Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guests Aboard, Errands Done, Fishing Derby Has Commenced

I'll cut to the chase: After one day of fishing, the score stands as follows:
Team Nelcinski: 0
Team Hawkcinski: 0
Both teams had bites, but neither Zucchini, Mexican Flag, nor "the pretty one" (Team Nelcinski) caught anything; nor did Oreo cookie/bottle cap (Team Hawkcinski). We shall try again tomorrow, with the same batch of lures, but maybe slightly different pep rallies before they go in the water.

But back to the beginning...

We made it without much ado to Fiji. We completely lost Saturday with the dateline and overnight flight, but to make up for it, we had the longest Sunday in the history of Sundays waiting for our puddle jumper from Nadi (the major city on Viti Levu) to Savusavu (on Vanua Levu), the rendezvous point. Mark and I sat in the Nadi domestic terminal from about 0600 to 1430...we watched all the planes come and go and tried all of the fried items available at the cafe as well as some lamb curry and the two domestic brews and some samosas, and watched more vintage Bollywood than we ever thought we could watch. Finally, our Twin Otter headed out to Savusavu. The landing did not quite reach the eye-raising approach of the San Blas flight on the same aircraft, but it was exciting coming over the palm-dotted hilltop onto the landing strip. We did note that they actually mow the grass at the airstrip here rather than letting the props do that job—civilized.

We got to the Copra Shed Marina and settled on Astarte. This isn't our first rodeo, but we got the necessary refreshers and decided to head out for a walk to see a bit of Savusavu and stretch our legs/backs/brains. We passed a few shops and got to the hot pools, where only one burlap sack full of we-aren't-sure-what was cooking—unlike the Icelandic hot pools where you'll find people soaking, these were super hot and people use them for cooking. And they more resembled hot puddles than pools, but cool all the same. We passed some fields with lots of kids and adults playing rugby, soccer, and volleyball—nice to see the locals out and about on a pleasant Sunday. We passed chickens, dogs, and a few goats. The curry shop was about to close, so we decided to do dinner at the marina and enjoyed a much needed shower and a few beers while listening to a band and enjoying our dinner and some catching up.

Monday began early, with a long list of errands to run. This was part of the plan, as Mark and I wanted to see some of the town and we try to never miss a local vegetable market, as it's always a treat to see what's being grown and sold locally. We bought some school supplies and a variety of sports balls to hand out to some of the local schools once we get to more remote places. We also had to get Mark a sulu to wear should the need for sevusevu (the customary offering of kava to the local chiefs) arise. And we needed beer. The veggie market was fun—there were Fijians and Indo-Fijians selling a wide variety of produce and spices. We got some mystery hot peppers, some intriguing citrus, two types of curry powder, and a handful of very recognizable vegetables and fruits. All errands were completed and we were ready to roll by noon...anchors aweigh.

Our first destination was close by, so we were able to anchor up and then Mark and I took the dinghy to Split Rock. We didn't know it was Split Rock until we got nearby and a staff member from the Cousteau Resort who was taking a guest snorkeling told us and let us tie up to their mooring ball. We had a nice swim, saw tons of colorful fishes, and then got cold. Nice to be in the water though! We were treated to a yummy dinner and cashed in pretty early, knowing that today we had an early start.

And we were up at 0545 prepping for the long run to Nasasobu...with a few Sobos aboard. It was a pretty pleasant day for a motor-sail, with just a small but persistent roll. Most of us did okay, but one recent arrival who was keen to catch a fish decided he would chum for them to increase his odds. The seas settled and health was returned. The chumming didn't help. By the time we came through the cut in the reef here, it was flat calm and we managed that task with little drama. Because we have a short stay here, we decided sevusevu wasn't necessary and opted for a swim to a little reef a short distance from the boat and near the mangroves. Highlights included a pair of creamy nudibanchs, a blue spotted ribbontail ray, and a variety of very colorful fishes. We saw some electric blue chromis, lots of damselfish, Nemos, moorish idols, blue and yellow-lipped Picasso triggerfish, and lots of butterflyfish, which are amazingly difficult to tell apart. The camera was left behind...again. Ooops. The little reef suffered some damage from the cyclone last Feb., but the staghorn corals were beginning to bounce back, the soft corals were very active, and there were lots of fish!

We had to get back to the boat to prep for bats and rum drinks--we had plans to watch the fruit bats make their nightly migration while having our rum drinks, which I have decided should be called "Batsan' Rums". They did not disappoint, but have actually been pretty active all afternoon, so we've gotten a good bat show. Dinner was a delicious green bean and eggplant curry. And now we're calling it a night, as we have another long run tomorrow, before we sit still for a few days. The southeast end of Vanua Levu is beautiful and we can see hilly Taveuni across the strait. We'll continue a bit more east and then head north toward Rabi tomorrow. Off to a great start and enjoying being the only boat in this anchorage for the night!
At 9/20/2016 4:08 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°45.04'S 179°51.09'E

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