week or so.

We did another eDNA sampling, again taking 45 minutes, and stashed away the equipment.

We are starting to look at our estimated arrival time into North Minerva, which we had tried to time for between 1000-1400 for best overhead sunlight to enter the reef. The tough conditions for our first 48 hours had slowed us down considerably, and we bumped up to 1750rpm to try to gain back some time. We also realized that Minerva lies across the international dateline. We reset our waypoint to that longitude as others have had some weird things happening with electronics and GPS as they cross the dateline. We will cross back when we go on to Fiji.

Conditions continue to improve and we look forward to getting better rest when we are each off watch tonight.

Sunday 26 May

When Jenny comes on watch at 0300, we discuss our ETA at Minerva which now looks like it will be the middle of the night, or at best early evening if we sustain current speed around 6.8 knots. We are reluctant to increase speed – the engine is performing well and we don’t want to jeopardize that. Another boat has decided to divert directly to Savusavu due to the conditions. We discuss doing the same and agree to contact Chris Parker to get his view of the conditions at Minerva for the next 4-5 days, and also whether the current conditions and window will enable us to reach Savusavu – another 400 miles away from Minerva. We are still at a point on our voyage where we could make only a slight course adjustment to be heading straight to Savusavu. Jenny sends Chris an email and I go to bed.

We are having a much more comfortable ride now. And the winds changed direction overnight, backing more to S-SE, meaning we are entering the trade winds of the tropics. The sea color is a deep sapphire blue, and I start thinking about catching fish.

Sunday 26 May 2024

I come back on watch at 0700, after a good sleep. The boat is much more polite, as the seas are much smaller. Jenny and I look over the email sent to us from Matthew, our weather router. He has suggested that Fiji will get caught is a funneling of weather patterns over the next week, with strong winds developing. We talk about this, and as much as we both were looking forward to a break at Minerva, going directly only adds 2 days to that trip, we decide to make directly to Savusavu, rather than risk getting stuck for, potentially a week or so, in Minerva.

We are both tired, and disappointed. But as both the generator and water maker were not working, this was another factor in our decision. We pay for expert weather advice, and we know this is the right decision. I notify the Rally group, and our Ground Crew, Gordon and Liz of our intentions and we alter our course to almost due north, 350 degrees, with eta in Savusavu sometime Thursday.

Once the decision is made, our usual resilience and optimism kicks in. We will get to Savusavu earlier than expected, and our friends on N63 Interval are already there looking forward to greeting us. We also have increasingly benign conditions to take advantage of several days of easy running to get as close to Savusavu as we can before the strong winds and higher seas develop. We complete our eDNA sampling for the day and fishing lines are out.

After a few hours, we hear the rods sing out. “Fish on!!” We have a double hook up- both rods have a fish. I take one rod the starboard side rod- and Jenny takes the other. I open the transom door and start reeling. Jenny starts reeling as well. As my fish gets closer to the boat- he makes a run- taking back 20 – 30 meters of line. Jenny announces her fish is off, and winds in the line and stows the rod in the transom rod holder. My fish is not huge- I hand Jenny the rod and get on to swim platform and boat the small Tuna- about this time- we see that the top 1/3 of the rod has broken off. We boat the skipjack tuna, and I get down to cleaning the fish.

We have fresh sashimi for lunch, and tuna tacos for dinner, after enjoying a mocktail on the flybridge. It is the first time on the passage we have been able to cook properly. All other meals have been pre-prepared and either eaten cold, or heated in the microwave.

With the calmer conditions we both finally manage to get some decent rest overnight, and the night watches pass without incident, other than a couple of squalls which passed quickly. We haven’t sighted another vessel since our radio call with Nyla on Thursday. Nothing on AIS or radar either. We know there are other boats around us, but all are 20-30 miles away from us. We still have a full moon which gives us good night visibility, and amazing starry nights.

Monday 27 May

We kick up the speed to 1800rpm to try to outrun the approaching adverse weather and Southern Star is riding very comfortably in the mild conditions. Our daily science project is much easier without the constant movement and we log three more samples. With no generator, we don’t have hot water, but after engine room checks we each brave a shower, which wasn’t as cold as expected, and was refreshing after the heat of the engine room.

Another line goes in the water and stays behind the boat all day, without success.

