Vanua Balavu, Lau Group, Fiji
In the middle of the night on the shortest day of the year we entered into the western hemisphere and finally, literally, sailed off the edge of the chart.
It was as black as the inside of a cow and almost as wet.
We’d been waiting for a break in the prevailing southeast trade winds to make a dash east to the Lau Group of islands, the farthest east of the islands of Fiji.
Finally, we had a window – really only a louvre – and we sailed out of Savusavu at sunset, with the wind backing to a northerly and then dying altogether.
Around midnight, in pouring rain, we crossed 180 degrees longitude – the ‘actual’ dateline (though the practical dateline does a dog-leg here to embrace Tonga and Fiji in the same day-zone as Australia/NZ).
Our Navionics electronic chart stopped right there: to plot a further course, we had to scroll right around the world and pick up on the other side of the invisible 180 degree line.
Reassuringly, despite our sailing off the edge of the chart, there was no sign of dragons…
We motored almost all of the 108 nautical miles to Vanua Balavu, in the north of the Lau Group, as there wasn’t enough wind to sail. At dawn, we converged on the pass, along with four other boats that had sailed from various points, and by late morning we’d dropped anchor off the village of Daliconi.
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