Posted by: procamnz | November 6, 2008

The long trip home

We went in to Lautoka on Monday and returned our Internet Vodem. We were surprised to see that all the Indian women and little girls were dressed in the most beautiful Saris and glittery shoes. The clothes were all colours of the rainbow. The people were all preparing for the festival of Diwali, which is the festival of lights, similar to New Year for the Indian people. We were lucky enough to hitch a lift in to town with a very pleasant Indian man, who actually invited us to his home for the festival the next day, and he explained the meaning to us. Unfortunately we were not able to take him up on his offer because we ended up leaving before that.
We finally had the go ahead from Commander to leave Fiji on Wednesday 29 October. So even though Tuesday was a public holiday we decided to pay the overtime rates and clear customs on that day. While Tony took the taxi to Lautoka to clear, I was madly sorting out the last few jobs, which needed to be done before we left. He returned to the boat at about 11AM and we set sail for Momi Bay where we intended to stay the night and leave the next morning. However when we arrived there at about 2PM we found that an on shore breeze had set in, which would not have made for a comfortable night’s anchorage. Therefore, after a very brief discussion we chose to leave immediately and head out of Navula Passage and south to New Zealand. We are very pleased that we made that decision because boats that did end up leaving later got caught in bad weather close to NZ.
Our trip, although uncomfortable and very tiring was actually quite reasonable. Of course, it did not come without challenges. We each did three-hour watches from 7PM until 7AM. Tony took the 7-10PM and the 1-4AM watches and I took the 10-1AM and 4-7AM. This seemed to work for us except we then had, what I called, the 10 o’clock syndrome. This occurred every night except one. Something always went wrong at that time just after Tony had gone to bed. Usually we had an increase in wind speed and direction, but sometimes it happened to be the instruments that went crazy for no apparent reason. A couple of times the auto helm decided to run amok. Then the sails would back and all hell would be let loose. However we would eventually sort out the problems and things would settle down. But it did not make relaxing easy.
We were able to keep up to date with the positions of other yachts in the area by listening in to Des’ radio sked, morning and night. Over 6 ½ days off shore we did not see any other yacht, ship or plane until the last night when we all were starting to converge for the sail in to the Bay of Islands. That night we saw the lights of three other yachts. It was very hard to sleep that last night because we were excited about coming home. Also the wind and waves had started to increase ahead of the oncoming low-pressure system. We were very pleased to see the welcome sight of the Cavalli Islands and next to clear the Nine Pin. We then knew we were home.
On the radio we heard that there were 15 boats at Opua waiting to clear Customs and that there was no room at the wharf. It seemed like a good move to slow down, sort out the boat and have a well-earned hot shower. What luxury! Tony finished his shower just as we pulled up at the quarantine wharf.
We did not have to wait long before we were boarded by first Customs and next bio-security. No problems there except that they took any items which could be grown, e.g. chickpeas etc. Not a lot and we were soon on our way to the Marina for a well-earned rest.
While sailing in to the bay we received a phone call from our good friends Wendy and Warren who informed us that they would meet us at the pier with fresh bread, tomatoes and bananas. That was a real treat and they assisted us with our lines and making the boat fast on the marina. They stayed for about two hours and then left us to rest. It was really great to be welcomed home and such a surprise.
The last few days have been a blur with us sorting out bits and pieces and doing heaps of laundry etc. We have also enjoyed dinner at the Opua Cruising Club each night. The meals are reasonably priced, $10-12 each and the company is great.

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