_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vuda Point, Fiji (Ginger)

The boat is out of the water having the bottom painted right now. We arrived in Lautoka on Wednesday night, anchored in breezy N wind conditions with chop bouncing the boat at anchor and checked into Lautoka with customs in the mornining. We were grateful for the north wind as the soot from the sugar cane refinery was blown ashore rather than on the boat as with the prevailing wind direction for that anchorage. After checking in we called the boat yard and painters and they confirmed that they could haul the boat Thursday, paint Friday and have us back in the water by Saturday. Of course, there's an extra fee for launching the boat Saturday that the marina didn't mention so we're staying until Monday to let the paint dry.
We're working on some boat things and glad for the afternoon breeze that's been keeping things cool!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Savusavu to Viti Levu, Fiji Wednesday 10/24 9:00AM (Ginger)

We left Savusavu and motored 50 miles to the giant clam reserve on Makogai Island as there wasn't a breath of wind that day. We spent 4 nights at Makogai enjoying the clear water and snorkeling. Unfortunately I enjoyed the clear water a bit too much the first day there and was thoroughly sun burned after just an hour of snorkeling. Our first dip in the water we saw a lion fish hovering in a giant clam shell. Unfortunately no camera that trip but what a site to see aquarium fish in the wild.
Further snorkeling adventures took us to several coral pinnacles with gorgeous soft and hard coral and fish we were impressed to see. We were told the water was so clear because of the filtering done by the clams. It was fantastic to see huge schools of barracuda, turtles, clown like fish in anemone and giant clams that have been re introduced to their natural environment. This snorkeling was how I imagined all of the snorkeling in the South Pacific. We decided that we've probably seen several
tropical diving movies all filmed in this bay. In fact when we arrived there were a couple of people filming for a BBC/Discovery series that will air in 2009 covering the South Pacific and Hawaii.
As the weather changed to windy and stormy and the fresh veggies were getting depleted we started thinking about our next stop. We decided to haul anchor and head across the channel to a small island just off the coast of the main southwest island Viti Levu. We crossed the channel in steep seas and 20-25 knots of wind. Apparently there was a high wind warning for Fiji but we hadn't received that message as we listened to the radio net that morning. On our way across we had a bit of excitement
as the bolt at the forward end of the jib track broke and the end of the track broke off sending the car with the jib sheet skyward. There is a lot of force on those lines and it's better to fix that here than to have it break on the way to NZ. We anchored without further event and enjoyed the night in a windy and wild anchorage protected by a reef and the corner of the island. The following morning we were up early and ready to continue toward Labasa where we'll check in with customs. The wind
was at our back as we sailed off our anchor. We sailed in perfectly calm water with 15-20 knots of wind inside the reef along the east coast of Viti Levu. This passage was made easier by way points in our chart plotter which we had gotten from a local fixture named "Curly" while in Savusavu. We were able to sail at 7.5 to 8 knots most of the way and his way points took us breathtakingly close to the reef patches. We decided they are not just passage way points but fishing and passage way points.
Some of the points brought us within 60 feet of the reef while we were still in 100 feet of water. We couldn't resist putting a lure in the water and as we were using a dark lure the first squall cloud to darken the sky over Marcy resulted in a fine Wahoo fish. Peter was appropriately cautious this time and the only blood spilled was that of the fish. As he put the line in the water to rinse it and straighten it out he had another fish immediately. We had to jibe as we were going through a pass
and in the 2 minutes it took to jibe a shark had eaten the tail of the fish before we had time to let it go. Peter pulled in what was left of the second fish and expertly filleted both. He's getting very good at the South Seas life. We anchored in a windy but flat anchorage having sailed 45 miles toward our destination. The island of Viti Levu is beautiful, reminding us of Eastern Washington with a few volcanic peaks thrown in. This morning the wind has mostly died and we're sailing on course
again but only at 3 knots. The day is heating up already, it's 9AM and 85F in the cabin, 90+ on deck. We're looking forward to the big city just 40 miles ahead and then off to another quiet anchorage.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


In the Fiji Islands group, there is an island (Rabi Is) populated entirely by displaced Micronesians – their original island (Ocean Is) having been destroyed by phosphate mining. They moved onto Rabi in 1945, and still maintain language, traditions and skills from their home island. These people are legendary for their fishing skills and sailing exploits. No outboard motors here. So of course, because of our interests in sailing and traditional boats, Marcy set sail for Katherine Bay on Rabi Island.

