Friday, April 26, 2013

In Funafuti for a Few Days

The wind picked up nicely and stayed steady, so we made it in the Funafuti Atoll by about 12:30pm, and had our anchor down by 1:30, in a nice sandy spot, 35 feet deep, off the "Government Building", next to s/v Proximity.

We found the SE pass to be easy to transit in our conditions--wind about 085T at 14 knots, and an outgoing tide. We were a little worried about coming in against an outgoing tide (the wind against the current problem). We had expected some turbulence with an outgoing tide and a mostly opposing wind, but saw little evidence of it. I guess the pass is wide enough that it doesn't cause a problem. We arrived at the pass at noon with great sun, so entry was easy. It turns out to be wide open and pretty well charted and marked.

Once we had our anchor set, we hustled around to get the dinghy launched and the sail covers on, so we could go to shore and get cleared in. Customs and Immigration close down promptly at 4pm, and we managed to complete 3/4 of our clearance before 4pm. The last step was to drop the "Health Quarantine" form off at the hospital. We decided to do that tomorrow. We also managed to talk the Immigration officer into clearing us OUT for Sunday. Customs wouldn't do that and told us to come back tomorrow.

Since they were nearly 45 miles behind us, Jerry and Ulyana on Challenger couldn't quite make it in before dark. Since the conditions were good, a full moon out, and we had traversed the same route during the day, Jerry decided to come in after dark. The atoll is well charted, mostly 100 feet deep, and the marks and lights are mostly where they are supposed to be (unlike Fiji). They arrived safely and anchored behind us about 9pm.

Friday morning, I went in with Jerry and Ulyana to help them get cleared in, go drop our Quarantine form off at the Hospital, and try to clear out with Customs. A different Customs officer was there, and I showed her the Immigration clearance, and she cleared us right out. Jerry, on the other hand, was told "no" by the (different) Immigration officer. But HE took the Customs clearance back later in the day and got Immigration to clear him out.

They only get about 20 yachts a year stopping through here, and the last boats we know of were here in December. So it's understandable that they're kind of rusty on the procedures. Clearing out on Friday for a weekend departure was our idea, and may not be strictly according to regulations. But only one person mentioned the word "overtime" and suggested they clear us on Sunday. But we managed to smile a lot and ask nicely and got our clearance completed on Friday.

Cost to clear in and out in Tuvalu: Nothing.

We'd really like to stay longer here, but we're on a mission to get to Majuro by May 10th or so, and there's a light patch of wind coming in 2 days. So we plan to hustle on northward tomorrow, to get past the area of light winds before they get here.

Trip Summary - Savusavu to Funafuti: 6 calendar days, 2 overnight stops, 608 NM, 117 Hrs Underway Time, 50 Hrs Engine Time.
(High proportion of engine hours caused by having to motor east against the wind around the east end of Fiji for 2 days in light wind, then one day of squalls and light weather on the way to Funafuti). We made it by Dave's Birthday!!

At 04/25/2013 2:09 AM (utc) our position was 08°31.56'S 179°11.35'E

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