Posted by: procamnz | May 29, 2008

Passage from Opua to Savusavu, Fiji

We left Opua at 8AM on 6 May with our good friends, Wendy and Warren. They
have done several passages to the Pacific several years ago and so thought
they knew what to expect but probably got more than they expected.

We had three days of ideal weather and seas, SW winds of 15-25 knots and
Windspirit sailed beautifully. We made 150-160 miles a day. None of us had
any issues with seasickness and were able to eat normal meals.

We had a small bird fly in to the cockpit on our third day out, a Welcome
Swallow. He came and went several times but was not interested in any
crumbs, just wanting to have a rest. He flew back and forth on several
occasions.

On the morning of our fourth day out King Neptune decided to give us hell.
The wind picked up to 35 and then 40 knots from the west and the seas
rapidly built up. The bad weather was a result of a deep low over New
Zealand. The weather maps showed three fronts and we experienced each of
these – periods of one to two hours of consistent 42-45 knots with rain.
The boat was taking it all very well until the auto-helm packed up, taking
with it our wheel steering. We were not too concerned about that because we
had an independent hydraulic steering system all set up and ready to go, but
never anticipated that it would only last four hours (electrics affected by
salt water) and leave us wallowing in those rough seas. Also the hydraulic
fluid had leaked everywhere and was impossible to clean up at the time. The
boat was bucking around and very uncomfortable. We were using a very
reefed staysail and a small amount of mainsail (trysail size) and after a
while were able to set up the boat to sail on just those at about 5 knots
and only about 30 degrees off course. We kept that up for two days until
Tony was able to isolate the wheel steering once the weather eased a bit and
we were then able to take turns at wheel steering. The wind settled down to
20 knots average after 2½ days but the seas stayed high and gradually
deceased towards the end of the trip.

It seemed to take forever to get to Savusavu from when we first sighted
land. It took us another two days to get up the coast as we had either too
little or too much wind and needed to do many sail changes but finally
entered Nakama Creek, Savusavu at first light on 11 May, very tired but
happy to get in to sheltered waters.

We had no trouble with customs, immigration, agriculture or health
clearances. We just had to promise not to take anything off the boat in the
way of food etc. The authorities were very good to deal with.

We were all exhausted but spent that day tidying up the essentials and
getting settled in. On 12 May we spent most of the day in the town trying
to find spares etc and also looking in to our Internet options. W&W flew to
Nadi that day where they were staying for a few days before returning to NZ.

Several days were spent cleaning up the boat. The hydraulic fluid has
ruined the carpet and has filtered in to every nook and cranny. We also
took on quite a lot of water in the rough seas and are gradually flushing
and drying out.

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