Rollercoaster, Say What?

We have been traveling around Vanua Levu with our dear friends Lutz and Gabi of SV SuAn. Our journey has been several days now and we are anchored in a lovely place called Delice Harbor. It is inside the reef of the island and has a very deep pass to enter. The day trip of 46 miles took its toll on us. We had seas up to two meters on the nose and although we maintained good forward speed in the 17-19 knots of head wind it was an arduous trip. During our trip, we left the flat calm waters of the northwestern lagoon Of Vanua Levu and into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Our trip started at 0600 hours and thank goodness it did. As our trip neared noon, the winds and the swells increased in height, frequency and velocity. We were glad to turn into the pass and the protection of the reef at about 1400 hours where we found a good anchorage for the night.
You know how you have those days like you didn’t work that hard, but you still feel like someone beat the crap out of you? Well, this was one of those days. The evening meal was chicken wings we had picked up in Labasa during our river trip adventure. These were the tiniest wings I’ve ever seen. I would think that a quail had bigger wings. Nonetheless, hot wing source and lemon pepper seasoning flavored the batch of BBQ wings for delectable consumption.
We decide that the next morning would require a 0700 hour departure time. Before our departure, Lutz and I discussed the day’s weather predictions. We talked about possibly leaving on Sunday, but our weather didn’t really indicate any change in the winds, direction of the winds or the swell. It was remotely possible to sail south once we cleared the northeast reefs guarding the northeast point of Vanua Levu. So, we decided to make the trip and get the worst part of the journey over with instead of prolonging the inevitable. We both decided that all systems were go for launch.
At 0700 we hoisted anchor and headed out of the pass en route to the northeast tip of the island. So far so good. The winds were building from 16 knots to 20 knots still wrapping around the tip of the island from the east, northeast, but the sea state was relatively flat. The barrier reefs guarding the island were visible even as we approached high tide. We navigated around those areas trying to stay as close to the leeward side of the island and safety as possible.
Once we reached the northeast tip of the island and the HUGE reef there, the fun started to happen. The winds now in the 20-22 knot range blowing out of the east and the swells churning up like a Maytag wringer washing machine with 2+ meter swells at about three seconds apart. Steep short frequency waves. Ouch! A yee haw ride to say the least. Jilly and Grape Ape we’re down below holding onto whatever they could.
Luckily the tip of the island reef was only about two miles wide before we could point south toward our destination. After we started southward, the swells frequency seemed to lengthen and their heights diminished. The ride got progressively better the further we left the island tip in our wake.
Our destination was Albert Cove on Rabi (pronounced Rambi) Island and it was a welcomed sight after a rollercoaster ride around the northeastern tip. Once again I feel like a gang of Hobbits cornered me and beat me with gourds at the end of a line. Time for a little R & R. Then off to explore the island tomorrow.
Stay tuned my friends.
Captain Dan and Jilly
Jilly’s View: WOW! What a crazy ride this one was! Think we need to have a discussion with our travel planner, Lutz! We were being bounced around like corks in the midst of a tropical storm. Just trying to stay seated around the table was a chore in itself as when we bounced off of one wave we’d heal to the port side then back to the starboard just as quickly. Even the most well secured items below were finding their way out of their places onto the floor. Seems like I spent most of the trip stepping on, tripping over and putting things back where they belonged only to have them come flying out again. Grape Ape found his way into the bunk and held on for dear life! Sometimes he’s a big melodramatic.
No, it certainly wassn’t the worst we’ve seen out here but I can tell you this…I was darn glad when we made the corner and things started to smooth out again. There’s no doubt we both earned our anchor down beverages this time!

Author: Dan & Jilly

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