June 5, 2019
Sunrise this morning was psychedelic. The stars disappeared as first light glowed behind the small island of Malolo, twelve nautical miles from the marina where we stored our boat. Low lying stratocumulus clouds hovered above the island, leaving a gap of clear sky framing the hills. I thought I had witnessed the magic of dawn as the blue of the sky bloomed above the small cloud bank and russet orange glowed below. Mark emerged with coffee in hand just as the orange disappeared and the clouds looked momentarily drab. But then the show began. The light touched the bottom of the cloud layer, illuminating it with iridescent pink, the color quickly rising up the bank until it reached the puffy cumulus cap. Then it brightened and flamed into shimmering tangerine, the color so solid I felt I could peel it off the sky.
We sat, sipping coffee and watching this show, tears in our eyes, joy in our hearts. We are home again, bearing witness to the magic of this world. Fish leaped and splashed as the morning feeding frenzy began around our hull. When the brilliance in the east faded, we turned our bodies to watch the western cloud layer finally receive its pink moment from the dawn, and finished our last sip as the color faded to the everyday beauty of life. The morning light had truly arrived, and with the reefs visible, our day of passage making needed to begin.
After ten months of work for Mark and me, first year of University for Anson, and freshman year of high school for Devon, we are back aboard our beloved boat for two precious months. Mark arrived in Fiji first, lovingly uncovering Anthea in her cyclone pit, cleaning and tending her, pouring over every system, and waking Mr. Perkins from his long slumber. With fresh bottom paint and a waxed hull, Anthea shone as the workers at Vuda Marina gently lowered her into Fiji’s tropical waters. Anson arrived soon after to run halyards, put on the sails, and transfer as much weight as possible to our small storage locker. Then Devon and I flew in, stormed through the supermarket and farmers’ market to stock the boat with food for two months, bundles of kava root for sevusevu in remote villages, and school supplies for the youth. Finally, Anson’s dear friend Andrea joined after 33 grueling hours of air travel from Finland. We had one final night in the marina then loosed the dock lines once again.
With only 12 miles to travel, we were able to cut the engine and glide along in the 3-4 knot breeze. The flat waters and calm conditions allowed us to correct several rigging oversights and run the reef line in the mainsail. Our course was to windward, so we tacked our way between the reefs and islets on our way to Musket Cove. The heat of the day gradually drew the ocean air towards land, and Anthea sailed sweetly upwind in a 10 knot breeze. We threaded our way through the narrow channels under jib alone and started the engine for anchoring. A swim in the tropical waters not only cooled us down, but also solidified the dream of these months into reality. We are truly here, cruising once again.
Over dinner we weighed the options for our itinerary and chose to suffer through some motoring to make a long leg first north, then eastward towards the clearer waters and favorite locations. So now Mr. Perkins is helping us along. Today there is no time for tacking between reefs, as we have miles to go before a safe anchorage can be found along the north western shore of Viti Levu. We need good light to illuminate the hazards and avoid another grounding. As Mark said, every day we don’t hit a reef in Fiji is a good day.
Our first day was better than good – it was perfect.
PS We’re now at anchor near Viana wharf. Although we motored into strong headwinds and steep chop, it was a good day.