Makogai Island again

Lars Alfredson
Thu 22 Aug 2013 08:49
Pos 17:26.53S 178:57.15E

20130821 Wednesday


After breakfast we were away and heading towards Makogai Island, the old leper colony we have visited previously. As Shân had been here we thought it well worth the visit especially to see the giant clams.


After a relatively uneventful trip, the seas were calmer than yesterday and Shân managed to stay up all day, we arrived at the passage through the reef and managed to make the mooring just in time for beer o’clock (Delayed) and lunch.


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                       School holidays.


There is already an American yacht in and soon we can read its name “Eagles wings” we had seen in front of us, on the AIS yesterday. The bay is as we remember is as we anchor off the old jetty. Here the Marine Department men are busy hauling in one of the spawning ropes onto the dockside and appear to be busy putting out more of the same. We learn later that these ropes are used to grown oyster which at four months are brought ashore and sorted. Those that contains pearls are kept by the village the other sent off for seeding to produce the black pearls.


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                         Harvesting Pearl Oysters


Its low tide springs, and our favourite reef head is exposed with its bent marker post and buoy resting on top. Having lunched its time to do Sevusevu and as we see the Americans about to launch their dinghy we head across to see if they want to join us.



                    Our favourite reef at low water


In the event it appear that they had already been in that morning and the Chief whom we had dealt with last time was away in Suva but his deputy was available Off we go and when we land we check the chiefs house which is all locked up and head for the Marine dept building where a huge Fijian, Dwarfing even Lars, offers to show us around and will get the Chiefs deputy who is one of the men working on the boat to come and see us when we get back off our tour.


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                    Who’s the big boy?                                                               Triton mollusc and Beche-de-mer


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                         Turtle                                                                          and giant Clam shells


Abse is a gentle giant and very helpful pointing out what the functions of the various ruins were including the cinema and prison! On our way back he leaps off in the bush to get us some ginourmous Pawpaw, nearly as big as a head and taking us back to base shouts for the deputy chief.


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                   Walk in the woods                                                                       Papaya harvest


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                         Toad                                                                                                             One of 1100 in the grave yard.     


He’s a youngish man clad in a wet suit who takes us into the lecture room where we all sit on the palm matting and he goes through the ceremony of accepting our gift of kava root, explaining afterwards in English what he said in Fijian also thanking us for respecting their culture.



                     Deputy Chief performing Sevusevu ceremony.   


Back to boat and into the dinghy with the snorkel gear to “our” reef and time to introduce Shân to the giant clam and its bloshie guardian damsel fish. The water is a clear iridescent blue and the reef swarming with an incredible variety of fish is like swimming in someone’s aquarium.


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                            Lots of fish                                                                                                               One giant clam (1m across)


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Shân is suitable impressed and I’m off filming as my previous visit had been after my camera flooded and had been able to before. Although it was overcast the results were great, the Clam and is guardian performed on cue and I had a chance to watch a large silver fish (Yet to be identified) totally ignoring me floating above it trying eat the little chromees that were taking refuge in the arms of the staghorn coral.



                        The predator


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Getting a bit chilled I was just about to leave when I spotted a large clam shell which I photographed, then dived down again and picked it up only to find myself plummeting to the bottom, it weighed a ton!


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                                                                                                                                                    Have you got any smokes??


Just as we get back the deputy chief and the rest of the marine workers pull alongside for a chat and to enquire if we had any cigarettes, unfortunately for them non of us smoke.


Showered and its time for sundowners though not a lot of sun, then dinner. Wahoo in coconut milk with ginger, garlic and onions with sautéed cabbage, a local recipe given to us by the barmaid, Serna, at the yacht club.



                                Recipe girl


This was followed by a game or two of Yatsy, Shân and I drew the first and Lars won the last game.




A nightcap of local brandy or was it surgical spirits and so to bed.


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