Riada II, her master and crew are safely riding at anchor just off
Levuka. There was no sign off life at 6am - I imagine there was late
night celebrating and then a lot of sleeping!
I haven't spoken to them yet, as they have to wait for Customs,
Immigration, Health, Agriculture and Fisheries to visit and clear them
for landing but... I can't wait to see them :-)!!
I imagine today will be a day of provisioning and refueling before heading for a sheltered spot - its still 15-20 knots SE in the harbour. Maybe we'll be back at our favourite Makogai by nightfall - yay!
Cheers until next time,
Carolyn (and Dave
Dave and crew have left North Minerva and are a day into their 360 mile sail to Levuka, and should be at Levuka on May 25th (although I'm picking they will be here even earlier as while at 5.30 last night they only had 10knots SW, here we have 25 knots and its predicted to stay a stiff breeze until Friday :-))
While they harness the breeze and digest their last crayfish I have made it to Levuka after exploring a wet (but warm) Suva and Suva Museum.
Its wonderful to be back in Levuka again. Everyone says Bula! to you as they go past and I have already seen familiar faces from our stay in Levuka and Makogai last year - including the senior Fisheries officer who taught us all about clams and turtles.
Marilyn and John (and their very vocal parrot "Bula") have made me so at home here at the Levuka Homestay (where I am their only guest -
thanks to travel warnings our governments are putting out). I will be able to see Dave sail in from the balcony. Everyone seems to know that he is coming in - and we even had a false alarm this morning. I had to explain to the lovely Fijian
man that Riada II was still a couple of days away :-)
We went to the Ovalau Club last night for the very official meeting of
the Tuesday Club - no agenda, no minutes, no speeches, just a few
yarns over a beer or two, and then we all went off to the Whales Tale Restaurant
for dinner (where "drinking, eating gambling and carousing" are all
encouraged). The expat's tales were wonderful - one lady had lived her earlier life in PNG and if you didn't have any idea about the frontier town it is now, let alone 30 years ago, you would have thought she was lying, while the 33year old man from Quebec who is writing his book about early retirement had some interesting perspectives on life. The only thing we didn't discuss was politics!
I wish you could be here - the sun is shining today and the rain has
evaporated (but there's still the stiff wind) and the local village seem to be having a drumming competition - it really feels like I am in the islands today.
I'm off to discover a little more of Levuka - to find the oldest
school in Fiji, the oldest Police station and the site where Fiji was
"ceded" to Queen Victoria.
Lots and lots of love,
19/05/2012, South Minerva Reef
We made it to South Minerva. The fishing is s..t but ...we're dining on seven big Pacific lobsters - feeding ourselves and three other boats :-). Off to North Minerva on Monday, depart for Levuka on Tuesday.
Dave and crew
A very excited Dave and crew of Brett, John and Jo, departed Auckland for Fiji, via Minerva Reef, on Thursday May 10th.
Unfortunately on Thursday night they sustained some damage to the chart plotter as a result of an uncontrolled gybe, and had to return to New Zealand waters. They arrived in Opua, Bay of Islands, on Friday afternoon.
The great news is that they were all repaired and rested by 6pm Saturday evening. They cleared Customs and farewelled New Zealand waters on Sunday morning. The conditions weren't the best for heading north but at 6pm last night they were east of North Cape, heading True north at 7 knots, and all was well on board. Phew!
We arrived in the Vavau'us on Sunday after a brisk ride up, where Dave and I saw lots of whales but thankfully a little way off - as if we were to hit them at 7-10 knots we would be in trouble! We also "almost caught" another marlin - smaller this time - and a mahi-mahi. Dave got the mahi-mahi right up near to the boat after a good fight but it got away at the last moment, while the marlin we could see but it broke the line. It may have been to do with my helming - its a challenge to stall the boat in 20-25 knots, with a swell and chop, but not to stall it too much so that the fish catches up with us, so then to gather a little speed again and steer at 180 degrees to the direction the fish takes. I am definitely an apprentice :-).
Since then we have been anchored off a little beach and village on the island of Kapa with our "neighbours" Relapse and Ruby-June. We did all our administration on Monday (clearing customs for Vavau'u and extending our visa (its hard to imagine we have been in Tonga for 5 weeks now!).
Lots to explore up here and we hope to do that seriously from today - so more to tell soon. Our new crew join us on September 3rd and then we will be here in Vava,u until September 10 - so we can watch the Tonga V NZ game on the 9th and then weather-allowing we will head to Fiji on the 10th to begin to explore the 320 islands (and we will watch the rest of the cup from there).
Since I last wrote I have also swum with a mother whale and her calf - an incredible experience - however she didn't put up with us for long and we have since learnt a lot more about whale watching and so hope to have more time to observe these majestic creatures, next time. We were also invited to a feast in a small village (100 people) in the Haapais which was a real privilige. It was to celebrate the opening of their refurbished community hall, paid for in exchange for their conservation of the nearby reef. They did the traditional dancing, food, prayers and speeches.
The people here in Tonga and fantastic it is easy to see why they are called the friendly islands. Some of the places we have visited in the Haapai Group look like they have not changed the way of life much from a 100 years ago, with the exception of the outboard motor and nylon fishing nets, and - sadly - plastic bags.
Besides these more major events, the days just seem to slip by - we have no trouble filling them in with chores, swimming, exploring nearby islands and eating :-) - for example our breakfast is a green coconut each (drink [we also enjoy it with white rum - our own fresh malibu]) - Dave has become a very adept coconut gatherer, opener and then polisher (for coconut bowls), then pawpaw and lemon juice, then banana with muesli and fresh yoghurt (I wish I had discovered Easi-yo years ago!, followed by freshly ground coffee and toast (local bread - we have yet to make our own).
I mentioned "chores". Riada II is going really well. Dave often has things to fix or repair but nothing major and nothing he can't sort out with ease and while he does that I do our "housework", look after our (now daily) communications, "weather-forecasting" etc.. We can confirm working is over rated for anyone working and wondering if they shouldn't be.
Okay, I'd better go as we are off to do some fishing and hopefully to explore nearby Swallows Cave - an underwater cave.
Carolyn and Dave
Guess what today Dave swam with whales - it was amazing. We tracked a mother and her calf for quite some time in the dinghy and then Dave slid overboard while I was on camera duty (my turn next time :-)). We also saw two huge turtles.
We are at the eastern Hapais - at an island on the "Barrier Reef" called Uiha. We hope to go and find more painted lobsters tomorrow at a nearby island and catch some more mahi mahi en route - we have "only" had tuna lately. We will be here for a few days - using it as a base while we explore the area - and will then probably head north to the Vavau'us.
Carolyn and Dave