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Show MapFiji - October 2005


The wet season appears to have started already and that means that there is a risk of cyclones forming. In trying to reach Australia before the cyclones appear we had therefore planned to voyage from Tonga, bypassing Fiji, straight to New Caledonia. However on the 10 days of that voyage we encountered the most ferocious thunderstorms, periods of calms and headwinds. Consequently we used up a lot of diesel just to motor around/through these and still only managed to get a third of the way, with the prospect of more calms and thunderstorms to come. We therefore decided to play the prudent card and diverted to Fiji to rest and buy more fuel containers.



Should have enough diesel this time!



We have to say that the thunderstorms were extremely frightening - definitely the worst we have ever seen. One cell was particularly terrifying and seemed to be chasing us. It had lightning flashing every 3 to 5 seconds for nearly 4 hours and far too many of these striking the sea for our comfort - with 2 masts and lots of metal rigging we are the only thing sticking up out of the sea for miles around and are therefore a perfect target. The cells also seemed to link up into long lines running slightly across our rhumb line, making it difficult to maintain course in a "safe" corridor.



An isolated thunderstorm cell in daylight. Even 10 km away we could hear the thunder and see the lightning.





How we prefer our clouds to look - little fluffy tradewind clouds!



Unfortunately there is very little you can do to protect yourself from a lightning strike other than to motor away from these thunderstorm cells. We also put the handheld VHF and GPS, along with the satellite telephone, into the stainless steel pressure cooker and the laptop computer into the oven, in the hope that if we are hit, the Faraday Cage principle will protect these precious items from being zapped to smithereens. (Tom's little camera and the cards from Sue's camera also go into the pot.) But perhaps we have been lucky - the only other time in the whole voyage we have felt the need to take this precaution was in Loch Swilly, Ireland, 2 years ago. Vive Lady Luck!


What's cooking, Tom? ....mmm, yummy!


The other scary aspect of this passage was that west of Tonga the charting is not that accurate. The area is strewn with shoals and islands, many of which appear on the chart as "Position Approximate" or even more alarmingly "Reported to Disappear Occasionally"! This applied in other parts of the Pacific too, but with the thunderstorms to avoid, seemed to take on an even more menacing aspect, especially at night time.

The Royal Suva Yacht Club is set in beautifully manicured gardens, with plenty of outdoor seating, barbecue area, dinghy dock, etc, as well as a restaurant, bar, lounge area and dance hall. Just a shame that there is such limited space for pontoons - virtually all visiting yachts have to anchor out in the bay. However you are made very welcome ashore and have full use of all the facilities including showers and laundry. We would have loved to stay longer.



At the fuel dock in front of the beautiful Royal Suva Yacht Club.



We arrived in Suva Harbour on a Monday and left 2 days later, so the only sight seeing was done in the course of travelling into/out of town while on shopping errands. Since the yacht club is on the road just outside town we were able to take in the best of Suva's sights by also driving past the Suva Prison and Fiji Bitter Brewery! The town of Suva was an interesting mix of Fijian and Indian culture. The Indians came here during British colonial rule and now make up almost half the population.



Let's try to camouflage the prison by painting its walls.



After a night of thunderstorms Tom consoled himself by wondering if these little cuties from Tonga would meet strict European Banana Regulations. They certainly tasted good!





Four knots....er, no....terns actually!


Fishing boats in Suva Harbour usually share a mooring buoy - hope this one is a strong one!



Sediment-laden water in Suva Harbour .




Did we doubt the wet season had started?! We delayed our departure for a few hours to allow the torrential rain to dry up! During the rain, rivers flowing into Suva Harbour dumped tonnes of sediment into the bay, temporarily colouring the water light brown.

Early that afternoon we set off for our second attempt to reach New Caledonia.


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