13th of November 2016, sailing past Vanua Levu
Life changes when you leave shore. The everyday routine of working schedule is replaced by the everyday routine of standing watch, or day-work. The only fundament of a sailor’s life consists of the three meals per day. Although not driven by food, we are all looking forward to the surprise that our galley has to offer. Today it is the first catch of fresh Mahi Mahi.
Yesterday we started the first leg of Voyage 37, from Viti Levu to Christmas Island. A total of almost 1200 nautical miles. It is not so much the distance but more the track of this leg. The shortest route through the Northern Cook Islands is not an option because of the direction of prevailing winds and current. That is why captain Brad decided to sail north to the equator, before turning to the East to reach Christmas Island.
The waters around Viti Levu are littered with small islands and treacherous reefs, putting the skills of our navigator Ethan to the test. Especially this morning we had to be alert as we were passing a 4 miles wide stretch of water in between Vanua Levu and Taveuni (with beautiful geometrically shaped copra plantations). The current in between those islands can reach a speed of 3 knots, so the timing had to be right in between running tides. As time was our friend, Brad decided to launch the Rhib and go for a snorkel-swim near the reef called “the white wall”. Our Super Cargo Frankie (who used to be a diving-guide) showed us the way.
After the swim-break we continued heading towards the island of Rambe, where many of our Kiribati crew have family or friends. In the 1940’s this island was offered by the British government for the relocation of Kiribati people after the depletion of Guano from their home-island Banaba (Kir).
More to the North-East we passed islands with beautiful shapes and colors. Their interesting names tell a story: Nngelelevu (established by Micronesians), Exploring Isles (the English were here), Heemskerck reef (and the Dutch) and Ile Futuna (and the French too).