Snorkelling the 'Fish Factory'
Wednesday 24th June 2015
Soon after the sun went down yesterday, the wind picked up and we had a night of 25+ knots blowing straight into the bay. There were a lot of squall clouds and with a westerly element to the southerly winds, there was no protection from the wind, although the reef broke up the swell and reduced it to a tenable level. Even so, we bucked around on our anchor chain with the fetch and had a very uncomfortable evening and night with little sleep until the wind eased around 2 a.m.
This morning it was still windy, and as we made our way to ‘Serendipity’, a catamaran owned by Australians Chris & Sharon who had agreed to be the ‘trip’ boat for the day, we had our doubts whether the snorkelling trip would be on. But shortly after 9, Jack, our guide for the day, arrived and confirmed the trip would go ahead.
Jack Fisher is a well-known figure in Viani Bay. We had met him the afternoon before when he came out in his boat to welcome all the new yacht arrivals to the bay. He knows the reefs outside the bay very well, and makes a living from piloting yachts full of yachties out to the reef for snorkelling or diving trips for just FJ$10 (about £3) per person. Today we would snorkel the Cabbage Patch, an area of reef near the White wall, one of Fiji’s best dive sites. It was a very lumpy trip out to the reef – even on a catamaran – and Jack decided the Cabbage Patch would be too rough, so we would snorkel on the Fish Factory instead. I took one look at the lumpy seas and huge waves breaking over the reef, and decided it was not for me. I stayed on the boat as the rest of the group donned their kit and slid into the, apparently, quite cold water.
The reef outside Viani Bay – called the ‘Fish Factory’. Jack Fisher in Beez Neez’s dinghy watching over the snorkelers.
About an hour later they returned to the boat, saying that what they could see of the coral was impressive, particularly the soft coral, but that the visibility was too poor to really be able to appreciate it fully. They were agreed, however, that it had been quite exciting snorkelling!