We have arrived at our most northern point yet - Qelelevu Lagoon. We'll try and describe
how unique the lagoon is. It is is even bigger than Minerva Reef - 7 nM from the pass to
the islands at the other end of the lagoon. We anchored well off the main island as the
water got very shallow offshore and dinghied in. We found the island was deserted. The
village has been abandoned not long ago as the government could no longer justify
manitaining the infrastructure. It meant we were able to collect lots of pawpaw, bananas,
and cassava from the overgrown gardens, but most importantly was able to collect some water
by climbing on top of one of the water tanks and dunking our container.
The islands have been declared a pest free bird sanctuary, however we were greeted by two
very friendly dogs that have been left behind by the villagers! They looked very well fed
and so we can only imagine they are eating birds and eggs. Despite their efforts we saw
some great bird life - including a red footed booby bird up very close - and lots of huge
black lizards. We tried to catch one as we thought a pet lizard might be quite good for
keeping Riada II bug-free :-)
We have done a little free diving in the crystalline lagoon near to our anchorage and the
fish are almost tame - more curious than we were.
Despite our stunning surrounds we won't be staying any longer as we don't have settled
weather and so the lagoon is a bit bumpy and not really comfortable to sit in at anchor
and so this afternoon we'll leave for Duff Reef and the Lau Group.
Until the next update, moce,
Carolyn and Dave
Bula vinaka from special Budd Reef. So special we have been here for over a week now - although we are chomping at
the bit to get away now. We've actually been delayed here by strongwinds caused by a "squash zone" north of the
High that has been resident over NZ for the past week. We have been hearing of the stunning (although cold) weather
in NZ over the SSB radio; it just means that we have enhanced trades up here due to the isobars being squashed between
the High and the nearest low(s). But we can't complain as we are in a gorgeous spot, and you certainly deserved better
weather in NZ!
Budd Reef is a "submerged reef" with one inhabited island and we have been the only boat here all
week. As we can't post photos at the moment (via our sat phone), What our blog can't relay to you is the beautiful
(although windswept) little bay where we have been holed up since our last post five days ago and its incredibly clear water.
We have enjoyed "Bombay Sapphire gin-like" visibility (50m) on our daily snorkels. Today Dave and I snorkelled for almost
two hours to the far end of the island and Dave speared our dinner. We then had a little adventure. I offered to carry the
fish back in case Dave saw a second fish; Dave said "that would be great hon, just be careful, if a shark wants it be sure
to give it to him - although you should be OK now its dead and stopped moving". Well, no sooner had I finned a distance
away when a shark swam towards me and the fish came alive again! I dropped the fish in a flash and the shark slowly,
gracefully ambled by below me, leaving the fish untouched! Needless to say we retrieved the fish and then, although the
shark was always nearby, between Dave's shots at other fish we carried it back to the boat. Exciting!
The only downside of being out here is the lack of Internet reception (its been three weeks now since we last had it) and so
we have only been able to use our onsatmail address for e-mails.
And we are going to have to rely on our onsatmail a little longer as tomorrow we plan to head further north and east
to even more remote Qelelevu Lagoon for a day or two, then to Duff Reef (where we saw the turtle tracks last year) and then
to the top of the Lau Group - all beyond a strong enough Vodafone signal.
OK, to prepare our fresh (spear) fish dinner.
Until the next update keep well, happy and warm!
Carolyn and Dave
(photo is of Dave - the sharp end of the Dave and Carolyn spearfishing team)
15/07/2012, 16 46 S :179 58 W
We are anchored offshore from Taveuni after spending 9 days
based at a nearby island, Qamea, as we found lots to do there every day!
Daily we snorkeled nearby reefs (we even found one that rivaled the world famous White Wall and Purple Wall, but had it all to ourselves), swam, paddleboarded, socialized with our cruising neighbours (Kent, Ami, Gill, Marlene, Madison and Hannah on Veladare and Rick on Guava Jelly), and visited our friends in the nearby villages and the Indian family (the only on the island) whom we befriended last year and were very excited to see us back. But then some days were even more memorable.
We went to the local school fundraiser last Friday which was a real insight into village life, and inter-village rivalry! Each of the four houses tried to outdo each other all day with dances and fundraising activities. All 3 boats in the bay were guests of Bua (Blue) House and no one is
quite sure who won. Rumours of cheating still reverberate around the
Saturday we had a maintenance day and then went across to Taveuni to pick up Dave's friend Brett and had two local boys onboard with us. They loved helming and sailing - for both their first time. That night we had the Indian family who have been so good to us plus Jone a Fijian man who lets us take water from his property, and Rick on board for curries and a sing-a-long (Rick plays guitar).
