Tomorrow morning (2030 UTC July 11) we will leave Momi Bay on the big island of Viti Levu, Fiji for Port Resolution on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu. The course is a 460 nautical mile straight shot from here on a course of 246 degrees magnetic. The forecast is for winds 22-26 knots from the east becoming ESE with seas of 3 to 3.5 meters, easing. These robust winds should get us to Tanna Island fairly quickly. We may need to slow down in order not to arrive before dawn (local time) Monday in Tanna. If the wind is too strong on arrival or out of the north then we may deviate to Port Vila on the island of Efate since Port Resolution has limited protection. “Vera” will be traveling with us. Our current position is:
South 17 degrees 54.9 minutes
East 177 degrees 15.9 minutes
Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu is located at S 19 degrees 31.6 minutes, East 169 degrees 29.1 minutes.
Yesterday I had another interesting unusual birthday. Last year we were in Papeete, Tahiti on my birthday searching through the industrial section of town(incredibly ugly) looking for a water pressure pump. This year we were in Lautoka, the second largest town in Fiji – doing last minute stuff to prepare for our departure to Vanuatu. It is a pretty ugly town too – with lots of crime. It is recommended that you do not walk anywhere at night (and we did not) – and we found that even during the day there a lot of unsavory characters walking around. Too bad, because it “could ” be a very charming town, filled with Indo-Fijians – complete with saris, sari shops, curry, etc. There is a terrific fruit market with piles of fruit and vegies and kava to buy – everything for either $1 or $2, depending on how big the pile was. We were thrilled to finally stock up on some fresh fruit after having very little of it these past 3 weeks.
The night before my birthday we went to a nice Chinese restaurant with Michael and Britta. All of the stores in town have metal grates covering windows and doors and someone has to unlock the door for each customer. Lovely. The meal, however, was yummy, and we were able to jump right in a cab after and head back to our boats. The other bad part about Lautoka and the harbor is that they process sugar cane right by the docks and there is a huge plume of black sootpouring out of the factory night and day. It gets into your lungs and by morning the entire boat was covered in black soot. So much for paradise.
We were able to go to an internet cafe yesterday (first time in 2 months), but are still not able to get our blog working. We will try again in Vanuatu.
We had a little birthday party on the boat last night with Michael and Britta from “Vera” and another couple we just met on “Promesa” (she is from Columbia and he from Holland). It was really nice – I even got presents!
We checked out of Fji this morning – after filling out four pages of forms (with the exact information we had been asked for in triplicate when we checking in a month ago). It is quite sad – such a beautiful country, but bad government and a whole lot of unhappy citizens do not make it a paradise for visitors. We enjoyed the islands very much but would never want to spend any time on the “mainland” where the cities are.
So now we are anchored in the lovely quiet and clean little anchorage 25 miles south of Lautoka awaiting the morning light when we will lift anchor (with Vera) and start heading the 460 miles east-south-east to Vanuatu.
Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. I had a memorable birthday!
Some people have asked us what sevusevu is (referred to in our e-mail a few days ago). It refers to a ceremony which I will explain. In Fiji the people (men actually) love to drink a kind of tea made from the roots of the kava plant (a type of pepper plant.) It is slightly intoxicating – mostly it numbs the mouth and throat and makes you quite mellow. It is a big deal here and when we visit an island , it is traditional to go to the chief (yes, there are village chiefs) and ask permission to stay. You are not supposed to do anything without first asking permission of the chief. You start by offering him some dried kava. We bought several bundles of the stuff in the main town of Lautoka before heading out to the islands. Although we stayed in several different anchorages, all on different islands, there was only one that actually had a village and therefore a chief – so that was were we presented the gift of kava and asked for permission to stay. That is called making sevusevu. Apparently they often ask you to stay and drink some of the stuff with them after they grind it up and mix it with water, but that usually happens at night. We made a point of visiting during the day as we did not really want to drink it (we have tried it and find it kind of nasty) and also we did not want to walk back across the island to return to our boats after dark.
