Tuesday August 24th 0930 Local Monday August 23rd
East again guys. We have crossed the line again and
are currently heading West along the North coast of Vanua Levu.
We had an amazing day yesterday in Rabi. In the
morning we decided to do a bit of snorkelling on the inner reef having asked
permission from Malau and Asiedy on the
shore. They were very happy for us to fish there and while we were on the reef
having not much luck with the fishing, I had only got two smallish fish, we met
Malau out in his outrigger canoe, but he had not caught any fish. We gave him
the fish we had and he suggested we try the outside reef which we did. We
got Red Snapper for lunch and dinner and a big fish to give to the family
ashore. There was actually an extended family and I think there were about 4
huts in all just close to the shore in amongst the palms and their basic planted
Trish is becoming more and more adventurous and
half way through the spear fishing yesterday she announced she wanted to have a
try! Well this may be surprise to many of you, but Trish is an absolute crack
shot with a rifle and sure enough - second shot - bam! - a Red Snapper. Very
impressive. We stayed snorkelling and fishing for a few hours and had a
marvellous time fishing without sharks hassleing us.
We had a delicious lunch of, what else but Red
Snapper, with a fine bottle of Austalian Sauvignon, and chilled out for an hour
before going ashore to learn about basket weaving and to bring
some "sevusevu" to the families there. It was not really sevusevu which is
normally Kava (Yaquona) root for the chief, but a gift of thanks
We brought some clothes, cooking oil, a file to
sharpen their blunt axe and some fishing gear - hooks and lines
etc. I also brought a spool of heavy 6mm
braided nylon twine to Malau who was still trying to re build their house after
the previous hurricane. He was delighted with this and with both hands held it
to the top of his head several times by way of heavenly thanks, I think. Trish
also brought some hair things for the little girls that we had seen further
along the shore that day. They were from the other family hut.
In the hut of Malau and Asiedy, I was sitting on
the simple bamboo platform that served as their bed and their sitting place. He
asked me to pull back the pandannis mat at the end of the platform and
underneath it was a woven basket with eight fresh and de-husked coconuts
for Trish and I! He had prepared it as a relatively elaborate surprise
and was delighted and excited at my delighted surprise at the gift. He
found this hilarious and roared with laughter at being able to do us a good
It really was humbling on that shore, there
were of course no roads, electricity, running water etc. We were treated like
long lost friends and from people who it seemed had barely enough to survive on,
were showered with gifts. We got two baskets which the woman made right there
for Trish, coconuts, a basket full of aubergines, which they picked right in
front of us and which were delicious with our snapper dinner. The next hut
presented Trish with two large prepared fish for her kindness to the children.
We were so taken aback we had to make a trip back to the boat to find more
things to give them, without of course going over the top and possibly obliging
them to give us more! This was a very profound and humbling experience in the
most beautiful place you could imagine and a great way to start our adventure
round the tricky north shore.
In the bay at Rabi however, we were without
satellite coverage for the whole time, meaning no e-mails or blogs or weather,
and this was strange. It is the first time we have been in an area where we
had no cover at all for a prolonged period, but I suppose that just added to the
remoteness and special nature of the place.
We crept slowly out of the bay at
0430 this morning under a full moon, feeling our way back along our
original electronic track in to the reef. A new navigational tool has to be
deployed on this pilotage method - listening! Listening for the breakers on the
reef to verify our position on the track. Trish was forward and would shout
"I can't see anything" " that's good" I would shout "we don't want to see
Anyway, exiting the reef bound bay was a peice of
cake really and it was not long before we were in open water, Trish was back to
bed and I got the fishing gear out!
I have been telling you about our fishing, we have
caught many, many fish and enjoyed eating them all, but all the big guys
have got away. Lines have snapped, lures have been taken, reels have
disintegrated. Now however I have pulled out the big guns and my new
"industrial" set up was completed when I traded with Jack Fisher and got a 6
metre piece of 10mm bungee.
That, added to my 500 meter drum of 225lb
breaking strain lineand wire trace rigged treble hooked lures and I was
ready. The line is payed out throgh a cleat and tied to the bungee and a 4m bite
of line left loose. The bungee is taken back to the cockpit and the loose bite
of line is clipped to it with a clothes peg. The line can be hand hauled or
taken in round the adjacent electric winch - a Lewmar 77. No more sports fishing
- the odds need to be evened slightly for these big fellows. And I will get
My first catch of the day however was a 3 pound
(note the change to lb's when talking about fish, because the number is
always bigger than it would be in kg's!) member of the mackrel family. That's
Ok.... It is just practice with the new set up for these big tuna and
marlin ......... the good yacht Rhiann Marie will prevail.
Our early start was timed to arrive at the Sau
Sau passage back inside the Great Sea Reef which surrounds Fiji's north and west
coasts, while the Sun is high above us. We will then find out in the next week
or so why so many people have drawn sharp intakes of breath and slowly shaken
their heads with gritted teeth when we told them where we were
going! You have to understand that Trish was among them..............
Please God give me good visibility and a good hand brake!
p.s. I know you won't believe this but I was just
putting the finishing touches to the blog and ping went my clothes peg - 15
minutes later we landed the biggest Mahi Mahi yet. I can feel it in my bones
............. they are going to get bigger!