There was success elsewhere though. In the flat seas I was able to get into the lazarette and diagnose the water maker problem. I found the salinity probe was dirty, and after cleaning it up and reassembling, the water maker bubbled into life – a big relief and a big win. I researched getting a replacement probe – $500 and then shipping probably to Fiji on top of that. I still have the old one, so I do have a spare if needed.

We have mocktails on the flybridge with temperatures noticeably warmer with each day. We are making the most of these conditions as we know they wont last and we have two tough days ahead.

Tuesday 28 May

I come off my rest period and after the ER check, I email the Fijian authorities, confirming our arrival in approximately 48 hours time. We also confirm with Nawi Marina who will guide us to the Quarantine Dock on our arrival into Savusavu. We plan to stay at the marina for a week or so while we recover from the trip, fix the various items we have encountered on the passage, and wait for our cruising permit to allow us to move freely around Fiji.

Sea conditions have deteriorated a bit overnight, we now have a 2-3m swell behind us, and slightly to starboard. The boat starts to resume the stabilized rolling that we have had most of the passage. We still have 160 miles to our first waypoint at the southern most Fijian island, so around 24 hours, then another 24 hours to Savusavu.

I put on a pot of coffee, and cut off a hunk of fruit cake for my breakfast. The sky is overcast.

Jenny tells me of a hitch-hiker we picked up over the night- a seabird was hanging on the top of the solar panels in the early morning hours. He took off shortly before day break. After looking at pictures, we think it was a Wandering Albatross.

Seas are building – behind us, as forecast and the boat is rolling more. We noticed that the stab fins are not moving evenly- port side is moving a lot- starboard seems to be moving limited. Also heard a clicking sound on starboard side stab area. On late night 2300 hour-ER check, (of course it always is at night) I narrowed the clicking sound to the starboard stabilizer.

Then I smelled diesel fuel, and searched for the source. I found the polishing fuel filter was gushing fuel from under the top of the lid. I had the polishing pump on. I shut off the fuel pump and valves- and removed the lid- the oring was displaced. I put a new o-ring into the lid in the groove- and tightened the lid down. Turned on fuel pump and tested. Fuel leak solved. Spent the next few minutes cleaning up diesel fuel under the filters.

Back to the pilothouse- Jenny and I look at the stabilizer controller. Confirming the starboard stabilizer is not working full swings. We decided to restart the stabilizers- (a control on the panel). We slowed the boat, and re-started. And then activated stabilizers again. And miraculously, the fins are now both moving fully, as they should be. We now realize, that the terrible ride we were experiencing the last few days was due to the lack movement of the starboard fin. …

Now despite the seas continuing to build, the boat is rolling much less. The rest of the passage was uneventful, although the engine room temp is running high. Up to 43 degrees.

0700 29 May

I filled the fuel tank- and checked the polishing filter- all good. Stabilizers looking okay. Port actuator is still weeping. The Stabilizer hydraulic fluid temp is also running high. But I have no real reference for running the system this long, we are now coming up on one week of continuous running. We slow the engine revs down from 1700 to 1500. I am hoping with both fins working correctly that the temp will come down some.

I also turned on the Aux Fan in the ER room and pointed it aft to try to help cool the ER. I will watch the temp and experiment with different positions. If it were not so rough (we have water coming into the cockpit through the scuppers, occasionally) I would open the lazarette hatch to allow the air to escape. I try to visualize air flows in the ER room- to determine the best position of the fan. The port and starboard fans forward bring in fresh air from outside. The port aft fan also pulls air from the ER to the outside. The starboard aft fan pulls in fresh air. The fan failed some time ago, I replaced it with a spare- but wonder if it has the capacity.

And then during my morning ER check, I go to the laz to check the steering gear- auto pilot, etc. I noticed that the bolt connecting the rudder to the steering ram seems to be moving, when the ram moves. I grab two 24mm wrenches to check the lock nut’s tightness, and it is almost finger tight/loose.  CRAP- it is not far away from falling out …

I tighten large lock nut, but hesitate to crank it too hard, as it bolt must allow the tiller and the steering ram to pivot. I will keep my eye on it..

1100 Watch- 29 May

Jenny comes on watch. The boat is running fine. The ER temp is warm- holding about 45 C degrees which is about 115 F. The seas are 3-4 meters now, and still on the aft beam. The boat is moving well. We are averaging 6.5 knots, at 1500 RPM’s, we are feeling the seas. Moving on the boat is difficult. Every step needs to be planned handrail to handrail.