All of the resorts here do little kava ceremonies here with the tourists as well and we have seen it a few times (also in Tonga). Traditionally there is a big wooden bowl filled with it in the center of the room. Everyone sits on mats and there is one person who is assigned to pass out the kava in little coconut shells – same shell passed from one person to the next. You have to clap your hands once, say “bula”, drink the whole cup, and then clap your hands three times before passing the coconut shell back to the leader. It seems phony, but is actually done with great seriousness as far as we can tell. The locals will drink many cups of the kava and get quite euphoric or mellow, or maybe just stoned. Hard to say. It is extremely popular here.
We are still carrying a kilo or so of kava with us and it doesn’t look like we will have anyone to give it to. Should we send you some?
We have had some adventures the past few days. I guess most of our adventures involve mishaps of some sort. Two days ago we left Land Harbor at the northern part of the Yasawa Islands and started heading south. We need to get back south in order to check out in the town of Lautoka. It is too hard to sail directly back to Lautoka (because of all the reefs in the way) so we have been breaking up the trip with brief stops at the islands along the way, just as we did as we worked our way up the Yasawas.
Unfortunately there are just not very many anchorages that provide good protection from wind and waves and swell here. We ended up dropping anchor at a very lovely, anchorage – basically a narrow channel just below the southernmost portion of Naviti Island. It is protected from the north by Naviti and from the south and some of the south-west by two small islands (Narara and Naukakuva).Because it is actually a passage (with openings at both the easterly and westerly ends) the wind can blow quite strongly through there. The bottom looked sandy, however, and there was no swell inside the anchorage and by the time we reached there it was almost dark and we had no other safe options for the night.
It was lovely, with hundreds of birds circling overhead and green palm trees covering the small hills close by us. The current running through the passage, however, was very strong, and during the night we noticed that although the wind was blowing from the east, the current was running from the west, and the boat had turned around and instead of facing into the wind (most preferable), it was facing into the current. That, in itself, is not necessarily a problem, but we could tell from the sounds below us that our anchor chain must have gotten wrapped on something on the sand-bottom due to all the turning. We could hear a scraping sound from deep under us every time the boat moved, meaning only one thing – the anchor chain had gotten wrapped on coral. The boat was also doing a lot of slapping up and down as it bounced up and down on the swells coming in with the current.
Sometimes it is easy to unwrap an chain caught on coral, just by moving the boat forward or backward a bit when pulling up the anchor. This time, however, it was clear that it was really stuck badly and we would not be able to get it out without someone diving to the bottom and actually unwrapping the chain from whatever was holding it. The water was fairly clear, but the anchor was way too deep to dive down without diving equipment. Luckily, our friend Michael, on Vera, has diving gear, and after he got his anchor pulled up (with some difficulty too), he put on his diving gear and came over to help us. The current in the passage was so strong that he had trouble swimming even 10 meters over to our boat, and he had to hang on to our dinghy trailing behind our boat in order to make it the final few yards. He dove down and found that the anchor chain had actually wrapped itself over, then under, and then sidewise across a very large and solid piece of coral. Very bad situation! But, with Michaels’ diving skills, and Mark floating in the water above him wearing his snorkel gear, we were able to maneuver the chain free – with Michael giving Mark hand signals from down below on when I should pull up the anchor chain (done with an electric windlass, so there is no strength needed). It worked great and 15 minutes after Michael went down we were free and we all sailed off together – very glad that all was o.k. and that we were buddy sailing with such competent friends.
Our next stop was just 8 miles south of there – the anchorage on the western edge of Waya. We stopped here two weeks ago and loved the little resort – the Octopus – and thought it was one of the most beautiful anchorages we had seen in the Yasawas. Unfortunately we were chased out of there last time by a tremendous swell which made it an incredibly uncomfortable place to try to sleep. When we pulled in on Saturday it was pretty calm and the wind forecast looked good. Within an hour, however, a strong squall blew in from the west (the most unprotected direction for that anchorage) and we had to wait out a monster downpour for a couple of hours. The beautiful sunset that followed was worth the storm though, and it ended up being a relatively calm night.
