Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rotuma, Fiji

TIME: 2013/10/31 22:47 UTC (10:47AM local)
LATITUDE: 12-29.23S
LONGITUDE: 177-07.20E
Anchored near wharf on NE corner of Rotuma Island, Fiji 15' sand with super holding.

Early this morning around 1AM LightSpeed was 12nm from Routma, so we dropped sail and drifted until 5:30AM. Our drift rate lying beam to the seas and wind was 0.6 knots/hour with a 8-13 knot breeze overnight. About 9 miles from the SE corner of Rotuma we had Digicel 2G data. Closer to the East end of Routma we lost the Digicel and now in the anchorage on the NE corner near the wharf and it appears the signal comes from west end of the island near government station.

Despite the lack of internet we had a great morning fishing for Yellow fin Tuna on the east side of Rotuma. Hundreds if not thousands of sea birds and lots of jumping Yellow fin. We started with a double hook up. I landed the first fish pretty quick and then went to work on the second fish that was now down deep and much larger than the first based on the fight to reel him in. After getting a look at the fish near the surface he dove again with a powerful rush. Then tug tug tug and no more pressure on the line as I reeled in just a fish head. Shark!

The anchorage at Rotuma is gorgeous with white sand contrasting dark black volcanic rock clad with rich verdant green vegetation. Ground swell from the north creates a bump, but after being at sea the movement is no bother. A large red ship sized mooring buoy lies in the center of the bay and could be a hazard during a night approach.
 Rotuma Bakery
 Wood fired ovens turnout some beautiful loaves.
 Feeding the flames
 Hand kneeded dough
 Typical segment of Rotuma road.

 This is the happy home of a family of 9.
 Dave and Philip our amazing island host.
 Curry dinner near the wharf with a few fresh coconuts.

 Beautiful beach near the wharf

 Philip bringing in bikes for our 27km round island ride.

 Pandanus leaves drying in the sun.
 Looking west at Government station is the big town on Rotuma featuring many small government offices, post office, police station, customs, immigration, biosecurtity and a small grocery store.
 Looking east down the main road at Government station.
 SE bay looking south.
 SE bay looking SSE

 Cool coconut scraper in the form of a animal shaped bench called a Tau or Tua?
 Kathy with a skipjack and yellow fin we caught near the whaf.

That's it for now.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween underway for Rotuma

October 31, 2013 12:24 local
13-53S 177-55
Underway for Rotumna

Upping anchor yesterday we headed toward Ravi Ravi passage on the north side of Vanua Levu, Fiji. In the distance several guys on a local fishing boat were franticly waving diving fins while standing atop their wheelhouse. We approached and asked how we could help. All three guys were ethnic Indian Fijians and none spoke intelligible English. Clearly they wanted a tow, but to where? We offered the use of our cell phone, so they might call a bilingual friend for translation, but alas no cell signal.

At this point we were located about 6 miles from land with the Great Sea reef and Ravi Ravi passage another 4 miles distant. Instead of pointing towards shore, these guys were pointing and waving that we should tow them more or less parallel to shore some unspecified distance. The only land we could see in that direction was over 15 miles away and we'd have to negotiate lots of patch reefs along the way.

The weather was clear and calm and perfect for lending a hand to fellow mariners, but it was starting to look like our sail to Rotuma might be delayed another day. We rigged a tow bridal of two 50' lines and then a 100' tow line and got underway. Occasionally, I'd stand on the back deck to confirm that we should continue parallel to shore and they'd wave heartily that we should.

A few miles later the skipper was standing atop his wheel house with a cell phone and making a call. We checked our phone and now had coverage. A few patch reefs later we neared some other fishing boats and the skipper instructed through lots of hand waving to stop and get them anchored where they could await repairs. We got them settled, offered them some water and they offered us some fish in thanks. Our fridge was full so we declined the fish, wished them well and headed back toward the ocean pass, the Great Sea Reef at Ravi Ravi.

After motoring for an hour we were at Ravi Ravi pass and we anchored in a sandy patch to prepare for a drift snorkel. Climbing aboard the dingy, 12 pacific white sided dolphins swam directly towards us. We quietly slipped into the water and enjoyed by far the closest dolphin swim ever. Several small baby dolphins stayed close to their mothers, but swam on their sides to check us out. Very, very cool.

