Felt pretty jaded today, just tired I think. I went ashore and played frisbee with Laura for a while by the Coprashed. There was a dog tied up by the fence and just after we left to come back to the boat it collapsed and died after frothing at the mouth and biting a man who was trying to pacify it. That upset a lot of people. We went to tea on SANITY. Had mahi-mahi. Enjoyed a good discussion with Tony and Steve. Had a very enjoyable shower at the Coprashed.
Spent the entire day fixing things. There was a bracket on the engine that Steve welded for me. As we were going ashore with the welding gear I told him to tie the boat to the wharf and the wharf to the boat. When he tied up to a large (read shipping grade) steel bollard I told him to tie the bollard to the wharf. On closer inspection it was not bolted down. Talk about laugh!! However it was many times heavier than PLAIN JANE. More than ample to provide good holding.
As we were rafted up to a mooring with ADVENTURER on one side and MAKANI on the other they poked borax at me all day as the repairs continued. They did offer some helpful advice though. The head needed attention - again as it is intermittently filling. Still can't work it out but I have installed a higher inlet hose. Also repaired a floorboard that had become loose. Susannah bought us a pizza for tea (F$16) which was about 2 feet in diameter.
A quiet day. I wandered down town to get some money from the bank only to discover that they close at 3pm on Thursdays not 4pm (Is this Thursday?) Anyone but a palangi would know that. Otherwise a restful day after the trials of yesterday. Received a letter from my mother. Commencing yesterday I have run a cruisers net for Savusavu on Ch 6 at 0850 hours. Marty and Kevan dared me to so here goes. It is modelled on the one in the Vava’u’s but instead of closing as they did I would finish with a Neil joke. It comprises weather; arrivals; departing cruisers; buy, sell and trade; any news; daily events; anything about anything and my Neil joke. I am prepared to run it for a week with no other input but if the interest is there I shall try to rise to the challenge. It looks as though we may be here for a while although we will try to get up the coast before the regatta here.
I had to rush the sked a little today. I got a response for the first time this morning. My weather forecasts have consisted in looking out the window and taking an educated guess. Today though Joe from NAVIGATOR (a retired airline pilot) came on with interpretations from 3 different weather faxes, from the convergence zone North of us, to Arnold on Norfolk Island to the South West. These all basically arrived at the conclusions I had so they were readily acceptable. Still, it is reassuring that someone else is listening. Joe continued faithfully in this role for the duration of the network. This participation was a large reason for the success of the venture. Thanks Joe. We are going on a 5 hour ride in the country. ADVENTURER, MAKANI and RUBEN JANE are joining forces on a covered ute trip up into the hills. We visited a technical Institute, a copra mill (very interesting) and a Chinese built hydro station which the guide/driver tried to tell us had its intake downhill from the reservoir. There was a long pipe leading upstream for several miles but the initial pipe led steeply downhill. We also saw a church that was over 100 years old. Inside there was an optical illusion. The walls above the window sills were concave giving the sensation of much improved space in the heavens. We then drove to the top of the range of high hills looking towards Labasa. The ute got a puncture at the top. It had a bald tyre on the other side too. On our return, Joy went to the bank while I went to clear out from customs with the idea of going to Viani Bay. We finished the day with a barbeque on MAKANI. Rebecca left this morning with SANITY.
We woke up late. Just caught Carol (ELYXIR) on the sked this morning. They are in the Lau group. Went to the market after the sked to buy some cabbages and beans. Sent a fax to work, then back to the boat for lunch. Picked up a visa for the Exploring Isles from Simon at the Copra shed, along with mail for ELYXIR. Then went back for a book exchange just outside the bar. Swapped 2 books for 'Tales of the South Pacific' by James A Michener, and 'Maiden Voyage' by Tania Aebi. It has been another busy day in paradise.
19, 20th July.
Just spent the day moping around in port with rough seas out towards the Exploring Isles. There's a slow moving high over New Zealand bringing the isobars close together here. Advised by Carol (ELYXIR) not to venture out. Wasn't going to anyway. Several; boats tried but returned wiser for the experience. This is not why I came to the Islands-sitting in port waiting for bad weather to pass. There is a world out there with good snorkelling. On 20th received a fax from Trevor and Kay so sent one back. Then got a message from John Goater to phone them. Rowed in Gold Jane to the Copra shed and tried to phone. The phone wouldn't take money or a credit card. Tried to make a collect call but only got their fax and answer phone. Rowing ashore had been interesting with Laura in the stern sitting up high and me in the bow. The wind was gusty so we got blown most of the way. Susannah has made a new friend so she is watching TV with her so we took Plain Jane back. Joy then said that one can purchase phone cards from the bar so I returned alone and purchased one. Got Kay on the phone and arranged to have a closer contact nearer their arrival time. Susannah insisted on rowing home so I gave her a head start and when I caught her she was willing to accept a tow.
Motored to the jetty with Laura to get some fuel and water. Joy and Susannah met us there. Took our time refuelling and were just about going to fill the water tanks (someone else had been washing a truck) when the lady attendant said they had an emergency and we would have to vacate the berth so they could refuel another boat immediately. This was amusing because nobody else had spoken to her for 10 minutes. Anyway she refuelled the other boat which left for Manor Island (wherever that is) at speed. Apparently the boat broke down and was still at Manor Resort the next day. Sorry about that, victim.. Hope it wasn't crook fuel that caused it to break down. We returned to the dock and filled the water tanks. Initially we had planned on going out to Cousteau's Resort for the night but eventually decided to raft up to ADVENTURER again. MAKANI has gone to Suva to get a permit to visit some of Noeline's relatives on Rotuma. Another boat, TAMARERE has taken his place so we went on ADVENTURER's starboard side. He is now 'piggy in the middle'.
Paid mooring fees $4/night plus $3 mooring. This was divided by 3 because there were 3 boats on it. Also got charged $14 for 2 loads of laundry. These were paid for at the time so I'll seek a refund. After arranging with Pam (KAPALUA II) to do my sked for the next few days we motored out to Cousteau's where Susannah and Laura went aboard REALM leaving Joy and I alone on RUBEN JANE. Kelso (REALM) then radioed us (and everybody else) to tell us that the girls would be watching a video and also the exact time of their return so JOY AND I WOULD BE ALONE TOGETHER FOR SEVERAL HOURS. It was good for the children to have someone their own ages to play with. It had been 2 months since Laura had been with any peers. When they returned we soon retired. However we spent a restless night with the anchor chain 30 feet below, grating on coral all night
Spent a quiet day on the boat. We were just going to visit REALM when they weighed anchor and disappeared out to sea. They were heading for Coconut Point. They had the swell with them. It was considerable. The SPIRIT of FREE ENTERPRISE had a 10 wheel truck tip over in its hold in the Koro Sea so it must have been rough. Joy and I motored in PLAIN JANE to the Split Rock which is supposed to be good snorkelling but when we reached it the rain started to fall. It felt quite cold so we headed back, arriving just as the squall ended. Late in the day I went ashore and cracked a couple of coconuts.
We had contemplated going up to Viani Bay this morning but were glad we hadn't when we saw Dietrich on SALUSA in his usual sailing garb motoring out of the shelter of the bay. He was pitching so badly we could see right back to his keel. WINDERMERE II had arrived from Tonga this morning and Laura had spoken to Joan as they went past. Brian was very tired after the trip.
A French-Canadian asked Laura to go to play with his daughter on their yacht so while she was away Joy, Susannah and I took the opportunity to dive on Split Rock. The fish there swam to meet us. The snorkelling was some of the best we have seen so far. After lunch we were visited by the boys from OMEGA. Later in the afternoon we returned to Savusavu to pick up some mail. As we sailed past the wharf we were greeted by a very relieved Pam who modestly said that she could now relinquish responsibility for the radio sked. We again moored next to ADVENTURER. There was a fax from Geoffrey and one from Trevor and Kay. There was also a letter from my Mom. She numbers her letters and so far we have received every one. A boat called AKA called us to tell us of a message on SSB on a frequency that we don’t have so they relayed for us. It was from Hunga Lagoon telling us that we had an urgent fax. It was from Rebecca's friend Dee talking about her airline ticket.
After tea there was the inaugural Savusavu quiz show. Using VHF, PICKETTY WITCH asked 6 questions. A point was given for a correct answer and if you didn't know the answer, points were given for the most imaginative alternative.
The teams were organised according to boats. ADVENTURER joined with us for the challenge. A complicating feature was the freedom to interject between questions (5 minutes apart) with jokes - the more jokes the more points. There were some very searching questions such as:- name the 5 Southernmost capes in the world, the 10 longest rivers, the common name for Piper Mythesticum (I was annoyed by this one because I had read about it several weeks previously and couldn't remember-it is kava plant), what are teak leaves used for?(sandpaper). Somehow our boat won with 20 something points.
Very subdued, disillusioned, discouraged, depressed and frustrated with the possibility of staying in port until after the regatta. Calculated that if I live to be 80 I have approximately 10,000 more days in my life and I'm spending 2/1000th of my life in Savusavu. Joy has strongly expressed her distaste of blue water sailing and wants to spend the rest of the trip in Fiji. I want to complete the odyssey - i.e. Vanuatu and New Caledonia although heading S through the Tasman Sea on the way home scares me a little. Answered Corina's fax sent to Hunga Lagoon. Asked her to send the GPS to West Island for a quote. Spent a lot of time on my bed reading and thinking. Late on the 28th Rebecca arrived back with wonderful stories of what we had been missing and what I had been dreaming about. Laura started sailing lessons with Len (KAPALUA II).
Overnight, a baddy who was being pursued by the local constabulary (is that a bolt from the blue?) swam out and stole WINDERMERE II's inflatable. He tried starting it and ran over the painter which became entangled in the propeller. Murray (EPISODE) and Malcolm (SUNSET QUEST) assisted in his capture. He was arrested and beaten up and the dinghy was returned with Brian and Joan unaware of the escapade. Laura had another sailing lesson with Len in his dinghy and the wind was somewhat brisker than yesterday. Spent most of the day doing jobs around the boat, and reading. Bob Ely (ELYXIR) contacted us and wants us to arrange a flight to the US for him. We arranged a radio sked in the afternoon and one in the evening in case we missed the afternoon one. He didn't show up at either one. Kevan and Wendy came over after tea and for the second week running we won the quiz on VHF. I had our crew in hysterics when I didn't know the answer to 'what does the word 'MARU' mean on all Japanese vessels (completeness or circle) so I made up a story about how the Japanese had invaded New Zealand a thousand years ago and left their stamp on our towns with names such as OaMARU and TiMARU and WhakaMARU.
The start of the Savusavu regatta ($50 per boat). It commenced with sevusevu (kava ceremony). I had some times 2 but Joy deferred. Some say it tastes like dishwater but I can't comment as I'm not in the habit of drinking dishwater. I thought it had a strong nutty taste. It looked like dirt but the kava roots (piper mythesticum) had been ground. After dark there was a cocktail party so we were late arriving home.
We finally settled the travel arrangements for Bob and were able to pass the information on to him. Yacht race day. The finishing times were calculated by all the skippers estimating everyone's finishing times and then they were averaged. These results were posted after racing began. After the briefing we were joined by Brian (HALLMARK) and Steve and Claire. Steve took our water and diesel containers off as well as our life raft to lighten the boat - going a bit far I thought. At midday the race started. It was a triangular course around Nasavusavu Bay. We left the mooring at 10 minutes to midday and were drifting towards the start line but it was further than I thought so we arrived 3 minutes late. Still I didn't want to be involved in any prestart collisions. At the first turn we were 8th and got up to 6th by the downwind mark. We duelled with a 38 foot Adams designed sloop called MASKI who must have pelted us with 30 water bombs. We got them with our water guns. We sighted the bottom mark and almost shut them out but they eventually got through on the inside. Five minutes after rounding the bottom mark we were in 5th position out of 17 when we pulled out to prevent gear failure. Our port lower spreader was moving too much. We possibly could have come 4th because we point really well upwind (25-30°off the apparent wind). Joy really enjoyed racing. I'll have to watch her. I enjoy watching her anyway. At night there was a barbecue ashore. Andy collected Laura's food for her as she was watching videos on WINDFLOWER. I told him she was a big eater who liked lots of pineapple so he got 2!(TWO!!) <II !!!> pieces....I was expecting at least 5. When she arrived back she had a couple of nibbles then left the rest. Dad again to the rescue. I had seconds as well.
Inflatable race day. Last year the speed and wake had caused one man to be thrown out so this year the rules stated that the boats had to go backwards. This certainly made the boats more competitive. Laura joined the team from EARLY DART. They won. Unfortunately I was unable to watch because Ed from AKA came across and adjusted the rigging which had been the cause of our exit from the race yesterday. The rubber insert at the mast junction of the spreaders had perished. Over a period of 3 hours with breaks for chats he checked it all. He charged me a can of beer so I gave him 2. That was the last of the Steinlager left by the New Zealand to Tonga crew. I suppose in a way that proves that Steinlager beer does go further than Tui beer.