Sunday was clear and calm and we decided to risk staying another night. The winds were very low and the seas were quite calm, but the forecast was for winds to pick up to 20-25 knots by midnight (that’s a lot) – but from a direction which should be ok for that anchorage. Well, the winds did pick up, but not from quite the direction we had expected, so had another very rock and rolly night at Waya. Earlier in the day we had met our friends from Wombat of Sydney who were anchored at an anchorage just 4 miles away, and were much better protected. They had hiked over the hill and met us at the Octopus Resort for a drink at sunset and told us how comfortable it was on their side. So first thing this morning we picked up our anchor (easily) and we (Vera and us) motored through rough seas to the northern anchorage of Waya which is totally protected from the rough seas and strong winds out there. We are very happy to be here. It is not only well protected, but is really gorgeaus – one of the prettiest anchorages we have been in yet. With the weather forecast predicted to be rough for the next 3-4 days we may be here for at least that many days.
We liked Land Harbour so much we stayed there until this morning. A wind shift from the north was forecast and Land Harbour is protected from every direction except north. It was time to move on in any case.
We are now anchored in the Mocelutu Passage, a narrow strait between Yaroiko and Nanuyalabalava Islands. It was a seven hour sail through reef strewn waters to get here. We actually sailed (rather than motored) for most of it since we followed the route that we took in. That route was recorded and saved on our digital chart plotter. The wind did indeed come out of the north and this is a good place to be. Our current position is:
South 17 degrees 11.6 minutes
East 177 degrees 10.6 minutes
We did have some adventures in Land Harbour (called Nadala Bay by Fijians). On our second evening there, a small canoe came alongside and asked if we wanted to trade for fish. We had seen the lone fisherman working a handline in the hours before and were happy he stopped by. We gave him a box of cookies, some candies for his children, and pair of men’s shorts. We got two good-sized fish called “Sweet Lips.” He also said that we should go to the village of Tamasua and do sevusevu with the chief.
The next morning we dinghied to shore along with Michael and Britta of Vera to look for the path to Tamasua. It was low tide and the southern part of Nadala Bay was almost dry. It was about 1/2 kilometer to the beach from the edge of the tidal plain. We pulled the dinghies onto the tidal plain and put out dinghy anchors and hoped that they would hold since we knew that the tidal plain would be under water in just a couple of hours.
It was difficult to find a path but we finally found one and followed it inland through 2 meter tall grass and the occasional tree. This was the flood plain of the small river that drained the tall hills of southern Yasawa Island. It was 40 minutes until we got to the small, neat village perched on the windward side of the island. We were directed to the chief who performed the short sevusevu ceremony on his veranda. We presented him with two bundles of kava root, he made some incantations over it, and then thanked us in English.
We then toured the village, led by our fisherman friend of the previous day. We traded sunglasses and a t-shirt for fruit and a pumpkin, and then were led on the “short-cut” path back to Nadala Bay. The dinghies were where we left them but floating in two feet of water. That night we cooked the two Sweet Lips fish on Vera — they were delicious.
The snorkelling in Land Harbour was excellent. The coral was almost as good as Navadra and there were lots of fish, including big fish. The water was not as clear, however. The Vera’s were the only other boat in the bay all the time that we were there.
We will continue to retrace our route through the Yasawa Islands and back to Lautoka. We expect to provision and check-out of Fiji in a week or so, heading for Vanuatu about 520 miles away.
