Friday, October 21, 2016

Snorkeling in Beqa and Moving On

We really enjoyed our week in Malumu Bay on Beqa (pronounced Ben-ga) Island. It was a good spot to sit out some inclement weather because it is protected from most directions and has a good muddy bottom for holding. Not so much fun when pulling up that muddy anchor chain! We had the place to ourselves for one night and then the boat "Pilgrim" returned because of the weather predictions.

We did a snorkel right in the bay – a reef that we saw many locals diving at night. The visibility wasn't terrific, but it was nice and shallow so we could really stay over a bommie and take a long look for the little stuff...and not so small critters. We saw two quite large eels that seemed to not be afraid of us, several different types of nudibranchs and lots and lots of small tropical fish – a few new ones. It was a treat. Day two we repeated the snorkel in a slightly different spot and Michael dared to bring the underwater camera. Good thing too, he spotted a quite large nudibranch that was different than ones we had seen before. Getting the photo would help us identify it (perhaps with the help of Kathryn).

We had a local boat stop by to visit on Thursday – they were from the village across the island and were heading to their gardens (they were yagona (kava) farmers!). They told us that there was a cut through the mangroves to get to their village. Wish we knew that sooner as we would have visited them. The cut isn't on any charts or even on google earth maps – ah, local knowledge!

On Friday morning, we thought it was time to move on and so we headed 26 miles to Vanunui on Viti Levu. We did manage to sail some of the miles, motor sailed some and motored some. The winds were either 2 knots or 12 and from varying directions. We put out two lines (I gave up on the coke bottle/oreo wrapper lure) and went back to the "Lance Lure" (made by our NZ charter fishing captain friend, Lance). Michael used "Pedro" from the Kathryn and Mark collection. We were moving well over 6 knots much of the time. We sailed or motor-sailed through cuts in the reefs. We have no bananas on board. We checked the lures regularly for weed or fouling. We changed distance from the boat of the lures. But did we catch a fish? NO. Still scoring zero.

We came through the reef hoping to beat a squall that looked like it was heading to the cut at the same time as us. We wanted good visibility – even though the cut is relatively wide. It is still a cut in the reef. The squall kept away and we made our way along the inside of the reef to a nice anchorage. It should be well protected from any swell – but not much wind protection. The forecast is for only 10-15 knots from the SE – so we should be fine here. There is a village nearby and if we stay more than one night, we'll go in and do our sevusevu. We are down to our last batch of kava – so this will have to be the last village until we can re-supply.

It is pretty here and when the sun shines, the reef around us is a variety of shades of blues. The crashing waves on the outer reef is impressive both visually and aurally. Pretty spot. We'll have to see if there are bats here. Last night's display in (anchorage) on Beqa was quite amazing – hundreds on bats flying overhead.

If we stay it does look like some good snorkeling around.

Latitude:18 15.7s
Longitude:177 52.12e
At 10/21/2016 4:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 18°15.69'S 177°52.11'E

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