Although we are making good progress at the boatyard, we won’t be back in the water until at least the end of the week after Easter. We will have to do some sea trials after all the work done on the boat, and wait for a good weather window for out first passage. We plan to leave New Zealand direct to Fiji – like most of the other boaters headed out this season. Most will wait until after the first of May when the cyclone season is supposed to end.
We had a briefing on the basic weather patterns by a famous weather forecaster here in New Zealand named Bob McDavitt – who writes a South Pacific weathergram, and provides cruiser weather route planning services. I’ve been following the recent weather patterns along the route in order to start spotting good weather windows for our passage of about 1100 nautical miles will take us 6-7 days with good weather.
We have also been researching Fiji to learn what we need to know about the country before arrival. We use a site called Noonsite to research each country before we visit. It is kind of like a Wikipedia for cruisers with information contributed by cruisers organized by country including information on custom entry/exit procedures, health, weather, services available, money system, restrictions, etc. Noonsite was originally developed by Jimmy Cornell who wrote some excellent books with a lot of similar information – but, it was hard to keep the books current because of publishing times. The site was bought by another company from him a few years ago, and seems to be well run and advertising sponsored. Check out Noonsite’s entry for Fiji. Look on the left sidebar for categories of further information.
It is also very useful to read about the experience of other cruisers who blogged about their visit to Fiji. For example, I checked on s/v Billabong’s Fiji posts who I had followed a few years ago. Also checked the thorough writings of s/v Swingin’ on a Star (another St. Francis 50 just like Tahina) when they visited Fiji in 2008.
We also talk to other cruisers going to our next destinations, and get our hands on cruising guides to read up on what we need to know. Our current plan is to enter Fiji in SavuSavu which puts us in good position to explore some of the best waters of Fiji on the eastern side of the country (which is upwind of the ports of entry like SavuSavu and Nadi).