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Not a lot

Feeling exhausted from our previous day’s efforts we really didn’t do much yesterday. We had half a mind to have a beach BBQ with Soltice but the weather wasn’t terrific and none of us were overly enthusiastic. We shared a beer and swapped pictures. That was the extent of our day.

Hills, caves and eyries

Our plan had been to visit the nearby caves in the morning. The villagers had suggested we turn up around 9am. The reason why, it turned out, was that the Captain Cook Cruise ship came in and the villagers were getting ready for that. One of the delights of traveling on your own boat is getting to see places on your own, without the crowds. So sharing the caves with a ship load of (probably) loud tourists was the last thing we wanted to do.

We also knew the weather was potentially turning and yesterday may be the last day of this two week long streak of fantastic weather we’ve had. We didn’t want to waste the day so we decided, instead, to go back to the village and see if we could hike to the top of one of the hills near the village.

We soon had this arranged. John, who acts as a bit of a local tour guide, arranged for his niece to take us up the hill. We were accompanied by Mimi, who was crewing for a French boat in the anchorage, and two of the village boys, Sam and Moses.

The hike/climb to the top of the hill was quite strenuous but we were well rewarded for our efforts with fantastic views of the bay and to the north. We’d brought some sweets which I gave to the the three locals from time to time. We’d also brought some biscuits which we gave out at the top of the hill where we rested to regain our strength.

We came back down the way we’d gone up and ended up going back through the school as we’d done before. It’s school holidays at the moment so we rested in the shade there. I had one of our helicopter toys on us so I gave that to the boys to share. They had a lot of fun with it on the school field launching the propeller into the air and catching it.

Once back at the village we thanked Alison for her guidance and, after arranging with John a visit to the caves in the afternoon, returned to the boat hot and sweaty. For some time we’d been meaning to clean the waterline and decided now was the time to do it. We spent nearly an hour in the water and together managed to get the biological film of off the boat leaving her looking nice and clean.

After lunch we had an hour or so to rest before the next phase of our day began. Just as I was dinghying into the village, Angela and Doug arrived on Solstice. I popped over to them to see if they were interested in visiting the cave and also another climb up the mountain (not the same one as the morning) to a white rock. They were keen so I left them to prepare while I went and collected John from the village.

Our first stop was the caves. There was an official entry fee to the caves of F$10 each which was nothing compared to what we got. We climbed some concrete stairs from the beach then entered the cave. It was immediately apparent that these were the same caves as were used in the filming of the Blue Lagoon. Our information turned out to be accurate. We’d brought facemasks and snorkels with us to explore the caves with John’s guidance.

First we swam around the main cave which was fun in itself. Next, John helped us through the underwater entrance into a cave, called the spitting cave, off to the right which we probably would not have found by ourselves. Inside it was pitch dark. John guided us through the cave to a point where a tall, natural chimney was letting in the day light. Sounds boomed inside this cave which John used to good effect. Once we’d taken a few pictures inside we made our way back out through the underwater entrance/exit to the main cave.

From here we next visited ‘Pregnancy Cave’ so called because apparently you would get stuck in there if you were pregnant and hadn’t told anyone about it. To enter this cave we had to climb up the interior rock face and enter the cave via a very small entrance. From here we continued to climb up through a very tight old water channel. We reached a high point before descending one by one back into some water where we had to again dive down through a submerged entrance to reach the main cave.

The final thrill was a climb up to a jumping platform. John showed us the way. Both Angela and I tried to follow but lacked the arm/finger strength to overcome our body weight and make it up. I did try several times but my first attempt had really weakened my fingers so I never improved upon my first attempt. Chances are we’ll be returning here sometime so I might just have to do some arm/finger strengthening exercises between now and then.

We were still not done. Our final effort of the day was a guided scramble up to a white rock high up the block of rock that towers over the bay. Fortunately the day was cooling down but we had to call on our reserves to make it up there. John’s guidance was absolutely essential as there was no way we could have found our way up without it. It was no hike, more of a steep climb. At times we were actually rock climbing. At others we had to make our way up slippery, rubbly slopes. But we made it and were more than aptly rewarded.

We flopped down on the rock that had been warmed by a day’s worth of sun looking out over a majestic view of the bay. We were about the same height as the hill we’d climbed earlier in the day. From here we could also see the length of Yasawa Island to the north and could see all the way down to Waya 35 miles to the south. Here, John told us the story of why the rock was white. The real explanation was geological but his story, describing it as the eyrie of a giant eagle (and it’s poop), was more interesting.

Had we brought torches and also had the energy we could have stayed up there for sunset. We were not prepared for that so we made our way back down while it was still light. By the time we’d made it down we were all scratched, bruised and/or scraped in some way or another – a sign of a good hike.

We dropped off Doug and Angela back at their boat before taking John back to Dignity where we gave him coffee and biscuits. I’d promised him a photo from the day so we loaded all the pictures from our and Angela/Doug’s camera so he could pick one he liked. Having picked one we printed it plus another for Alison from earlier in the day.

To say we were tired would be an understatement. We ate dinner, watched a bit of TV then fell into a long sleep.

We both now ache all over from yesterday’s efforts. The weather had begun to turn becoming overcast. We’re expecting possible rain this afternoon and thunderstorms tomorrow. Time to relax.

Before I close off we have one other update. It is now confirmed that our crewman Paul will be returning to Fiji this October to crew with us back to New Zealand. He is a glutton for punishment. He will be accompanied by Lissa, the daughter of a friend of his, who he’s known for many years and has sailed with in the past. With four people aboard we can have a less onerous watch schedule which will make it easier on everyone. Our current idea is to reduce our 3 hour watches to 2 hours and each have 3 6 hour off periods throughout the day/night. That should work well. We are planning on catching the first decent weather window out of here from the last week in October.

Welcome aboard Paul and Lissa.

Excellent Dives

This time the dive site was as ordered and was excellent. Great visibility. Lots of canyons and tunnels to swim through. Great sea life. I opted for a second dive which ended up being just me and the dive instructor. This was at a site called the Pinnacle and Wall. The water was a little more murky but had lots more sea life than the first. Another great dive. I’ll let the pictures say the rest.

The only downside to the dive was my credit card being declined. Turns out it’s been used fraudulently and now we have to go through the process of renewal.

In the early afternoon a boat from the village on the other side of the channel came by. On it was the chief of the village, Selema, who was waiting for his wife to return on the ferry. We invited him aboard and chatted for a while. He invited us to visit the village later which we did. When we went over we took cava for sevusevu but didn’t stay too long. There we learned he had a problem with a handheld VHF radio. After some investigation I discovered the rechargable batteries were worn out. That should be easy to fix. We’re coming back this way later and should be able to find some for him.

In the evening we invited Doug and Angela over from Soltice. We’ve seen them around and shared a few anchorages with them recently so it was time to get to know them. It was one of those evenings where started with drinks and nibbles and it went on til way, way after cruisers midnight. Doug is in the process of recuperating from nearly losing a thumb and finger in a horrific accident with his wind gen. Turns out the private hospital in Suva did a fantastic job saving them but the experience is still very fresh in their minds. They’ll be here in Fiji for the rest of the season and heading down to NZ too so we expect to see them around some more.

Today we’re ready to move on. The plan is to move to the village of Nabukeru 8nm to our north east where there are some nice caves to explore on the small island of Sawa-I-Lau. According to Selema, these are the caves which featured in the Blue Lagoon so that will make it more interesting.