April 22

We are so ready to get out of here. We are days away from departing for Fiji. Our Autopilot circuit board has arrived today, via FedEx, finally. I will install it this afternoon and if we have any luck we will be up and running after that. However, there is a chance that an unseen problem will cause a reoccurrence of the fault which melted the last circuit board. If all goes well, though, we will be ready to leave on Monday. We still need to lay in a bit more food (frozen meats mostly) and fill up one or two empty jerry jugs with gasoline. We took on diesel fuel on Tuesday - I hired a boat to load the two drums and come along side, then I pumped the fuel directly into our tanks using an electric pump and some hose which I put together for that purpose. The drums are 55usg each and we took all but about 5 gallons of it which we sold to someone else. So we are fully bunkered.

We are also waiting for two other packages, one from West Marine which has a new battery for our handheld VHF radio, which we originally tried to order in November of last year and which only just shipped (according to WM) about 3 weeks ago, yet it is still not here so I have my doubts that it ever shipped. Second is from Amazon. We broke down and ordered one list pile of books and DVDs but Amazon always ships very fast and it should be here by Monday. We would also love to get the original autopilot replacement board which was sent on March 11th but which seems to have been lost (thus we ordered a second one and had it sent by FedEx). If the first one still has not arrived by the time we are ready to depart we will just have someone here send it back when it finally arrives. My suspicion is that Simrad has shipped it by First Class Mail instead of Priority Mail, the difference being that 1st class mail goes by surface (i.e. slow boat) which Priority goes by air. Why they just don't call it "Air Mail" I can't fathom.

So, our first leg to Fiji will be to Tarawa in the republic of Kiribati, a distance of about 380 nautical miles. We stopped at Tarawa on the way North from Vanuatu and we have no desire to spend any time there. However, if you want to stop at one of the other islands of Kiribati (which we do) and you want to be legal doing it, you must visit Customs and Immigration in Tarawa and get permission to stop there on the way South. We plan to leave Tarawa as quickly as we can, perhaps 4 days, 5 at the most.

From there we will make for Tabiteuea which lies about 230nm Southeast of Tarawa. We will probably stay in Tabiteuea fro a week or ten days (which should have us departing that atoll on or about May 20th). From there we have about 500 miles to reach Funafuti in the nation of Tuvalu (formerly the Ellice Islands colony of Britain) so we should be there on or about the 24th of May. We will probably remain in Tuvalu for a week as well and then depart on the final leg for Fiji. We may just skip Tuvalu altogether if we are feeling fit and well rested when we approach Tuvalu. It's another 550 miles to reach Fiji from Tuvalu, so we will see how we feel. If all goes well, we should reach Savusavu in Fiji on or about the 5th of June, earlier if we skip Tuvalu.