And then Sunday was a real highlight. We were invited to go to a AOG church service in a nearby village and to then have lunch with the church elder, the pastor and his family. The church service was in a temporary shelter as their church was blown away by Cyclone Thomas, but together the passionate pastor and the small congregation made a huge impact on us. We all (me, Dave, Brett and Rick) felt it was what church should be like and we were moved to tears by the messages (the pastor performed quite a bit of the service in English for our benefit), the communty spirit and the singing! Lunch afterwards was an occasion to discuss the village's ambitions to offer tourist activities and their challenges, as well as how best to rebuild the church.
And then after lunch we had a number of visitors out to the boat - many of whom hadn't been onboard a yacht before, despite the bay hosting thousands of cruisers over the years - and then that night the Indian family laid down a lovo for us.
Monday began as another chores day - especially loading up
with water - but then the villagers invited Dave and Brett out spearfishing for
walu. They were very pleased to be able to share their catch with our neighbours at a pot luck dinner that night.
Two days we headed across from Qamea to the east side of Taveuni with Rick to walk to a series of beautiful waterfalls. A 45 minute climb took us way above our anchorage with stunning views back to Qamea and the boys found a ledge above the highest one to jump and dive from.
Yesterday we sailed to the western side of Taveuni (where we are now) to provision and spend some time on the Internet before we head off back to some of our favourite, remote spots: Rabi, Budd Reef, Duff Reef and then the Lau Group. Winds allowing we will then head to Kadavu, Beqa and finally to Lautoka in September from where we will depart for Vanuatu - but you'll here a lot more from us before then!
Carolyn and Dave
Photo is of Dave, Brett and Rick above the waterfall
We have made it back to another of our favourite spots - Budd Reef. It is a beautiful submerged reef with three groupings of small islands - including an extinct volcanic island with a water-filled crater (which we hope to get into in our tender) - and crystal clear water.
We went to a beautiful church service on Sunday where the local children sang all their Sunday school songs for us. We then had lunch with the chief and his family where the mahimahi we caught on our way here from Rabi Island was on the menu.
Yesterday Brett went out for a spear fish near the crater island (Cobia) with the chief's son, Willie (Carolyn was boat girl and Dave stayed on Riada II as the anchorage was exposed). He saw a dogfish tuna and so today we were hoping to go back to the same spot to see if Dave could spear one but the weather was against us and so a snorkel in a sheltered spot was the best we could do. Maybe tomorrow - we are on Fiji time after all.
Dave and Carolyn
(photo is of Alexander (on right) and his friend in their preferred form of transport after our Sunday lunch with his grandparents (Chief) and parents
We thought of you all in the New Zealand temperatures as we have the opposite problem
this morning - we had to run the engine earlier than normal to chill the fridge and freezer before the 2 lobster the boys got yesterday warmed up!
We have woken to a beautiful morning here in Albert Cove, Rabi Island - one of our favourite spots - and just had a breakfast of green coconut juice, then pawpaw and lime, followed by pineapple, passionfruit and banana with yoghurt and Fijian honey, all washed down with a freshly brewed coffee - yumm!
We plan to get a few chores done - including our washing in a creek onshore - before the sun gets too high, and then go to the outside reef to look for more lobster (the boys) and snorkel (Carolyn). We are also going to look for some watercress in the creek for our lunchtime lobster salad. More yumm!
Tomorrow we are going to nearby Elizabeth Cove to climb up to the Korotapu "cannibal cave" which are where the remains of many a valiant warrior are to be found and then the three Banaban families who live in Albert Cove are putting down a lovo for us - killing two chickens. We are very honoured and hope to catch some fish bottom fishing tonight so that we can contribute to the menu.
Until next time
Carolyn and Dave
*Banaban (Rabi Island) for hello
(photo is of Carolyn and Brett at the cannibal cave)
12/06/2012, Viani Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
The cruising jungle drums started sounding - bad weather was coming! And so early yesterday morning we left the north west coast of Taveuni with our neighbours - Bruce and Alene of Migration and Rick of Guava Jelly - for Viani Bay and an anchorage off "Jack's place".
Viani Bay is in the northeastern corner of Vanua Levu and provides wonderful shelter from the north and west, and Jack is a wonderful fixture of the bay. He paddles out to make you feel welcome and to check if you want to dive the nearby White Wall - one of the world's best 7 dives. Needless to say tomorrow Dave, Alene and Rick are heading out.
The bad patch of weather lasted about as long as we were in passage from Taveuni to Viani Bay. We arrived well rinsed but ...warm ☺!!
To celebrate being dry we had a lovely night with our neighbours - eating walu sashimi and baked walu (the walu compliments of Migration, the sashimi one of Dave's masterpieces, the baking Rick's). Tonight its our turn to host the two boats for one of Dave's world famous venison stews - yum yum :-).
Carolyn and Dave
Photo is of the " Riada Pirates" taken by Rick of Guava Jelly before we left Taveuni, Guava Jelly in the background and Migration's pizza dough recipe safely tucked into Carolyn's bikini top :-)