Our Ever-Changing Backyard--Sailing with Scoots

27 July 2019 | Tavoro Waterfalls, Taveuni Island, Fiji
15 July 2019 | Viani Bay
23 June 2019 | En route to Savusavu, Fiji, from N. Minerva Reef
20 June 2019 | North Minerva Reef
17 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
14 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
13 June 2019 | In the ocean, NE of New Zealand
12 June 2019 | Marsden Cove Marina, Ruakaka, NZ
06 May 2019 | Paradise Taveuni Resort
04 March 2019 | Koro Island
05 December 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
01 December 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
30 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
29 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
28 November 2018 | On passage from Fiji to NZ
26 November 2018 | Port Denarau Marina, near Nadi, Fiji
18 November 2018 | Makogai Island, Fiji

Waterfalls with friends

27 July 2019 | Tavoro Waterfalls, Taveuni Island, Fiji
Vandy Shrader
The other morning at 7am, Apex, one of the employees of Dive Academy Fiji, swung by in his longboat to pick us up.


Apex and Eric

After visiting SCOOTS, he swung by Rewa, Waianiwa, and Peregrine, picking up more passengers. Altogether, there were nine of us: Eric and I from SCOOTS; Dave, Tessa, Nick, and Heike from Rewa; Joe and Michelle from Peregrine, and 9-year-old Wilson from Waianiwa. Wilson had been a recent addition to our group, having been invited by Tessa after meeting him and his family at a beach function the previous evening. Wilson was a great addition to our group - smart, funny, comfortable around adults. He and Tessa chatted nonstop with each other for the entire day, while the rest of us took silent bets on who would wear out first. In the end, neither did.

The occasion? Our friend, Dave, perpetually optimistic and always looking for an adventure (you may remember him from our "Daventure" to and from Labasa a few weeks back) had arranged a trip for all of us across the Somosomo Strait to the nearby island of Taveuni, where we would combine a necessary trip to town to fill up our dinghy gas cans and buy some groceries, with a visit to a national park where we would hike to three waterfalls.

Though I fully expected a wet ride across the Strait, it was completely splash-free and beautiful: the water in the Strait was calm, dolphins surfaced lazily nearby, and a rainbow arced across to Taveuni.



It was a good start to what would be a great day.


Heike, Nick and Tessa

Nearing shore twenty minutes later, Apex navigated deftly between submerged coral bommies, tipped up the outboard, got out, pulled the boat across the ankle-deep water and threw an anchor out onto the wet sand.


Ashore

The rest of us hopped out and sloshed across the shallows (cruisers never arrive anywhere completely dry) to the beach. Except for Wilson, who was wearing socks and sneakers: without a word, Apex hoisted Wilson onto his shoulder and carried him to the beach, where he deposited him on the dry sand.


The beach

Once on shore, we waited a few minutes for the van that had been hired to carry us to all our destinations on Taveuni, to arrive.



When it did, our driver, Samuel, greeted us and off we went, in air-conditioned comfort. Our first stop was the Total gas station, where Eric and Dave left their gas jugs, to be filled later on our return.


Dave and his gas can

Our next stop was half an hour later, at the Matei Airport, the only airport on Taveuni, where we stretched our legs and had a bathroom break. A bit farther along, we stopped at a surprisingly-well-stocked store that had things like Peter Pan peanut butter, those cumin/coriander wraps we like, and other kavalangi delights. They also had warm roti, stuffed with curried veggies, that many of us bought for breakfast. Knowing that we were going grocery shopping later on, I only bought a couple packages of the wraps. I should have bought more: this store was much better supplied than the supermarket we visited later.

Another thirty minutes down the road - the pavement having ended, it was now composed of rutted dirt and rocks- we entered the Bouma Heritage Park, a big tract of land (you fans of "Monty Python's Holy Grail" can do the corresponding hand motions if you'd like) that has been set aside as a nature reserve. Within the park were the Tavoro Waterfalls, a series of three scenic cascades, that we'd come to see.

We each paid our $36FJ entrance fee to the ranger, and after studying the colorful drawing depicting the trail and the waterfalls, we were on our way.


The trail map

Ten minutes down a well-manicured trail with pretty plantings alongside, we reached the first waterfall.


The first part of the trail

The waterfall was pretty,



but the water in the pool at the bottom was cold, definitely too cold for me to swim, and in fact none of us did, since we hadn't even broken a sweat yet. Though this was about to change.



The second waterfall, according to the drawing, could be reached after another 40-minute hike. This portion of the trail also began with a manicured pathway that stretched along a ridge, but soon added switchbacks and stairs as it began to climb up the side of the mountain. I stopped a few times to catch my breath and look around for birds.

