Pacific Harbour, Fiji
By: Kerry (Shark images sourced on the internet)
Today I got bumped by a shark. I was minding my own business, looking at some coral when he came from behind and hit me in the hip with his snout. I turned in time to see him swimming away. Compared to the monsters we’d been up close to only minutes before, this guy was a harmless pretender – a 1.5m black tip reefie – but he was borderline belligerent and definitely deliberate, nonetheless.
Being nudged by a noah wasn’t part of the program, but it was a memorable moment in an unforgettable day’s diving. Billed as ‘the world’s best shark dive’, the Beqa Shark Dive has been high on the bucket list for a while.
In a pretty amazing coincidence, Damian was walking down the street in Nadi when he felt a tap on the shoulder: it was Lutu from Fulaga, who led the building of the traditional canoe (see that story here). He and his wife, Bale were in town for a Jehovah’s Witness conference and were waiting for the island trader to take them back to Fulaga.
Damian invited them to lunch on Sel Citron and we introduced them to Mark, Sarah, Elizabeth and Michael from Field Trip, who were headed to Fulaga and were able and kind enough to give Lutu and Bale a lift…
Lutu, Sarah, Elizabeth, Bale, Akosita and friend
The SC trampolines got a work out!
Damian giving the harbour tour
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Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
Irene issues instructions for the Coconut Olympics, Musket Cove Regatta
Installing the new batteries entailed pulling the boat to pieces (again). Since there wasn’t much I could do by way of contribution – and there was nowhere to sit – I jumped ship and went and played with Irene and Lionel on Kiapa for Musket Cove Regatta Week.
The battery bank: 8×3=24 batteries, each 3.2V for a total of 540 amp hours at 24 volts. Enough, already?
At last! Our new house batteries arrived – only a couple of months late – shipped by sea from China via New Zealand.
Our bank of house batteries – which provide all the power on the boat, from toilets to water pumps to fridges to lights – decided to die back in May. It was to be expected – they were seven years old – but they could have chosen better timing, ie before we left NZ, where it would have been a simple replacement, rather than when we arrived in Fiji, where it was far from it.
Musket Cove, Mamanucas, Fiji
Coincidentally, there is a village just around the corner from Musket Cove which is mostly populated by ex-pat Fulagans: many people have left the island to seek work elsewhere in Fiji, often as builders, merchant seamen or the ‘carver in residence’ at various resorts.
We visited one day and Damian showed the slide show he’d made of the people of Fulaga to their relatives, some of whom hadn’t been home to Fulaga for 15 years…
Drawaqa Island, Yasawas, Fiji
By: Kerry (images from internet)
As I slid from the dinghy into the water, a slate grey behemoth rose beneath me and slowly, gracefully disappeared in sinuous undulations into the deep cerulean sea ahead of me. Its movement was so effortless and graceful, it appeared to be flying, rather than swimming.
Between May and early October, a handful of manta rays appears in the shallow pass between Dravaqa and Naviti Islands in the Yasawa Islands and, at high tide and in the right conditions, snorkellers can get up close and personal as they feed on the nutrients that sweep through on the current.
As a belated 50th Birthday present, Damian’s sister, Davina and her partner, Neil, came to play on Sel Citron for a couple of weeks. They couldn’t have travelled any further: we are exactly half way around the world from home.
Denarau, Viti Levu, Fiji
Rocks marking the pass
Hugging the rock that marks the pass
Visibility was rubbish – again!
After six weeks completely out of touch with the outside world, we left Fulaga, headed for the ‘real world’ and Denarau, to collect our new house batteries, which had shipped from China and were due to arrive at the end of July.
We finally left yesterday (August 10), having waited about a week for a weather window. We’re currently rocketing along at about 10 knots in glorious sunshine – it’s been a cracking sail, beam reaching under gennaker (since we STILL don’t have a mainsail) 15-20 knots and not much swell. We’re going to run close to cracking the 200nm day, which is pretty good considering we only have one sail up! It’s now 10am and we’re aiming to be at Vananui Bay (south coast Viti Levu) by around lunchtime.
Fulaga, Lau Group, Fiji
When Pito – master of chainsaw art – wasn’t directly working on the canoe, he would sit on the ground with an adze and fashion tanoas, or kava bowls. He usually sends them off to Suva for sale in the artisan markets and tourist stores, but we asked him if he’d make a couple for us.
The early stages
Pito, his tools and his work
More detailing to be done
The finished products
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Fulaga, Lau Group, Fiji
Traditional canoes on Suva Harbour, on the wall of the King’s suite, Grand Colonial hotel, Suva
Alifereti’s earliest memory is of riding in a hollowed-out log that would become the hull of a new canoe, as it was hauled through the forest from where the tree was felled to the water’s edge.
Growing up on Fulaga, the sturdy outrigger canoes were essential to island life.
“My mother was a nurse,” he said. “When a woman on Ogea was having a baby, they’d send a canoe to bring my mother to the island. I’d go along, clinging to the mast.”
Ogea is 10 nautical miles away across open water, which is testament to the sturdiness of the little outriggers: apparently they’ve been sailed as far as Suva. But one hasn’t been built on the island for seven years, and the art is dying.