A strong flood tide whipped us along the vertical coral walls as if powered by jet packs. On our second drift through the pass we spotted a school of tuna leaping wildly in a feeding frenzy. Approaching in the dinghy, I dove down and swam under the school to observe the chaos from below. WOW! Simply amazing to have Tuna zipping by and charging toward the surface. The water was deep and an ominous blue, so I was also watching my back expecting that some sharks might crash the party.

Coral in the pass was wrecked pretty bad, perhaps from last years cat 4 Cyclone Evan? Deeper down the vertical walls were better with some fans and sea anemones and tons of aggregating fish in huge schools. Some extra curious white tip reef sharks and one bigger grey shark took special interest following us to the surface after bigger dives. Did they think we were spearing fish? We've never had sharks check us out quite like that. On the west side of the pass the wall was better with overhangs and big bump head wrase and many smaller ones as well.

It's an awkward distance to Rotuma. A little too far for one overnight and too close for two overnights. So in no big rush we had lunch and eventually got underway around 1PM as nasty storm clouds full of black and lightening were threatening to engulf us from the mainland.

The wind was light until sunset then filled in with a vengeance of furious squalls and lightening, a Halloween fright. We expected a broad reach with E or ESE winds, but we got no treat only a trick of close reaching ENE and squalls all night. With a double reef main and jib we averaged 8 knots pushing us well ahead of schedule.

Today we need to slow down as our current speed has arriving at Rotuma just after midnight. In hindsight we could have anchored at Ravi Ravi passage, left early in the AM and made Rotuma in just one night at sea.

That's it for now.

Dave & Kathy Kane
s/v LightSpeed

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Really, really leaving for Rotuma today.

October 30, 2013

Sailing ~265nm from Vanua Levu Fiji to Rotuma Fiji

We really tried to leave yesterday.  On our way toward the reef pass the wind shifted from NE to SE and dark storm clouds rolled off Vanua Levu pummelling us with rain.  We ran for safe anchorage as the storm raged for several hours with flashing lightening and rumbling thunder.  Our cat Shell totally freaked out with the thunder.

Mostly clear skies today and a nice forecast of east 15 for the next few days for our sail to Rotuma.

This is the end of the internet connection for the next few months.  Just Sailmail via SSB (ham) radio. However, we can still collect email from ALL of our email accounts, but we usually only check one a day.

That's it for now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Heading for Rotuma today

 We're heading 16nm north to Tevoro Pass if the Great Sea reef on the northern edge of Vanua Levu.  If the wind remains light then we'll look for a sandy patch to drop anchor for the night or if the wind cooperates we get underway for Rotuma.
 Overview map of Fiji with the black line indicating our intended track to Rotuma, Fiji.  The red lines are some of our tracks while sailing around Fiji in 2013.
Our next stop is Oinafa Rotuma, Fiji
Yadua Cukuvou Anchorage
Yadua Cukuvou Harbor Anchorage  Maxsea CM93 chart is pretty good, but Google Earth is a nice addition.

Cascade at Naiselesele River, Vanua Levu, Fiji

Cascade Naiselesele river
Cascade at Naiselesele river, Vanua Levu Fiji
After a huge rainstorm last night the skies cleared providing a great opportunity to explore the nearby Naiselesele River.  Our charts and a cruising guide reference indicated a 'Cascade' and we were expecting a waaterfall, but found only a cascade.
 With calm conditions we drived with the current enjoying the sounds of water dripping off the mangrove, chirping birds and the occasional splash of a fish.
 Calm conditons = Hot.  This photo was taken before 8AM and it's already sticky hot with the lack of wind.
LightSpeed looking all shimmery in the morning sun.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Position report and sunset photo

TIME: 2013/10/28 03:41
LATITUDE: 16-36.88S
LONGITUDE: 178-44.41E
SPEED: 0.0
LightSpeed-  Anchored near Tavea Island, Vanua Levu, Fiji. 18' mud excellent holding.

Walu we caught to day is on the grill as we enjoy a spectacular sunset near Tavea Island.  Tomorrow we hope to check out the 'Cascade' mentioned in the cruising guide from 1992.

We've done lots of fishing in Fiji, but not as much catching as we'd like.

Catch of the day Walu (Fijian Name) or Narrow Barred Spanish mackerel.  Scomberomorus commerson

A hungry shark chomped two tuna near Yadua, Fiji.