We had “Italian food night” on Sabbatical III last night. The Vera’s brought antipasto and wine and we provided pasta and meat sauce. Rain arrived just as the Vera’s were leaving at 9 pm and continued for some hours. It conveniently washed the salt and schmutz off the deck, but it was a bit warm and sticky in our cabin with the hatches and ports closed. This morning it cleared and a nice cool breeze blew in from the southeast. We had a great snorkel on the nearby reefs which are teeming with fish. This place suits us fine and we and Vera have decided to stay here (Land Harbour) for a few more days.
Hard to believe June is almost over. We ended up staying 4 nights in Blue Lagoon. It was very comfortable there (no ocean swell to keep us up at night) with nice views and good snorkeling. Big excitement yesterday was finding a large reddish colored octopus on the reef where we were snorkeling. He (she?) was not more than 5 feet below us and was quite large. He saw us and blinked a lot, and then instead of hiding like they usually do, he decided to show off a bit and proceeded to slink in and out of little crags in the coral, spread out its arms, turned upside down, did some amazing camouflaging (it went from being reddish purple to looking exactly like the reef, complete with bumps and fissures right before our eyes), and played a little with a huge grouper that was nestled in next to him. Very cool.
We decided it was time to get away from the cruise ships that come into Blue Lagoon every day so today we headed north to another anchorage. We are still traveling in tandem with our friends on Vera. Our new anchorage is on Yasawa Island and is called Land Harbour and it is the farthest north in the Yasawa Island chain that we will be going.
It was only a 12 mile sail (motor actually) – but right in the middle of it we had to traverse an area that was exceptionally shallow. As with most of the waters around here, it was not accurately charted for depth so we had been proceeding cautiously, but still it is always scary to suddenly see the coral heads right under you – with just a few feet of water between the bottom of your boat and the coral. We managed to make it through, but not without getting our fishing line snagged on coral and losing the fishing yo-yo (holds the fishing line) and a couple hundred feet of fishing line and a good lure. Oh, well – certainly could have been worse.
In a few days we will be heading back to Lautoka (about 50 miles south-east of here) and check out to begin our trip to Vanuatu.
We have been in contact with some of our friends who did not leave New Zealand when we did because they were were either not ready yet, or were not comfortable with the weather forecast for that week (which was really very good). Hard to believe, but one month later only one of the 20 or more boats waiting in New Zealand has been able to leave to make the passage up to Fiji or Vanuatu(and that boat apparently had a terribly difficult passage). There has just been one storm system after another between New Zealand and here – so if we had not left when we did we would still be in New Zealand – one month later! We knew that it was hard to find a good weather window for the crossing, but this is even stranger than we had expected. We would have been so frustrated by now.
We are currently anchored outside the Blue Lagoon Resort in the Yasawa Island Group of Fiji. Blue Lagoon is a wonderfully protected anchorage surrounded by several relatively small islands (Matacawa Levu, Nanuya Levu, Nanuya Lailai, and Tavewa Islands in case you were interested). It is named after the Brooke Shields movie which was shot here in 1980. Each island has one or two resorts on them, but we have not gone to any of them yet. There is one resort that is very exclusive (Turtle Island Resort) and costs about $5,000 a night. We are not allowed to go onshore there – but, we don’t feel the need to. We actually have a more beautiful view from the boat than any of the resorts have.
Three days ago we left Navadra Island for Likuliku Bay of Waya Island. We did the passage to Waya Island with “Vera”, but without “Wombat of Sydney”, who had to return to the big town of Lautoka to fix their generator. We have had to motor between anchorages most of the time in Fiji rather than sail because there are so many uncharted reefs around. It is much easier to avoid hitting a reef if you are motoring and don’t have to mess around with sails. Too bad, as it is in theory a wonderful place to sail. It is just a little too hair-raising to know that you can be sailing along in 60 meters of water one minute and up against a 2 foot deep reef the next. The charts for Fiji are only partially accurate – and with this type of adventure you need perfect accuracy. So all of our “sails” are done with the engine on and Laura sitting high up on the mast to look out for reefs as Mark steers.