We have picked up some AIS traffic from two vessels, both from the rally. Voila is a large cat, and he is 10 miles or so ahead of us. But he is going 9 knots so soon we loose him on AIS and radar. Womble- also a cat follows behind us, on our track and is moving at our speed, so he stays with us on AIS until we arrive in Savusavu.

We do our final eDNA test sample, as tomorrow at 1100 we should be making our arrival into Fiji. We do the samples without any issues. We take three samples each day that we make a test. But as this is the last day, after we take the three samples, we need to put three filters (unused) into a test tube and scan it- this is the control samples for our tests.

Overnight 29 May

This our last night before we should arrive in Savusavu. The conditions did not improve for us. We had only one AIS target, “Womble” a catamaran who stayed 8-10 miles behind and was moving at about the same speed as we were. Voila- the other cat that was ahead of us, had disappeared from AIS and radar.

The seas were 3-4 meters now- and the winds were gusting 25-30 knots. The engine room was running hot as well. So, ER checks were a form of Hades torture. Aside from the heat- all was doing well in the ER.

Jenny was not doing well, when I popped up from the salon to the Pilot house. The night was pitch black, no moon present- and the skies were heavily overcast- and the view out of the windows was black. Only the white spray of our bow wake, reflected on the starboard side running light. The radar screens were blank- showing no boats around us. No AIS targets. It felt like we were moving in a VOID. I realized Jenny was very uncomfortable, so I stayed with her. She was really feeling the sleep deprivation.

After a few more hours, we made our waypoint at Koro Island and made a turn northwest toward Savusavu waypoint. This turn was very welcomed, as this put Southern Star’s stern right into the swells. We now had a true following sea, and the ride on the boat was much, much more comfortable.

I went below, and slept in the forward cabin, and it felt like the boat had stopped. I got a few really good hours of sleep, and came back on watch at about 0600. The sky was lightening up as dawn grew. Soon we were able to see the surrounding seas, and we could see the outline of Vanua Levu.

Thursday 30 May

At 0700 we had the final waypoint at the outside of the reef, and turned NE and began to feel the protection of the island. Soon we were enjoying the ride, but with rain showering down on us. It looks like we had just beat the bad weather that was forecast for Fiji. I put the yellow Q flag up on our starboard flag halyard.

The winds were pretty strong, we had 15-20 knots as we made Savusavu. We called the marina on the VHF and soon a RIB from NAWI Marina- met us to escort us to the quarantine dock (Q dock). As we approached, we saw that Voila was docked on one finger. We went alongside the Q dock. We had 4 NAWI crew on the dock to catch our lines. We appreciated the assistance, as the winds were blowing us off the dock.

At 0845 finally secured, we let the engine idle for 15-20 minutes and then shut her down. I left the ER blowers run.

Total distance 1165 nautical miles. Total time 188 hours on the main engine- 188 hours passage time. Average speed 6.2 knots. We sat down in the salon- made a bagel, and waited for the clearing process to begin. I felt like I was rocking, and was pretty spaced out.

Soon, the first official knocked on the hull and came aboard. The Health official declared us safe to enter Fiji, as no deaths had occurred, and we had a good plan for mosquitos and rats. We remove our Q flag, and waited for Customs and Immigration officials.

It continued to rain, and the winds gusted from behind the boat. Officials came aboard after clearing in Voila, and soon we were officially checked in to the country. No issues with any of our food – or the copious amount of wine and beers on board. We were told our cruising permit would be ready mid next week. Tomorrow was a Fijian holiday (which we did not know about- so we were lucky we made it in today).

After we were cleared, our Fiji courtesy flag flying from the starboard spreader- we moved over to our dock- passing by Interval and Fortuna Star (our fellow Nordhavn friends- N63 and N52). The marina crew met us on a 14 meter dock, which we had some issues finding the best cleats to use to spring us properly. But we were very happy to be tied up and connected to power.

David and Cathy came by to say hello. We went down to take a nap.

Welcome to Fiji. We feel a huge sense of accomplishment with the passage. We now have some work to do on the boat. But that’s what cruising is about – repairing boats in exotic places.

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