Thursday, August 10, 2017

Widow Maker

An iridescent green skirt over a red skirted lead headed lure seems to be the magic fish catcher on Astarte. It is our widow maker. The last eight fish we've hooked have been on this lure. We've even managed to land some! We call it the widow maker because two of the recent fish we've managed aboard have been mahi – and because they mate for life and we've landed the male bull mahi...there are a few mahi widows. That makes us sad.

On our trip yesterday around Udu Point on the northeast corner of Vanua Levu, we were told by some locals that we were guaranteed to catch a fish around the point. Boy, were they right!! We first hooked a medium sized mahi. Got it near the boat before it shook itself off. Then an hour or so later, we hooked what we thought was a tuna because it never came to the surface. Because we have no internet to confirm what it is, we think it is a rainbow runner. We got it to the boat, landed it and Michael cleaned it and we got several good sized fillets. It was redder meat. We had it for dinner last night and it was very tasty.

About an hour later, after we made the turn around the point, we hooked a HUGE mahi. It was a fighter and because we were sailing at that point it was harder to slow the boat down. We got the headsail in to slow it to 3.5 knots and Michael fought the fish for quite awhile as it kept running when it caught sight of the boat. We finally got it near, gaffed it and even managed to get it aboard. It barely fit through the space between the back stay and the railing. He was a very strong fish and it took both of us to hold it down to get a tail loop on it. It is probably the largest (not perhaps the longest) mahi or fish we have ever landed aboard Astarte. We hooked and released a larger marlin.

We think we are catching fish now because we were gifted a vacuum sealer from our friends Sandy and Rankin of SV Gypsea Heart. Since we have a good way to save the fish for future meals – we are now catching more!

Our travels since leaving Bula Bay have taken us to a few stops. We were first did a 25 mile trip to Taligica Island. It was just an overnight stop though we did have late afternoon visitors to the boat for a tour. As one said, "once in a lifetime experience."

We left the next day to head another 20 or so miles to Nubu. Nubu (pronounced Noom-Boo) means "deep" in Fijian. It was an interesting narrow cut into the reef and an "S" curve to get to the anchorage. We were looking for a home for a few days to wait out some predicted heavy winds. We got relatively close to the shore but still had to anchor in 50 feet of water. This was a very pretty anchorage and near a small river. Our friends on "Land Fall" had told us about this spot and said there was a small cascade/waterfall at the river end. We dinghied to find it and found an very interesting spot. It wasn't the easiest spot to get up but we found a side with lots of footholds to make our way to the river. There were many, many deep pools – very deep – in the river with small trickles over the edges. They went on and on. The river was sided by lots of trees, butterflies, birdsong and it was very pretty.

We came back the next day with a loaded dinghy. It was filled with dirty laundry, water filters from the water-maker to be cleaned and shower gear. Tide was lower and we had to walk the dinghy over the shallow mouth of the river – but once over that we could motor back to the stream. We got everything ashore and started our projects in a beautiful, shady spot. Most of the pools were too deep to even stand up in. They had steep sides. By the sides of the stream you could tell that during rainy season the river flows pretty mightily.

We repeated the routine the next day with more laundry (we hadn't done any for five weeks!) and Michael took a pretty good hike up the stream. It was a very nice spot.

We did put out a second anchor because of the predicted wind and because we were in such deep water with reefs around us. It gave us more peace of mind. We set the danforth anchor with the dinghy. During our stay here, we had three local boats stop by the boat to visit. They had nets that they were using to go out fishing. We invited two of the boats aboard and enjoyed meeting the people and learned about the area (including that it was called Nubu which means "deep.")

After five days in Nubu we made our way around Udu Point to leave the north side of Vanua Levu and start our way south again. We had a 37 mile trip to Rabi Island (pronounced Rahm-bee) and Albert Cove. This is one of our favorite spots – and one we took Kathryn and Mark to last year during their visit. Normally there is a family that lives on shore – but right now there is no other boat here nor anyone ashore. We have the place to ourselves. And Kathryn and Mark will be happy to know, the "guardian spade fish" are still here.
At 8/10/2017 7:02 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°26.68'S 179°56.24'W

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