Everyone stopped for a few minutes at a strategically-placed gazebo that was situated about a third of the way along the trail, in a beautiful spot, overlooking a green valley filled with jungle and fields, and the ocean beyond.


The view from the gazebo

Beyond the gazebo, the track quickly degraded into mud, roots, and rocks, with some dirt-filled stairs thrown in at the steepest parts.




I'm happy to report that here in Fiji, they space the steps at a more comfortable height and distance for someone with short legs, such as myself, than they do in New Zealand, where the average person must have longer legs. Still, I let everyone go on ahead, while I walked slowly, watching and listening for birds in the thick jungle.



I kept hearing a bird calling. It had a loud, clear whistle, with one tone, like the first note of a "wolf whistle." I couldn't see the bird, but its call was easy to mimic, so I did, whistling in the same tone and rhythm as it did, as I walked along the muddy trail.


Jungle trail

Soon a bird fluttered quickly across the trail behind me, and disappeared into a thick tangle of leaves and vines. It called; I called back. After a few more calls, it flashed back across the path in the other direction. This time, I caught a glimpse of a bird about the size of a mockingbird, with rusty-red plumage, as it streaked by into the foliage. We played the call-and-repeat game for a few more minutes before it stopped calling. I never got a good look at it, but from comparing pictures of the possible species, and listening to their calls on the internet, I was able to determine that it was a female black-faced shrikebill.


A female black-faced shrikebill (from eBird)

A little while later, sweaty, muddy, and tired, I arrived at the second waterfall. Everyone else was already there, having arrived quite a bit earlier.



Adventurers Heike and Nick had opted to take an alternate path that required two river crossings, and were in the process of sharing the tale of their harrowing experience. (They didn't take that path on the way back down the mountain.)



Eric said that he'd seen a really cool crab on the trail, and he'd called and whistled for me, hoping I was close enough to come see it. Apparently, I was too far away, and too engrossed in my conversation with the shrikebill, so it was gone by the time I got there.


Jungle trail

When I arrived at the second waterfall, everyone else was ready to move to the third, so after a quick glance at the waterfall,



I headed back onto the muddy trail and continued on. Once again, I let everyone go on ahead of me, so I could meander along more slowly, watching and listening. I don't know whether I'd become accustomed to the exercise or to the slippery unpredictability of the trail, or if it wasn't quite as steep, or if I was just buoyed from my interaction with the shrikebill, but this portion of the trail felt the most enjoyable to me. Even though it was every bit as muddy and slippery as the other part of the trail, just as strewn with gnarled and twisted tree roots and sharp, fist-sized rocks, and the humidity and heat just as sweat-inducing.


Jungle trail

A flash of dark blue and white caught my eye, as a pair of small birds flew across the path right in front of me. One landed in a fairly open area of vines, so I could get a really good look at it. They were silktails! Really pretty, strikingly-colored birds. I never expected to see a silktail, as they only inhabit the jungles of Taveuni and portions of Vanua Levu. But there they were!


A photo (not mine) of a silktail

Now I was feeling really stoked - but also really sweaty - so when I finally reached the third waterfall a few minutes later, I set down my backpack and walked into the water, without even slowing down. It wasn't warm. I didn't care. It felt great. Everyone else was also in the water, enjoying the cool respite after the hike. I sat in the waterfall pool, splashing cool water onto my face and hair, washing away the sweat.

But not the mud. This stuck tenaciously to my toes and ankles and calves, and no amount of rubbing with my wet fingers would remove it. It was no big deal, though...I'd probably collect some more on my hike back down the mountain.


Van and Eric at the third waterfall

After an hour or so enjoying the waterfall and its pool, we shouldered our packs again and began the trek down the mountain.

The purple crab that Eric had seen earlier made another appearance, standing his ground in the middle of the trail, turning to face each one of us who tiptoed carefully around him, white-tipped claws raised and ready to defend his patch of ground. I had to admire his courage and tenacity. Eric joked that it looked like the crab wanted to extract a toll from us.



Back at the visitor center, we took shelter from a sudden rainstorm and chattered about what a great time we'd had on the hike. Samuel and the van were waiting for us, so we piled in and began bumping along the dirt road, back to town. Most of an hour later, at about 3:00, we arrived in Somosomo, hungry for lunch. Our lunch options were limited to two small curry shops. We chose the one upstairs over the supermarket, and descended on the lunch counter ladies, who up until then were probably thinking that they could go home soon. They were out of almost everything, but they agreed to make a new batch of chicken curry if enough of us wanted some. Most of us did.

After lunch, we trooped downstairs to the supermarket, hoping to restock our boat larders. But...many of the shelves were empty. We learned, then, that the ferry that normally supplies Taveuni hadn't been running for several days, and so many items were in short or no supply. There was no flour, for instance, and so no bread in the bakeries. Fortunately, the store still had some of our favorite crackers - NamKeen cumin crackers - "Thoda salty, thoda spicy. Full Masti!" We bought several packs of these, along with some cans of tuna, and rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, and then headed down the street to find some fresh fruits and vegetables.

