Cruising the South Pacific with Tackless II
Tackless II, along with her two captains, Don and Gwen, cruise from Fiji to Australia
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
30 July, 2007 – Safely Arrived at Leava, Futuna
In some ways, it was a very good passage. We wanted as little wind as possible on our nose as we backtracked eastward past Viani Bay, through the Somosomo straights, and northward out through the scattered garden of reefs and atolls that litter Fiji's northern reaches. The sky was crystal clear, and Uncle Bill was treated to his first green flash at sunset.

As night closed in and we were motoring anyway, we made a dogleg to the east below Naqelelevu atoll, to gain some easting should the trade winds ever return. But for the wind, conditions seemed idyllic, with a buttery full moon rising in the east. And when I came up at 0130 to relieve Bill of his watch and round onto our final NNE leg to Futuna, there was enough wind to set the genoa and shut down. I thought we might just sail this way the rest of the 153 miles. It lasted barely an hour.

Clouds rolled in along with rain showers, and the wind went away. This cycle repeated itself most of the rest of the night, although we had some pretty decent sailing and motor-sailing stints during the day Sunday.

Sunday night, however, the sky got more seriously overcast, and although the wind picked up, it picked up to 20+ and backed in the NE, too close for old T2 to sail on course. So on comes the engine yet again. Now, I know the sailors among are wondering why we don't tack our way upwind. Well, there's a reason this boat is called Tackless. She just doesn't sail close enough to the wind to make much headway without an engine. We end up sailing back and forth pretty near the same stretch of water.

So despite the wind blowing 15-20 all night, we had to motor, and the ride was pretty bouncy in the confused swell. To add insult to injury, a flat overcast hid our full moon (always the way!) Jetlagged, Uncle Bill had been having some trouble finding his sea legs, and the crappy conditions Sunday night kept him below. At 15 miles out, we picked up the bright lighthouse from Futuna, which, no matter how many fancy electronics you have, is a reassuring moment, the there's nothing to match the silhouettes of your destination -- in this case the islands of Futuna and its neighbor Alofi – when it appears on the horizon with dawn and breaking clouds behind it.

We followed our CMap right into the Leava Harbor, which is a very narrow "V" through the reef into the shoreline. The island is quite steep, so the village of Leava hugs the shoreline, and the anchorage is made even smaller by several hundred feet of fringing reef. Brand new red and green (French system—red left returning) beacons marked the edges of the reef around the tiny harbor, and a tall commercial wharf for container deliveries juts from the starboard. The beacons are a most welcome addition as the harbor was quite difficult to make out in the morning haze.

Already at anchor was Apogee, the boat we traveled up with ("with" being a relative term as they arrived eight hours before us!) and Curly's boat Stella Rosa. (Curly and his lady friend Barbara came up over a week ago and had a passage from hell with heavy weather and steering failures. They've been here since working on repairs.) We found a spot inside Apogee and got the hook down right at 0800.

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