Thursday, 17 November 2016

Anchored at Funafuti


We had a beautiful last night on passage. At sunset, it looked like we would have lots of squalls (in fact the not-so-super moon was well into the sky before we could even see it, because the clouds were so thick on the horizon), but then most of the unsettled weather moved off without materializing. On my watch, the sky was clear and the moon was radiant to windward. On Max's watch, he had quite a sound and lights show with lightening that brightened the whole sky, but thankfully it stayed far from Fluenta. Each time we did the calculation for when we would have to motor, the wind had changed so that we could do another three hours of sailing. Finally, just after dawn, as one of the few squalls to hit us gave us strong winds on the bow, we started the engine and motored the last few hours to the pass. As the squall moved away, it took all the wind with it, so we had lovely calm seas and sunshine for the last short leg.

The pass into Funafuti was plenty wide, which was good, because the gentle seas actually produced quite a surging, rolling swell at the pass itself. It felt on the bow as if we were galloping into the pass, but we actually had about 1.5 kts of current against us (which we prefer, because it provides more control at the helm for less speed over the ground) and Max controlled the helm with no sense of turbulence.

Speaking of current, we are hoping that we have a strong current with us on our passage south next year, as we felt like we paid our dues this week: we spent most of the last 48 hrs of the trip with over a knot of current either against us or pushing us laterally. At first I thought it was a tidal current, but when it went on for six, then 12, then 24 hours, it was pretty evident that it was an ocean current! Oh well. We made good time regardless, but it was a bit disheartening to have a boat speed of just over 3 kts and a speed over ground of 2 kts at certain points!

We had hoped to be at the "5 miles offshore" mark mid-morning in order to go through the pass around noon, and cross the lagoon with the high sun behind us, and this is exactly what happened. We couldn't have planned it better, from the winds that helped us track along the rhumb line for most of the passage, to the speed of advance that was just enough to let us sail right until this morning (the winds were forecast to die at least 24 hours earlier than they did). We had one lumpy day, but the rest of the passage was smooth and calm. I have decided that I prefer to be a bit of a fair-weather sailor, so for me, these conditions were ideal :)

After an uneventful crossing of the lagoon (thanks, Deanne for the Cruiser Notes!), we anchored off the capital (Funafuti) at around lunch time. We have friend whom we believe are enroute from Vanuatu and due in the next few days, but at the moment, we are the only cruisers here. There are a number of large fishing vessels in front of the commercial dock, and it is unsettling to think of how big their catches are when they go out. I suspect that sustainability is not at the top of their priority list.

By the time we had eaten and launched the dinghy, it was clear that Benjamin was in no shape to go out in public, so we decided that Max and the big kids would go ashore to clear in and I would settle Benjamin for his over-due nap.

In addition to clearing into Immigration and Quarantine (leaving Customs and Health for tomorrow morning), Max was able to sign us up for 3G Internet. We had heard from our friends that Tuvalu had introduced this service last season. They have, but it turns out to be amongst the most expensive we have seen: $10 AUS / 100 MB. At this rate, it would be $800/8GB, for which we were paying just $25 FJD a week ago. We will take care of necessary business, but we won't be browsing or watching videos!

Dinner tonight was a massive bowl of Sailfish ceviche, with limes from Taveuni (thanks Granny & Grandpa) and the last of my cilantro from the Savusavu market. In Mexico, we used to enjoy smoked Marlin ceviche, and even without being smoked, this was very good :) I also cooked some rice and fish to have as a second course, but we were so full from the ceviche that now we have lunch for tomorrow. I am grateful that I won't need to cook after all, as it was 33 deg C in the saloon and the cockpit when we arrived at noon today!! I said when I left Canada that I wanted to sail in the warmth, and it seems that I have gotten my wish :)

We are not sure how long we will be here, but we are looking forward to exploring a little and relaxing for a few days before we head north again.

Love to all,
At 2016-11-17 9:02 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.51'S 179°11.35'E

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