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Walkabout - And then there were 2...

S18:25 E174:34

There has been a lot of radio silence on our blog updates over the last few weeks. It has been a busy time on Walkabout, as we said goodbye to Tom and Bron in Tonga, and then 2 days later welcomed the Gammons x5.

I think they probably felt that they had been mis-sold the South Pacific. The first 10 days of their venture was cool, cloudy and very wet at times. Not to mention - very windy. Our passage from Tonga to Lau (Fiji) was tough for everyone. Strong winds, big seas, rain and cold. It felt like the G’s regular summer trip to Cornwall, not the South Seas of the Pacific. On the bright side, everyone remained upbeat, no one was sea sick, which was pretty amazing given the conditions.

During the second half of the G’s trip the weather improved, and we headed to Savusavu and then on to the Yasawa Islands. Fiji is am amazingly beautiful country, and the people are super friendly. We have spent a month in and around the islands of Fiji - and it could easily have been more.

When the G’s departed on 14 August 2023 we went from a super busy boat back to just the 2 of us. It has been over 6 months since we have sailed by ourselves. The last couple of weeks have been pretty chilled, in and around Nadi and the Yasawa Islands. Then it was time to get back into World ARC Rally mode.

There have been some truly wonderful moments including swimming with Whales in Tonga! Such huge and inquisitive creatures and being so close to them was definitely a highlight or our Pacific crossing. Also was the snorkelling and swimming in crystal clear waters along side a manta ray, both times the Gammons were with us making the experience all the richer.

The fleet gradually gathered at Musket Cove Marina - a really beautiful island facility. The usual round of boat jobs and preparation interrupted by dinners and drinks and the occasionally ARC Pacific jiggedy joggers reunited for a few early morning runs. The fleet is getting smaller, as a few more boats decide to head in different directions. There are now 20 boats heading to Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu. This is a 450NM passage. The first time that just the 2 of us have done a multi-day passage since crossing the Atlantic in December 2021! That seems very odd to say. Such a long time ago, and so many miles under the keel since then.

We have got into the groove quite well. The first night is always quite hard, not being able to just drop off to sleep. We have stuck with our Atlantic watch pattern - 4 hour shifts from 2000hrs to 0800hrs, with the 4 hours only starting when the hand over is complete. So last night I (Andrew) did 2 shifts and Traci did 1. Then tonight we will flip it round so that Traci does 2, and I do 1.

We had a great start to the leg sailing up through the reefs around Musket Cove. Then we bore away and put up the big blue G1. A really good sail through the afternoon in about 10-12knots of wind. Night time set up was 1 reef on the main and full Genoa, with the Hydrovane doing the steering, and again we made good progress. This morning the wind has become rather fickle - both direction and strength. But we are managing to make reasonable progress with G1 and full main.

Our 24 hour run (1100-1100) is 155NM. all things being equal we should get to Tanna on Tuesday morning. The wind is forecast to increase tomorrow - hopefully providing a swift run in rather than a scary roller coaster ride.

The Fishing Club is back in action. Maybe we are missing Tom’s fishy fingers, as there is no luck so far. If there are no fish today then dinner will be the same as last night - very tasty chilli rustled up by the Catering Club.

Australia is getting closer….!

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