Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sailing Moala to Totoya, Lau group, Fiji

August 1, 2013
Underway Position: 18°57' S 179°49' W
Sailing Moala to Totoya, Lau group, Fiji

We're underway again today, this time sailing south after dropping the guy from Totoya island at the airport in Moala. Risi bought supplies for the villages and we are loaded down as we sail the 44nm back to Totoya. The weather today is stellar with great sailing winds from the NE and we're making 8-9 knots.

In agreeing to this favor to sail to Moala, we broke our cardinal rule about tight schedules. It all seemed fine back then but then the morning of our planned departure the weather turned on us with torrential rain and heavy dark low clouds. Navigating out of Totoya was extremely technical as we retraced out track through the lagoons' coral studded waters we did so at a much higher risk than we prefer.

Totoya Island, Lau group Fiji chart is not accurate
Totoya Island, Lau group Fiji CM93 chart is very poor as evidenced by a lack of soundings and our sailing track crossing over land and reefs.  NOT FOR NAVIGATION

It was one of those days that we would normally never even consider lifting the anchor. That's the trouble with schedules. The heavy rain accompanied us all the way to Moala where the clouds finally parted at just the right time to reveal that our charts were showing Moala well east and North of it's charted position.  
Moala Island, Lau group, Fiji the chart here shows details, but is poorly geo referenced as shown on MaxSea.  NOT FOR NAVIGATION
Moala island Fiji shown on Open CPN with chart offsets applied.   NOT FOR NAVIGATION

However, it wasn't until we navigated a labyrinth of reefs and arrived at our anchorage on the northeast that we were finally able to correctly geo reference our charts. without the charts for guidance we relied on eyeball navigation and even that was literally clouded by poor overcast lighting conditions and murky waters as the result of muddy river runoff from the deluge of rain. When we finally arrived at the NE Nario village 'anchorage' suggested by our Fijian guests it was absolutely lousy with heavy confused chop, no wind protection and a deep broken coral rubble bottom. It was late in the day, so there was no opportunity to move to an alternate locations.
Risi left and the cousin of Risi right inbound to the NE corner of Moala after the rain stopped.
Risi and his cousin, oblivious to our plight, headed for shore for a night of drinking grog and we suffered one of the worst nights sleep in the crappiest anchorage to date. The next morning we performed our sevusevu with the chief and he asked that we wait for the plane to arrive at 11:30 as a parcel was aboard for someone at Totoya. I was keen to leave and find a better anchorage, but I couldn't refuse the request of the chief as the parcel clearly must be very important to be arriving by plane. So, we waited with everyone aboard LightSpeed totally sea sick from the crappy anchorage in front of the chiefs house. Of course the plane was late and then Risi disappeared for an hour even though we agreed that we had to leave by noon to sail the 18nm around the island to the anchorage where he could purchase supplies for the village.

Risi showed up at 1:15 and we immediately left the anchorage on the northeast and set the spinnaker for the sail down and around Moala. I was plenty annoyed at this point, but got a little mad when I found out we'd been waiting all day with everyone seasick for a parcel of 40 packs of cigarettes! What the hell! I was seriously starting to regret making the trip to Moala, but forced myself to grin and bear it. Because we missed our planned noontime departure time we again had a real struggle making our way through Daveta-I-Thakova, a dogleg pass in the reef and then past several dangerous coral heads on our way to the Thakova bay.
Daveta-I-Thakova pass, Moala Island, Lau group, Fiji the chart here shows details, but is poorly geo referenced as shown on MaxSea.  NOT FOR NAVIGATION

Daveta-I-Thakova pass, Moala Island, Lau group, Fiji shown on OpenCPN with offsets applied.  NOT FOR NAVIGATION.
 The good news was that we'd have a calm anchorage with good holding in solid mud near the head of the reef fringed bay. I was pretty exhausted from lack of sleep in our crappy anchorage, but still needed to run Risi to shore for his sugar, rice and flour. I was expecting a quick trip to the shop, but how little I've learned about the speed or lack thereof in which business is conducted. It seems simple enough to buy some dry goods, but still this took hours. While Tim and I were waiting around we met a local teacher and were invited into many homes, received a dinner invite that we declined as Kathy already was cooking aboard LightSpeed and eventually ended up joining a group of villagers who were drinking some Kava. I had a few bowls and eventually we saw Risi appear with a bag of sugar then I saw him walk by the home we were in with plenty more large bags. The light was waning and the tide receding so I knew we needed to get going or the dinghy would be stuck high and dry on the muddy tidal flat for the night. When Tim and I went down to the dinghy it was over flowing with heaps of large 50kG flour bags full of who knows what. I asked Risi if he was ready and then we struggled to get the dinghy to deeper water in its overloadeded condition. Back at LightSpeed I was concerned that the many bags might contain vermin like cockroaches or worse yet rats or mice. So much for just a few bags of sugar, rice and flour. Risi had also purchased three huge sacs of kava. To me buying kava when you yourself are a kava farmer seemed odd, sort of like taking sand to the beach. But, what do I know! So, hoping to mitigate the spread of vermin to our home, we double bagged all the goods and left the Kava tied up in tarp in the dinghy. My fingers are crossed.

This morning we headed out Daveta-I-Thakova pass on west side of Moala and set sail for Totoya. In calm seas in the lee of Moala Kathy prepared pancakes for breakfast and just as we finished washing up the dishes we set sail as we cleared the wind shadow and protection of the reef. Great sailing conditions today. Bruce has a sore throat and is laying low and Tim retired to his cabin after breakfast as he was feeling a bit sea sick. Actually, everyone is racked out this morning. Kathy is in bed, Risi is sleeping on the couch and even our cat Shell is fast asleep on the navigation desk as I type this report. It's kind of nice having everything quiet and enjoying a great sail.