The halfway point of the cruise. I went up the hill to church but when I arrived I was escorted to a house church because the first one was only Fijian speaking. I was ushered into the front row where I met an American dentist and his wife. We were all heartily welcomed during the service. We were also warmly invited to lunch but I had to decline because the family was waiting to go fishing. Kevan was asleep on ADVENTURER so we let go the lines and drifted away before raising the mainsail. We sailed slowly out of the river before raising the jib. All the family started picking on me so I made them sail the boat with no assistance from me. We went about 1/2 mile beyond the reef and lighthouse before returning. Joy made an absolute hash of picking up the mooring so we had to make another attempt. There was a grass fire which got out of control just across the river from our mooring. According to one security guard here the local fire brigade has yet to put out a fire because they've discovered that the fire engine goes faster with no water in it. One of the other yachts - KARENA - caught a marlin which weighed 200 kg. Steve and Claire came for tea - pancakes again.
Joy wants to go home. She says she's scared of further passage making - a down day. The bilibili races were held today. Bilibili is the Fijian word for bamboo raft. Susannah got into the final before the wind got up. I also learnt how to husk a coconut properly. Talent quest tonight. Started well but deteriorated with some crude jokes. It started raining so everyone moved into the bar. We left before the end when it was deteriorating. We were almost at the boat when the rain started in earnest.
The weather was indifferent so spent most of the day on the boat reading. In the evening we went to the Prize giving at the Hot Springs Hotel. They drew straws for the winner of the bilibili race and Susannah drew the winning one so they won a dinner for 2. She gave the other members of her team a big hug and they thought she was giving them the prize so they took it from her - disappointing for her but character building. Laura drew a prize for our boat. It was a return trip for one by air Savusavu - Nadi.
An early start with a trip to Makongai Island in prospect but after filling the water tanks and picking up Rebecca from SANITY we only made it as far as Cousteau's Resort under motor. There was low cloud around the hills and there was doubt as to whether it would lift so that we could see the reefs. We dropped anchor for the day. Lost a plain white lure on the way. That's the first one we've lost since arriving in Tonga. Andy came out by road for the day. We dived on split rock again. When we arrived there we had fed bread to the fish by hand. I got bitten 4 times by zebra fish - nobody else did so I guess I have to admire the fish's taste. Later we saw some large fish feeding out in the bay so I took PLAIN JANE out and trolled a line without success. Rebecca and Andy caught a taxi back to town to SANITY.
Awoken at 0100 hours by VHF - ELYXIR coming through the entrance having to radio to a ship on collision course. They passed only a boat length apart. Joy guided them in to the anchorage by VHF and torchlight. I tried hard to sleep throughout the whole procedure. Awoke again at 0630 and slowly prepared to depart for Makongai. Rafted alongside ELYXIR for a chat before leaving. Haven't seen them for over 3 months although have spoken via radio. About an hour after leaving we caught a small skipjack tuna which didn't put up much of a fight at this stage but more about that later. We started shortly after FAMILY EXPRESS and NERISSA. The seas were 1 1/2 - 2 metres for the first 5 miles - quite uncomfortable. Susannah and Laura seasick. FAMILY EXPRESS soon had a sizeable lead but we were gaining on NERISSA when we had a big strike. Susannah put the gimbal belt on me while Joy cleared the cockpit of all but my old mismatched jandals which I use to stand on the catch to help subdue it. We were still doing 7 knots and the fish was still taking line so Joy and Susannah had to lower the jib in 2 metre seas. They did well. I was right down to 30 metres line left on the reel before I started to gain. Joy saw it leap and said it was about 3 foot long. Joy helped hold the rod to give my arms a rest. After about 35 minutes we had it alongside. I tried to put a noose around its tail but the rope wouldn't sink. When I lifted its head the rope went past its tail so we flagged that and resorted to the gaff and without too much trouble invited it aboard. While it was flapping around the cockpit it flipped one of my jandals overboard followed shortly afterwards by the other one. Joy was pleased but I was not amused. They were not a matching pair but had proven themselves very useful for clambering over rocks. Some things in life are not sacred anymore. Now I will have to use my new matching pair. The mahi-mahi stood 4 feet tall in his socks. In order to keep it cool we put it under the dinghy on the deck after securing it by a rope around its tail. Joy wouldn't let me put out the line again but I Don’t know if I wanted to as my arms were quite tired. Mahi-mahi mate for life so there was probably a mate pursuing the boat. I put 2 reefs in the main and we hoisted the genoa again. By this stage we were below the North Save-A-Tack Passage so went around the bottom of the reef. FAMILY EXPRESS was out of sight and NERISSA was several miles distant. Once around the corner the motion eased although Laura still remained below. Arriving off Makongai we found that the chart was 1/2 mile out. This put our waypoint inside the reef instead of outside. We didn't have any difficulty finding the beacons on the reef - there weren't any (beacons that is - there were plenty of reefs). We radioed NERISSA who told us that the beacons were missing. They were about 20 minutes ahead of us. The entrance through the reef was reasonably easy -100 yards before the breaking reef on the W side of the Island turn left onto a bearing of 101°T. However this put us in a short cross-chop for over half an hour. I was up in the rigging and I found that my arms kept cramping after the morning's work. I held on by my elbows. I was harnessed on so was not in grave danger but it was quite uncomfortable. We anchored within 50 yards of a bommie which had a marker on it. The snorkelling was the best yet and after a swim over it I returned and Trevor, Raewyn, their daughter Gaylene and her friend Suzanne came over and Trevor and I cleaned and gutted the fish. The skin peeled off the mahi-mahi very cleanly. The tuna had been lying out in the sunlight but some 9 hours after capture it too was in the freezer. We all watched the sun set over the open sea. The green flash was also the best I had seen. The rest of the crew seem to have difficulty seeing it but tonight it lasted about 3 seconds. We gave some mahi-mahi to NERISSA, FAMILY EXPRESS and TOOLKA T who were also anchored in the bay.
This morning Susannah, Laura and I went ashore with the crews of several other boats and had a guided tour through the clam farm and the turtle farm. Earlier I had taken the fish heads and skeletons ashore for the locals. This time I had the fish scraps in a bucket for the turtles. They really enjoyed them. It was amazing to witness the strength they possess in their beaks to tear the meat and the skin. The other thing I hadn't realised is that they use their front flippers to guide their food into their mouths. Makongai used to be a leper colony with the sexes segregated into separate bays. In the bay we were anchored there was one lot of barracks and just a short walk over the dividing hill was the other camp. We took a stroll and looked at the ruins. Apparently the roofs had collapsed in the past year. The concrete walls and floors were still intact but the fibrolite from the roofs was scattered on the ground. It must have been devastating to have been shipped to this island with a diagnosis of leprosy knowing that you were never going to leave. We found a couple of coconuts and Trevor (NERISSA) opened them. One that was sprouting had inside tropical candyfloss. Tastes similar but not as sweet as the fairground variety. It is a creamy colour. The buildings were surrounded by geeps (cross between goats and sheep-looked to have the worst qualities of both to me). Back to the boat for lunch then straight into a good book for several hours before continuing to scrub the decks (blood and fish from yesterday). This was followed by a swim over the bommie again. On my return I was preparing to dive under the boat to check the speedo propeller when I spied a lure being jigged on the other side so I desisted. Laura was fishing. We went to NERISSA for sundowners and again were privileged to observe the green flash. TOOLKA T and FAMILY EXPRESS were there too. We borrowed a chart off NERISSA for around Yadua.
Joy, Laura and I went ashore to show Joy the clams and the turtles. On our way ashore we had stopped at EXCALIBUR and introduced ourselves to Jenny and Mark. We also spoke to EVERGREEN (there are at least 3 boats bearing the name EVERGREEN around the South Pacific at present). Upon our arrival ashore we were greeted by a friendly local lass named Nina. When the clams and turtles are old enough to fend for themselves they are released into the bay. On our arrival back at the boat we saw a turtle swimming near us. I spent the early afternoon fixing the head (again) then Jenny and Mark came for afternoon tea. While they were on board OMEGA, PERICON and EPISODE came in. After our guests left Susannah and I snorkelled over a bommie 50 metres inshore from the boat. We saw some large (2 foot long) leopard fish which are very poisonous. Murray (EPISODE) caught a crayfish which they had for tea. Spoke to MAKANI on the evening sked and he told us that this is a marine reserve so no Cray fishing is permitted so Murray did not catch a crayfish and they did not eat it for tea. There was nothing on the chart to say it is a marine reserve so we're unsure what their diet entailed. We saw the green flash again tonight. It is quite a social event with the crowds gathering in the cockpits around the anchorage about 1/4 hour beforehand. As sunset approaches the tension builds and immediately afterwards there are loud cheers and thumbs up from those who have seen it. Joy is still having difficulty seeing it. The flash occurs as the upper limb of the sun dips below the horizon. Apparently the green sector of the light spectrum is able to bend more than the others. The phenomenon also occurs at sunrise over the open sea but I have never seen it then. It would probably be made easier if I was awake at that time. It does not occur over land.
Laura and I set off to climb the hill behind the settlement but near the top we found our way blocked by pampas grass. It was a good time together. Laura counted 7 flatmates (squashed toads) on the track. When we arrived back Joy and I snorkelled over the inshore bommie. Joy saw a turtle but it swam away quickly. There were a few fairly large fish around. SANITY and EMOTION arrived this afternoon. Joy radioed them to offer advice on entering the reef as the reef is 1/4 mile further W than the chart. They had a different chart so the call was unnecessary. Saw the green flash again tonight for the 4th time in a row.
Left Makongai bound for Savusavu. Had a great deal of difficulty exiting the reef in the overcast, choppy conditions. The breaking section was very indistinct. We had to retrace our steps once but eventually found a way out. Heading N the reef only slowly sinks below the surface. Once in deep water we raised both sails and made very good speed. The wind was 20 knots from the E. This time we went through Save-A-tack Passages. I was up the mast when we went through South Save-A-Tack and took a couple of photos from up in the rigging of the different colours of the reef. I wanted to put a couple of reefs in the main but with the wind coming around the island of Namena we had difficulty with it gusting and swirling. Joy wanted to anchor off the resort overnight but we have heard that we are not welcome ashore here so we continued on under genoa only and located the North Save-A-Tack entrance (exit) and sailed through without trouble. The water immediately outside the reef was deeper than our depth sounder could pick up (285 feet). The water inside the reef had definitely been calmer. There was a 1.5 metre swell although the waves were closer together than outside South Save-A-Tack. About an hour later we had a good strike but after 1 long run the fish let go. As we approached the Point light we could see the red and white ANZ ship coming down from Taveuni. Spoke to ADVENTURER as we past Cousteau's Resort. They are heading for Suva tomorrow via Makongai. As we approached Savusavu we were passed by the ANZ ship. It was mooring as we dropped the genoa and motored past. Spoke to the other HORNPIPE about SANITY's fridge. Arrived at 1600 hours. Picked up a mooring on Simon's instructions by the Eco Divers wharf. It is really a motorboat mooring. After we picked it up we drifted maybe 20 metres before it held. It had such a long line on it in the morning PLAIN JANE was bumping into one of the Eco Divers boats. It was good to have a shower. Spoke to Bob and Carol (ELYXIR) and arranged to meet in the afternoon tomorrow.
Joined the morning sked which is now being run by Carol. Spent most of the day restocking. Got some money from the bank. Bought some more lures. Took the supermarket trolley back to the jetty with a load of groceries then returned it when we picked up the next load. Wrote a letter to my parents and posted a whole lot of mail. Sent faxes to Corina and work (what's work?). Joined ELYXIR on their boat for hamburgers for tea. Had a hot shower again after tea.
Went ashore to pay mooring fees. Simon (Ahern) seemed genuinely sad to see us go. Filled the water tanks and left with the idea of going to Coconut Point but there was little wind and poor visibility with extensive cloud cover so we again anchored at Cousteau's. Went aboard KAPALUA II (means butterfly) for late morning tea. Enjoyed the company of Len and Pam. They gave us their friendship book to fill in a page. Had a swim off the boat in the afternoon and I swam across to KUPERE and got their children to row me back after a chat. Laura spent the rest of the afternoon playing with them in the boats, having water fights.
