Thursday, August 25, 2011

New camera, baby birds, friendship, and adventure at Namena Island/Reef

 The snorkeling was superb along the edge of the island.

 Want to come and see where I live?
 Sidewinder surrounded by silky agua-blue clear water
 Suzi, David, and our very own dive master David exploring the beautiful island.

 A bit of paradise togetherness.  Amazing we still like each other a lot!!!!!
 Waiting for the eggs to hatch
 Beginning a new life as a red-footed boobie must be quite exciting.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Namena to Savusavu

We are stuck in Namena waiting out the strong East winds that would make our trip back to Savusavu a rough one. Our local guest (David) who came with us thought it would clear by today but it hasn't so we may stay here another day and see what tomorrow morning brings. Or we may just put a couple of reefs in the main and only pull out a small part of the headsail (love that rolling furling!!) and dive out into it hoping for the best. It will be rough but we really shouldn't be that concerned with 30 knts. as in some places that is considered a good day to go sailing. Us So. Cal. sailors are a spoiled bunch since 30 knts. would be a small craft warning day and everyone would be huddled around the bars in the yacht clubs. We did get in one dive at Grand Central Station which was spectacular to say the least with more big fish (including sharks) than we have seen anywhere else. But the trip out to the dive site in our dingy was a hairy one with big wind waves and gallons of water coming aboard with every wave. Bailing was a constant process that couldn't keep up with the amount coming in so every so often we would have to stop and turn with the wind to empty Worm out before we started out again. We finally made it to the dive spot only to discover that the "dry" bag had leaked and guess what happened to our old underwater camera .... That's right. it had gotten wet and is no longer alive!!! We were so bummed: not only could we not take any shots of this dive, but we now don't have a camera that will go down past 30 ft. The good news is that I put the shots I took with the new camera on the computer last night and it is so bitchen. The colors are alive, the screen makes framing the shot so much easier and it seems to have a faster shutter speed since very few shots were blurry from movement. As soon as we get back to internet land I'm gong to research a housing for it so we can take it down to scuba depths. It's always something around here. I better go so we can get the weather report and make the decision as to heading out of staying put. Talk more later-  See ya, David

Yesterday we made it back from Namena Island and Reef averaging 6.5 kts with gusting winds from 25-28kts on our beam and 4-6 ft swells also on our beam, and Sidewinder did really well. I chose to be on the helm the whole time and got a bit wet during this wild ride, but it was an exciting sail, and we are glad we are back in Savusavu with all the other yachties waiting out the weather. Since it is supposed to be this way for a while, we figured it was best to get ourselves back here where we can get some more projects done, explore more of the land, get more supplies, and have more fun with friends, although I really did hate to leave.  After checking in this morning and shopping a bit, David and I both got haircuts, and I hiked this very pretty little island here with Aleen (sv Migration) this afternoon; this evening was a fun Fijian night at Waitui Yachtclub. Although this little town is quite nice, and, as you can see, it takes no time at all to get into the swing of it, it is not the quiet, pristine little island paradise we just visited.  We are both so glad that we did have the chance to get to Namena Reef, finally, and stay there in the protection of the little island; it was beautiful. The  crystal clear water snorkeling was great and, as David described in his last email, the one dive we did do was amazing.  It was also wonderful having our very own local dive instructor with us, David, who ended up staying with his cousin near the resort the first two nights, and on our boat the last night we were there; he is a very cool young Fijian who loves the ocean and shared his passion with us. Namena is a very special place and we will hopefully stop one more time there when we get a weather window to finally move southwest.  We did take some pictures while we were there, using the new camera, and I will put them on the blog tomorrow if I get a chance. -S.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Good times re-connecting with Steve and Lindsey on sv Jemellie

Dinner on Sidewinder was great fun.  Looks like Steve and David missed each other !

Ready to leave Savusavu for Namena Reef

We are finally ready to leave the Savusavu area after a week of doing stuff : orchestrating the rebuilding of our alternator, now successfully back on the engine and working perfectly (yay!), re-provisioning day after day, doing laundry, receiving the package Kris sent to us originally to Musket Cove, snorkeling and diving in some marginal areas near the Cousteau Resort, enjoying re-connecting with our friends from Vuda Pt, Steve and Lindsey on the sv Jenellie, and meeting some great new cruiser friends.  With a new traveling permit in hand,  and with the winds beginning to increase tomorrow, Jenellie and Sidewinder will make their way to Namena Reef, where the diving is supposed to be spectacular, and we will hope for warm sun to come out and shine throughout the weekend. We are taking a dive master from the Cousteau Resort with us, so that we will have a guide for our dives to Grand Central and Chimneys. Because of increased trade winds predicted, we may work our way back to the  shelter of Savusavu, but we shall see.  Obviously, we have found it very hard leaving this northern area, but it will be fun to explore this next beautiful reef preserve about 20 mi. south of here.  Our new camera, which just arrived, is excited to take the next photos for the blog and we look forward to our new adventure.  Love to all, Suzi and David

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Special times in the NorthEastern Islands of Fiji

 The day we arrived in Albert Cove was beautiful We did not see it like this again until we left.

 Way at the end of the bay, Marianna and Terry built their wonderful home.
 Their son, Karena Peter, Mere, and grandson, Kanimea also live with them here.

Mariana is a wonderful teacher
The wind was howling outside of Albert Cove the day we left. A Banaban local is out catching the breeze!