The anchorage at Likuliku Bay looked exactly like a picture perfect postcard of what Fiji should look like. When we pulled in there were 6 other boats in the anchorage (which is a lot around here) the water was calm and clear and wonderful. Plus, the Octopus Resort was on the shore with a bar and restaurant. The Australian manager of the the resort was extremely hospitable. After a beach walk with Michael and Britta and some Fiji Bitter beer, we enjoyed a delicious and plentiful Indo-Fijian curry supper at the resort. After dinner, it was a bit hair-raising to get the dinghies off the beach and through the shallow reef to get back to our boats in the dark as there was suddenly some surf running. As we neared Sabbatical III we could see that she was rolling back and forth like a pendulum. During the three hours we were on shore, the ocean swell had found it’s way into Likuliku Bay. It was not a good night as the swell was constant and large. Everything loose on the boat rattled and we nearly had to hang on to our berths while trying to sleep. When we peeked our heads out in the morning, we saw that all the boats were leaving and “Vera” called us on the VHF suggesting we leave in 15 minutes. Surf was crashing on the reef behind us and rollers were breaking on the beach where the evening before we had landed our dinghy with ease. These were conditions for surfers, not boats at anchor.
Leaving Likuliku Bay in the morning is not advisable since the sun is in your eyes when looking for coral reefs, but with a swell like this we all just wanted to leave. We headed for Drawaqa (yes, no ‘u’ after the ‘q’) Island which seemed well positioned to have smoother waters. A two and one-half hour sail brought us into another pretty bay but without a good place to anchor. We headed north to a bay at the south end of Naviti Island but it was also too exposed to ocean swell. We were tired and hot but decided to stop wasting time looking at other nearby bays and instead headed for the one place that we knew was protected, Blue Lagoon, more than three hours away.
We arrived sunned-out at Blue Lagoon at 3 pm and promptly took naps. There is no roll in Blue Lagoon, and like the rest of the Yasawa Islands, it is very beautiful. There is good snorkeling, gorgeaus views in all directions from the lagoon,plus long sand beaches for walking.
Our position is
South 16 degrees 56.6 minutes
East 177 degrees 22.0 minutes
We are still anchored off Navadra Island. This place is too special to leave quickly. The coral reef here is perhaps the best we have seen except for Suvarov. There are not many large fish but the coral makes up for that.Yesterday afternoon, Wombat of Sydney anchored here as well. They went hard aground a few miles out and were lucky to have a Fijian power boat come by and pull them off. Last night, we had Vera and Wombat over for a supper of opur ayam (Indonesian chicken curry).
We will stay here today but will almost certainly leave tomorrow for the southern Yasawa Islands.
We spent six nights at Musket Cove on Malolo Lailai Island. It is a very comfortable place to spend time. The weather improved and we experienced clear skies every day after that stormy first day. At Musket Cove we socialized and snorkeled with Vera (Michael and Britta), Wombat of Sydney (Mike and Lynn), Horizon (Ray and Marilyn), and a few other boats.
We became “life members” of the Musket Cove Yacht Club which gave us the right to use the facilities of the resort. Laura swam in the pool, we ate some meals in the restaurant, shopped in the grocery store, and snorkeled. At low tide, a long sand bar would stick out from the water about one mile from where we were moored. Off of that sandy island, there is a beautiful and vibrant reef with fish in such abundance that it seemed like there were traffic jams of fish getting around coral heads. Some of the fish are varieties that we never saw before. The fish are very unafraid of humans because when the boats full of resort guests come out for a snorkel the guides feed the fish so the tourists get their money’s worth. We often took our dinghy to this reef just before noon. During the lunch hour, the resort guests are back at the resort standing in buffet lines, so the reef is less crowded.