We returned the friendship book to KAPALUA II then left along with GUNSMOKE for Coconut Point. We were under power as there was absolutely no wind and no ripples on the water. Out past the light there was only a slight swell and still no ripples on the water. An hour later the breeze filled in from the SW at 9 knots gradually building throughout the day to 16 knots. We raised both sails and motor sailed towards the Nasonisoni Passage. When we were about a mile off the passage just before we doused the sails we were passed by a lone 10 foot whale heading back the way we had come. We couldn't see the way through the reef and true to what Simon had told us we saw the marker on the far end of the passage before we saw the near one. The pass is 300 metres at its narrowest so it was reasonably easy to negotiate although the starboard side was difficult to see due to the angle of the sun. By this stage GUNSMOKE was over a mile behind. Once through the pass they went into the shallow bay to the N and anchored. The marker on the W end has been replaced at least twice that we could see. We raised both sails again and with the motor we made good speed. We spied The Nole to port as we sailed by. It is the only navigational hazard on that section of the voyage. After crossing a large bay 12 miles wide we came across a typical piece of island comedy. In Fiji they have a practical method of navigational marks. The white triangles point upwards and you keep those on the landward side. The black triangles point downwards and one should keep them to seaward. However if a beacon goes missing it may be several years before it is replaced. The chart shows that off Solevu Point there are 3 markers - 2 pointing upwards and one downwards. We came across only 2 and they were both white and both pointing downwards. They were difficult to see with the sun directly in our eyes late in the day. We approached them slowly and cautiously and found that one had broken a bolt and had turned upside down and the other was white because the birds had been sitting on it!! .From there it was only 3 miles to Coconut Point or more correctly, Nambouwalu. We arrived safely and without mishap which is more than could be said for the JUBILEE, a coastal ship, which had struck a reef 3 months before and had limped into port where she had settled by the stern, tied to the wharf. No lives were lost. Her deck is awash. She is being repaired but in typical island manner they have discovered that she is past her use-by-date so after she is refloated they are going to take her out to the reef and sink her. I went ashore and asked a man where I could get a piece of 4x2 timber for my lookout perch. The rope digs in to my feet when I'm aloft and I often wear my jandals up there to ease the discomfit. A man took me to the landward end of the wharf, which is several hundred metres long, where he introduced me to the market manager. He gave me 4 pieces courtesy of the Fijian Government. It's nice to know that the inefficiencies of bureaucracy and the generosity of the workers transcend international barriers. His kind gesture did a great service to Fijian tourism. I took a photograph of the kind men and some young boys and they were really happy. I tried sawing notches out of the ends of one baulk with my fishing knife but it was pretty hard going.
Laura and I went ashore to get the notches sawn. There were a number of trucks along the wharf waiting for the OVERLAU II which arrived at speed. A small miscalculation would have caused a lot of damage but it slowed down just in time and was pulled alongside without a bump. We met the market manager but didn't recognise him because he was wearing different clothes. He got another man to saw the timber. It took 2 attempts as the first time he cut it in the wrong places. I met Tim, the 'fisheries inspector' and he showed me an easy transit up the coast. We left Nambouwalu at 1000 hours and motored out to the shipping channel a mile from port. I raised the genoa in 20 knots of breeze but it was very difficult to keep filled as the wind was very shifty from astern. Eventually I conceded defeat and dropped it. Within the channel the water was calm and the transit was clear but I stayed up in the rigging for the length of the Thakau Levu reef. It was easy aloft with my new perch. The channel was well marked with beacons. Off a point bearing the attractive name of Naithombothombo Point we turned W towards Yandua and raised both sails. The sea was just aft of the port beam and quickly got up to 1 1/2 metres once we were outside the shelter of the reef. We deliberately went a bit N to avoid Thakau Mono. We saw that breaking to the S of us. In the lee of that the sea settled slightly. The wind was consistent around 20 knots so we made good speed but it was quite rolly and uncomfortable. On our approach to the island we saw a local fishing boat going around in circles. It appeared to be dragging a net. Along the N side of the island we sailed between some rocks and a shallow midway along the coast but we did not see either of them. Off the NW tip we again encountered some local fishing boats. The island looked pretty dry. Apparently water is being shipped in because of the severity of the drought. On the W side of the island we dropped the sails and motored directly to windward. The wind increased to 28 knots due to the topography and our speed under motor slipped to 2-3 knots. We found the entrance without difficulty and lined up the lighthouse on the skyline with a compass bearing and slipped gently through the gap between 2 reefs. I was in the rigging again and we went closer to the S side as the book said we should as the S side is steep to and the N arm has of flying rocks. In the bay we found ADANA, HALLMARK and DELPHIS. We had lost contact with them for a few weeks. They had been up a river in the bay where GUNSMOKE had anchored on the W side of the Nasonisoni Passage. They had gone as far up the river as they could in their yachts until they ran aground. It was real tropical rainforest and no-one had ever seen a yacht up that river before. In the bay here we were buffeted by the wind with the boats moving around a lot and pulling at their anchors. Late in the afternoon I went across to ADANA to view his weather fax.
Stayed in bed reading until after midday. We were the only boat in the bay as ADANA, HALLMARK and DELPHIS left at first light for the N end of Yasawa Island by way of the N side of Pascoe reef. Very brave as large portions of the journey are uncharted. Mid-afternoon EPISODE, PERICON and SANITY arrived from Nana-nu-i-ra. The anchorage is windier than out in the open sea. However with the wind coming directly off the land the water is not rough. Saw the green flash again tonight not knowing how close it was to being the sunset on my life as well. Tea was a big event tonight. Joy cooked the tuna we had caught on the way to Makongai. She was hot from cooking so she went out on deck to cool off. The girls toyed with theirs and said they didn't like it so I told them not to be so silly and took a few mouthfuls to show them what to do with food. However when my mouth quickly went numb and I developed a headache I realised that something was wrong. My skin, browned after 3 months in the tropics, looked to have a bad case of acute sunburn. I thought I had ciguatera poisoning so I went to the medical handbook and it said to apply ice as a test. I went to the freezer and applied some frozen goods to my chest. True to the textbook, it felt hot, a weird reversal of temperature sensation. My lips were tingling and my heart was pounding too. It is a serious sometimes fatal disease and I thought, judging by the amount I had eaten, that I probably would die. Fortunately I did not exhibit some of the other symptoms such as abdominal cramps and explosive diarrhoea, hallucinations, temporary blindness and nightmares, muscle twitching and respiratory arrest.
We were 30 miles from the mainland of Viti Levu and there wasn't anything they could do anyway so I went to bed expecting not to wake up in the morning. Joy asked what she could do to help so I told her to call an undertaker. 'No, seriously' she said. 'Call 2 undertakers' I replied and went to sleep.
I awoke this morning - ALIVE!! Didn't do much in the morning - just celebrated being alive. Susannah and I went ashore after lunch and went for a short walk along the short beach with the SANITY crew. Susannah, Rebecca and Andy had a swim and Susannah caught a tiny fish with her bare hands. We found a large dead crab on the beach but he resisted our attempts to revive him in the water. He must have been very dead. EMOTION came in this afternoon. We saw them sail past. It looked as though they were having some problem with their sails but they eventually arrived. Saw the green flash again. Went to PERICON after dark to check their weather fax for tomorrow but they hadn't got one. Saw the green flash tonight.
Left Yandua at 0630 hours which was as soon as we could see the reef at the entrance to the bay. The only one awake was Brian on EMOTION to see us off. It was good to know someone on earth (water) was watching out for us although we were aware that God was also watching over us. We are finally en route for the Yasawas. Graham Shepherd would be envious. The short term forecast is not brilliant. There is a wind warning out for the Northern Yasawas with winds of 20-25 knots SE and moderate to rough seas. However the long term forecast gave no sign of any improvement. We were to learn over the next couple of months that there always seems to be a wind warning out for the Northern Yasawas. I put 3 reefs in the main but left the genoa on deck as we motored into the wind. We spotted the sand cay which was obvious by the waves breaking across it. The water shallowed as we passed it and it was slightly nerve-wracking to see the depth gauge rising. However we were 400 metres from the cay and eventually the depth increased. When we turned from 210°T to 265°T, I raised the genoa. The breeze was again consistent around 20 knots. The seas were fairly steep and close together and about 1 1/2 - 2 metres high. For the first half of the journey we made well over 6.5 knots but after that the wind became more variable going between 13 and 28 knots. Mid-morning I had a very big strike but just as Joy and Susannah were handing the genoa I lost it. It had been much more powerful than the mahi-mahi we had caught on the way to Makongai. I had 2 other strikes of lesser intensity during the middle part of the day but lost them both. When Rebecca called on the evening sked I told her I'd been playing baseball - 3 strikes and still out of fish. There were a few times when the autopilot was unable to cope with a following sea and we veered 60° off course. After 30 long seconds we would come back on course but being beam on to the intervening swells was quite uncomfortable. As we approached the reef it was disconcerting to discover that the reef was very difficult to see. Bligh Water was certainly living up to its reputation. Up in the rigging I could only make out some parts of the reef. We had deliberately gone far enough S to be sure to turn N when we came up to the reef. In navigation it's not so important to know where you are as where you are not. The plan was to head N alongside the reef until we encountered the protruding reef of Tivolei. Because of the difficulty of seeing the N-S reef it was difficult to keep a safe distance off. We erred on the side of caution. Hereabouts the GPS may be as much as 1/4 mile out compared to the chart. Travelling N was very uncomfortable in the 2 metre swell in a beam sea. It was only for a couple of miles, but they were slow suspenseful miles. Up in the rigging it was very hard to hold on so I made sure I was harnessed securely each step of the way. Also I got Laura to put on her lifejacket as a precaution. Bligh Water is 200 metres deep and the approach to Tivolei reef is 20 metres deep so by using the depth sounder and GPS we crept slowly forward. We couldn't see Tivolei Reef at all so with both sails down we eased NW. It was like a blind man feeling with his white cane. Joy and Susannah kept their eyes peeled and I alternated from keeping a lookout up in the rigging to standing at the chart table checking the chart and GPS. Joy also called any changes in the depth. It was the tensest time of the entire trip and it seemed to go on forever. Our view forwards was made more difficult by the afternoon sun shining on the choppy water. There was a lot of white water around and every piece of it was suspected of having coral underneath. When we were in the channel the only identifiable marker was Sawa-I-Lau Island which we kept dead ahead. When we were a mile through the Qio Passage the tension eased and we followed the transits given in Michael Calder's book and found no problem avoiding the rocks. We came into the bay off Nabekeru village. There we found the yacht POLLUX with Paul (an Irish New Zealander) and his son Kian on board. The approach to the anchorage was made more difficult by the wind rising to 35 knots and the markers of a reef in the middle of the bay not being very visible until we were only 30 metres away from them. We took 2 attempts to anchor as we dragged too close to POLLUX on the first try. The second time we got a good purchase. Relationships were strained for a few hours as we came down from the tension of the afternoon. At times like this even I wonder why I do it. Paul came over for a cup of tea. We were all early to bed.
Communication difficult with Carol on the morning sked. I went ashore and walked across a sandy beach and around a rocky shore to the village of Tamasua where I met Atecia Neisua. She only had I tooth in her upper jaw. She took the $2 per head off me for visiting the caves of Sawa-I-Lau then she spied the kava roots and requested them. The headman of the village is apparently away on the mainland. I retraced my steps, and then we all went in conjunction with Paul and Kian to the caves. The instructions were pretty vague but once the concrete steps are sighted everything falls into place. The cruise boats no longer visit them because the village chief suddenly put the price way up. Susannah and I had a swim in the cave. It is saltwater. I hadn't brought the underwater camera so I dropped the family at an adjacent beach where Laura had a swim in the warm clear water and Susannah walked with Kian across an isthmus back to the beach opposite the boat. Then she swam out to the boat. I motored back for the underwater camera then picked Joy and Laura up from the beach before returning to the cave where I again swam out and took some photos. I also got attacked by sea lice this time so I didn't stay in long. Since we have been in Fiji everyone was recommending we should visit the caves but no-one could tell us why. Overall I was disappointed. We were invited to POLLUX for a drink but instead we decided to sail around the point to Land Harbour for the night. It is in Nadala bay. Navigated successfully out into the open sea on the W side of Yasawa Island but after several miles realised that the anchorage would be exposed to the NE wind. The swell was also coming from the N. This is the first time since our arrival in Fiji that the wind has gone further N than ENE. We decided to return to our starting point so retraced our path, dropping our sails and motoring into the bay just ahead of EPISODE and SANITY who had motored most of the way from Yandua and had seen the reefs clearly. EPISODE pulled in a fish just before turning into the bay just to add salt to the wound. The wind had peaked at 8 knots for them. EPISODE had caught 3 fish from 3 strikes and SANITY had caught 3 from 8 strikes. SANITY had also lost 2 lures and a bucket. After tea Joy went across to SANITY for a cup of coffee. We were sound asleep when she returned.
