Last night we sailed easily through the night at 6-7k with a nice 15-20k
breeze from the SE which, as the night wore, became more and more
Easterly. It is now about 8am and we have wind from ESE (just a bit South
of East) and we are making 7-8k over ground on a heading of 355 True
(still, virtually Due North). We have 165 miles to reach Fiji waters and
another 143 to reach Savusavu (a total of 308nm remaining).
The first island we will approach on our way to Savusavu is Totoya, part
of the Lau group. It is closely situated with Moala and Matuka - all three
being considered a part of the Lau Group, none can be visited without
special permission from Suva which I am told is never granted. Regardless,
it is not permissible to stop at any landfall (in any country) before
clearing in at an official overseas port of call (in the case of Fiji this
would mean Nandi/Lautoka, Lavuka (on Ovalu Island) or Savusavu on Vanua
Levu, our destination.
After passing Moala (just NW of Totoya) we will next approach Gau, an
island in the Lomoviti Group (also known as the Central Group). We will
also pass within 20 miles of Nairai. However, since we must clear customs
first, we cannot stop at either of these islands, though we may do so at a
At app. 1pm we started the engine in preparation for reefing the mainsail.
We rolled up the genoa to prevent flogging during the operation and I put
the engine in gear to keep our speed constant. The gearbox began slipping
in and out of gear. This happened last month when we put the boat in the
water in Tauranga. We drove it from the haul out to our slip and noticed
the problem then. I had a mechanic come down and check things out and he
said we were a quart low on gearbox oil! Yikes. Well, we filled it and
fired her up. Tied the dock lines tight and ran her for an hour in gear -
no slipping, no problems.
Our plan when leaving Tauranga was to run the engine for a couple of hours
in case the gearbox acted up again. We would return to Tauranga if it did
- that was our plan. Of course, we had no trouble and in fact since
leaving Tauranga 8 days ago have motored at least 30 hours (or motor
sailed) and the gearbox (and engine) ran fine and there was no slipping.
We have changed course for Suva, the capital of Fiji, and are now on a
heading of 326 True - Suva is approximately 210 miles away.