Yesterday (June 20), Sabbatical III and Vera headed out for the western Mamanuca Islands. Our first destination was Monuriki Island, which along with the nearby Monu Island, was the setting for the Castaway movie starring Tom Hanks. The problem with sailing in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands is that there are no good nautical charts. We bought the “Lautoka to Yasawa Islands” (F5) chart from the Fiji Hydographic Office, but this marks only those reefs that are visible from aerial photography. For much of the chart there are no depths noted. These waters are strewn with uncharted reefs and rocks and so the passage required constant attention. Laura sat up on the whisker pole about 15 feet above the water and scanned the clear blue water for color changes or other indications of depth changes. We wound our way through reefs into what we thought was deep water, and Laura got off of her perch to get out of the hot sun. It was a cloudless day. Of course, as soon as she got down, the depth sounder went from 65 meters under the keel to 2 meters. We were over a reef in water so clear we could make out the detail of the coral fans and fish. Fortunately, we turned around and made our way off the reef without touching bottom. Vera was 100 meters behind us so our sudden speed and course change, plus a radio call, alerted them to the danger. It was slow going the rest of the way to Monuriki Island. As we pulled up to Tom Hank’s beach, a schooner full of tourists was dropping anchoring and disgorging people ashore. They schooner sent a long boat out to us to tell us that they had exclusive rights to the island, granted by the chief on Yanuya Island. We could not go ashore until they left and even then we needed to visit the chief and obtain permission. Yanuya Island was a bit of a schlep from Monuriki, plus the anchoring depths and holding were only marginal, so we decided to proceed with Plan B, the anchorage at Navadra Island, about two hours away. This time Vera took the lead and we followed, allowing Laura to stay out of the sun.
The Navadra Island anchorage is very beautiful. Protected from the south and east by Vanua Levu Island and from the north and east by Navadra Island. Although these islands are uninhabited, every bit of Fiji “belongs” to a clan headed by a chief. This includes the reef, fish, beach, and water. These particular islands are uninhabited due to a lack of fresh water, but a fishing boat from the village on another island that owns them came by and asked us to perform sevusevu at the cave on the island. This entails leaving an offering of kava root, which we did (we brought 6 bundles of kava with us just for this purpose). The root is made into a drink that is mildly euphoric and intoxicating. The Veras also filled a water jug for the fisherman. We had a nice supper on Vera and watched an almost full moon rise. Sabbatical III and Vera are the only boats here.
We will spend the day here snorkeling and exploring. Tomorrow we will probably head northeast to the Yasawa Islands. The weather forecast looks very good for the next three days, after which the winds and seas will pick up. We plan to be in the Blue Lagoon of Matacawa Levu Island when that happens.
We are safely at anchor in Momi Bay on the island of Viti Levu,
Fiji. About 7 hours ago we transited Navula Pass through the
fringing reef that protects the west side of this large island.
Momi Bay is just opposite the pass. After a quick lunch we napped
all afternoon. We woke up at 6 pm (NZT) just in time to help
guide Vera and Wombat of Sydney via radio through the passage and
into this bay in the dark. They are now anchored just next to us.
The last 36 hours of our trip here was characterized by
gradually increasing wind and seas. For the last few hours we had
wind consistently above 30 knots and often above 35 knots, and
very large seas. The large waves were moving pretty much in the
direction we were so they were not too much of a problem, although
they would occasionally make the boat round up or give the
cockpit a good dousing. With all of this wind, we arrived at the
pass just at noon, earlier than we thought, and thus had plenty of
light with which to navigate.
Tomorrow morning we will head up to the city of Lautoka to do
the formal check-in. It is about 20 miles north of here and the
trip is entirely within the reef.
There is certainly no one left at Minerva Reef. The day that
we left, the GRIB files forecast a very nasty “squash” zone
centered on Minerva starting tonight. An unusually high high
pressure area was moving close to a low coming down from Fiji to
create a zone of 20 foot seas and 45 knot winds. There was no
choice but to leave Minerva well before these conditions were
felt. We even got two emailed warnings about this squash zone
from friends who were worried that we might not be looking at the
new GRIBs. We always look at the GRIBs even while at anchor just
to avoid surprises.
