Sailing to Suva

We left Falaga on August 12 in route to Suva, the most populous city in Fiji and the South Pacific. We really, really didn’t want to leave Falaga, but the ice box and the wine cellar were empty. So when the winds turned a favorable direction, we dove the pass one last time and weighed anchor. The winds were blowing a steady 15 knots from the southeast, making our 200 mile passage to Suva the first downwind sailing we’ve seen since leaving New Zealand in May. It was paradise: an effortless 6.5 knots of boat speed, a gentle rocking motion as a brilliant three-quarter moon outshone most the stars in the sky.

We were going so fast we stopped at Mutuku, an island almost perfectly between Suva and Fulaga, to take heavenly naps, have lunch, and time our arrival in Suva during daylight the following morning. Mutuku was a beautiful place for a picnic, her rising peaks and thick forests a contrast to Falaga’s low, limestone bluffs and palm-lined beaches. Already missing Falaga, we were glad we had brought a part of the village with us, Mary.

Mary is a kindergarten teacher in Moana-i-Cake, the largest village in Falaga, and had been planning to take the supply ship in to Suva to attend a training conference and visit her parents and daughter living outside the big city. Then the stormy weather rolled through, the supply ship was delayed, and Mary needed a lift. We were happy to comply as kindergarten teachers tend to be some of the kindest people on Earth. So Mary, chipper and positive, was with us enjoying the perfect conditions, sharing the details of teaching in Fiji and village life, and happily lounging aboard Helios with a novel.

As much as we wanted to spend more time in Mutuku, another series of fronts was forecasted to roll through. We were back underway six hours after arrival. Underway, the conditions were similarly idyllic; it felt like we were somewhere between running down a dream and surfing on a cloud.

We dropped anchor in Suva’s industrial harbor at 1000 on August 14. There was definitely some culture shock—we were dodging wrecks in the harbor, rafted fishing boats rusting to death, a gargantuan Australian aircraft carrier that dwarfed the 25 foot fishing boat the Fijian navy used to monitor the harbor. Mary was easily the most popular person in the anchorage. Our friend Craig aboard Il Sogno gave her a lift in his dinghy ashore, but first had to take her to visit friends she had aboard another yacht in the anchorage. Dominic and I, on the other hand, spent the day taking long naps after our second night underway.