On this passage i really wanted to bring crew because this passage is not so
straight forward as the previous ones. Mostly because i have to sail through the
Lau group in Fiji and because of the risk of being too tired to do the right
things if the weather would play up. When you are 'in the middle of nowhere'
like you are when sailing from Tahiti to Tonga it is no worry if the weather
turns bad, you just reef down and go to bed but when sailing between islands and
reefs it is a different matter. You need to be awake and know where to run and
I brought my good friend Stefan who I met in Tonga almost a year ago. Stefan had
never sailed before but since he is an excellent cook it really doesn't matter.
All I need is company, food and someone to keep a lookout at night and
Stefan did great. The last two nights he started getting the hang of things and
did sail changes and navigation all by himself, Great job Stefan.
The passage Sucked... It had been a year since I had done a passage
and I felt that rust right away. The trade winds has not yet established
themselves and the wind came from all directions with all kinds of forces. The
first day we had the wind on the nose and it rained. The second day it was dead
calm and if it wasesnt for the bottom job I did to the boat before I left Tonga
we might as well could have taken the sails down. I felt like motoring a bit but
the engine broke down as soon as we lost sight of Tonga. A quick check on the
motor reveled that it needs parts so the fixing will have to wait until Fiji.
Great, now I will have to sail through the reef passage in Fiji, to the
quarantine area and then to the anchorage without the safety of an engine.
On day three I underestimated a squall and headed into it with too much canvas
up, after being blown hard over I managed to stabilize the boat on a downwind
run, the roler-furling jammed and I had to let go of the ropes and let the sail
flap around, this of course ended in a big hole in the sail and hundreds of
stitches torn out here and there. The mainsail undid itself from the cleat and
wrapped itself around the mast nicely but with no damage. By the way a squall is
sudden rain accompanied by high winds, is does not last long but if you are
caught with too much sail up it can be a bit nasty. A squall lasts form 5 to 20
to six we had little and no wind. This was kind of Ok in a way because we were
still moving in the right direction and there were not much waves so we just
took it easy and relaxed with good food and stories. Upon arrival in Suva, Fiji
the wind was still shit but lucky for us the reef entrance is a sharp turn to
right and that gave us a perfect angle to the wind and we were able to sail all
the way to the quarantine anchorage. Since the motor was dead we kind of had to
sail all the way but with a little creativity i had made a backup motor with the
swim ladder and the outboard (see pic.) I am glad we did not have to use
this because frankly it was not very sturdy.
Stuck in mud:
Here is how shit can happen, again and again. The anchorage that I had found was
not the quarantine anchorage at all but I managed to get away with that by
explaining the motor situation to the port control. What I had a harder time
getting away with was the feeling of being very stupid when low tide came and I
was stuck in mud. The bottom was touching and there were still two hours to go
until complete low tide, SHIT... Immigration, Customs, health and
quarantine inspectors came to see me in the boat at the same time I realized
that I was stuck so I had them tow me off then put a buoy on my anchor (so I
could retrieve it later) and set a new one in a better place. Somehow in this
haze of things to do, with five officials on the boat I managed to let go of all
ropes and we were now drifting around with no more anchors ready and no engine.
I politely asked to be excused from the officers by saying 'excuse me for a
second, we seem to be adrift I better tend to the situation'. The officers
who just finished laughing about the mud situation cracked up again and seemed
to have a great time on Spetakkel, I on the other hand was getting quite tired
of messing around and had now lost my favorite anchor and frankly that sucks...
I honestly don't know what's next. I was going to sail to Vanuatu to see the
land jumping in June but with all the repairs I have to do to the boat and
seeing the magnitude of this beautiful island I don't think I will be moving on
anytime soon. The plan to get to Thailand by December will probably be affected
too so really, I don't know what's next...
decided to start accepting guests so if you would like to come for a visit and
crew on Spetakkel for a while that just might be possible feel free to email me
it folks. have a great week and if you like me to keep on writing go to my
guestbook and leave a hello, that always encourages me to keep on writing.