The passage here was pretty comfortable even though there was
too little wind to start and too much at the end. The only
problem was the result of an ill-conceived late night gybe in
gusty winds that broke the spliced loop on the main sail outhaul.
An hour later we had the outhaul repaired and the main sail
back in action.
The nights were quite clear and the stargazing spectacular
during the passage. Both of us saw the largest shootest star we
had ever seen. We are not really sure that it was a shooting star
since it was seemingly so close and was green, red, and gold with
a sparkling tail. I though that it might be a distress flare and
scanned the sea with a flood light. But it had to come from space
given its trajectory and speed.
It’s back to bed for us. The three hour nap only made us long
even more for a long stretch of undisturbed sleep.
Position: 14:10 NZT or 02:10 UTC
Tuesday June 10th
We should be in Fiji by sunset on Wednesday. The winds we have
been expecting have not arrived yet so we have done way more
motoring than we had wanted to. With the cost of diesel fuel we
might have flown to Fiji cheaper. Oh well, what fun would that be?
Vera, left Minerva about 15 hours after we did, and we have been
in contact with them via our satellite phone. The say they have
good winds now and we hope the winds will catch up to us very soon.
It is about 22 hours since we left Minerva Reef. Winds are
about 8-10 knots out of the east with a small to moderate swell.
We are making only 5 knots. The wind is expected to build over
the next 24 hours so our speed should as well. There is a bright
blue sky with patchy clouds and some distant small squalls.
Our position as of 13:50 NZT June 9 (0150 UTC) is:
It’s 2:00 P.M. Sunday here on Minerva Reef and we plan to leave in
a few hours for Fiji. It should take us 2.5 days. Weather forecast
is for very light winds for the next 24 hours followed by winds of
15 knots the next day, 20 the following day, and then a big low
pressure system with winds of 30 knots or more will be coming. We
should be safely anchored in Fiji a full day before the 30 knots
Thursday and Friday at Minerva reef were very windy – too windy to
go out and walk on the reef – but not too windy to have a good
time socializing with our friends on “Vera” and “Wombat of
Sydney”. We are all anchored a couple of hundred feet away from
each other so it is easy to hop in your dinghy and get to the next
boat. It was so windy we never felt inclined to get our own
dinghy off the deck of the boat (where we carry it on long
passages) and into the water, so we bummed rides from our friends
Yesterday, Saturday, the winds died down a bit and Mike from
“Wombat of Sydney” wanted to go lobstering. We all went on his
boat (a 47 foot Beneteau First) and he pulled up his anchor and we
motored over to the other side of the lagoon (just 2 miles away).
We pulled two dinghies behind us. Once he had securely anchored
on the other side we all hopped into the dinghies – in our
wetsuits and reef shoes and gloves – and with Mike carrying his
harpoon and his wife Lynn carrying buckets for the captured
lobsters. We dinghied over to the reef which, although it was low
tide, still had quite a bit of water on it, and we had to wade up
and down little heads of coral to cross over to the ocean side.
Then, following Mike, we looked for deep holes in the reef.
Apparently the lobsters like to hang out in those holes and Mike
is experienced at hopping into them and feeling around for the
spiny creatures and then yanking them out. He has done it many
times in dozens of places, and even caught a dozen or so just the
other day. Unfortunately he did not catch any yesterday. It was
an interesting experience though. Mark and Michael were at his
side, but not particularly keen on leaping into the holes, and the
three women were lagging 1/2 a kilometer behind, happier picking
up shells and looking at little colorful bits of coral than
struggling with the crustaceans. Just as we gave up and started
heading back to the dinghies to return to his boat, some very dark
and threatening looking thunderclouds started forming on the
horizon. We quickly made it back to our respective boats and
within an hour we had torrential rain and sheets of lighting all
around us. It was pretty scary. By 9:00 p.m. it had all passed
by and it was a brilliant, calm, starry night.