Around 730am on August 30th, we left the spit anchorage at Fulaga. We motored around the little islets and shallow reefs and proceeded out the pass. The wind came up to about 20 knots so we raised the main and unfurled the genoa. We enjoyed several hours of nice sailing, but the wind dropped later in the day, so we turned on an engine and motor-sailed.
We had to decide to pass north or south of Totoya, a small island in the middle of no-where, but directly in our path. It would be a wonderful stop sometime, but not at night. We steered a course passing south of it.
It is rare to see another boat on passages but one appeared on the AIS and radar about 3 miles away, and stayed there for many miles and what seemed like hours. We could see the lights of the big ship, likely a fishing boat. I thought I could see the signature of a net a fair distance behind the boat, but who knows. I did radio the boat a couple times, just to see that they saw us, but got no response. Having a target to watch keeps you alert at night.
Around 1am, Monty was on watch and felt the wind pick up. He unfurled the genoa and turned off the engines. It was a lot quieter in the cabin for my “couple hours of shut-eye”.
This was just our second overnight passage, with just the two of us. I finally learned why Monty did not find the 3-hour watches in the middle of the night as taxing. HE WAS LISTENING TO MUSIC, on the iPod his brother had given him! He told me he was listening to Frank Zappa. I am not a fan, but have over 4000 songs on my iPhone! I started listening to the music of my past that I only dare play when I am on my own, like Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston and Gino Vanelli. We did have moonlight for a time, which was great, but the music kept my eyelids from getting heavy. If I picked a fast upbeat tune, I would dance to it in my seat! Moving and shaking seemed to help fight the fatigue.
While I was on watch, the winds started to drop. Around 6am, they had fallen to below 8 knots and we had slowed down to about 3 or 4 knots. We were counting the miles we had to go and the daylight hours to get somewhere to anchor and the only choice was to motor-sail again. I have never been opposed to running the engines, especially when it means being able to get somewhere in good light.
Kadavu and the Astrolabe Reef ended up smack in the way of our route to Musket Cove, where Monty really wanted to go. The reef is a world renowned diving destination. From my research, the Kadavu Islands and the reef had a lot to offer the cruiser or diver.
As we approached the reef, we could see Gaia, a Dutch boat we met in Fulaga, on the AIS display. She was anchored next to Dravuni Island, just inside the northern part of the reef. Monty agreed to go anchor there rather than keep sailing passed. From outside the reef, we could see islands lined by sandy beaches. It looked enticing!
With the sun behind us, it was the right time of day to negotiate a pass and drop the hook. A plan was made.
Just as we approached D’Urville Passage, we heard that now somewhat familiar “ZING”. A fish on both rods at same time, again!
One broke free but the other, a big-eye tuna, was well hooked.
The flavour of those fish is hard to beat, especially when so fresh! Monty came up with some interesting creations, like seared with sesame seeds, but it was wonderful simply sliced raw and marinated with some ginger and soy sauce too.
We approached Dravuni Island and dropped our anchor in 8 metres on what appeared to be a sandy bottom, not far from Gaia. There were a few bombies around us. Monty dove into the crystal clear turquoise water and swam over to inspect the anchor. He concluded it would be fine.
We were just a few hundred metres from a long sandy beach with a small village on the shoreline.
We could see a trail leading up to the top of the biggest hill on Dravuni. Speaking later with Ben and Astrid, on Gaia, they said it was a nice hike with beautiful views of the area. They had forgotten their camera and made me promise to send them some photos from the top. We made a plan to stay long enough to do the hike the next day. A sevusevu would be required, where we exchange yagona root for the privilege of anchoring in their bay, the Fijian way! That could wait until tomorrow. We were ready to kick back, enjoy some fresh tuna, a glass of wine and a night of uninterrupted sleep!