Fish for supper!
14 October 2019 | Nanuya
Up early for our 50 mile sail to the Yasawa islands two fishing lines out by 7.30am we had a big mahi mahi on the end and a long fight ensured which resulted in the fish jumping off as he came on the transome, this is not just another one of those stories we have photographic evidence to back it up! With an air of disappointment we put the lines out again fortunately the gloom and despair didnt last long as we soon had another strike- this one albeit slightly smaller we landed! The gaff proved to be not mych use in Vasco de Watson's hands as he gaffed himself whildt the fish managed to snap off the end of the rod! Still 3 days of delicious fish dinners for the lucky crew!
We arrived in the stunningly beautiful Sawa-e-lau island just as the wind was getting up and sadly the snchorage wasnt as protected as we had hoped the two villages were too far to reach on our little dinghy with not very much fuel and a sleepless night was had by one of ths crew worrying that we were going to drag and hit the nearby reef, given how long it took us the following morning to unwrap the chain around the various bommied not to mention dighing out the anchor from undernesth a rock there was no danger of us dragging! We then made our way to the more protected anchorage at Malakati where presented our yangona and various items for the village. Alastair was spared the deliights of actually tasting the Kava but he still didnt enjoy the sitting cross legged on the floor in front of thd chief or being told to take his hat off! We were told that the afternoon church service would take place at 4pm so duly turned up at 3.55pm. Everyone in the village seemed to be asleep after what must have been vigorous independence day celebrations and drum calling the faithful to prayer was not beatened until 4.45pm. We were welcomed by an otherwise incoherent minister and endured a 40 minute tirade on the evils of something or other all in Fijian ! In any case it gave us a chance to meet the villagers and arrange to have tour and get some fruit and vegetables the following morning, we also managed to give some mefic6al assistance to the family who were suffering from conjunctivitis. .
Celebrating independence- what a difference a day makes!
12 October 2019 | Sawa-i-lau
Independence Day in Makongai was celebrated in the village on the other side of the island from us an 8 mike walk aling a goat trail we were strongky advised by the well fed ladies of the village that this wss not a walk any sane person would contemplate. Into the open sea complete with pumice fields we set with the dinghy! We were assured hat the jiourney would take 15 minutes (all the children travel to school this way) but as we had no idea where we were going we werent surprised that it took us half an hour and we arrived with rather soggy bottoms! We wound our way aling a short goat trail to arrive at the school where the celebratiins were taking place. They had all turned out in Fijian national shirts which stephen uncharitably noted were made in Bangladesh! The community consisting of about 5 or 6 families were gathered sheltering from the sun under a UNICEF tarpaulin drinking pink squash out of a bucket and eating a selectiin of biscuits. We were invited to join in and presented them with a bag of lollipops, colouring books, and plasters which they seemed thrilled with. Once the headmaster and the matriarch had opened the festivities with prayers the main event was a volleyball tournament we were divided into teams , Stephen and i were with one lady in a team called Lions and Al was with two very large ladies one the chiefs wife in the Rooster team, unsurprisingly these two teams came last Al was actually by the best of the 3 of us, and Grace surprisly was the worst!
We got back to the boat and had a good snorkel seeing a couple of the giant clams, leopard fish and other brightly coloured fish and good coral.
The following morning we set off at 5.30am to wiggle through endless narrow passages which Curly had hoped would be clear of pumice lava sadly this wasnt the case and islands of it were swept up right at the narrowest points of the passage where there was no choice but to motor through it! We made it before sundown to a different world with up market private houses sandy beaches and kite surfing. In the morning we would leave again at 5.30am for the Yasawa islands
Umbrellas, Wheelbarrows & Flying Coral
09 October 2019 | Makongai in Fiji
Our last blog saw us in the Lau group with a torn mainsail, about to head off to the Bay of Islands (Fiji style). The bay lived up to expectations in every way and we enjoyed fantastic scenery, wonderful snorkelling amongst bommies/mushroom island and caves and, perhaps, rather more rum
than is good for us with Andrew & Julia on Hullabaloo. Our highpoints in the snorkelling were the fern coral and these tiny creatures that looked like brightly coloured Christmas trees - until you waved at them and they disappeared back into their shells. Colours were red, blue, white, yellow,
bright green and gold etc etc.
