May 31

We finally left Suva today and are on our way to the Great Astrolabe Reef at Kandavu. The sky was clear for the first time in 3 days but clouds were visible on the horizon in several directions. I was confident they would burn off as the day wore on. We pulled away from the Yacht Club dock at about 7am and motored out through the anchorage of other boats. There was no wind at all and a gentle swell rolled us from side to side after we left the protection of the pass. We are motoring on a heading of 158M at 6.5k at about 1800rpm.

At 9am we decided to change course! The horizon to the South is a solid wall of dense cloud. The radar shows multiple squalls popping off along the line. Everything North of that line is bathed in Sunshine, including the islands on Mbengga and Yanutha just to our West and just South of Pacific Harbor on Viti Levu. My feeling is that the line is the front which passed over Suva in the last few days. It is stalled or is slow moving at best and the last thing we need is to motor 4 more hours through rain! So, we're off to Yanutha now and will get to Kandavu next when the weather is more certain.

Yanutha and the much larger Mbengga share a lagoon even though the two are about 6 miles apart. We are app. 12 miles from the Easternmost pass into the lagoon then two or three miles to pass over the top of Mbengga then 6 to Yanutha. A total of about 21 miles to go

It is now 11am and we are about a half mile from the entrance to the Mbengga Lagoon. There is still no wind and we are still motoring. The sun is shining though so we are very happy.

Wow, how quickly things can turn to shit. It is now 5:15pm and we have been anchored at Yanutha since 3pm. About 3 miles East of Yanutha, inside the Mbengga Lagoon, our transmission suddenly started making an awful grinding noise. We shut it off immediately. We tried to sail but there was very little wind. We inflated the dinghy and mounted the outboard engine (a Johnson 8hp) and proceeded to tow the Queen Jane the rest of the way to Yanutha.

We are most likely going to proceed to Vunda Point in Lautoka, on the other side of Viti Levu from Suva, and again attempt to repair the transmission. I really don't know what is wrong with it, but the grinding noise is quite scary and is very different from the problem we had before we had it repaired in Suva. Fortunately our new friends on "Boreal" arrived here just shortly after we did. They have decided to escort us to Vunda Point, in stages, and have offered the use of their dinghy which is larger and has a 15hp outboard for towing in and out of harbors and passes. We will have to wait for a proper wind though so we can sail each leg, the distances are too large to rely on an outboard dinghy tow. When we will leave on this epic journey? Not tomorrow, that we know. A few days rest and relaxation are called for and we must wait for better weather (heavy cloud covers Viti Levu completely, though Yanutha and Mbengga are in the clear) and good wind.