We said goodbye to our friends in Fiji and set off from Savusavu at sunset to make it to Somosomo Strait by dawn. Descriptions of Somosomo conjured up images of swirly Deception Pass back in Washington, but our timing was right and we passed through with minimal drama – though we found that the 1 mile wide pass was offset on the chart by half a mile. K found the east side of the channel with the fathometer in the dawn’s early light and quickly turned back into the deep center of the channel before we met the pounding reef breakers directly ahead.
It was a slow passage. With light winds on the nose and a current setting us southeast it took us another day before we finally cleared the last of the Fijian islands on our route north.
Each day found us alternating between motoring, trying to sail, sailing slowly until the wind died again, and motoring. The days were hot and muggy but our night watches were deliciously cool. We were treated by shows of ghostly phosphorescence in the depths alongside us, and had the light of a waning moon to brighten the deep hours of the night. On one such night around 1 AM a booby came in to land on the bimini. He spent a few hours preening, pooped, then fell asleep with his head crammed under one wing…
…until dawn when he was rudely awakened by a camera’s flash.
Intrigue and tension was high in Fiji in the days before we left, as a former colonel charged with uttering seditious comments and inciting mutiny went on the lam rather than appear in court. He was mysteriously “rescued at sea” in Fijian waters by a Tongan patrol boat and taken to the King’s residence in Nuku’alofa. Fijian coastwatchers and informants were on high alert as the search for those involved in the escape was underway – which may or may not explain why we were buzzed at mast top level one morning by a strange unmarked military air patrol several hundred miles north of Fiji.
Thankfully that was the most exciting thing that happened on this passage. On the morning of the last day out, we finally got a steady 15 kts from the east and Khamseen took off like a horse for the barn.