Musket Cove, Malolo Lailai, Fiji
Since the end of August, we’ve been using Musket Cove as a base to explore the Mamanuca Islands and the southern Yasawas and enjoying quite a hectic social life, for the first time in forever!
There’s a constantly changing roll call of playmates as boats come and go. We’ve caught up with quite a few cruising buddies from last year and NZ, as well as meeting lots of new people.
Mornings start with yoga under the palm trees, led by our friend Lionel, from Kiapa. That’s followed by coffee and the hardest part of the day: deciding what to do next…
If it’s low tide, the sand bank at the entrance to the bay is exposed: a swathe of white sand, perfect for anything from weddings to kite surfing, so long as you can do it within an hour or two, before the tide comes back in.
Lionel and Irene are both expert kite surfers and Lionel has been teaching a few of the yachties to kite, including us. We have only just started – using a tiny training kite and flying it on land (i.e. the exposed sand spit) but it’s great fun and I’ve had a taste of what the ‘real thing’ is like when I’ve been lifted off my feet when I’ve dipped the kite into the wind’s ‘power zone’.
(Here’s some photos that Damian took of Ray, Lionel and Irene’s friend from Perth, who clearly knows what he’s doing…)
There’s a nice little snorkelling spot just off the sand spit that’s been christened the Clown Fish Hotel: the top of one big bommie is a high-density colony of Nemos, as well as lots of other curious little fish that come when they’re called! I discovered that if you extend your hand and rub your fingers together you are instantly buzzed by dozens of hyper-coloured, hyper-active tiddlers. (I assume they’re used to being fed). The best thing is that all this happens in about a metre of water: you can just float on the surface and all the activity goes on right under your nose.
A little further out, on the edge of the reef, is Cloud Nine, which takes the concept of a ’swim up bar’ to a new level. It’s essentially a two-storey pontoon, anchored on a sandy patch amidst the reef, with shady day beds, cocktails and smoothies and a wood-fired pizza oven. We take Sel Citron out and anchor just nearby, go for a snorkel on the coral reef and then go for a drink….
There’s another little island nearby, Namotu, which is close to the famous surf breaks (Cloudbreak, Restaurants, Wilkes and Swimming Pools) and is also a great kite surfing spot. We’ve been out there a few times and, on a couple of occasions, we’ve shared the anchorage with one or other of the Google founders’ two super yachts. ‘Senses’ is 50-odd-metres long, with a helicopter on the back and multiples of every water toy you can think of on board: kite boards, jet skis, surf boards, etc. It’s owned by Google founder, Larry Page and word had it that they booked out the whole of Namotu Island, which precluded any yachtie rabble landing on the island while they were in residence. But it didn’t mean we couldn’t anchor off and surf the same breaks, which goes to show, money can’t buy you everything!
Damian and I aren’t (board) surfers, but on a couple of occasions, our friend Irene shared a wave with Mrs Google and on another day we were out there, Layne Beachley was there – we think she may have been hanging out with the Googles as their tutor. Tough gig, huh?
We have also accompanied Irene to some of the local villages to conduct reading glasses clinics. Between Kiapa and us, we carried a number of boxes of reading glasses (just the standard +1.0, +1.5, +2.0 etc) to Fiji, that had been collected by the Lions Club in NZ. We usually get around a dozen to 20 people turning up to each ‘clinic’. Irene (whose initiative this project was) devised a rudimentary testing procedure: look at a page from a magazine and see which size type you can read. Then we match the person’s magazine-reading ability to a pair of reading glasses. Many villagers can’t afford specs, or their old pair has been broken or is no longer strong enough, so it’s fantastic to see people’s faces light up when they put on a pair of glasses and can see properly again – sometimes for the first time in years.
Later in the day, we might swim a few laps in the resort pool, before heading to the Island Bar to meet up with a few friends and throw a steak on the barbie. All the plates and cutlery are provided; the staff do the washing up, and beer is cheap.
It’s all pretty hard to take.
Every now and again (for about a nanosecond) I feel a bit guilty – like we’re copping out: we should be exploring more intrepidly, getting more involved with the local villages, going farther afield to less-visited cruising grounds. But after all we’ve been through in the last couple of years, it’s quite nice just to stay in a nice, safe anchorage, take it easy and have a ‘holiday’!
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