Fiji 5: Bay of Islands

June 24, 2019

We are in the Bay of Islands, Fiji! It’s a beautiful place with all kinds of limestone islands covered with gorgeous green foliage. We are anchored amidst larger and smaller islands in a small bay, hence the name. The water is nice but not particularly clear or full of visible coral in our immediate vicinity. But all the kid boats are together and we had a lovely gathering on RAID last night. 

While there, Joe mentioned that we were getting low on provisions. Since RAID is leaving their boat in a few weeks, Dina kindly took me through her extensive canned good selection and I basically restocked our canned good stash from her cabinets. They have been very generous with their spacious catamaran, always volunteering to host large gatherings. Now, they are continuing their kindness by giving away their food.

This morning, we took on the crew of Aurora B (Ed, Gemma, Eva (age 10), and Henry (age 8) and Manihi (Chris, Sophie, Patrick (age 18), Alec (age 16), and Max and Daisy (twins, age 12)) and traveled about half an hour around the corner to a lovely spot that we had visited the day before in a long dinghy ride with Glenn of Danica. There was fantastic snorkeling and a cool cave with bats in it that you could swim into. We wanted to return and thought it would be more fun for all if we had a boat nearby rather than just a dinghy.

We had a lovely day on Charm. We all agreed that it’s what boating life should be. No projects, cleaning, or jobs – just enjoying friends in a beautiful environment. It really was idyllic. We had a few brief rain showers but otherwise the weather was perfect. There was a small beach where most of the kids spent the day in between turns on the “donut” (red inner tube that got pulled endlessly behind our dinghy). The grownups alternated between driving the dinghy, riding on the donut, and snorkeling. Everyone brought food and we had homemade bread, salads, frittata, etc.

I went on a quest for a photo of a sea snake and am still not sure if I got it. Since I broke my camera, I have been borrowing Cobin’s GoPro but I have almost no idea how to use it. There are only two buttons so I just keep pushing them until I get what I think is the right setting. Shortly after entering the water on my third snorkel session (built entirely around photographing the snake), Gemma told me she had spotted one. I swam over and spent several minutes videoing and photographing. At the end, I swam off and tried taking a picture of something else. Then I realized I may have had the GoPro on the wrong setting. The battery eventually died so I am awaiting a charge before I see if I got the footage! 

One day I will turn all these cool videos into a short film and upload it to YouTube so you can all watch. We will need FAR more bandwidth than we’ve had lately. It might be Australia before we can share anything.

OK – I won’t keep you in suspense. I just checked and I have the footage! One whole minute of quivery, bumpy, nauseating video of a sea snake moving underwater. I guess I have some work to do on my videography but at least I captured the snake on film (or ? whatever it’s called when it’s digital). And I have posted the picture I got – basically everything but its head. It will be difficult to see on this site (photos aren’t high resolution) but if you see a vague skinny black and white striped thing, you have seen it!

You can also see Daisy on the trampoline. She has done quite a bit of gymnastics and was impressing us all with her back flips and back handsprings as we cruised through the Bay of Islands, back to our anchorage.

Tomorrow, several boats will head out to an island called Taveuni but we will stay here for at least one more night. There is a hike to overlook the bay that we are hoping to do. Another boat that has joined the ARC, called Someday, has previously cruised this area (they did the previous World ARC and took a year off and are now joining the second half) and told us about the hike.

All the boats are feeling some pressure from the weather. Right now, the forecast shows winds gusting to 60 knots that will be in the area on Saturday. That’s still a long way off and weather changes quickly but we are planning to get to a safe anchorage before those winds come anywhere near us. From our limited research, it looks like Taveuni has lots of fun things to do, including a natural waterslide and great diving. Hopefully they also have decent provisioning as we are approaching the end of our fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and (most important), popcorn supplies. Thanks to RAID, we do have plenty of canned goods!

Also today, some of the boats traveled a long distance by dinghy to do the sevusevu ceremony. In Fiji, all of the land and water around a village belongs to it. If you want to stay in their territory, swim in their water, etc, you are supposed to approach the village chief, present a gift of cava, and ask permission. This ceremony is called sevusevu. While we were snorkeling, a delegation from the village approached and requested that we visit the chief. Some of the other ARC boats sent people on our behalf and they took gifts of cava and asked permission from the chief. He said we are now part of the village and can use their territory in the same way they would. Another benefit of being on the ARC – others step in and take on part of the duties of international relations!

We finished off the evening with a visit to a bat tree where the fruit bats spend their daylight hours. As dusk fell, we saw them leaving for the evening’s activities by the hundreds. We were three dinghies, just drifting around the bay, waiting for the bat show. It was strange and normal, all at the same time. We are having so many experiences outside of “normal” life that sometimes we lose sight of how unique our lives are right now. At least until I write it down. Thanks to those of you that continue to follow along at home – it’s fun to have you with us!

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