Went to the beach where Laura and Joy had a swim yesterday. Went snorkelling but it was somewhat disappointing. I went ashore to the village with Paul (POLLUX) and dressed a boil on a man's leg. It had burst a week ago but it had a large suppurating crater which had flies all over it. I cleaned and disinfected it before applying antibiotic cream and a dressing followed by a bandage to keep the flies off it. I left him with some antibiotic cream and dressings. He said the village nurse had no equipment but she can't have educated him in basic hygiene either. I guess their poor diet has an immense bearing on their general health too. Weighed anchor late in the morning and Rebecca took a photo of RUBEN JANE with the jib up as we ghosted out of the bay. We were still within sight of the anchorage when our best lure got snagged on the bottom because we were going so slowly. Laura freaked and thought we were going aground. I tried sailing back but as we couldn't position the boat properly we pulled down the sails which caused Rebecca to radio us to find the problem. We started the motor and got right above the snag. It was only 30 feet deep and I should have dived on it but instead I pulled the line until the trace broke. We then sailed down the W coast of Nacula Island. When we were off the Island of Tavewa the instruction book told us to take a bearing on the trig on its summit. There was no trig in evidence. We figured that with all their fires the trig had succumbed. We were also told to turn to port when the island was 0.9 miles away. I was trying to find a height on the chart of the island so I could calculate distance off using VSA but eventually gave up and resorted to Mark 1 eyeball method to negotiate our way around the reef. I stayed in the rigging as we passed to the N of Tavewa Island and was dismayed to see us passing over the top of a reef only 19 feet down. It is not found on the chart. Fortunately visibility was good with the sun high in the sky behind us. The remainder of the trip was uneventful. We doused the sails as we were heading directly into the wind. All the remaining marks were present and after going around a reef we finally anchored in Blue Lagoon. We went ashore and had a swim and a snorkel in clear water. When we arrived back at the boat a Fijian man came out in his boat. After exchanging greetings he fell silent so I did too. He eventually requested sevusevu. I told him I would present it after talking to David and Janet on CHANTICLEER. I had heard too many stories of people inveigling some only to have the chief approach the victims and demand his portion. David and Janet said to give it to Va so I went ashore after dark. Va was out fishing but her brother and a few others were already drinking kava. Wukiwuki came along and said she was the Public Relations Officer. I gave the sevusevu and stayed with the kava ceremony for several rounds. They seemed fairly decent people. I excused myself while I could still stand and returned to the boat for tea.
A disastrous day. Susannah put the boat up on the reef.
We were all heading to shore in Plain Jane and Laura refused to be reef spotter so Joy and I were doing her job. We saw the reef just below the surface and told Susannah to reverse. We were still travelling at walking pace when we hit the coral. There was a lot of staghorn coral. BEDLAM!! Laura started advising us and I jumped out onto the coral hurting my left stay at home little piggy. There was no puncture wound or bruise but it hurt for several days. I thought, given the speed of impact, that the inflatable was probably punctured so we raced back to RUBEN JANE and I took the outboard off and put the dinghy on deck. By some miracle or good design it was virtually unscathed. However I got very angry at Susannah's carelessness and spoilt the day for me with anger. I was very angry!! The rest of the family went ashore for a while then Joy and I dived on a bommie with a navigation stake on it. Towards sundown Claire gave me a haircut. Then after tea we went over to CHANTICLEER for drinks as it was Janet's birthday.
I found out that the underwater camera had not been winding on so I went back to the bommie visited yesterday and took some more photos. I have missed out on photos of the caves at Sawa-i-Lau. Joy and I went and dived on the white channel marker we had passed on the way in to the anchorage. Laura had a walk with me along the beach where the Blue Lagoon Cruise ships land. On the way back we had a chat to an English backpacker as her friend sunbathed topless further along the beach. Just before we returned to the mother ship Laura had a swim and while we played in the water I lost $8 out of my pocket. Back on board I realised what had happened so Laura and I went back to shore and I snorkelled over the area until I found it. It only took a few minutes. Who says being able to calculate leeway doesn't pay. Then Laura and I went and bounced on a fallen coconut palm that hung over the water. As darkness fell the wind got up but by morning it had dropped again.
Tony and Yvonne picked me up and we went to EPISODE to plan today's trip to Somosomo Bay. When I arrived back Joy was talking to a French couple whose ketch we had seen coming through the Man o' War Passage, Great Barrier Island back in February. Their steel blue boat has a white whale painted just above the waterline where they were hit by a whale some time ago. We motored out of Blue Lagoon with me up the mast reef-spotting. Susannah went on board SANITY. I must consider myself a failure because I couldn't spot the rock off Matacawalevu. I must consider myself a success because we didn't hit it either. There were only light E winds and as there was excellent visibility and an extremely low tide there was no difficulty identifying the 2 small reefs abeam the N end of Yaqeta Island. Episode passed through, followed by SANITY and we came along in the rear. There is several hundred metres between them and it was noted that it was shallower towards the W reef. The reef at the entrance to Somosomo Bay was also readily identifiable and we let go the anchor in the bay N of Narewa Point. We all went ashore and found the beach covered in sand dollars. There was a solar eclipse at about 1500 hours. The sky was overcast but it got quite gloomy for about 20 minutes. All the adults played petanque. I must be very skilled because I lost both best of three games in two ends. We all had a swim before returning to the boat for the evening. We were hoping to go across the isthmus and dive on a W.W.II spitfire which crashed in 10 feet of water. However according to a native it is now covered in sand. Both EPISODE and SANITY put out a second anchor. The wind blew from off the land at 20 knots and they discussed keeping an anchor watch overnight. I wasn't too excited about the idea but said we would do our share. If my anchor can't stand up to at least 40 knots I should not be here. I think they got scared by stories over the radio about how bad it was in Yandua tonight. BLADE had their dinghy flip whilst moored to the mother ship. CHANTICLEER is anchored just around the corner off Somosomo village. Janet contacted me asking advice for a baby with cradle cap. The other boats said they would instigate an anchor watch if the wind got up. It didn't and I had a good sleep.
Awoke with the intention of continuing down to Waya Island and we were motoring out of the bay when we heard the weather forecast which was for high winds and rough seas-35 knots gusting from S to SE which was almost dead on the nose so we turned and headed back to Somosomo village. Late in the afternoon we went ashore and I was able to tend to several medical problems in the house of Bill and Luciana (Lucy for short). We also met Sovaia, Bari I and Bari II, Sami, Sikeli, Osea, Kore, Bill, Aluma, Kiti, Peno, Jale, Sunia, Ameli and Evi. There is a high tide mark about a metre up the walls where the last cyclone came to. In this 2 room establishment Bill and Lucy care for 4 children of their own and a further 3 nephews from Lautoka. It is comforting to see them open up their hearts to try to raise decent kids on his fishing income. It is also interesting that the kids prefer living in a remote village to the alternative of Lautoka. One medical case was an infected eye and the other was a gent with a month long history of a stingray barb in his foot which kept erupting. I explored the wound using EMLA and a needle but couldn't find any foreign body. We then went to the chief to give sevusevu (fish heads actually courtesy of SANITY). When the Blue Lagoon Cruises come in they pay the chief $60 per visit. This money supposedly is distributed amongst the villagers for putting on a display. There is little or no tangible evidence of this money being shared. The chief who is a female about 70 years old certainly has a very expensive gold watch with diamonds surrounding the face. This week the US president admitted corruption in sexual conduct. Thus corruption is found from one end of the power spectrum to the other. The villagers themselves appear very poor, but they are happy. They are experiencing a severe drought with the last rain 10 months ago. The last three kasava crops have failed and they are experiencing some vitamin deficiencies. The Fijian Government is giving them 24 sacks of rice every 2 months. Not much for 150 people. After I had been asleep for several hours David from CHANTICLEER woke me because he had seen a large fire ashore and wanted to offer assistance. He took me along for medical support. Once ashore we found that it was a grass fire (high winds and drought conditions). One of the men who met me on the beach had a sore eye so I put some chloromycetin ointment in it and told him I'd return in the morning light when I'd take a good look in it.
Went ashore with some outboard fuel - all my reserves and a lot from CHANTICLEER - for Bill. I also had some interesting medical conditions to deal with.:-1. The man I had seen last night who had a 2 week history of conjunctivitis; couldn't find a foreign body so applied some more ointment.
3.A man who was numb down the fronts of his legs following diving using compressed air one month ago - I suspected a spinal embolism from air or nitrogen. He asked how long before he could dive again so I said to see a doctor in three weeks time and not to snorkel until then. How do you tell a man he can never dive again when this is the only way he knows to feed his family? I later found that there is a decompression chamber in Suva which may have been able to help.
We were preparing to depart when the German skipper of SKORPION came by and told us that the forecast was again for strong winds. Anyway, at 1100 hours we decided to sail for Natavalu Bay and check the weather on the way. SANITY and EPISODE came too. Laura went on SANITY. At the entrance to Somosomo Bay I radioed CHANTICLEER with the weather and sea conditions. Once around Vakaweitaci Point we hoisted sail. SANITY stayed outside the reefs while EPISODE and RUBEN JANE went in to Natavalu Bay. It is a beautiful bay evidenced by EPISODE and CHANTICLEER staying for a week. We had to continue on because Laura had been kidnapped. Although we had a good sailing breeze we failed to make any inroads in SANITY's lead. It was only when Laura came back on board at the end of the day that she told us that they had been motor sailing! This day had some of the most spectacular scenery I saw on the entire trip. The sandy beaches on the W coast of Naviti are where I would return to; mile upon mile of beaches only several hundred metres long with rocky promontories either end; I would start at one end and stay a couple of days at each before moving on to the next. Apart from Natavalu Bay, they are all uninhabited and pristine. At about this time I wrote a letter to a friend of mine who wanted to come but was prevented by family commitments. I gave our address as 'up where the butter melts' and for the date I inscribed 'August - I think!' He probably hates me now. We exited the reef between Cakau Balolo and Nankacuvu Island. The mountainous terrain of Waya Island reminded me of the mythical Bali Hai from the film 'South Pacific' We were warned by SANITY that there was an outlying reef but we were only !/4 mile offshore so it didn't concern us. We gave the SW point of Waya a good offing and headed into Yalobi Bay. On the way in we saw a fairly large turtle. Laura, Susannah and Rebecca went ashore to offer medical assistance (mine). The locals wanted that as well as sevusevu so they can't have been very desperate. We spent a very rolly night at anchor with no wind but the swell caused the boat to swing all over the place, quite uncomfortable.
Left Yalobi Bay at 0800 hours after I swam to shore and back for exercise and a wash. Raised the sails but the wind didn't co-operate so finally doused them and headed into a small swell. We motored to Vuda Point. There was no wind until late in the day. About 2/3 of the way the SE swell stopped and a NW swell developed. Where they came from, I don’t know, because there hadn't been any weather systems around that we knew about. We had plenty of mail. Contacted Trevor Troughton at Club Fiji and arranged for them to come on board in 2 days time.
Caught the 0700 bus to Lautoka. $1-80 for Joy, Susannah, Laura and me. Looked around for a chart of the Mamanucas. Asked in one bookshop if they had one. 'No'. 'Know where I can get one?' 'Don’t know'. 'Is there a hydrographic office in town?' 'Don’t know'. 'Is there any way of finding out?' 'Don’t know'. Felt like asking him if he minded me asking him questions but I refrained.
Was accosted by a friendly street hawker who gave us some wooden souvenirs and even carved our names on them. When we were about to leave he said he would take a Donation so I gave the souvenirs back to him. I was looking for a part for my Coleman's lantern and found it. They wanted to charge me $42 for the generator. A new lantern beside it was $38. I had broken a filling a week previously (despite having a dental check-up especially before leaving Tauranga) so I went to the dental department of the hospital. It cost me $1 and 2 hours to get a temporary dressing on it. Just outside the hospital gates the Crippled Children's office is advertising coffins for sale - confidence inspiring!! I then went to the other side of town to the Last Stop Restaurant (does that mean you eat and die?). It took 3 visits before I was able to use their e-mail facility. $0-44c/minute. Sent 4 e-mails-$13. Called in at the Western Districts Medical Offices and told them about the scurvy in Somosomo village. The doctor from the Yasawas was visiting Lautoka so he was notified. When I visited Yalobi Bay I was told that he lives in Somosomo village but no-one mentioned it when I was there. I thought maybe he charged too much for the villagers to be able to afford to see him. I subsequently found he lives in another village on Naviti Island. He is provided free by the Government but the stumbling block is that one must give sevusevu to the chief of his village before one can see the doctor. It makes me angry that their selfish culture is killing them. We then did the grocery shopping and with Tony and Yvonne caught a mini-van back to Vuda Point. He charged $10. The going rate for a car is $8. Back at the marina I met an American lass who was looking for the boats TWEED and MARANATHA. We put a call on the evening sked for information on their whereabouts but drew a blank. I visited POLLUX and SANITY and returned some charts I had had photocopied earlier. They were charts of the Mamanucas.
I finished filling the water tanks and took the washing off the lines before the American lass arrived back so I put out a call on the morning sked again with no response. Trevor and Kay Troughton arrived so after they had met Rebecca and Andy we got underway. We had intended going back to Waya but just after exiting the marina the forecast said 20-25 knots gusting 30 for the Yasawas so we altered course for Malololailai. The wind was beam on but turned more W so just before the Black Rocks we dropped the sails and motored via the channel to Musket Cove. The marker on the end of the reef by the Black Rocks is an aircraft beacon, not a marine one so care must be taken to ignore it or you will go on the rocks. The marine one is only several feet above the water and is very difficult to see. It is also several hundred metres further W. After inspecting the whale painted on the hull of the French boat we all went ashore. All the ladies had a swim while Trevor and I went for a walk. In the rafters of the Yacht Club are carved and written the names of many visiting yachts. We towed GOLD JANE back to RUBEN JANE just before sunset. Looked for the green flash but didn't see it. We put GOLD JANE up on deck and were just about to raise PLAIN JANE when we were called from SIR FRANCIS. His dinghy had broken free so Trevor and I launched a rescue mission. We caught it half way to the reef. It does the soul good to do something heroic and dangerous (it was neither but I can pretend). We were in bed just after 1900 hours.
