We dropped Curly's mooring out at Lesiaceva Point at about 0645 this morning and set sail westward. Out first leg was about twenty miles to the Nasonisoni Passage. Outside the Point, the winds were brisk and the seas a bit lively, but, thanks to running down wind, we had a pretty good ride of it. We even caught a small tuna (just as I was wondering if we'd really want to deal with hooking up a fish!)
We were a tad anxious about whether the seas might be piling up a bit at the entrance to the Nasonisoni Passage -- a cut through the reef we need to take into the protected lagoon waters west of it, but up ahead of us by about a half hour was Peter of sv Seeker, who kindly radioed back to us the conditions as he arrived. For his scouting contributions, Don dubbed him "Daniel Boone," and he took to calling us on the radio that way.
As is often the case, the reality of the pass was much less stressful than the anticipation from the charts. Although the Fijian buoyage is a little worse for wear sometimes, the marks are there, and even though the sky was stubbornly overcast, the reefs were plainly visible. We slid through the pass like a knife through butter, and then bore off on the other side on a lovely broad reach in 20 knots of wind with almost no sea, thanks to the protection of the outer reef. this is what sailing is supposed to be like!
Both boats ended up pushing all the way around to Bua Bay, on the northwest corner of Vanua Levu. Bua is a huge, protected bay with good holding in idyllic anchoring depths of 30-50'. We are not only the only two boats here, we appear to be pretty much the only signs of life around. I'm sure there's a village up in the hills somewhere, but there's no sign of it. Up ahead is a long low shoreline of mangrove, and it's an anchorage to make us nostalgic for a working wind generator. After watching showers miss us all day, we got a good rinse down within minutes of setting the anchor. All in all the day's program that would be hard to beat.
We could have stopped in a couple of other places along the way, but psychologically, since we were beginning to think we might never break free of Savusavu (not to mention run out of time to circumnavigate!), getting this far on the first day is a big boost to our optimism. Next destination is most like Yadua Island, about eight miles off shore, a nice little side trip before we start up the north side.
And did I mention we have fresh tuna for dinner?