Rather than occupying a building, the produce market in Somosomo extends along the main street, comprising maybe a dozen plywood stalls, each piled high with papayas, citrus, cabbages, bananas, cassava roots, tomatoes, and those tiny little red and green nuclear chili peppers. We bought some papayas, tomatoes, Fijian limes (which are green on the outside but orange on the inside), and a cabbage, and then headed back to the van.

Samuel drove us back to the Total gas station, where Eric and Dave picked up their full gas cans, and then to the beach, where Apex's boat was again floating in ankle-deep water, the tide having come in and gone back out while we were away. We divvied up the cost of our van trip nine ways, paid Samuel, and then carried our groceries, gas cans, and backpacks across the shallows, and loaded them and ourselves into Apex's boat.

We enjoyed another smooth ride across the Somosomo Strait, arriving back in Viani Bay just after sunset. Apex stopped first at Waianiwa to reunite Wilson with his family, who were probably relieved to have him back, as we'd returned a few hours later than we'd predicted. Then he visited each boat in turn, dropping the rest of us off, tired, satisfied, and smeared with mud after another great Daventure.



Comments
Vessel Name: SCOOTS
Vessel Make/Model: Able Apogee 50
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed to Mexico with the 2014 Baja Haha and had fun exploring Mexico until April 2016, when we turned SCOOTS west and headed to the South Pacific. As of late Nov. 2016, SCOOTS and her crew are exploring New Zealand.
Social:
SCOOTS's Photos - Main
27 Photos
Created 27 July 2019
1 Photo
Created 15 July 2019
11 Photos
Created 3 July 2019
3 Photos
Created 6 May 2019
13 Photos
Created 4 March 2019
2 Photos
Created 26 November 2018
16 Photos
Created 18 November 2018
11 Photos
Created 27 October 2018
12 Photos
Created 1 October 2018
6 Photos
Created 21 September 2018
9 Photos
Created 19 July 2018
7 Photos
Created 19 June 2018
No Photos
Created 19 June 2018
11 Photos
Created 18 October 2017
7 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 24 July 2017
14 Photos
Created 12 April 2017
35 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 20 March 2017
18 Photos
Created 2 March 2017
19 Photos
Created 16 February 2017
4 Photos
Created 18 January 2017
30 Photos
Created 14 December 2016
29 Photos
Created 5 November 2016
52 Photos
Created 23 October 2016
24 Photos
Created 12 October 2016
49 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 15 September 2016
43 Photos
Created 2 September 2016
46 Photos
Created 4 August 2016
32 Photos
Created 21 July 2016
12 Photos
Created 1 July 2016
15 Photos
Created 20 June 2016
17 Photos
Created 5 June 2016
1 Photo
Created 3 June 2016
45 Photos
Created 11 May 2016
10 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
2 Photos
Created 1 April 2016
13 Photos
Created 22 March 2016
12 Photos
Created 14 March 2016
2 Photos
Created 9 March 2016
5 Photos
Created 19 January 2016
7 Photos
Created 27 December 2015
6 Photos
Created 16 December 2015
No Photos
Created 27 November 2015
4 Photos
Created 1 November 2015
19 Photos
Created 28 July 2015
4 Photos
Created 23 July 2015
6 Photos
Created 11 July 2015
13 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
9 Photos
Created 15 June 2015
12 Photos
Created 28 May 2015
No Photos
Created 28 May 2015
17 Photos
Created 5 May 2015
2 Photos
Created 30 April 2015
35 Photos
Created 24 April 2015
8 Photos
Created 25 March 2015
8 Photos
Created 10 March 2015
49 Photos
Created 14 February 2015
7 Photos
Created 10 February 2015
20 Photos
Created 26 January 2015
24 Photos
Created 20 December 2014
No Photos
Created 20 December 2014
10 Photos
Created 11 December 2014
5 Photos
Created 3 December 2014
11 Photos
Created 14 November 2014
34 Photos
Created 10 November 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 October 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 October 2014
5 Photos
Created 18 October 2014
8 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
16 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
6 Photos
Created 24 September 2014
9 Photos
Created 23 September 2014
8 Photos
Created 21 September 2014
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2014
5 Photos
Created 18 September 2014
5 Photos
Created 10 September 2014
4 Photos
Created 26 August 2014
1 Photo
Created 25 July 2014
2 Photos
Created 14 May 2014
49 Photos
Created 3 November 2013
32 Photos
Created 8 August 2013
Pics from our trip time aboard Scoots in July 2013.
23 Photos
Created 7 July 2013