Afloat on the open ocean

Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Island Prism

Flag of Fiji  , Viti Levu,
Monday, September 29, 2008

On Monday 29 September 2008, I set sail from Suva on a journey to the Kadavu group of islands. They lie to the south of Viti Levu, and are known for being beautiful, rugged and wild. Many of the islands are uninhabited, and are fringed with flourishing reefs. There are a few resorts scattered about the islands, but tourist facilities are sparse. The islands represented the chance to realise a dream; exploring an unspoilt tropical paradise. And how better to do that than on the 36 foot yacht, Island Prism? The first day was an open ocean voyage. It was my first time sailing on the open sea, and wind and swells were kind to me. Captain Jim threw me in at the deep end, with a challenge; using range markers to navigate our course out of Suva. The markers were positioned on the hills above the city; to follow the correct course and keep away from the reefs around the harbour, I needed to ensure that they remained lined up. This was not such an easy task when the markers were behind me, but I managed! Out on the open ocean, Jim showed me how to use the chart and compasses to plot our course, and enter this into the auto helm. Due to lack of wind, we were under motor, with the main sail up during the second half of the trip to try to pick up a little additional speed from the mild breeze. My task was to scan the horizon for possible hazards, and to check out bearing, latitude and longitude, to ensure we were going in the right direction. With one or two minor course adjustments, and one auto helm failure which I luckily picked up straight away (not too hard as we suddenly started going in a different direction entirely), we arrived at Herald Pass. This was a safe place to cross through to the inner Great Astrolabe Reef. Using charts, GPS and depth sounder, we negotiated our way through the hazards of coral reefs and bommies, which could ground the boat, or damage her hull. We moored off an uninhabited island, with a beautiful white sandy beach. We took the dinghy ashore with snorkelling gear and explored a pleasant collection of coral bommies, home to vibrant reef fish. We explored the beach and rowed back to Island Prism as the sun sank beneath the horizon (the dinghy did have a motor but unfortunately Jim had neglected to top up the fuel. So it was muscle power all the way; I provided helpful encouragement). The sunset was fiery and the sky looked ablaze. We decided to return to shore, and had a barbeque on the beach. We gathered twigs and bamboo, which made perfect kindling, and ate potatoes and lamb under a diamond-studded sky, appreciating the total lack of light pollution!
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