A few brave souls will book a 'cyclone mooring' in a sheltered creek here, where they can attach their boats to a very substantial concrete block on the seabed and hope for the best, but our insurers wouldn't cover us for that and we wouldn't want to be here through the hot and humid Fiji summer, anyway.
So the options are, broadly, head south to New Zealand or south east Australia or head north up to the Marshall Islands or Indonesia. For us, New Zealand has always been the plan so are now beginning to focus fairly seriously on the weather forecasts for the 1260 mile (8-10 day) passage south.
|The latest NASA satellite photo - we're currently in the rain band at the top of the picture|
Anyway, the theory goes that we should wait for a big high pressure to pop up north of NZ, moving east on the line from Fiji to NZ and then set off, riding the northerly winds on its western flank. The problem is that the next low pressure is likely to come along before we get to our destination so we'd hit a front (big change of wind and weather) then get south or south-westerly winds against us. It being the end of the NZ winter, those winds could be gale force if we were unlucky and, of course, the weather forecasts for 8-9 days ahead aren't very reliable. So the best we can do it to study the conditions, consult the experts and keep our fingers crossed; needless to say we'll have the boat set up to face heavy weather conditions so everything will be strapped down securely.
We're aiming to leave towards the end of October and so have only a couple more weeks to enjoy this wonderful country. There are huge areas of Fiji that we haven't visited and other places we'd have liked to stay longer but we've done pretty well for a first visit. We are now back in Port Denarau and today made the decision to do a maintenance pit stop here; on Monday Maunie will be hauled out of the water for 2 days to allow us to service the folding propeller and other under-water fittings. The cost here is about two-thirds of that in New Zealand and it'll save us the job down there; a super-clean bottom might also give us 0.2 knots of extra boat speed and shave maybe 5 or 6 hours off the passage time!