Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall charting our adventures as we sail around the world. We're sailing up and down the east coast of Australia after a summer back in Britain.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Getting ready to head south

The two-day passage around the northern side of Viti Levu went pretty much to plan. As expected, we had quite a strong headwind to contend with so we motor-sailed (with the mainsail set to get the engine a little extra assistance) but, thanks to the protecting reef, the water was pretty flat and it wasn't too much of a chore. We are delighted to report that the propeller no longer rattles! Hurrah!

We've come to the east side of Viti Levu and taken a (free) mooring at a little island resort called Leleuvia. Here we are just 2 or 3 hours sail from the port of Levuka on Ovalau island, an official 'Port of Entry' which is where we will go through the process of clearing out of Fijian waters with the Customs and Immigration people. We're told that the process is reasonably hassle-free there so we'll see. Anyway the plan is to wait here at Leleuvia until we think we have a favourable weather window then move up to Levuka to clear out, though we may go a do a day-sail there tomorrow just to recce the place and get some more diesel to replace the 45 litres we burned on the way from Denarau.

Waiting at Leleuvia is certainly no hardship. It's a very attractive, laid-back resort catering to a lot of weekenders from the mainland as well as foreign tourists who want to get away from it all. The mooring is well sheltered and the water's great for a morning swim around the boat. We've been welcomed to use the bar and restaurant (the place is pretty quiet at the moment, we've only seen about a dozen guests who are currently outnumbered by staff).

Above and below: The bar and restaurant

The place is well set up for water sports so this morning Graham went for a brilliant dive with their divemaster, plus a boat driver and two new members of staff undergoing training. Highlights of the 'Wall' dive (a 25m vertical wall of brilliant coral) included a sleeping 6ft Zebra Shark in his favourite alcove in the wall and some energetic chasing of turtles. The dive team here is taking part in a government survey of turtles to tag them and monitor their travels but this involves trying to sneak up on them from behind and grab them. Today we weren't successful as, though we saw 5 turtles they skedaddled before we could nab them; they have quite a turn of speed when they need it. Good sport though! The cost of the dive, including pick-up from Maunie, hire of all the kit and the services of the excellent divemaster - about £35.

On to the weather and lots of boats are looking for a good time to head south. As mentioned before, it's a really hard passage to predict as the frequency of the high and low pressure systems rolling eastwards from southern Australia make it almost certain that we'll get some adverse conditions. A few boats left yesterday but one, Mystic Moon, just emailed us to say they were experiencing a horrible short wavelength swell which was throwing them about a lot. Mystic Moon is a 52ft heavy displacement trawler yacht with a 400HP engine and anti-roll stabilisers so we're glad we're not out there with them. 

Must dash - Happy Hour is about to start in the bar (half-price beers)!

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