Accidental secrets, going to weather and land effects


P1060660I posted a picture on our Facebook page of us kiting and someone told me how surprised they were to see grey, cloudy skies because “you guys don’t usually have those”.


…and I thought “crap” I’ve really misled my poor Mom (and anyone else reading this) about the weather out here in the South Pacific.


While it isn’t as grey as the Seattle area, we get a lot of overcast skies, usually paired with strong winds, as fronts and other pressure systems blow across the South Pacific. In a bad year, such as this year, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of our days are overcast and grey. We spend those days either hunkered down, tending to our boat, or out kiteboarding. What we don’t usually do is reach for our camera. Grey days don’t inspire our inner photographer and so unless we are inspired to take photos for another reason, most of the photos we take, and post, are from sunny days.


liv jumpThe amount of grey days and pressure systems had varied hugely across the 4 seasons we’ve been cruising in the South Pacific. Partly this is a function of the El Nino cycles, partly this is a function of the area we are cruising (Eastern S Pacific vs. now entering the Western S Pacific) and also whether we are in a country with large land masses such as Fiji which encourage rain to dump.


Speaking of large land masses and fronts, when a front is coming through and people are getting ready to settle into their books in a safe anchorage, people going to windward perk up and start wondering if the front will bend the trade winds enough for them to make mileage eastward, and whether the front will have too much convective activity (i.e., squalls and thunderstorms) to make it worth taking. For this reason, when we are going to windward we spend a lot more of our time in fronts, sailing in crappy, grey, rainy conditions than we do when we are sailing downwind (although we get it there too).


P1060597Even worse is going to weather in places like Fiji where the front is interacting with squeeze zones between large land masses. We tried three times to make it to the Southern Lau and in the first two instances the weather as experienced had no relation to the weather as predicted. In case you are wondering, we aren’t exactly weather dummies. We look at a lot more than the gribs and still we were shut down twice. People who tried the window before us had a lot of success, others have correctly predicted the weather in the two windows we tried and we imagine some have motored part of the way in light conditions .


…but the third time’s a charm, right?

Diving Rainbow Reef (Fiji)


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When we arrived in Fiji I told Carol that whatever we did, I would be sad if we left Fiji without seeing a bunch of soft coral. Well, that wish has been fulfilled.


outside cabbage patch (2)We did 5 dives on Rainbow Reef: Cabbage Patch, Purple Wall, White Wall, Fish Factory and Outside of Fish Factory. We did all of our dives with Jack of Viani Bay and with the support of our awesome dive buddies on SV Silver Ruffian.


We took more video than photos and we didn’t have the best sunlight during our week in Viani so the photos aren’t all the best. Still, I’ve ended up with enough that I must include in this post, for our future viewing pleasure, that I’m going to use an album for the first time. At some point I will finish processing the video and make a movie to upload.



Logbook: Viani Bay (Vanua Levu, Fiji)




P1060720 (2) We anchored in the far eastern corner of Viani Bay, carefully dropping in sand and buoying the chain over the coral heads. The winds were blowing like stink and the fetch travels right into Viani Bay in southerly wind. We escaped the fetch in the Eastern corner and watched the rest of the fleet bobbing restlessly.


As the wind switched farther east, the island of Taveuni mostly blocked the wind from entering Viani Bay and things flattened out considerably.


We arrived at midday and the next day were visited by Jack who apologized for not coming earlier to greet us. We apologized for not having come to him because we were too lazy to reflate our dinghy post-passage. For years Jack has offered a service to visiting yachts P1060721 (2)where he will go out on one yacht, direct the yacht to a safe anchorage or mooring and guide snorkeling or diving trips off the famous Rainbow Reef in Somosomo Strait. He charges only $10FJD pp for this service and that is an absolute steal for his years of experience with this particular reef. We did 5 dives – more on that in a separate post.


Jack also will organize a long boat to Taveuni and then a taxi into Somosomo for provisioning trips. Reportedly, you can anchor off the town as well in your own boat but many people (including us) take him up on this offer. We schlepped over a jerry can and came back with cash from the ATM, groceries, produce and gasoline.


The produce market is small and the MH grocery less stocked than some of its other Fijian counterparts but after so much time in places like the Tuamotus and Tonga, it was still big enough for us.


P1060723 (2)Viani Bay is so open and exposed that we felt a little comfortable when we first poked in. Add into that the fact that the bottom has coral and after the first night we weren’t sure we would be happy staying there long enough to see what we wanted to see on the reef. After careful buoying and with the ESE winds blocked by Tavueni it was quite comfortable in the end. Still, if the winds were going to do any clocking around or stay too southerly we would probably have ducked out and come back.


That’s just us though and many boats were happy on Jack’s two moorings, or anchored in the more exposed part of the bay.

Kite Spot: Nananu-i-ra, Fiji


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IMG_8911 (2) After slogging up the West Coast of Viti Levu from Lautoka under power we dropped anchor at Nananu-i-ra. Actually, although the kite spot is called Nananu-i-ra we actually anchored off Nananu-i-cake.

At first we anchored at the north end of that island, then we moved closer to the kite launch (S17°19'41.83" E178°13'03.60") on the southern tip of that island, and when the wind really cranked up – too strong for our smallest kite – we moved back to the more protected northern end.

P1060641The kite launch is good at all tides. At particularly low tides there is coral under the water that comes closer to the surface. For our friend who was learning it was not a good spot at low water but otherwise was fine for us.

There is an acceleration *if* the wind has a strong easterly component. Too far north or too far south and the wind gets shut down and doesn’t reach kite point. The good news is that ESE wind is the normal wind in the area. Bad news was we had some unusual wind directions while we were there. Still, we had a number of great days on the water.

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For us it was also nice to be around other kiters again. Several schools and resorts stopped at the point to kite. Some megayacht crews went out on the water and we had friends on their wind surf kit.

Although we had a fun stop and we would stop again if in the area, this kite launch doesn’t rate up there in our top spots so far in the South Pacific Islands.



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