 Mushroom rock on the south west coast of Yaqaga Island almost tempted us to anchor, but the bay was 60+ feet deep and offered little protection.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sail rock anchorage

October 27, 2013
Anchorage Position: 16°40.59 S 178°17.41 E
Sail Rock

Sail Rock, Vatu Ma

Sail Rock Vatu Ma, Fiji

A hint of breeze occasionally sends ripples glassy seas. Last night we had a great nights sleep anchored on the west side of Yandua in Cukuvou Bay at: 16°48.9S 178°17.11E. It's a beautiful calm bay in prevailing winds and one of our favorites having stayed for two weeks in 2007.

Clear skies and calm conditions beckon exploration off the beaten track. Mostly by chance we ventured near Sail rock chasing a school of fish that wouldn't bite. With bright sunshine overhead we traversed the coral studded shoals and found a unique calm weather anchorage on the south side of Sail Rock (Vatu Ma) which lies about 8nm north of Yandua. Even on a calm day Sail rock offers little protection, provides a perfect opportunity to reunite with our long lost sea legs. We carefully located the anchor in a 50' deep sandy patch near 16°40.59 S 178°17.41 E.

Just off our stern a coral head the size of a 4 story apartment building lingers 10 feet below the surface. A glorious sea anemone with 3 clown fish stands sentinel. Spawning Yellow Grunts numbering over 1000 swim in unison near the bottom. Despite the brutish name the Yellow Grunts waft like a gentle summer breeze across a golden field of grain. Truly a moment of awe as we hovered motionless above.

Envision the wind filled billowing sails of a traditional 80' schooner and you'll have a perfect image of Sail rock Swimming towards the reef, tropical fish of all size and description frolic at the precipice of an underwater cliff plunging 40 feet to the white sandy bottom below. A cacophony of song emirates from the circling sea birds whose precious eggs sit perilously atop barren rock. A churn of sand and shells mix with crashing waves to form a whisper of a beach. Dark black basalt streaked with white guano is specked haphazardly with delicate eggs. Yikes, a huge black and grey banded snake rests in the shade of an overhanging rock. Yes, it's alive and appears well fed. A diameter of 2-1/2" indicates many feasts on fledgling chicks. Is it indigenous? We'll hope it doesn't swim.

In the next few days we'll be looking for a weather window to Rotuma, Fiji about 300nm to the north.

That's it for now.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kite boarding update. F One kites

We're stoked about learning to kiteboard.  After 3 lessons, Dave was riding upwind and even made a few direction changes without getting wet.  Kathy is natural on the board, likely due to her collegiate water ski days at California State University Long Beach.  I hope to strap our GoPro camera to the kite for digital capture very soon.

We just ordered some kites from Travis at and we'll have them shipped via USPS Priority mail to the Marshall Islands.  We're going with last years model of the F-One Bandit 6 kite and our quiver consists of 8/10/12/14 which has lots of overlap, but should have us riding in a broad range of wind conditions. For 20+ days Kathy can fly a Cabrinha Convert 7m thanks to Teri and Philip of s/v Blue Bie.

 F One Bandit 6 kites.
Kathy has a new 8m White/Blue Bandit 6 just like this on the way.  (I borrowed this photo from the www)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Japan Tsunami debris field location

Our 'plan' to sail to Alaska in May/June 2014 has me wondering about the current location of the Japan Tsunami debris field.  Evaluating potential risk of a debris strike is important as we sure don't want to be blasting through the night if there is any risk of crashing into some of those items we've been seeing on the news, like floating docks and ghost fishing boats.

High windage Oyster float
High windage dock
Dangerous low windage boat

The International Pacific Research Center (IRPC) Tsunami debris model is based upon wind and ocean currents and should give a good indication of where all that Tsunami junk is going.  Items with lots of windage, like styrofoam blocks or Oyster floats scud quickly across the surface and have long since washed up on the beaches of North America.  Neutrally buoyant objects are those with 0% windage and driven solely by oceanic currents and may take many many years to reach North America if they don't sink first.

Animation showing 0% windage items

 The IPRC Tsunami debris models conveniently includes items ranging from 0% to 5% windage, so we can better understand the potential location of the slow moving junk.  In summary, it looks like we have a pretty clear track from the Marshall Islands to Alaska by May/June 2014.

 For more great info check out:

All photos courtesy of IRPC.

Animation showing 0% windage items

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rain, Rain Go Away.

We're waiting on '93P Invest' pictured above to move out of the area or disperse and then we'll get underway for Rotuma, but it could be a week or two before we find the right wind.
Image courtesy of
A screen shot shows the GFS GRIB agreeing nicely with the satellite image above, the problem is the various weather models disagree on exactly where this small low pressure might move next.