Spoke to Rebecca and BARNSTORM on the morning sked. BARNSTORM is only just around the corner in Lokomai resort so we sailed around there in light airs to say 'Hi' as we headed N. We were forced to motor sail as the wind grew progressively lighter. We went between Castaway Island and Malolo Island. Tried going over the reef to the W of Mociu (Honeymoon Island) in 25 feet of water but the crew got scared just as we were about to emerge into deeper water so we retraced our steps and went via the channel. With no wind and bright sunlight it had been easy to see the reef. An hour after leaving Lokomai the wind disappeared completely so we took the sails down. Just E of Mana Island is a sand cay I must visit sometime. As we motored past there was only one person visible on it..then 2.....3......4. The crowds always ruin things for me. We were heading to the E of Tavua Island when we sighted CHANTICLEER and EPISODE on a reciprocal heading. We swapped addresses with CHANTICLEER as they are moving on soon. From there it was a straight run through to Yalobi Bay, Waya Island, Southernmost of the Yasawa Group. The only other noteworthy feature was sighting a hammerhead shark about an hour from our destination. Once at anchor Trevor, Kay and I went snorkelling with some of the most vivid colours of coral I have yet seen. Some different coloured cubes looked just like pipe cleaners on one rock. The three of us then went to the house of the Tui Waya (chief) and gave sevusevu. He seemed more interested in the yaqona root than in us but his wife was more accommodating. Still he did give us the freedom of the village which subsequent events showed not to be true. We returned to the boat and had a bit of a rolly night. Still it was quieter than last time we were here. During the night we again heard considerable fish activity. Once when I was awake I took a line in PLAIN JANE and rowed around the bay. The awesome skyline looked impressive at night too. Again, no fish took my line.
Trevor and I joined Russell from PERICON for a walk along the beach to inspect a bure that the islanders had been building yesterday. While we were viewing it a large lady in her fifties came and invited us to a display/performance at 4pm when the Captain Cook Cruise ship comes in. We asked her if there was any charge and she said 'No'. Brian from WINDERMERE II came on board in the afternoon and gave us our monthly ICA newsletter, the rope clutch he had taken to Auckland and some photos of the Savusavu regatta. When the square rigger bringing the tourists arrived we all went ashore and walked to the bure. When we arrived we were told by a native man dressed in traditional dress that there would be a $10 per person charge. We told him that we had been told that there would be no charge but he insisted. We slowly moved away resolving not to pay but to go snorkelling instead. Brian and Joan were rowing ashore to the bure so I called to them (loudly) and told them that the islanders were not honourable. To my satisfaction he called back seeking clarification so I was able to explain at length, loudly, our intense displeasure at the insult. We went snorkelling instead but the sun was disappearing behind the hills so the light wasn't as good as previously. We only stayed in about 10 minutes and when we emerged the square rigger was well out in the bay, leaving after the performance. We were glad we hadn't forked out $10 each for a performance that only lasted such a short time. On the evening sked Rebecca told us she had picked up the mail from Vuda Point for us.
Trevor and I went for a snorkel. I took the camera and took several underwater photos but the light was from the wrong direction. Then we sailed up the W coast of Waya to show our guests the stark skyline. Opposite the Octopus Club we turned upwind towards Navandra Island. The breeze got up to 13-20 knots but in spite of several large tacks we made only slow progress. There appeared to be a contrary current so when we were still a mile short of Eori Island we lowered the sails and motored. I was up in the rigging as we went past Eori Island and was alarmed to see coral bommies just under our keel. I urgently asked Joy how deep it was. 114 feet she replied!!! The water clarity is amazing. With clarity like that we had no difficulty getting into the lee of Navandra Island. Getting ashore was a problem as it is shallow for 50 metres offshore. The snorkelling was awesome with great water clarity and big drop-offs. The fish were almost all similar to others we had seen before but were about twice as big. Joy, Susannah and I swam back to the boat and Kay, Trevor and Laura came back in PLAIN JANE. Spoke to Marty on MAKANI. Marty and Noelene are in Rotuma visiting relatives. That is a few hundred miles N of here.
Late in the morning we took both dinghies over to the island of Navandra (we had been snorkelling on the island of Vanua Levu - yes another one). Trevor was incensed at how the coral was being destroyed. A lot of it is covered in fine coral dust. We also saw some Crown-of-thorns starfish. These are the first specimens we have seen. They too are destroying coral. Jan from PACIFIC FLYER came on board. She and her husband are Australians who are just finishing a circumnavigation after 9 years travelling. She arrived on a surf ski so the girls played with that while the adults chatted. Mid afternoon Joy and I rowed ashore. We arrived on the isthmus in a hurry as there was 1/2 metre swell running. Trevor and Kay arrived shortly afterwards in PLAIN JANE. We saw BARNSTORM and PRELUDE II come into the bay and then Roy and Margrit came ashore too. Again there was a beautiful sunset.
We were originally planning to have another snorkel before leaving but the weather was overcast and blustery so we deferred the swim. The wind was coming from the S, on the nose again. We tried sailing but the wind strength was 15-20 knots so we resorted to motor for the comfort of everyone on board. Decreasing the speed (motor Vs sailing) also decreased the fishing potential. We went to the W of Yavumba Island and were able to see the reef around it. We also went close to the 9 metre shallow to the E of Tokoriki Island - intentionally because that kept us away from the reef SE of the shallow. From there it was a straight run through to the beach on the N side of Mana Island with the reef NE of the beach being clearly sighted 100 metres to port. We arrived mid afternoon. I took PLAIN JANE ashore while the children took GOLD JANE. The other adults snorkelled ashore. Just up from where I beached the boat was a well endowed woman sunbathing topless. I took a bit of flak from the rest of the crew for landing at that spot. I snorkelled out to the reef. The reef itself is in poor shape but the aquatic life is not bad. We then returned to the beach where we stayed until just before sunset when we returned to the boat to watch for the green flash. The conditions were ideal but only Laura saw it. Still the sunset was very pleasant. We have SANITY on one side of us and DELPHIS on the other. Steve and Claire were visiting Tony and Yvonne until late.
Susannah swam over to DELPHIS before they woke and swam their dinghy back to SANITY before they woke. There was much merriment when Claire finally emerged.
Everyone except me took the old mouldy water crackers which are only 12 years old and fed them underwater to the fish. I have developed chest wall pain which is debilitating. Late in the morning the adults went for a walk around the island. When we came back I swam out to the boat and moped. This sore chest/cough is knocking the stuffing out of me. Late in the afternoon Trevor, Kay and I climbed the small hill at the centre of the island. It is only about 150 feet high but some Japanese girls came up after us panting as though they were about to breathe their last - and I'm the one with the sore chest! Late in the afternoon the wind backed so tonight we are on a lee shore. The change occurred too late in the day for us to gain the shelter of the S side of the island so we had a bit of a rolly night.
After a very slow start the conditions didn't appeal for swimming so we motored out to the sand cay E of Mana. To get there we went between the island and the reef. We approached it from the E side. Trevor and I went ashore and took some photos. We then rejoined the ship and raised the sails following SANITY towards Vuda Point. However we found a reef in the way so decided to retrace our steps and take the passage on the N side of Malolo. We were hard pressed to make it around the marker without tacking. We were about halfway along the N side of Malolo and I was in the rigging, when I lost my reef spotting glasses overboard. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to decide whether or not to jump in after them and by the time I had made up my mind they were 20 metres astern and slowly sinking. Further along there was no evidence of the beacon which was on the chart so again we retraced our steps under motor and sailed to the W of Malolo. As we passed Musket Cove, Carol (ELYXIR) called us. She was staying on a boat called WINGS at the Musket Cove marina. She could not see us so it was fortuitous that we were in VHF range at that particular time. Once we got past the Black Rocks the wind dropped so we motor sailed. Five miles out we were called by CRIMSON TIDE who had picked up some mail from Vuda Point for us. We hove to and they posted the mail over in a landing net. We gave them some photos we had taken of them in Savusavu. Just as we were entering Vuda Point Marina, Rebecca called to say that SANITY was in Denerau. Trevor and Kay left us when we tied up. We tied up stern to but it was not good as the stern is lower than the bow so it was much more difficult to get off when the tide was out. Also the concern was for the rudder hitting the sloping wall. It would be marvellously safe in a cyclone with the surge barrier across the entrance but the small stones would become a real hazard when the wind got up. I think I would be tempted to imitate the locals and take my boat up one of the rivers. Admittedly there would be the hazard of floating logs. The best solution is to stay away during the cyclone season. On land they sink the hulls of the boats into graves. In the water all the boats are moored to a central buoy. If one boat let go there could be a domino effect.
I caught the 0730 bus to Lautoka to buy Joy's birthday present. On the trip I enjoyed chatting to Debbie off GUNGHA. She and her husband and daughters, Alex and Amesia were also on their way to Lautoka. After shopping for an hour I was ready to take a bus to Nadi where I met the rest of the crew in Jack's Handicraft Store. I got some money from the bank then went to buy some stamps and post some letters. On the way I was accosted by a man who insisted that I dine at a certain spot. On the way back from the Post Office he again tried to encourage me to sample the food. He was so insistent that he almost fell asleep with a sore jaw. Being a Christian sometimes leads to rewards and blessings for others that they won't know about until eternity. I then joined the family for a bus ride out to the McDonald's Restaurant. The children had been hanging out for a big Mac for 4 months. It certainly hasn't done them any harm. After lunch I bargained with a taxi driver for a fare to Morris Hedstrom’s. I heard it was only 10 minutes walk but it was at least 2 miles. He took us instead to Cost-U-Less. We saw some cakes from Melba Foods there. Our neighbour back in Tauranga is part owner of Melba Foods. We then returned to the marina and I went to get the gas cylinder topped up. After dark I went to HALLMARK to get my drill battery charged. My connection won't fit the plug on our berth. I then had a shower before bed.
Spent all morning getting fresh water etc. onto the boat. Trotted over to BLIZZARD and had a chat to John Miller, the previous owner of RUBEN JANE. Ordered the longboat to help us get out of our berth and when it arrived Joy and Laura were not on board so Susannah and I took it out and the longboat then dropped Joy and Laura on board. Our intention had been to go to Musket Cove but Rebecca had radioed asking to be picked up from Denerau so we motored directly over there-head winds again. There is a small sand cay and also a reef on the rhumb line and one white triangle marker was ambiguous; was it to be kept between the boat and the sand cay; the boat and the island off Denerau; the boat and the mainland? We decided on the last option and crept past using the Braille system. We anchored near low tide in 14 feet but there was no hope of seeing the bottom. Visibility is only about 5 feet here. By then it was too late in the day to venture further. Susannah and I went for a blat in the rubber ducky but the float in the carburettor jammed again so we dropped by SANITY and Andy towed us home (50 metres). Susannah and I then went ashore with Tony and Yvonne. The Sheraton is certainly an upmarket resort. The shopping complexes and beach are nice but the water is yucky. Back on the boat we saw a seaplane land in choppy seas - it looked quite dangerous but when it took off 1/4 hour later it looked even worse. Andy and Rebecca were on their way to rescue a capsized catamaran and tourist but the longboat beat them. The difference between a tourist and a terrorist is the tourist may endanger himself as well.
This morning as I was looking over the side I spied a large fish so we got some bread and started dropping it on the water in nibble sized portions. It appeared to enjoy them so the next one had a hook in it. I don’t think it enjoyed that but it didn't put up much of a fight. It only just fitted into the landing net if it was folded slightly. It was about 400mm square but only 150mm thick. As it appeared to be a brown and white striped butterfly (?bat) fish, which is of dubious eating value, I let it go. As it had come to the surface the brown stripes had faded almost totally. We then took Rebecca on board and sailed out to the Black Rocks with the wind almost on the nose again 10-15 knots. Very frustrating all these head winds. By the Black Rocks we again lowered the sails and motored several miles to anchor off Musket Cove. Being Fathers' Day I got a new T shirt and in the afternoon my old one tore through. My mother had bought it for me in Hawaii and it said 'I Don’t just stand around and let life pass me by...I sit, its more comfortable' My new one says 'I'm on Fiji time'. Joy has the flu so the rest of us went ashore for a barbeque and she had an early night.
Our wedding anniversary. Joy still not feeling well. She went and spent the day at the pool and Laura spent the day in the pool. We had all been invited onto WINGS for the race to Castaway Island. Susannah and I went .I got the job of spinnaker trimmer and with my limited experience we still came 4th. Fred and Judy were excellent hosts. He is so positive - always encouraging - even when the crew fouled up he ALWAYS looked for the positives in what was done. After the race he shook hands with all the guys and hugged all the ladies then we meandered through the rest of the fleet as he thanked all the other yachts for a good race. (We were actually beaten by an ex Steinlager boat EMOTIONAL RESCUE which used its motor for the first 10 minutes of the race). He and Judy shouted lunch for all the crew ($14/head for 10 people). After lunch there was the beer drinking race NZ Vs The Rest of the World and of course NZ won. Then the hairiest chest and wet T shirt contests so I went snorkelling. Afterwards we continued on around Malolo Island checking out all the shallows and hazards for the race in 2 days time.