Reflection on the Northeast Island Adventures

It is a quiet, pristine, sunny Sunday morning in Savusavu, and before we meander out of here heading southwest, it is a time to reflect on the very special essence of this area. They call this "old Fiji" because the locals seem to be more traditionally soulful............full with the Bula spirit and not tainted by tourism. Most of the people who visit this area are looking for the beauty of the water and the land ; most of the resorts seem to be pretty low-key.  As we battled the iffy weather of the last few weeks, our experiences seemed to focus even more on meeting the incredible people of these different islands, and we are so taken by how warmly they embraced us. The personal connections made with the families in Albert Cove especially reminded us of being home with our wonderful friends.
Mariana, a 54 yr old mother of 5 grown up children and woman extraordinaire, touched my heart and soul. She seems to quietly soothe the souls of all family members in Albert Cove and she definitely helps to make their lives meaningful.We spent quality time talking and sharing and she became my teacher. I learned how to weave the birds she made for me as a present, she taught me names and words as I wrote them in my book, and I learned to make my own coconut milk and sweets. In preparation for the party the families put on for us, Marianna, Tapita, Bao, and Banea all showed me how to make other traditional foods cooked in the lovo. When we arrived for the evening party bringing some gasoline for the generator, we were greeted by everyone sitting on the mats in a large decorated umatoro (house), with a feast waiting on the table and fish being cooked over the fire. The music started and we danced, sang, feasted, drank kava, and enjoyed conversations. After dinner, we watched a documentary on their history and then watched a funny movie together.  When we departed the next day, Mariana and I had tears in our eyes and we gave each other big hugs. We waved good-bye to them from Sidewinder, feeling we had gained so much from being there just a few days. It was very special touching the essence of what I miss the most.........being with family and good friends.   These islands truly are special and we do hope to see them again.
 Just out for a walk on the beach.
Drinking Kava with our new friends in Albert Cove
 Bao making Taro leaves stuffed with coconut milk, onions and garlic.
 Peter and Marianna with the kids

 The guys mixing up the Kava
 David and Auntie getting down and funky
 Suzi and Marianna cutting up the roven mats
 This feast tasted even better than it looks.
 They decorated the place with decorations made with strips of palm leaves. All for just Suzi and I !!
 Saying goodbye the last morning we were there was hard but we will be there again.
 Suzi snorkeling Rainbow Reef. The photo doesn't do it justice.
The coral gardens and tropical fish with all their colors and shapes never got boring to explore.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rabi: Elizabeth's Cove to Albert's Cove

It was certainly beautiful here yesterday, after we had a wonderful snorkel in Elizabeth Bay, and moved up to Albert Cove. We rode Worm into shore and met the families here who are, of course, warm and friendly, welcoming us to their paradise. Our plans were to hike and go snorkeling today, but the rain has come to join us, once again, so I think we will just go on a hike and see what we find on the other side, a place called Smiley Beach. There is supposed to be great snorkeling there, but, once again, the weather is in charge at the moment. I am trying my best to stay spirited, but it is challenging right now.  Oh well, as I said before, I have nothing to complain about.  The weather will probably keep us here for a few days, and then we will begin to work our way back to Savusavu. Pray for sun!  Love, S

With "reinforced" trades on their way ( 20-25 knts.) out of the So. East we needed a good place to sit it out, and Albert Cove on the north west corner of the island of Rabi ( pronounced ROMBEE) sounded like the perfect spot. It's very secluded since the road doesn't go that far and the only way in is by boat. So we slithered in through the skinny reef passage and dropped our anchor on a sand bottom in 50 ft. of crystal clear water and found ourselves in the prettiest little bay Sidewinder has ever been. As the wind and rain moved in we found it wasn't only pretty but offered great protection from wind and waves and the sand bottom provided great holding for our anchor. 

After making Sidewinder ship shape we made our way into shore and found that there were 5 families that lived in the bay in small "palapas" made entirely of materials they cut from the jungle. At first glance the average American would wonder how they could exist in such squallor but upon closer inspection you would be amazed at how clean, comfy and homey they were. These people lived off the ocean and their gardens with chickens running around and pigs tied to trees back in the bush. I even noticed a few solar panels here and there and discovered they were used to charge batteries for lights at night. We were met on the beach by "Terry" and shown the way to the elders' house  so we could pay our respects. 

The island of Rabi is in Fiji but it's not inhabited by Fijians. The people of Rabi are Banaban and were relocated here in 1945 from Ocean Island which is near Kiribati hundreds of miles north of Fiji. It seems the English government discovered that Ocean Island had large deposits of phosphates on it so they loaded up all the locals and moved them to Rabi so the mining process could begin. Now this may sound a little insensitive towards the people of Ocean Island but after talking to several of the Rabi people the move was a good one. The ground here on Rabi is more fertile than that of Ocean Island and water is no longer a problem in their lives. Sometimes a year or more would go by without any rain on Ocean Island but here in Rabi the springs give off some of the purest water on earth and they are supported by rain all year around. I think it's great also that the Rabi people have retained many of their old customs as well as their language. They speak Banaban and not Fijian as their first language, but most of them also speak Fijian as well as Hindi and enough English to communicate with us stupid North Americans who only know English. One custom they have adopted from the Fijians is the appreciation of Kava. So after meeting the village elder (Banea) we found a gift of Kava would be greatly appreciated and a Kava party was planned for that night. So with Kava in hand we returned that evening to Banea's small home and with 6 of the other villagers proceeded to polish off 2 big bowls of Kava in between stories and explanations of our life and theirs. We came from such different roots but in the end we all were the same. Laughing, smiling and listening while it rained outside and this little house of palm leaves, bamboo and 3 inch dia. logs kept us warm and dry. I couldn't find a leak anywhere!!! and I was looking for them.... Around 10 o'clock Suzi and I rowed back to Sidewinder with a glow that went well beyond the Kava; we had made new friends. In fact such good friends that tonight we are having a dinner ashore with the whole community with music and dancing and yes, maybe a bit more Kava....I'll let you know how it went.
See ya,  David