Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. This season we spent 5 months exploring Vanuatu and are now on the east coast of Australia.

Monday, 22 September 2014

May your bows always face the swell (Irish proverb, probably)

Well, Amy is safely back in mid-Wales after a great 10 days with us. We dropped her at the airport in Nadi (after a brilliant teppanyaki meal at the Fiji version of the Daikoku Japanese restaurant where we celebrated Graham's 50th in Auckland) on Saturday evening and she arrived in Heathrow at about 3.00pm on Sunday, having lost 11 hours in the time zone changes en route.

We stayed in Port Denarau for an extra night so rushed around to get two loads of washing done in the launderette, restock beer and wine, travel to the Nadi market for veg and meat and we even fitted in a rum tasting as well. All very successful but we were pleased to escape to fresher air by late morning today.

As it turned out, we found plenty of fresher air on the 2 hour passage across to Musket Cove. In spite of a benign forecast, the wind piped up to 28 knots (about 33mph) and we had to reef down to keep Maunie from cantering about like a wayward pony. After very gentle sailing over the past couple of weeks, it came as a bit of a shock and the water was streaked with white foam and breaking waves as we approached the entrance to the reef - thankfully we could follow our 'breadcrumb trail' of our previous entrance on the chart plotter but, even so, it was slightly unnerving to be sailing at 7.5 knots towards unseen reefs.

The anchorage here is exposed to the wind but the encircling reef means that the waves are relatively small - any underlying ocean swell is flattened out as it hits the reef at a couple of internationally-famous surfing spots about a couple of miles away. So we're lying in 20m of water, with our anchor firmly dug into the sandy sea floor at the end of about 70m of heavy chain. The wind's whistling in the rigging but otherwise we're in a good spot - we chose to be to windward of other anchored boats, having previously seen yachts suddenly dragging their anchors in windy conditions.

Wind-driven waves 
The anchorage is pretty busy here at the moment and conditions would make a dinghy-ride ashore a very wet experience so we cooked supper on board and hope it'll be a bit calmer in the morning.

Neighbouring boats (plus plane to the right)
Actually, we've discovered that getting a decent night's sleep at anchor in the islands around here needs some careful planning. In several spots we realised that the wind and the sea swell came from different directions so we found ourselves rolling uncomfortably until we deployed a second anchor, from the stern, to pull the boat around to point at the waves rather than the wind. This all added time and effort but was definitely worth it for a quite night!

We now plan to explore more of the Yasawa Islands which we didn't have time to visit with Amy aboard but we're watching the forecast with care as there is a period of squally weather heading our way towards the end of the week. More careful anchoring will be required we think.

The red blobs are heavy rains squalls in what's known as a Convection Zone (right over us!) - expect sudden changes in wind direction an torrential downpours so the choice of anchorage will be important!



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