Bula Viti, Rotuma kei Vuravura
Right after sending my update out yesterday the wind swung around to the North East and we had to gybe across onto the Starboard Tack. This wind direction was more on the beam and pushed us along nicely at over 7knots.
The North Easterly was totally against all the weather forecasts we have received but we much preferred this to the Easterly winds we have had since leaving Vava’u.
At midnight we set our watches back an hour to Fiji Time so Vilisoni’s watch had to do a four hour watch and the other two watches headed by Paul and Sunny had an extra hours sleep.
Moala is always the first to wake on his watch with Paul so he has been their timekeeper since we left Fiji in March. When Paul came up half an hour before his watch that effectively would have been half an hour late if we had not set the watches back, he received a huge round of applause from those on deck.
We reached the Oneata Passage late in the morning as the North Easterly eventually died early in the morning and our speed was reduced to under 5 knots again.
To keep the speed up we decided to head North of Oneata instead of the planned Southerly entry into Oneata Passage. I radioed the two boats accompanying us, Ranui and Evohe. We spotted Ranui mid morning on our Port stern about 10 miles back. Evohe had shot ahead during the night and out of VHF range.
At 12.30pm we had almost stopped completely as the wind died away to nothing and low cloud settled in around us. So we dropped the outboard pod, lowered the Gennaker and started to motorsail to the South of Aiwa and Lakeba Islands.
By 4.30pm the wind had swung right around to the South East and started to build again to 15 knots which is just what we needed.
At least we know your prayers are being heard. We raised the genoa, raised the outboard again and we are back up to 8 knots. We may even raise the Gennaker again before dark and try and crank a few more knots out of the Uto ni Yalo.
This morning Tevita was very lively on deck joking and making fun of everyone. When he saw the hair clippers appear on deck with the crew grooming themselves for their arrival, he joked that Steven needed to also shave the hair on his chest and back.
Then he said in broken English and sign language that it would be easier to burn all the hair off. Steven being in his usual happy mood replied with his signature roar of laugher.
It was if Tevita is more excited than us about getting to Suva.
Salome has been down below sleeping much of her time off duty, which is very unusual for her. She has been getting a very hard from everyone about her excessive sleeping. She just replies “I am charging my batteries ready for home”.
Jone can been seen staring out over the stern at the fishing lines behind us. He loves to tear the heart out of any fish we catch and gulp it down, blood dripping from his mouth. The girls almost throw up when he does that so they make themselves busy whenever we land any fish.
Once we sighted Oneata this morning, the Digicel phone coverage reached us and the crew were busy calling their friends and relatives.
Ratu Manoa and Oscar were conducting interviews with all the crew today for the Mai TV programme that has already started airing. Can’t wait to see it and all the crews from the other canoes have asked us to send them copies.
We are hoping the series will get shown on Maori Television.
After the interviews, Ratu was instructing everyone on the bole we will perform when we arrive.
I have been busy today e-mailing everyone I can about our arrival in Suva tomorrow. We are on schedule to arrive around mid-day. I am sure the crew will not sleep much tonight particularly as we have mobile phone reception through most of our final journey home.
As the sun sets and the full moon lights up the deck, the boys are singing on the back deck and no, there is no kava in sight. But there were murmurs about a mix tonight, which has become a tradition on this voyage the night before landfall.
The four girls are all swimming in the net at the bow as they take a bath. I just heard skipper shout out “No wonder the canoe slowed down, you girls are all swimming in the net”
It is a great honour that the Deputy Prime Minister of Fiji has accepted the invitation to be the Chief Guest at our welcome ceremony. The crew were in awe when I announced this yesterday after hearing the news from our Welcome Committee in Suva.
The fact that we left the fisheries wharf in the Bay of Islands in March with only family and friends to farewell us, and now we are coming home to be welcomed by one of the leaders of our nation, is just amazing.
As this will be my last update from the Uto ni Yalo, I want to thank all the readers and subscribers to our web page updates for following our voyage with such interest.
The messages of support we have received through the website have been absolutely amazing and very rewarding for the crew. I am so glad the contribution of the crew of the Uto ni Yalo is being recognised by so many people from all over the world.
As the Fiji Times editorial said on Wednesday, lets make our return a celebration of life!
Until our next voyage,
Colin/Uto ni Yalo
Report by Satellite Phone courtesy of DIGICEL
Date: Friday 25th June
Time: 1700 hours Fiji Time
Position: 18* 24.4’ South/ 179* 00.0’ West (149 n.m. from Suva Passage)