Update from Colin Philp
Onboard Uto ni Yalo
Bula Viti kei Rotuma
Our current position at 1500 hours Thursday Fiji Time is 37*57' South, 175*00' West. After lunch yesterday we continued to sail north towards Marumaru Atua. We would have preferred to be sailing due East but the canoes must stick together. Once we were alongside Marumaru Atua we hit a rain squall and continued on a easterly course losing sight of Marumaru Atua.
Marumaru Atua have several traditional navigators on board so they are using dead reckoning during the day and the stars at night to navigate. However they still have a skipper, Duncan Morrison who is checking on their course with a GPS but they do not share information unless there is am emergency.
Duncan relays the GPS coordinates to the Te Matau at 0600 and 1800 hours daily as do the other vaka's.
So when we are relaying our position to Te Matau and all the skippers are listening, the navigators must not be around to hear the actual positions.
To make things more complicated, there is a Tahitian Navigator, Tahi Pariente, on board Te Matau A Maui who is also plotting the course of the Te Matau.
Marumaru Atua is supposed to be leading all of us but keeps falling behind and also ended up 20 miles South West of us last night although we were very close before dark.
We had a beautiful sail last night in very light South Easterly winds which started off at around 12 knots then reducing to 5-7 knots at midnight.
The swell was still big but very long slow moving swell from the south heading right in Fiji's direction. We are east of Fiji's longitude directly south of Tongatapu.
Everyone commented on having a pleasant sleep last night because the sea was relatively calm. The fibreglass hulls are very noisy to sleep in and you can hear every wave hit the hull and every sound on deck.
The good thing is you can hear all the jokes being told on deck during night watch and there is plenty joking going on day and night.
No one has any sympathy for Vilisoni any more as he has become the Uto ni Yalo prankstar. Yesterday he locked Salome in the head (toilet). The Uto ni Yalo toilet is a small square box on the front of the deckhouse with barely enough room to fit in so it can be very costrophobic especially when the door is locked from the outside. Everyone had a good laugh when they heard Salome screaming from the head..... "let me out!".
This morning at 0530 hours I was woken by Moala to say the wind had switched to the North West and we needed to reset the sails.
Johnathan and I share the same cabin so we both jumped up and rushed on deck. Johnathan set a new course while I reset the Main, Mizzen and Genoa.
There was no sign of any other canoes so we waited for the 0600 position check with the other skippers.
Once we received updated positions of the other canoes, we realised we were once again quite separated and we were around 20 miles east of Marumaru Atua, the lead canoe.
So we spent the day sailing slowly back to a rendezvous position, South West of where we were. So we virtually had to sail backwards again to meet up with the other canoes.
The crew were very disappointed and asked why we could not go on ahead and not have to keep turning back every morning.
It is becoming very frustrating especially knowing we should be taking advantage of all the westerly winds we have to get as far east as possible.
If we get stuck in some easterly winds, we could be out here for a long time.
Breakfast was cereal and fruit courtesy of Zac (Sakiusa) Qereqeretabua in Auckland. Zac gave us a carton of apples and a carton of oranges with water mellons and pineapples.
Vinaka va levu Sakiusa. Nikhil Naidu my old Suva Grammar class mate bought us curry spices, cashew nuts and potatoes. Thank you Niki for your support.
We put the fishing lines in the water after breakfast and soon had three 10kg Albacore on board so we quickly wound in the lines again. Without any refrigeration on board, we can only keep what we can eat.
So lunch was sashimi for starters and a delicious chicken curry cooked by our skipper for main course.
We even convinced Salome and Unaisi to share the sashimi with us. I have been threatening to drop leave them in Tahiti if they don't learn to eat raw fish.
For dinner, Rupeni has prepared grilled fish marinated in garlic, salt and pepper with a tomato, onion and soy sauce with a chive garnish. This will be served with a potato salad.
This morning at 1030 hours we two long line buoys/markers. One a large white buoy and the other a smaller red buoy. We marked the position of the sighting at 37*28.997' South/175*08.536' West.
Kai'afa who has worked on Chinese fishing vessels out of Suva, recognised the floats. He said the red buoy was set up with bait to catch sharks.
Sharks are highly sought after by Asian fishing vessels and Kai'afa says if you lose a shark while working on a Chinese vessel you will get fired on the spot.
If you lose a Yellow Fin or Blue Fin Tuna, it is not as bad. I wonder if the authorities in Fiji know this when they issue fishing licenses.
I have heard of some countries putting wardens on foreign going fishing vessels to keep an eye on their catch and report back any instances of crew not keeping to the terms of their license.
Maybe Fiji should be doing the same.
We are waiting around now for all the canoes to catch up. Hine Moana is alongside us and te Matau a Maui is on the horizon sailing in our direction, with the support vessel Foftien close on its stern.
We will wait for word on what heading we will take next. Hopefully it is Eastwards.
While we wait we are reading all the messages that people have sent us via www.fijivoyaging.com and it is fantastic to hear all the commentary that our voyage is generating back home. Thank you everyone for the support.
Until tomorrow, moce!
Report by Satellite Phone courtesy of DIGICEL