Gone with the wind
We woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of the wind generator complaining. When the winds get up above 30-35 knots, the generator essentially takes itself offline and starts freewheeling. The speed of the turning blades goes way up and what we hear in the aft cabin sounds like you’re inside the belly of a whale with indigestion. BOOAAARRRRR!!! The boat was sailing on the anchor and it was clear the wind was gusting into the 40’s. Now, two days later, though the winds are not quite as high as they were that first day when I wouldn’t let Barney go pee on the foredeck because I was afraid he would get blown away, it’s still honking out there.
One reason why we are not more protected from the wind is because we are anchored off the extreme northern end of the island of Taveuni in an anchorage known as Matei. Actually, we are well protected from the swell out here because we are surrounded by reef, but we are quite open to the very strong ESE wind. In these two side by side pics you can see where the chart says we are (on a reef) and where Google Earth says we are. We are getting some protection from the two tiny islands (rocks, really), but not much.
Lest those of you reading this blog think that we are out here in Fiji spending all our time basking in sunshine while sipping umbrella drinks on the after deck, we are sometimes faced with extremely strong winds and gray skies. We go for days without getting off the boat and we keep the hatches closed due to the frequent rain showers and what feels to us like a cold wind. To be honest, it’s not that much fun. For us.
But not everyone feels the way we do. We are here with our friend Philip aboard the S/V Blue Bie, and he loves this wind because he is a kite surfer. Here at Matei, he is not alone. There are folks who come here on holiday just to go kite surfing. They stay at resorts on the island and every morning they are driven to this one sand bar off Naselesele where they can easily launch their kites. Some of them are beginners and there are teachers giving lessons on the beach, while others are already expert.
Sometimes, looking from the boat off in that direction, we have counted more than ten kite surfers out in the 35+ knot winds and rain and what looks to us like miserable weather — but they seem to be loving every minute of it. The way the colorful kites swoop and dance is like a ballet of sorts, and if only I had a camera with a wide enough angle to capture it all on video, it would make an amazing film. I used to love windsurfing, and part of me is dying to try kite surfing, but the high winds that are necessary for the sport will probably prevent me from trying. For some reason, winds this strong make me feel more concern than elation.
Right now the forecast is for the winds to lessen and to switch around briefly to the NE on Monday night. If it still looks good for that when Monday night arrives, we will take off on the overnight passage to the island of Vanuabalavu in the Norther Lau group. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for forty years, and there we should be anchored on the leeward side of the island, so we won’t care how hard the wind blows.