Delayed by Good weather!

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 7 Jul 2012 09:37
It doesn't often happen, certainly not since arriving in Fiji, that the weather's too good to sail. It's been hot and sunny all week, but there's been absolutely no wind. The intention had been to sail back to Savusavu to re-provision and refuel before heading west, but it's about 50 miles and we didn't fancy the idea of motoring all the way, so we're still in Viani Bay and haven't moved since our arrival last Saturday (8 days ago). The Bay has been flat calm virtually all week and looked a picture in the sunshine. It might not be good for sailing,  but the calm seas have been ideal for diving. So with my leg having healed, a call to the local dive operator, 15 minutes away by fast boat, resulted in me being picked up at 07.00 on Tuesday morning for my first proper dives for a couple of years. (I use the scuba gear quite regularly to clean the bottom of the boat and did so just before leaving New Zealand, but it's not quite the same as exploring down to 25 metres!)
The Somosomo Strait between Vanu Levu and Taveuni is one of the top diving areas in Fiji, if not the world. It's so good because the current runs fast through it bringing lots of nutrients to the coral reefs on both sides. Although it's been calm on the surface, getting the timing right to visit the different dive sites is pretty key, especially as it's been Spring tides, with the full moon only a few days ago. So going with a dive operator who understands the currents is a good idea. It was excellent with lots of brightly coloured soft corals and vast stretches of hard corals cascading down the underwater slopes, surrounded by lots of reef fish. So, as they were diving the famous White Wall the next day, and there was still no wind, there were 2 more dives on Wednesday. That was supposed to be it, but as there didn't look like there would be any wind until the week end, and a routine had been established, there were another 2 on Thursday as well. The skipper of the dive boat lives in the small village across the other side of the Bay and has to go past where we're anchored to 'go to work' in the morning and go home in the afternoon, so it was easy for him to pick me up on the way and drop me off in the afternoon. So 6 great drift dives with visibility around 20 meters or so. (With the currents here, it's all drift diving - the boat drops you off at the start of the dive, you dive drifting with the current and get picked up again by the boat at the end of the dive.) The water was warm, but not that warm. I have a 2 mm wetsuit and a 7 mm on the boat and not being one who enjoys the cold, it was the 7 mm I tried. It was lovely! There were 3 other divers in the boat, all half my age, and 2 had problems with cold using 5 mm suits, so I chose wisely. The housing of the digital camera we use for snorkeling is supposed to be usable down to normal diving depths, so I used it, although it's only suitable for taking close-ups under the water.  Fish are difficult to take as they don't tend to hang around if you get close for a close-up shot, but I did get few. Corals are a lot easier to take as generally they don't move! That's not quite true as they do sometimes sway in the current, and I have to try not to sway in the current when taking them.
Before the pictures of the undersea world here in Fiji, some of the stillness of Viani Bay this week.
Making bread - we haven't found a shop for nearly 4 weeks, so have been living off our
The camera is only good for close-ups, but at least this give a feel for the numbers of fish
around the reefs here.
Fellow divers - count the legs and divide by 2!
Another couple of Nemo's relations!
Above and below - beautiful soft corals.
A mix of soft and hard corals.
Very small Cleaner Shrimps.
A type of Lionfish, with venomous spines.
More soft corals.
A mix of hard and soft corals.
Brain coral, but with a pink hue. Not seen this before.
A sea Fan.
More soft coral.
Another type of Sea Fan.
A long range shot to show the corals cascading down the underwater slopes. All the colour
gets lost on long range shots with our camera and it all turns out blue.