Our friend Philip sailing Blue Bie, an Outremer 43 catamaran uses European and Canadian GRIB models supplied by Predict Wind.  Philip was confident that the low would move W or S and is left today for Rotuma which lies just to the east of this weather (see blue line and tiny speck of land).  We'd love to be in Rotuma in a few days, but don't like the idea of  even a small chance of running into this weather at sea.  So, we might be here a few more weeks waiting for our window.  We're still near Safari Lodge on Nananu-I-Ra island and will resume kiting lessons as soon as the constant rain abates.

Update:  We spoke with Philip after his successful voyage to Rotuma and now wish we would have gone as well.  The Predict Wind models are pretty sweet, but at $500'ish a year we make do with our tax payer funded GFS model.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fiji kiteboarding lessons. Up and riding.

Anchor position: 17°18.1345 S 178°13.0863 E
16 meters excellent holding in stiff coral mud.

We're anchored on the west side of Nananu-I-Ra island on the north east corner of Viti Levu, Fiji near Safari Lodge.

Kiteboarding lessons at Safari Lodge can get you up and riding quickly. In fact, Kathy got up and riding on her second lesson and Dave was riding in one session.  Not too shabby.
We're all ready to sail north, just waiting for the ugly weather shown below to dissipate.

Ugly weather could be on the way.

That's it for now.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

That tiny blue dot is us.

That tiny blue dot in the middle of this Google Earth image is our anchorage for the night.

This anchorage at Tovu Island is far from ideal.  Too close to shallow coral that could become dangerous with a wind shift and super deep water off our stern.   Strong ESE trade winds have us stuck here for the night.  Our Nexus10 android tablet and Nexus4 android phone will be running SailsafePro anchor alarm tonight. With the green sector defined as 'safe'.  If we move out of this 40m radius green area the very loud alarm will sound.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Newest 'Plan' = North to Alaska in 2014

Ok, so a few weeks ago we were all committed and 'off the fence and sailing west' toward Asia.  Taking our time sailing through Indonesia and maybe looking for jobs in Singapore.  After tens of hours planning and blowing $300 on visitor visas for PNG, Dave developed cold feet about living on the boat in Singapore where it's always super hot and steamy and far too crowded.   Running low on cash we've been outlining the next chapter of our life and decided to list LightSpeed for sale to keep options open.  For a few days we even contemplated a rushed circumnavigation, but the schedule would be tight with little cash to properly enjoy side trips like an African Safari.

Those who follow our blog know our plans are wish washy at best. So, it will come as no surprise that we've devised yet another 'new plan' and now intend to sail north to the Marshall islands.  But, before we go we're taking kiteboarding lessons here in Fiji, so we can enjoy the near perfect kiteboarding conditions found in the Marshall islands from January to May of next year.

I have my crystal ball out at the moment and I can clearly see us sailing from the Marshall Islands for Dutch Harbor, Alaska around mid-May 2014.  Sun soaked summer days filled with adventure in the Aleutian Islands, Kodiak, Prince William Sound and great fishing in SE Alaska and British Columbia are much more exciting than Singapore!   The crystal ball is getting a little foggy, so final destination must be San Francisco in Oct/Nov 2014?

Anyway, that's this weeks plan and Kathy and I are really aligned and looking forward on this one.  Stay tuned.

2014 Plan.  Fiji in lower left to Alaska to San Francisco.

Where we've been sailing the last 8 years.

August 2005 to December 31, 2005.  Aboard my Beneteau First 405 'La Vie' ~3300nm

2006 Beneteau First 405 'La Vie' ~7200nm

2007 Aboard Beneteau First 405 'La Vie' ~4300nm

Aboard PDQ36/39 catamaran 'Pacifica' ~2600NM

2009 Guatemala to Florida ~1400nm aboard 'Pacifica' and Honduras to Columbia aboard 'LightSpeed' ~2100nm

2010 Caribbean to British Columbia LightSpeed ~6500nm

2011 LightSpeed Oregon to Alaska to Mexico

2012 'LightSpeed' Mexico to French Polynesia to Cooks to Samoa.

2013 'LightSpeed'  Samoa to Cooks to Tuamotu to Marquesas to Tuamotu to Tahiti to Cooks to Samoa to Wallis to Fiji (+More)