We left the islands on friday afternoon, with a view to getting back to Savusavu for first thing on Saturday morning. That would (hopefully) give us the opportunity to get the main off for repair and possibly some progress on the backstay. Ignoring Curly's rule of not leaving before 0900 and
arriving before 1600 (again) we had gone about 250 yards when we were struck hard by flying coral. This is an alarming event at the best of times and only made more confusing because the flying coral is always under water. Our unplanned meeting, resulted in bruising in Grace's nether
regions (photographs are available but only for a price) and more importantly the companion way steps flying through the boat.
Such was the impact that even i thought i might just "pop over" the side to check the state of the keel. In i went and was about to be pleased to announce that all was clear as I was swimming slowly alongside the boat. At that point, Grace put the engine in gear and the swirl of a large
propeller thrashing through water as you are snorkelling within 3 feet is an image I will bear with me for some time - even if my arms are no longer attached.
It was all fine - albeit we had no backstays or mainsail. A jury rig on the backstay held up the mast and we made 7 knots under jib back to Savusavu. Arriving at 0800 on Saturday morning, we met Ezra who had engaged a lady diver to clean our bottom (that is Water Music and not
Grace's) . At one point she surfaced and called to me. Not able to see where she was, she tugged at what she thought was a line onto the back of the boat to grab my attention. Alas for her, the line she grabbed was the mains power cable delivering 240v to the boat and she pulled so
hard that the join went underwater. There was some gentle fizzing going on before we encouraged her to let go and turned off the power. A normal conversation could then resume - which was to tell me that we had a fishing line wrapped around the prop - for once not ours - and would we
like it removed. That was helpful. The photographs of the impact of the latest flying coral was perhaps less helpful. At least we know we havent damaged the structure!.
The humble wheelbarrow then came in helpful. Without which, we would have found it impossible to transport the mainsail up to the local canvas stitcher for repair. Alas, it was wasted effort as, no matter how hard Hanif tried, his needles were neither long enough or strong enough to get
through the ever thickening (but ever weakening) fabric of our shot mainsail. We used the wheelbarrow to take the sail back and transport it to a courier to take it to a real sailmaker on the main island by airfreight. This didnt happen as the sail was too heavy and the wheelbarrow was
needed again to take the sail to a courier who could take it by ship. At the time of writing, i dont know where the sail is - but have no longer any immediate need for the wheelbarrow. However, it was so useful, that I am considering where we might stow one on the boat.
Then it started raining. and then it rained a bit more. We now have umbrellas on the boat. To date, no sign of a Naval Officer.
On Sunday, Alastair Watson joined us after a pretty gruelling flight via LA and the main island in Fiji. In spite of letters from the Fijian High Commission, the local immigration office and me confirming that he was leaving on the boat, they still insisted on him buying another flight out from Fiji.
That argument is trundling on.....
On the Monday we went to see a waterfall, an old village in the country side and left time to prepare for Grace's big day on the Tuesday. Actually there wasnt enough time for that (after buying the umbrellas) and so Grace had to content herself with a set of signal flags up the backstay that
simply said "Grace is 60". Sadly, none of the yachties around can read signal flags and so it was only me that knew what it meant. The day, apart from lunch with Curly, was spent shopping, fixing new hydraulics to the backstays, finally repairing the leaking forehatch and laundry prior to an
early start the following day. I had granted Grace every birthday wish - she said she resolutely did not want a fuss being made of her on 8 October.
In the evening we were invited to birthday drinks on "Into the Blue", where she was presented with not one but two birthday cakes and a present. This almost put me to shame - but i recalled that "she wanted no fuss".
And so, the time has come to leave Savusavu again and we left at 0530. Motoring the whole way in very light airs, we went through 2 pumice fields before arriving in Makongai for afternoon tea on the boat. This island was a leper colony until the late 1960's and we were shown around by
Whysaki - the local chief. Fortunately they took our donation of Yangona without expecting us to have any. That treat is still in store for Alastair. The old houses have been devastated by cyclones - with the latest some 3 years ago and they are still rebuilding. It is now home to a turtle
breeding sanctuary and a giant clam farm. Lots of exploring to be done tomorrow.