The Malololailai Olympics. The Hobie cat challenge was exciting with Grant and Debbie (OMEGA OF WELLINGTON) eventually winning. The dinghy races were also held. Laura and I both entered but Laura was taken out by another contestant who kept tangling with her oars. Until then she had been doing well. I was last in my race. Then came the big event of the week. Somebody dropped a cigarette butt on a hilltop and half the island caught fire. They called for volunteers so after Laura brought my jandals from the boat I ventured forth. From the central ridge it was an amazing sight. One side of the island was an island paradise with brownish grass leading to green to blue water with boats peacefully at anchor; the other side was total devastation with grass still burning. One section was eventually controlled by back-burning but the rest was left to burn itself out right across the island. In the afternoon were the golf pitching, coconut putting and the volleyball. The WINGS team (with me included) eventually lost the final to the home team.
Today was the around Malolo yacht race. I had been invited to crew on WINGS again. Carol from ELYXIR was there too, tailing the lines. This time Susannah stayed home by choice. As soon as I got aboard WINGS I got a radio call from John Miller on board BLIZZARD asking me to crew for him. When Fred and Judy heard that I was in demand from a fast boat like BLIZZARD (Farr 44 with an 11 foot deep keel) they assumed that I was pretty good so I got promoted from being spinnaker trimmer to tactician. Thus I spent the rest of the day with my hands in my pockets telling the owner and boss what to do. We did some useful things like take transits on the start line so we could see our relative position from anywhere along the line. We were first over the line after the start (good) but with little speed on (bad), fifth at the first mark (sad), third at the next corner (better), then everyone ran out of wind. After that it became a lottery and after a windless hour and a half, several boats behind us got the breeze first so we were eventually sixth across the line. We did pass two more boats and didn't get passed by any so we were pleased. Also no smaller boats came in before us and quite a few larger boats were behind us. BLIZZARD only just beat us after having trouble with a jammed spinnaker halyard. I now have experience as a tactician in a major international regatta. I await further offers. On my return to RUBEN JANE I was transferring my gear on board when my sunglasses fell out of my towel. Laura almost caught them on the platform. I jumped into the water but was unable to see them so they sank in 40 feet. I was annoyed because that is the second pair I've lost in a week. At night we went onto SANITY which was moored in the marina and said goodbye to Rebecca and Andy. A late night and a rough trip back to our boat.
Joy's birthday. We were woken before 7 by a boat horn. We tried to ignore it but when it sounded for the second time we emerged to wave to Rebecca and Andy. They are flying via USA to London. Joy and Laura tearful all day. Laura and I decorated the dinghy but in the parade of about 10 boats we didn't win a prize. Joy and I still have coughs and Joy still hasn't much energy. At night we went to the pig on a spit night at the restaurant. While we were there we got a phone call from Rebecca to say 'Happy Birthday'. They had got the times on the tickets mixed up and were leaving at 11:30pm not am. We thought that they would be over the sea halfway to Hawaii at that time so were very surprised to hear from her. Then the house band came over and sang 'Happy Birthday and long life' to Joy in English and Fijian. Again I put chilli sauce on my food before reading the label on the far side of the bowl. A nice meal although the lady serving the pork seemed reluctant to part with much of it. Still I finished off everyone else's. Joy and Laura were very tired so we left before the show. Susannah stayed and came back later but we were all sound asleep when she arrived. It was rough again in the dinghy.
Didn't do much today. Everyone is getting ready to go to Vanuatu tomorrow. I fixed the steering arm on the outboard with help from Steve. We eventually had to apply heat to extract the old bolt.
We completed our farewells. Only 4 boats from the Tonga fleet are going to Vanuatu: - CRIMSON TIDE, EMOTION, PERICON and MATANGI as well as WINDERMERE II. Still it feels like the end of an era. I'm still very sad we're not going but if Joy's confidence grows it will be well worth it. We went ashore and Laura and I had a swim in the pool. I tried to take a photo of a plane landing over the top of me but it landed from the other end of the runway. Ten minutes later, when I was back at the pool one landed from our end of the runway. We saw the fleet leave. They appeared to be becalmed soon after the start. We then motored around the corner to Lokomai Resort where we picked up a mooring. BARNSTORM and RUBEN JANE were invited aboard WINDFLOWER for drinks. We had a pleasant time before returning home for bacon and eggs.
Joy, Susannah and I went snorkelling on the adjacent reef. There was no great difference to most other reefs but I did see a box fish. We left Lokomai with the idea of sailing around the N end of Malolo Island on the way back to Vuda Point, but after a heated discussion which I lost, we motored back past Musket Cove and out by the Black Rocks (which are black) where I raised the sails and we headed to Vuda Point on a tight reach. When we were about 2 miles off Vuda Point we put in a long tack out to the W before putting in another one which took us around the point into Saweni Bay about 3 miles N of Vuda Point. The sea was fairly choppy and it was coming directly into the bay but just before sunset it calmed down and became mirror smooth. This is the norm here apparently. MAKANI and ADVENTURER were here too and BARNSTORM arrived later. The bay was used by the Armed Forces during W.W.II - as a Catalina base I think.
Susannah stayed on the boat while Joy, Laura and I caught the bus ($1.50) in to Lautoka where we restocked and replenished our stores for three weeks more cruising. Our taxi ride back cost $5. When we arrived back at the beach a loud whistle was meant to summon our dinghy but Susannah was listening to a tape so she didn't hear so I rowed out in ADVENTURER's tender. It was again choppy. After loading the stores we motor sailed, with Laura at the helm, to Vuda Point where we tied up alongside WINDFLOWER. DELPHIS and SUNSET QUEST were there too. We filled with water, bought some more outboard fuel and also another New Zealand flag. Old Faithful is losing some stars again. How does one get rid of one's country's flag respectfully? Jan from PACIFIC FLYER had told us several weeks ago that when their Australian flag grew too old and tatty she folded it neatly, placed it in a bag ANDTHENSTUFFEDITINARUBBISHBIN!! Late in the evening we heard loud music that we thought was coming from WINDFLOWER but it was coming from across the other side of the marina. Some people have achieved a certain number of years but are still children as regards consideration of others. We all, except Laura, had showers; Joy had hers in the dark as the lights all went out for some unknown reason.
Wrote and sent 5 faxes - to Geoffrey (my brother), Corina, Alana (travel agent), Rebecca, and a potential crew member - Glenn Payne. We then left just on midday and headed towards Mana Island by the direct route. The wind was just forward of the starboard beam at only 10-12 knots most of the way. We only averaged 4.7 knots because of some calm patches along the way. Just off Honeymoon Island Joy and I had a discussion as to whether to go to Lokomai Resort or Mana Lagoon for the night. The low sunlight reflecting off the water was making navigation difficult but it eventually went behind the clouds so with the good light available we headed into Mana Lagoon. We had been warned by Brian Hepburn about the white buoy to be taken to port after passing the beacons but we still had some beacons to bisect when we were confronted by a white buoy - and then a creamy yellow one. I was up the rigging so saw that the white one could be kept to port but a dogleg out to starboard of the other one was aborted when I clearly saw the channel so we took that one on our starboard side. We anchored just inside the entrance next to ROMANA. Joy and I went over for a Happy Hour just before sunset. Paul and Michelle had a couple of young ladies staying on board. Just as we were leaving ROMANA after a very pleasant hour a man swam out the two hundred metres from the beach. It was Joy's cousin's husband from back in New Zealand. He knew we were in Fiji but didn't know where, or the name of our boat, so when he had seen the New Zealand flags he had swum out to see whether any other New Zealanders knew of our whereabouts. Raewyn, his wife, was back on the beach so I rowed ashore and picked her up. It was amazing to see her face when I turned around from rowing and she recognised me. We showed them over RUBEN JANE. We went the 1/3 mile journey to the resort in both dinghies. There wasn't much freeboard with five adults and one child but we arrived safely. Then they kindly bought us all tea at the resort. It was most generous of them and greatly appreciated. It was, by far, the best quality meal we have enjoyed since the Barbecue at Ian Hill's residence at Nuku'alofa. Afterwards there was a show of Fijian singing and dancing. We then went to their fale for a short time before returning to the boat for the night. This is their last night here so we offered to take them back to the mainland tomorrow but they declined. This was very fortunate as it transpired. Our journey back to RUBEN JANE was in choppy seas. When we arrived back I tied both dinghies securely to the mother ship as was my habit, before retiring for a sound sleep.
We were very slow to emerge this morning and it was about an hour later that I went on deck and noticed that GOLD JANE was missing. The painter had chafed through at the eyebolt. Paul (ROMANA) and I did a quick reconnoitre around the lagoon which was unsuccessful in locating her, then I took RUBEN JANE out to the outer reef some 6-7 miles away. The breeze had been constant in both strength and direction during the night. Visibility was excellent with no wind now and calm seas but again the search was unsuccessful. From up in the rigging I had about 4-5 miles visibility. We trolled lines too but this also was fruitless. With heavy hearts we returned to our anchorage and I took PLAIN JANE ashore to ask for advice. Rachel Yasa (c/- Mana Resort, P.O.Box 610, Lautoka) took up the cause and called all the other resorts seeking information but she too drew a blank. However later in the day she radioed to say that a fisherman from Yanuya Island, some 5 miles NW of Mana had returned to his island with a white dinghy he had found out by the outer reef about the time we had started searching.
Susannah took the rubbish ashore and I cleaned the bilges. Spoke to DELPHIS. They left Momi Bay yesterday bound for Noumea and after being becalmed most of the day they made 70 miles overnight. They caught 2 tuna yesterday and a big mahi-mahi today. I then spoke to SUNSET QUEST who passed on a fax from my brother, Geoffrey. We then motored out of the reef, passing a turtle just as we exited the channel. There was a native boat up on the reef but he was in no immediate danger with calm seas and an incoming tide. We motored in very calm seas to Yanuya Island. On our approach on the E side the visibility was awesome with absolutely no distortion in 70 feet. I went ashore to retrieve the dinghy while Joy and Susannah had a swim and took photos. A lady said the chief was on the mainland but she led me to a house where they were drinking kava so I presented sevusevu. I went a couple of rounds then 3 men disappeared to get the dinghy. When they hadn't returned after 40 minutes I excused myself and went searching. After 10 minutes of uncertain answers I met Bill who helped me with the search. Within 5 minutes we had located it. There was no evidence of any other searchers. It was on the W side of the island so I invited Bill on board RUBEN JANE as we went around the island. Bill pointed out the course. There were several reefs to avoid but in the clear conditions they were easy to identify and we anchored off the beach outside the reef. Bill and I went ashore and he invited me to his place while the fisherman (who had since returned) had lunch. Bill introduced me to his sisters, Naia and Denise. Then Joe came in. It was a few minutes before I realised that Joe was THE fisherman. I gave him $10 for his trouble and gave Bill $2 for his help. We then retrieved the dinghy and oars (which Joe had hidden), and some local children helped carry everything to the waters edge and I returned to RUBEN JANE. Joy and Susannah had a swim while I had lunch. Then Laura (initially under protest) and I had a snorkel. Laura was eventually happy diving under the dinghies. We then spent the rest of the day relaxing in beautiful surroundings. I spoke to DELPHIS on their evening sked. The water temperature on the W side of the island is 29°C. There are three churches represented in the village of 300 people. Assembly of God and Revival churches don’t encourage smoking or Kava drinking but the Methodist church doesn't disapprove. I am coming to the conclusion that kava drinking is detrimental to a person’s motivation with people becoming indolent and labile through drinking the stuff.
Motored to just N of Yanuya Island, then raised the sails. The breeze was only 6-8 knots giving a sailing speed of less than 2 knots so once again we were forced to motor. When the breeze filled in it was from NNE so it was almost on the nose. We had several strikes but only landed one tuna which provided us with one meal. Only sighted 2 other yachts all day and just after 1500 hours we dropped anchor just off the village in Soso Bay. I sounded the diesel tank and found that we were down to 25% so I filled up from the reserve tanks on deck. This brought the level up to 70%. I was just washing the spilt bit off the deck when a fisherman paddled out in his canoe made out of a single sheet of corrugated iron. He asked for some diesel - no chance. I must be getting hard in my old age but they do not deserve to become beggars. Traditionally they used to paddle their canoes. He also asked if I would be going ashore so I told him I would - tomorrow. I asked if the villagers were healthy. 'No', he replied. 'They are Methodists!' I think there is a communication problem. His uncle is the chief but he is away in Lautoka (Almost all the chiefs seem to reside away from their islands). His father 'William' is the resident representative. I said I would see any sick people in the morning. I finally got an opportunity to relay for SUNSET QUEST. They have often relayed for me but they have just left Fiji for Luganville, Santo and they couldn't hear DELPHIS. OMEGA is at 30°S and finding it very cold. John Goater had a message to say that Andrew Lawrence was arriving in New Caledonia on 20th October.
