We weighed anchor from Suva Bay at 08.30 on Friday 19th July with the wind variable – zilch! Passing through the Levu Passage and motored towards the next passage between Mbenga Islands and Viti Levu. The wind did not kick in until late evening by which time we had Viti Levu well under our lee and we had set our course to pass through Vanuatu.
It was good to be clear of the large island of Viti Levu
because the SE Trades were deflected by the mountains on the island being
effective in ensuring unreliable and variable winds for nearly 20 NM. Our own
winds picked up from the South but we had an uncomfortable swell for the
following day until I decided to alter course to go North of Espiritu Santo.
When we are rolling it makes the quarter-deck an unstable platform to land fish, which we did more on this last 1,500NM leg more than the rest of the voyage. We did pray against a mischievous spirit that seemed to blind fish from our lure and also ensure they jumped off when fish were about to be landed. Additionally, we had bought a shiny chrome lure of the ‘rapalla’ type but with the pulling ring mounted on the dorsal point behind the head and it was weighted, ensuring that it was pulled under the surface of the sea. Soon we landed our first mahi-mahi which Colly made a delightful stew of.
The texture of the fish was soft and it tasted absolutely magnificent.
Landfall at Vanuatu was made and we passed North of Maewo in the afternoon and left Espiritu Santo well to port by the following day enabling us to set our final course for Rossel Island 285°. Although we had initially considered visiting Dillon’s Bay on Erromango to see the people whose ancestors had eaten John Williams in 1839. His descendant, Charles Williams of Andover had visited the island on a reconciliation meeting and after that the people began to prosper and the declining population reflected an increase. We decided not to go after learning from a pastor in Vanuatu that things were now so much better and that, plus the imminent date of the expiry of Colly’s passport; helped me decide not to stop in Vanuatu.
Later we caught a tuna and then the largest mahi-mahi of the voyages so far. A yellowfin was caught 100 miles from Rossel followed by a large wahoo half an hour later. The lure was now getting seriously chewed up but it still caught fish.
To be continued…