Katherine Bay copra shed and church

Sunday paddle

Rabi lagoon canoe

The canoes are works of art, made of hand sawed hardwood and held together with monofilament fishing line. There is not a bolt or nail on them. Every evening some of the smaller light paddle canoes are out trolling the bay.

Rabi fisherman

The bigger sailing canoes go out to nearby reefs to fish.

Rabi sailing canoe

sailing canoe demo

sailing canoe interior

Atia sailing 1

One canoe owner, Atia, brought his boat out for us to inspect in detail.

Canoe detail 1

Peter and Atia

Atia with sail

The Rabi people are expert fishermen. They think nothing of crossing twenty miles of open ocean to the town on a neighboring island to sell their catch. A Fijian in Savusavu told us of a Rabi canoe that showed up at Taveuni Island to sell a huge billfish – so big that it stuck out of the canoe both bow and stern. The fisherman said after hooking on and realizing somehow that it was a huge fish, that he had to put a turn on the fishing line around the stem and jump to the stern to balance the boat, then he was towed around by the fish for two days until it was tired enough to bring it to the surface. After killing the fish, he had to swamp the canoe, maneuver it under the fish, and then bail out the canoe to lift the fish out of the water. He must have been worried about sharks!

Speaking of sharks, we notice that when we ask if sharks are a problem, the local people always answer no, of course not. Later we ask, on seeing a nice launch rotting away on the beach, who’s boat is that? Oh, that belonged to the Australian man who was killed by a tiger shark across the channel….If the conversation goes on long enough, everyone has a story.

Here our friend Semi shows us his shark bite. While spearfishing, his friend shot a small reef shark that then, perhaps understandably, tore around biting things in the water. Including Semi.

Semi's shark bite

We’ve had no problems with sharks, but Peter managed to drop a freshly caught wahoo on his foot. The only blood on Marcy's deck was Peter's!

a reenactment

the aftermath

As if the first aid kit wasn’t getting enough use, Ginger slipped with a knife while cutting the meat out of a coconut…….

First aid practice for Peter

The village has a huge church, even by South Pacific standards. Ginger attended on Sunday, and reported that the small congregation was lost in the big room.

Rabi, Katherine Bay Methodist church

It was nice to get off the boat for a while and walk the wonderful traffic free roads. The couple from another yacht in the bay, Jeff and Gayle, joined us.

hike with Jeff and Gayle

Atia's sons

Tavea at home

Rabi girl with kitten

Rabi house

Soon, we realized that it was time (out of beer!) to head back towards Savusavu for a visit to the grocery store. We stopped on the way at Viani Bay, a gorgeous spot on the route back. Marcy anchored in a quiet cove among bits of floating pumice.

Viani Bay and pumice

A colorful half English half Fijian man named Jack is the ambassador of the bay and wonderful host for yachts. He offered the use of moorings, guided treks, offered fish, fresh water and fruit, and told stories of his five wives and of the days his grandfather tried to make a go of a sugar cane plantation.

Jack, Viani Bay

Jack even insisted on towing us with his skiff if he thought we were working too hard paddling our inflatable canoe.

canoeing the easy way

Our stay in Viani bay was so enjoyable; we were asking Jack how much a couple of acres of beachfront would cost.

There is always another bay to explore in paradise – so we reluctantly said our goodbyes, slipped the mooring pendant, and sailed out the pass. The heavy scent of flowers followed us out to sea.

Viani flowers

Viani hike flower

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fiji, east of Savusavu

We've been in Fiji just over two weeks. Our first 5 days were spent on a mooring at the town of Savusavu on the north island of Vanua Levu. As the weekend approached we were anxious to get out of town and move to someplace where we could swim and snorkel. Saturday morning we were underway again and we anchored about 3 miles out of town near the entrance to the bay off the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. Sunday was our big first day of snorkeling and as it was windy and the dinghy was out of commission
with a leaky patch, we kayaked over to a small rock near the boat known as "split rock". The visibility wasn't great and this is a rock where the resort people come to see fish, fish feeding included. As we slipped off the kayak into the water all the little fish swam toward us. We approached the rock and the fish were swarming and then they began to nibble at us. We decided to snorkel some non-domesticated areas as we didn't like getting pecked by fish.