We all went ashore at 0900 hours. We presented sevusevu powder to William. There was no kava in evidence. Then the sick parade began. It started with a boy with a facial rash - probably fungal but I covered it with antifungal and antibiotic ointment. Gave him some antifungal ointment to continue his treatment; a girl with toothache - on examination she had a gap between her two front teeth with obvious decay all around it. From side on it looked as though the teeth could have substituted for miniature stocks. I gave her oil of cloves till she could see the doctor on Monday; a lady with hypertension - her JVP was 3-4 fingers - advised to see doctor; several children with coughs and rattly chests - taught and demonstrated chest physiotherapy; a boy with eczema - not infected so advised to see the doctor again; a lady with a migraine - digesic; a lady with an acute shoulder pain - digesic again; a lady with epilepsy - advised to be accompanied whilst swimming or near fires, continue medication; and finally, William with poor circulation in lower legs - 1/2 disprin per day. Una, one of the ladies acted as interpreter throughout. I was then taken across the village to a boy who was unable to walk. When I arrived it was obvious that the main cause of his problem was a large abscess around his left groin. He was only 8-10 years old and had been in this state for 5 days. I applied EMLA cream to numb it, then I lanced it. I didn't measure the amount of pus but it was still oozing over an hour later. I had to go back to the boat to get a syringe to irrigate it so I gave a couple of young chaps a ride in PLAIN JANE. Their names were Naaman and Siusiu. They were round-eyed when I showed them where we lived on the boat. They had probably never seen such luxury. The abscess was bigger than my hand (fingers included) and he had gross lymphamegaly. Sometimes one feels very inadequate. I irrigated it with diluted Betadine and covered it with antibiotic ointment and a dressing. He really required urgent hospitalisation and intravenous antibiotics. We didn't have any oral antibiotics left either. Joy had just finished the last one for a gum infection. Retrospectively I should have had him airlifted to hospital. I could have used my radio to call for assistance. The island doctor (who lives 2 villages further N) was back in Lautoka for the weekend. It was at this stage I grew very angry although I didn't show it (I think) when I realised that their culture is killing them. Although the doctor is provided free by the government, in order for someone from another village to see him they must first present sevusevu to the chief of his village. They can't afford it so they don’t go. At this stage I stopped presenting sevusevu and won't again. It is corrupt to allow people to die in such agony. One would not permit one's enemies animals to suffer needlessly like their children are. I could afford the kava at $50 a kilo but they can't. The victim's name was William. While I was tending him Joy, Susannah and Laura had been chatting to the ladies who were making baskets. Before we left the girls had been given a basket, two fans and 5 necklaces. Joy turned down clam shells and a tortoise shell because of import restrictions in New Zealand. Before leaving I prayed for all the patients - those who could be helped by medicine and those who couldn't. We then went to look at the village church which looks like a school building from the outside but inside were ornate carvings. Although the carvings were well done it was interesting to see a couple near the door of King Herod and the Roman soldiers. I admired their craftsmanship but queried their theological standing in glorifying the villains. We returned to PLAIN JANE and four local boys and Susannah carried PLAIN JANE down to the waters edge. It was a quaint gesture. We returned to RUBEN JANE and just after midday raised the anchor and motored in brisk conditions up the E coast of Naviti Island. Two thirds of the way up we came across a reef marked by a buoy which is not on the chart. It pays to keep a lookout. We also found that the GPS waypoints were further N than plotted by about 400 metres. The wind then turned more E so we were able to raise the jib and shortly afterwards the main as we headed across the mouth of Somosomo Bay and up the W coast of Yaqeta Island. The outer reef was clearly visible and as we got closer we could also see the inner reef. We sailed between them. The sea was not as rough as on the E side of the islands and we made good speed. As we approached the top of Matacawa Levu we tangled the fishing lines so that took 10 minutes to untangle. We then lowered the sails and motored into Blue Lagoon anchoring in 68 feet. Again I relayed for SUNSET QUEST in his talk to DELPHIS. They are in radio skip at present. DELPHIS suffered a knockdown last night and damaged their pulpit. However there were no injuries. A nice meal of corn fritters for tea tonight.
Windy today so we all spent the day on the boat. Still, it was sunny.
My Mother's birthday so we sang her 'Happy Birthday'. Windier today. Joy spent the morning cleaning. After lunch Laura, Joy and I went ashore with the rubbish. We were just getting back into the dinghy when Bill - one of the locals (are any named anything but Bill) called out to us. He was the one who came out in his boat last time we were here and demanded kava. I followed him to Va's house and finally got to meet Va and her daughter, Rosetta and her mother, Rosetta. Bill then explained the finer points of rubbish disposal ie. 50 cents per bag. The blurb sheet given to us by CHANTICLEER last time said a Donation - now they have made it compulsory. As most of it was burnable I deemed that a bit steep. Anyway I had no money on me so I offered to take it away with me but they said that was unnecessary. There were a lot of flies around in Va's house. Apparently she bakes very nice bread. We then went to visit Tony and Sue Mair on CUMMINS SPINNER a Riviera 33. While we were there a gust picked up their tender and flipped it, immersing the outboard for a few seconds. We left him dismantling the outboard. Still we had a couple of enjoyable hours with them.
CUMMINS SPINNER left this morning. BARNSTORM came in at lunchtime so Joy and I went over for an hour. In the afternoon we all went onto the beach for a swim. It was quite protected from the wind and we sunbathed for a while. Just before tea Roy and Margrit (BARNSTORM) came over for a pleasant hour. Spoke to Marty (MAKANI). He's at Yandua with ADVENTURER. KAPAIORA came from Yandua to Sawa-i-Lau in 7 1/2 hours - average over 7 knots. Not bad for a slowish boat. He had williwaws and waterspouts. RAMONA came in mid-afternoon.
BARNSTORM left to join SANITY at Somosomo this morning. Michelle from ROMANA came over for a chat and we arranged for her to bring Paul over for a pot luck tea. We saw something today we haven't seen for over three months - since 7th July to be exact. Rain. Still it is winter I suppose so can't complain. It started about 1630 hours and looks like it will continue all night. The wind has dropped to 15-20 knots. Spoke to Malcolm on SUNSET QUEST. He has arrived in Luganville, Santo. I have really enjoyed relaying for him to DELPHIS. Malcolm has often relayed for me so I feel that in some small way I am contributing in a positive way. Also the night we arrived in Tonga he was the one who welcomed us to almost Atata when we were parked behind the reef. Paul and Michelle came for tea and went home at 0145 so we obviously enjoyed ourselves. Don’t know where the time went.
Slept in this morning and was late for our radio sked with Tony on SANITY. The sea is rough and the rain continued until midmorning. The wind is still very gusty so we'll stay here today. John Goater had a message from Corina to say that Glenn Payne can crew from Fiji to New Caledonia so that's good news. The water temperature has dropped to 25°C. At 2300 hours a front went through so I got up and watched that none of the other boats were dragging their anchors. The wind only got up to 33 knots but it was quite noisy and we veered around at anchor quite a lot making sleeping difficult. The sunshade flapped noisily. After about an hour it subsided quickly so 15 minutes later I returned to bed and slept well.
Woke this morning to a gloomy squally day. There were frequent thunderstorms throughout the day. I wish that Graham Shepherd was here. Here I am in Blue Lagoon in paradise. I've been cooped up with the family for four days. The sun rarely shines and it's generally unpleasant. All this publicity about white beaches being deserted is true - there is no-one around in this weather. Even the cruise ships look miserable at anchor with nobody venturing ashore although some hardy souls went snorkelling on the reef. Some locals came and borrowed my epoxy resin to repair their boat. On board they had a European passenger who earns more money than me as a hospital administrator but there was no offer of paying for the use of the resin. Some people are either selfish or thoughtless. Paul bought some of Va's bread which we consumed for lunch. Joy made some popcorn which we have likewise devoured. I am surprised and gratified that the girls are playing so contentedly in such confined conditions. Joy and I are still unable to shake off our coughs. A multihull left here for Vila this morning. It had cleared out of Lautoka a week ago. KAPAIORA arrived from Land Harbour in a squall just after lunch. We last saw them in Port Maurelle in the Vava'u's. They came through the NW route into the bay. At the same time another sloop arrived from the E route and has anchored rather close to us. It's name is MENISCUS of GWEEK. Apparently Gweek is a creek in England where the owner hails from. We went over between showers and had supper with them. There are six English folk on board. Mark is the owner/skipper.
Laura's birthday. The weather is still gusty and showery. We gave her some lollies but are saving the big present for when she goes through duty free in two weeks time. Continued our games and reading. In the afternoon the showers disappeared and the sky cleared for the first time in a week. Susannah and I went ashore and played volleyball with a coupe of locals and Paul (ROMANA) and Jan <pronounced Yarn> (KAPAIORA). We then returned for a party tea of lollies, biscuits, cheerios and self-saucing pudding as a birthday cake. Michelle came and brought another present of various lollies from ROMANA and KAPAIORA.
Slow to emerge this morning. Then Joy, Laura and I went ashore. We played on the coconut tree that lies out over the water. There were also some seed pods Laura and I threw into the air and they flew like helicopters. One of mine went for over fifty metres. We then had a swim and sunbathed. I picked up the snorkelling gear from the boat and Joy and I went snorkelling. I saw my first sea snake. It was over a metre long and had black and white circumferential stripes. We all went back to the boat for a late lunch and Susannah went ashore. She was having a swim with ROMANA and KAPAIORA so I decided to swim ashore but only got as far as MISCHIEF. I stopped for a rest and a chat (but I didn't get into MISCHIEF). Then as Susannah was coming back in PLAIN JANE I hitched a ride home. Laura and I then went visiting CRUZ CONTROL - a 53 foot Santa Cruz design en route from California to Australia. They had called at Palmyra for several weeks on the way through. Palmyra is a privately owned American island which lies almost on the equator due S of Hawaii. It now has a full-time custodian, a Frenchman who has hauled 50 out of 51 boats off the reef. (1 in 3 boats visiting go on the reef - it is a long way from the island.). Marty called to say that ADVENTURER and MAKANI are heading to Sawa-i-Lau tomorrow.
Squally day. Sambob III, the backpackers boat, (which I believe sank in 1999 and everybody was forced to swim for 7 hours to safety, no casualties) called into our anchorage to pick up Fastoe off MENISCUS of GWEEK. He is heading back to Lautoka. We left Blue Lagoon in 10 knots E. It is time to start heading back for the family to catch the plane home. Had just hoisted the genoa and put out the fishing lines when we were hit by the first of 6 strikes of the day. It was lost soon afterwards. The wind increased to 20-25 knots as it was influenced by headlands and valleys. We passed the Turtle Island Resort big game boat as he headed N. That's the world class resort next to Blue Lagoon. We had 2 more strikes which we also lost before we were hit by a squall just before we bisected the twin reefs off Devolau Island. We also had another strike just as we were lowering the genoa. Between the reefs (distance apart 200 metres) we passed MANLY FERRY as they motored N towing a dinghy with an outboard on. They were also hauling in a fish. There certainly was a lot of action in a confined space. As we continued under motor Joy neglected to tell me that she had tightened the brake on the reel that had had the strike as we lowered the sail. There was a drowned tuna which was a decent size. It didn't have much fight left after being marinated in sodium chloride and water for a while. Susannah did have some trouble netting it though. All our waypoints seem to be a bit far E in the Yasawas. We motored up to Somosomo village and anchored with a fishing net close behind us. The wind was now fairly constant at 20 knots E. I rowed ashore and checked on my patients. Scurvy was the diagnosis confirmed by the doctor for the 2 men I had seen earlier. All the patients were better except the man with decompression sickness, so I strongly advised him to see the doctor in the next couple of days. I was given some pancakes in one house. I initially declined the offer but they seemed pleased when I accepted. They were quite tasty. I bid goodbye to Bill and Lucy and rowed back to RUBEN JANE. We weighed anchor and quickly raised the No 4 jib. The paddlewheel speedo is not working as we have been at anchor for a week. However the GPS said we were reaching speeds in the high 7's. Out on the W point of Somosomo Bay the outlying reefs were easy to see and once around the Vakaweitaca Point we were out of the sloppy seas. Just off the point we hooked another slightly smaller tuna and Susannah hauled in her first fish. Photo time. Inside Cakau ni kereke we had our last strike. We almost got spooled until I realised that Susannah had taken the lock off the reel. We headed back under motor getting within 50 metres of the reef which comes out from shore before reeling in an empty lure. I went up the rigging as we entered Natuvalu Bay and we anchored alongside MENISCUS of GWEEK. A calm anchorage in 35 feet, a little further S than the guidebook says but free of dangers. Dived in and freed the paddlewheel. Laura and I went ashore. A young man guided us around the reef from the beach. The old man there made big hints about sevusevu (grog, custom etc.). He had no right because this land belongs to a village on the other side of the island. I had brought some fish heads ashore but he still grumbled. They are building some bures for backpackers ($10/night /person). He said he wanted some kava from MENISCUS of GWEEK tonight. I passed this information on to them on my return. As they weren't venturing ashore they deemed it totally unnecessary. Spoke to Marty again tonight. They had arrived in Sawa-i-Lau at 1500 hours after a good trip. Then Jan (KAPAIORA) called to find where we were so I took the opportunity to thank Rita for Laura's birthday present.
