The passage from Tonga to Fiji-Mayo Yamaguchi as crew, Mahi Mahi, entering the Far East, and Whales!

We left Tonga, the Vava’u group on September 22 for a 418 nautical mile passage.  This passage had potential of being troublesome due to “unmarked” reefs between Tonga and Fiji. We had to traverse between the Lau Group (Fijian waters) and planned to navigate through during daylight hours so we could see any reefs so it was important for us to maintain a certain speed to achieve this.  Technically, we couldn’t stop at any of the Lau Group islands as you need a cruising permit to visit these Fijian islands but the permit can only be obtained by checking into the country…418 miles away.  We decided to take a wide berth, so to speak, through a relatively well charted passage through the Lau Group and kept our sonar on to make sure depth was not rising at any point.  However…I saw this on the sonar during my watch and freaked out a bit!

You might be able to make out the depth on our sonar screen on the right side of this photo (95 feet) which of course is fine as we only draw 5.5 feet…however we were in the MIDDLE of the ocean…not something you want to see. There is some “blue” haze on the sonar screen which the sonar was picking up….who knows what it might of been…definitely not a reef as that would show up red…a whale?

We crossed over to the “Far East” on this passage…weird that Europe is only about 12 hours difference to us now while Seattle is 19 hours but it is yesterday!

Our Latitude and longitude is on the bottom right corner. Our Longitude used to be West…now it is East!

Mayo Yamaguchi– our first and most wonderful crew member! – We met Mayo in Tonga who has been traveling the world “hitchhiking”/crewing on boats for years.  She travels when she does not work on Rebun Island, Northern Japan, where she works at harvesting kelp….a very interesting job.  Her policy is to NOT fly anywhere but to travel by land (if she must) or sea.  If she can not do this, she would return to the last place where she had to take a flight and continue to travel according to her policy.  She is now headed home (Japan) and was looking for a boat to take her to Fiji (she use to live in Fiji almost 10 years ago) and then wanted to find another boat to sail to Vanuatu where she had a boat waiting for her to crew for them.  She wants to learn how to sail and get all the sailing experience she can.  Unfortunately we had very little wind and basically motored sailed for all but 12 hours of our passage.  But we loved having her aboard and Trevor and I got the most sleep underway EVER!  She took a night watch and helped clean and cook, when Trevor “let her in the galley”.  She was incredibly kind, polite, helpful, and full of information about Fiji and great stories about her travels and the places/people she had met.  We are happy she made it to her boat in Vanuatu but we miss her dearly!

Trevor and mayo in the galley preparing dinner

Mahi Mahi– Well we caught our FIRST Dorado, aka Mahi Mahi, on this passage.  We are pretty sure this was a female Mahi Mahi as the head is less “blunt”.  Mayo took video of us trying to get the fish on the boat…it was basically a shit show but here are a few photos, since I can’t post video here.

Hooked!
Close up from the side of the boat
Trevor trying to gaff the fish
Got it!
Finally on the boat
Trevor with his prize
The dirty work…I left the scene, as I always do during this process…photo courtesy of Mayo
Yummm…..Dinner!

Minke Whales – We were passing through the Lau Group islands and reefs when we heard a noise.  Low and behold….WHALES!  There must of been a pod there because they played alongside our boat (literally 20 feet away) like dolphins play on the bow of the boat. We had a book and we identified them as Minke Whales.  Truly amazing to watch them come so close to our vessel….a little scary at times when they would “disappear” underneath us….whales can flip boats!

We could identify the white underneath the nose of the whale when we zoomed in on some of our photos and the size we witnessed were about the same as in this description.
Mayo and I watching for the whales to resurface with cameras in hand
The whale leaped out of the water…too bad I was too soon for that shot. You can maybe see the white showing under the nose
TWO whales showing us their white bellies underwater! I think they were playing with us?! They must’ve been 20-30 feet from our boat
Whale fin

Making land fall- It seems like almost everytime we come into port we are welcomed by a squall…with Fiji it was no different!  We checked into the country on the island of Vanua Levu, the town of SavuSavu.  We had read/heard this town was easier to check into as the officials all come to your boat and there are mooring balls to stay on so we wouldn’t have to deal with anchoring.  Even though we had to head more north on the passage, we thought it better to do this rather than make landfall at Suva, ,the main industrial town on the island Viti Levu.  Moreover, we avoided most of the “uncharted” reefs by heading north rather than south.  We offered all the officials Oreo cookies and a coke, they all seemed to enjoy it as they stayed on our boat longer to chat it up and give us info on the town and where to get things.  It was a great way for us to be introduced and experience the Fiji hospitality here.  

The welcome squall…you can see land in the background. Our buoy to help us around the reef was not visible so we waited just a bit until we could get a visual on the entrance to the bay.
We entered the bay and the clouds and rain passed over us…we were once again in the sun…Trevor here preparing the lines to pick up a mooring ball close to town.
So this is the Fiji Flag…most everyone was flying this blue flag as we pulled into SuvaSuva….Back in Mexico, we had most of our Pacific country flags hand made by a local lady named Annie, the flag lady. Our flag was not BLUE! We though “oh no….what flag do we have?”
Our flag had a Red background rather than blue. We asked the officials if we had the wrong flag becuase we didn;t want to disresepct thier country and would of course buy the correct flag as soon as possible. It turns out we have the RIGHT ONE! The Blue background is for “stationary” placement…Red background is technically for nautical purposes we believe because vessels moving about, it is easier to see. Thank goodness!
On Slow Flight we have a ritual that every time we anchor/moor we have an “anchor” beer no matter what time of the day it is…it’s about 10 am and Mayo even joined us…she was a little tipsy afterwards : )

We are currently on the hard getting boat work done….next up our short time in SuvaSuva and dinner with the locals, and our trip between the 2 major islands to arrive at Vuda point Marina where we are working on the boat.

2 comments

  1. kimi and trever,

    Hey, I forgot about the memo you gave with the washed clothes I left onboad until today !
    I’ve just opened it… oh no It’s not fare again !!!

    I am sailing away tomorrow morning without finding even a word to thank you.
    I suppose you will set sail to NZ, too.
    I am going to ask the Ocean to treat you like you did to me.

    Fair winds, and all the safest and best !!

    mayo

    1. Mayo!!!! So happy you got our little package….and glad you made it safe to Vanuatu! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures to come : ) We miss you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *