We're now safely anchored at Faluga ( 19 deg, 08.96 mins south, 178 deg, 32.62 west) after a 27 hour, 175 mile passage and, yes, it feels very good to have arrived!
We definitely picked a good weather window for the voyage and set off in bright sunshine yesterday morning, with a nice 15 knot wind on our starboard beam and a slight swell. Maunie was charging along and we caught a very nice Mahi-mahi at about 4.00pm which was quickly gutted and portioned into steaks and fillets for the fridge. Cooking it that evening would prove too tricky as neither of us felt on top form and the dreaded sea sickness got Graham for a couple of hours after dealing with the fish.
As night fell, Dianne had a pretty challenging watch as rain squalls brought big wind shifts and gusts so Graham joined her on deck for some sail changes. At one stage, once the bright moon had risen, we looked over our shoulder and saw a moon rainbow, the first we'd ever seen, as the next rain approached. It was a narrower arch than we normal see with the sun and, in the silver half light, it looked pretty eerie.
As daylight arrived, we saw another yacht a couple of miles astern. We'd met the American crew of Lisa Kay (larry and Lisa, with their son) in Savusavu and again in the supermarket in Somosomo so we knew they were also heading for Falunga; once again Maunie's speed came as a surprise to people who don't know her as they are a much bigger boat and yet they couldn't overtake us.
As we arrived at Faluga, a horseshoe-shaped island with a reef pass in the open bit of the horseshoe, we talked to a couple of boats, already here, on the vhf. Lots of helpful advice was offered, particularly about the pass into the reef through which the tide can race at up to 4 knots; thankfully our timing was good so we came in safely against a 2 knot outflow.
Wow, what a place! The big lagoon inside the horseshoe is shallow (about 5-6m) so the water is a bight turquoise, studded by water-eroded, mushroom-shaped rocks. The land is tree covered and sustains life in 3 villages whose occupants must feel pretty cut off from the rest of the world. A supply boat arrives once a month and mobile phone coverage can, apparently, only be gained by a 20 minute climb up a hill outside the main village to get a weak signal from a bigger island 20 miles north of here; as a result, visiting yachts are given a very warm welcome.
However, interaction with the locals, apart from a very cheery wave and shouts of 'Bula' (hello) from fishermen near the pass, is ahead of us. Having dropped anchor in a bay with 6 other yachts, we had a celebratory beer each, some lunch and then went to bed at 3.00pm 'for a couple of hours'. At 9.15pm we woke up in the dark.
Tomorrow we'll head across to the village to present our sevusevu to the chief and to have a look around. The lack of mobile signals will, unfortunately, limit our ability to post photos on the blog as we're back to the satellite phone but we'll add a few updates and post pictures when we can. Hopefully we'll get internet connections again when we head to the northern Lau islands in a couple of weeks but in the meantime we can receive emails as normal and would really welcome your news!