We finished our snorkel and were just heading back to the boat when a couple of snorkelers swam out from the shore. We started a conversation with them and they were staying ashore right up the hill from Marcy. They had seen us anchor the night before. Peter invited them out for a drink. They said they would swim out and much to our surprise they did! We enjoyed great conversation with them and decided to have dinner together the following night. Jimmy and Ondine are from New York City (and
sometimes DC) and they were in Fiji for their honeymoon. As they were going diving the next morning and we were going into town they offered us the use of their car!!!! (That's a big deal to cruisers!) We DROVE into town in the morning, went to the market to get seafood and veggies, dropped off our propane tank to be filled, and made it back to the boat in time for a nap. Of course, the car also allowed us to stock up on beer easily. As they drive on the left side here it was an exhausting trip
for the passenger. The driver on the other hand said he was thrilled to be behind the wheel. We enjoyed a fantastic evening with Jimmy and Ondine and even got a much needed lesson in how to cook curry. Curry aboard Marcy will never be the same dull affair it used to be! It was fascinating to us to hear about Jimmy and Ondine's lives - he is a reporter for the NY Times covering dubya (the pres) and Ondine designed the sets for Sex and the City and now has her own business. It was a fun connection
and made us appreciate again how this trip has made it possible to meet such great people and make friends from all over the world.

Tuesday was time to get our propane and we wanted a bit more internet time. We went back into town and anchored at the head of the bay. Wednesday brought rain and more rain. At times we were getting as much water off our tarp as 3.68 gallons per minute. (One has time to check these things on a rainy day) Our tanks were filled with rain water within about two hours of getting up and the rest of the day was devoted to laundry, dishes and any other use we could think of for all that fresh water.
The rain let up in time for happy hour at Waitui Marina and we met Paul and his crew from Blue Stocking for a beer and dinner that night. As Friday approached we were again ready for more adventure and moved out to our anchorage at the mouth of the bay poised to travel up to Somosomo Strait. The weather howled for the next few days and as we waited for calmer wind to head out we had time to patch the dinghy (again) and have dinner and visits with the other boats at anchor. Sunday, as we were
putting things away for travel, I decided to cut open a coconut for a snack. In a Darwin Award move I cut the coconut meat with a paring knife. My method proved to be unsafe and ended with the paring knife deep in my forearm. A couple of butterfly bandages later it's on the mend but no swimming for a week or so.

Tuesday morning was our break and we headed out into a squall and head winds. We haven't had to do much up wind sailing on this trip and the next 30 miles we sailed, into the trades, were hard won. We regularly took waves over the bow with at times every few waves hitting the side of the boat and sailing up and over the dodger. A couple of waves seemed as if someone had thrown a bathtub full of water at us in the cockpit. Our anchorage that night was peaceful and welcome. The next morning found
calmer seas and a perfect day to continue our travel to the east.

As we headed into our anchorage in Katherine Bay on Rabi Island we caught a wahoo at the reef. When things get exciting there's usually more than one thing that needs attention. As it happened we had to keep an eye on the reef, get the fish aboard and spot the navigation markers. Peter gaffed the fish and as he brought it aboard it popped off the gaff, slid face first (and TEETH first) down Peter's leg and landed with it's razor sharp little teeth on the top of Peter's foot. Usually when there's
blood on the deck it's smelly fish blood but not this time. The fish landed with it's head in the corner under a fender. Peter grabbed the rag we had on deck for the fish, wrapped his foot and dispatched the fish with the ice pick. Marcy's first aid kit has been getting a workout this week, we need to minimize that in the future. The rest of the trip in to the bay was done with the captain's foot elevated and the deck hand handling everything but the helm. We had a few exciting moments as we realized
the depth sounder and chart weren't agreeing well, but ended up safely anchored on mud bottom in the middle of the bay just behind a big Irwin called "Lazy Bones". We called a fisherman over and he expertly filleted one side of the fish in about 10 seconds for us. He happily paddled in with the rest of the fish for dinner and brought some fresh bread back out as a thank you. We enjoyed drinks and snacks with Jeff and Gayle aboard "Lazy Bones" which is tricked out with 2 full heads (showers included),
a fantastic galley and a stackable washer and dryer aboard. As impressed as we were with the accomodations, Jeff and Gayle were also fantastic hosts and it was a great evening.