I went ashore and had a chat to the old gent and then filled the water containers from the well. There didn't appear to be many floaties in it. We then sailed down the coast admiring again the unspoilt unpopulated beaches. I could quite easily stay a few days at each beach with Joy alone. Unfortunately development (apart from my boat anchored off) would spoil them. I hope they never get developed. The water is deep right up to the shore so anchoring close in would be possible and seclusion guaranteed. The skyline of Waya to the S only increases the beauty of the area. Several reefs just under a mile offshore would protect from all but the worst swell. Onward almost in a straight line from Natuvalu Bay to Nacilau Point on NW Waya. As we crossed between the 2 islands the swell increased to 1 1/2 metres on the port quarter. We didn't see the shallow patch near Waya this time either although we had a good look in good visibility. Our intention was to stop at Likuliku Bay on the W side of Waya Island but when we got there the anchorage was pretty windy. This is where the Octopus Club is located. The beach looks the cleanest we have seen in the islands so far. Reluctantly we sailed on in 130-140 feet of water to Yalobi Bay (been there; done that). We arrived at the same time as WINGS. Fred and Judy had sailed up from Vuda Point. They later came across and I gave them the last of our kava as we won't be using it because we're heading S. There is an element of sadness as our trip is drawing to a close. John Goater passed on another message from Corina regarding Glenn Payne wanting certification from me for his airfares. Looks like we'll have to seek out a fax machine in a couple of days. After dark I put a lantern on the boarding platform hoping to attract some fish but all it did was attract a black and white sea snake. It had a sting in it's tail because Joy lost the desire to swim here and Laura had a nightmare and spent the latter part of the night in our bed.
Spent a very restful morning on the boat. Susannah and I went for a snorkel in the afternoon. Unfortunately the sun went behind the clouds and the wind got up a bit. We did take a couple of shots of a blue fish we hadn't seen before but ran out of film before we got a good one of coral. Also missed taking one of some small creatures on a large coral clump that looked as though they were made from different coloured pipe cleaners fashioned into balls. Late in the afternoon it got quite choppy so WINGS went around the N end of Waya. We just moved out into deeper water as we were in fairly shallow water. It was a rolly night until the wind strengthened and changed to a stiff Northerly with accompanying williwaws at 0400 hours. The bay calmed remarkably quickly but it was a tired bunch that emerged to face the day.
Home this month or close to it anyway. With NE winds gusting to 35 knots we decided to head back to Vuda Point. After raising the anchor and avoiding some fishing floats I raised the main and put 2 reefs in it. We were reaching speeds of 7.6 knots on the cockpit speedo which normally reads about one knot slower than the GPS. The wind whistled through the gaps between the islands causing some exciting sailing. Just as we exited the bay we were visited by a pod of dolphins which stayed for about 10 minutes. When they left we passed our first waypoint and turned to 140° towards Vuda Point. Out from behind the shelter of Kuata Island the NE swell increased to 1 1/2 metres until it was shadowed by a reef to the NE of us. The breeze settled down to 16-24 knots so I put up the No 4 as well. On this reach our speed stayed at around 6 knots after dropping down to 3-4 knots for a short time. We averaged 6 knots for over an hour. I put out a line and almost immediately got a strike but that was the last for the day. When Vomo Island was on our port bow the wind decreased to a breeze and when the island was on our beam we were becalmed on a flat sea. By this time the No 1 jib was up. We waited for 10 minutes and a 6-8 knot breeze arose from the SE. so after a few more minutes we started the motor and motor sailed the rest of the way. It appears to be a local phenomenon that the wind blows towards the mainland for 1/2 the trip from the Yasawas and off the mainland when you get closer. In Vuda point marina we tied to the fuel berth and refuelled. Joy also did two loads of washing and we picked up the mail and replenished the water. Laura received a birthday present from our neighbours back home in Tauranga. Joy also learned that her father had been admitted to a rest home. He has not enjoyed good health recently. We then left the marina and raised the jib and motor sailed to Sawene Bay for the night, arriving just after 1700 hours. A very full day with a great variety of wind conditions. The anchorage was very calm with perfect reflections. Joy and I stayed in the cockpit for some hours discussing our options and responsibilities. The cane trains made a racket as they clanked past and the dogs ashore were barking a lot. In the early hours it started raining so I got up to close the hatch. The showers only last a few minutes but necessitate closing the hatch otherwise we get quite wet. Once the rain stops we have to open the hatch again because it gets very warm and stuffy with it closed in the tropics.
Susannah and I caught the 0830 bus in to Lautoka. I went to a dentist recommended by CONANDALE. He is 50 metres E of the traffic lights (only one set in town). 20 minutes, 2 fillings, no bib, mouthwash was a wash-your-glass-in-a-basin-in-the-corner-afterwards-trick. Still $45 is very good by New Zealand standards. He was Otago trained and wore gloves so there was hope there was sterile equipment. I returned to Morris Hedstrom's where Susannah had lunch then I went to The Last Stop Cafe where I waited almost an hour to read my e-mail (cost $3.20 this time). Then posted a postcard to my workmates and tried to fax Glenn Payne but kept getting engaged signal. Returned to MH's and completed the grocery shopping Susannah had started, then caught a taxi back to Sawene Bay. After putting the groceries on board I went to the local hotel to try to send the fax but they don’t have a fax machine. A very still night again but a bunch of young people on the beach had a bonfire and fireworks until late.
The anchor chain was very dirty when we raised it so I washed it before stowing it. Exiting the reef was easy because of the floating plastic bottles on the horns of the reef. We raised the jib but the wind immediately turned round to the S again - on the nose, so we dropped the jib and motored to Vuda Point. Joy and Susannah stooged around outside the marina while Laura and I motored in PLAIN JANE to send the fax and pick up the mail. Glenn's machine is turned off so I sent it to Corina and asked her to forward it. Back on board the breeze had moved slightly W so we raised the sails and sailed in a slowly building breeze to Denerau. Laura was at the helm for most of the trip. We went outside a Magellan line tanker at anchor and successfully negotiated the beacons on the reef we had difficulty interpreting last time. Susannah lay on the foredeck sunbathing. Off Denerau lies Yakuilau Island. According to the chart it has 2 beacons to the N of it. Last time we noticed it only had 1 beacon there - not unusual for Fiji. We were 1-200 metres off it when Susannah called to say that we were heading towards the reef. I replied that I knew but it was at least 100 metres away. 'NO', she called. 'It's 30 metres!!' I took evasive action and we missed the unmarked reef by less than 20 metres. It was lying about a metre underwater and would have caused some damage if we'd hit it at the speed we were doing - 4.5 knots. Thank God for watchful crew. That has been the closest encounter with a reef while cruising. We had been warned of an unmarked one to the S of Denerau which SUNSET QUEST had almost hit a month ago. Soon the crew were clamouring for me to drop the sails as we were approaching our anchorage - still 400 metres away - when we passed a Hobie cat in irons. I put PLAIN JANE over the side and pushed his bow around. He didn't appear to have many clues. He was last seen heading towards the resort so it might be a lesson well learned. We anchored in 16 feet. In the afternoon Laura and I went ashore and looked at the shops. There was a pushy saleswoman who followed us around almost on our heels. She was very well dressed and groomed but emitted loud popping noises as her bubblegum burst. When we returned Joy and Susannah were on SANITY so we joined them. We returned to RUBEN JANE at sundown so I could take a photograph of the sunset which was the most spectacular of the entire trip. We all went ashore for the Happy Hour - or so we thought but they finished their performance just as we arrived. The nibbles are free during Happy Hour but the drinks cost twice as much as other places. The sunset got better and better but unfortunately the camera was left on the boat. Just when you thought that it couldn't get anymore spectacular, it did. An international passenger aircraft went right through the middle of it. It was so awesome that one felt like applauding the Creator.
We all went over to SANITY to bid farewell to Tony and Yvonne but after an hour they said that they would see us in Vuda Point before we left. Up anchored with the idea of sailing to Mana Island but when we exited the bay the wind was on the nose again so we pointed the bow towards Malololailai. We avoided all shallows and rocks passing within 200 metres of Curacao rock. Just as the Black Rocks were abeam the wind came around onto the nose so we dropped the sails and motored in to Musket Cove. We anchored behind DEFIANCE II and MOROLD. Joy had a sleep while the rest of us went ashore where Laura and I had a swim in the pool. Back on board Laura took a sunsight and a moonsight.
Tonight there is a star by the moon for several hours but when I looked later it had disappeared so I suspect that it had been eclipsed by the moon.
I motored over to DEFIANCE II and borrowed a nautical almanac and worked out Laura's sunlight. She was 7 miles out which is very good for her first attempt. Everyone else went ashore. Laura had a swim and Joy had a shower. When they returned I took the almanac back. We sailed slowly out of Musket Cove passing Ron Holland's personal yacht and ARCHANGEL (Sir Peter Blake's boat which is on its delivery voyage to New Zealand). The breeze was very light and we ghosted along. It was not the sort of day for hurrying. The reefs were readily observable and as we were passing Lokomai Resort we saw a turtle and just before Castaway Resort we saw another. At Castaway we almost had our fishing lines run over by a boat towing a 'banana'. The breeze finally left us so we lowered the sails and motored into Mana Lagoon. We anchored in 29°C water beside SEA HAWK with Jonathan and Rogers Ford and their children - Elizabeth, Catherine and Ham (short for Hamilton) on board, from New York. We all swam over and spent a couple of hours in pleasant discourse before swimming back. It was a very lazy sort of day. They invited us back tonight for a movie. I was able to show the girls that as the moon came up over the small hill the sun was setting making a full moon tonight. We went over to SEA HAWK again by boat and watched the movie ‘Captain Ron', home just before midnight.
We all went snorkelling this morning. The water temperature is down from 29°C yesterday to 28°C today. Rolly anchorage when the tide comes over the reef at both ends of the day. Also the Quickcats carrying tourists are obnoxiously fast within the reefs. They create quite a wake with no consideration for other sailors. The reef close to shore is dead and today we spotted 2 wheelbarrows, several bedsteads and quite a bit of corrugated iron dumped on the seabed. The glossy brochures are correct when they say that you may be surprised by the things you see whilst snorkelling. It is sad that the locals are destroying their habitat when they rely on tourism for their livelihood. Joy, Laura and I went ashore, Joy to do the washing and Laura and I had a swim in the resort pool. We were puzzled several times in Fiji to be asked by the resort staff which boat we were off until we realised that all the tourists had new tans while we had well established suntans. I took a reward ashore for Rachel Yasa for the help she had given me in locating GOLD JANE. I took my chart of the Mamanuca group over to SEAHAWK as we wont be using it again. It is the only chart which shows Malolo and Mana Island in relation to each other. After lunch Susannah, Laura and I went snorkelling on the outer reef but it was largely dead too. Even the fish appear smaller and more frightened. We didn't stay in long although within the shadows of the reef, visibility was excellent. We then all went ashore and had another swim in the resort pool. We were joined by Tony and Yvonne. The choppy water on our return made travel hazardous and for the first time in all our travels we took some serious water on board PLAIN JANE.
I rowed over to SEAHAWK and had a chat about life in general then went back to RUBEN JANE. Following lunch, on a very low tide we headed out the channel for the last time. In the entrance to Mana Island there were some small overfalls but there was enough clearance for us. In glassy conditions we motored about 1/2 mile behind SANITY back to Vuda Point. They went to Denerau. As the trip progressed the sky became more and more threatening and a slight breeze of 3-4 knots got up from behind. Apart from two strikes which only gave momentary excitement, the trip was inauspicious. This may be the last trip that Susannah and Laura make on RUBEN JANE. Before John's sked I spoke to PERICON and MAKANI. PERICON have some mail for Susannah in Vila. I should meet them in Noumea.
Morning spent getting boat ready - refuelling, water and attaching cutter rig and tying anchor down etc. After lunch we caught a taxi to Nadi with Tony and Yvonne (7 including driver) to airport to pick up Corina, and Glenn Payne who are crewing to Noumea with me. Then a bus trip to Lautoka where I cleared out from customs and immigration. I had Corina's and Glenn's passports etc. with me so they wandered around Lautoka waiting for me. Got the tape deck repaired too. Then I had difficulty finding Corina and Glenn at the bus depot where I said I'd meet them. Here they were less than 3 hours in a strange place in a strange town in a strange country with no map, no money and no identification. I located them just after the last bus for Vuda Point had departed so we caught an adjacent one and were faced with a 2 km walk but were picked up by a van from First Landing (adjacent to the marina). There was a beautiful sunset tonight. We all went out to First Landing where we had the Yachties Special $9.90. The waitress had double ordered for an adjacent table so we helped her out with eating four more servings between us.