Chasing the Sun

Traditional drumming signals the beginning of the school day. With the exception of the giggling, singing voices of the children in the boat passing Qi an hour earlier, you wouldn’t believe this huge bay was home to so many young Fijian treasures.

The sounds of singing and giggling echoed through the bay as the school boat went past each morning in Viarni Bay.

We arrived in the bay late Friday afternoon to see many of our friends bouncing around in the swell and had a visit from Marina, a German dive instructor who, with her Fijian husband, have begun an eco-dive resort in the secluded bay and were promptly invited onshore for a pot luck dinner. There are no roads here. You either walk in or use a boat. We had no idea where the 60+ students came from to attend the four-teacher school. I took some science experiments and my favourite children’s book, Wombat Stew, along with cardboard puppets that my last class had made on shore on Monday morning. The principal was a little put out for the disruption but sent his students out to join me after I’d explained that I’d arrived too late to see him on Friday. Once he saw the joy the children were having and how much they were learning, he couldn’t stop smiling. He took lots of photos for his newsletter to the parents. I had every class visit me for bubble blowing, the story and messing their hands up in cornflour goop. It was a fun day.

A lali, a tradition Fijian drum doubles for the school bell.

Our arrival in Fiji was delayed due to the late cyclones lurking in the Pacific. Many braved the seas and took their chances with some successes and some horror stories. We were in no rush. We left late in May and headed towards Minerva Reef where several friends were anchored. We spent a few days snorkelling and walking the reef. It was a social time. Pete and crew from Havachat went out each night hunting lobsters and Thomas was lucky enough to score an invite to lunch. Well, I was there too, and enjoyed their hearty salad to the max. Those guys knew how to set a table, napkins and all. You wouldn’t believe we were miles away from civilisation. It was so pleasant.

Snorkelling at Minerva on the wreck of an old fishing boat that dragged its anchor some years ago

Our plans to head to Savusavu on the northern main island were rescheduled when Sam, my daughter, decided to join us after her uni exams had finished, and we headed towards Nadi for an easy pick up and to show her some touristy places such as Cloud 9, the floating bar, and some of the resorts. “Mum, I want to sip cocktails on a tropical island” was her only request. The weather is better on the western side of the island too as the rain brought in by the trade winds is dropped on the mountains of Vitu Levu, the main island. We had a wonderful time with Sam. It was the first time that she and Thomas had really got to spend time together and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. We went snorkelling and sailing. Sam wasn’t too keen on the reef sharks and freaked out a bit when we mentioned them. This is understandable with the diversion to sharks that Australians have. Most of them aren’t the friendly type there like they are here. They even dive with tiger sharks here. Not me. I don’t need to do that. I was really proud of the way Sam adapted to boat life. She helped out and never complained of the inconveniences of being at sea. Even in some quite big seas. It was lovely to spend quality time with her. Can’t tell you how much love I feel for that girl.

Happy faces after a wonderful holiday together

Our birthdays were spent surrounded by friends and great outings. We had a very social time. At one stage we had our head sail in the sail maker’s workshop having a tidy up and we decided to head out to Musket Cove while we waited for the repairs. It was like a German community and we had a great time socialising with them. Thomas went for a dive with a group and I snorkelled overhead as we only had one bottle filled. I saw a small shark and swam with a turtle for some time. One night we went to ‘Green Duck’ and watched a movie on a big screen. I became good friends with Elke off Green Duck and hope to catch up with her again in New Zealand.

Thomas had plenty of beautiful company at his birthday dinner with the arrival of Kate’s, from Havachat, friends

Everyone began to head off to Vanuatu and we headed north to fulfil our plans to visit the Lau group, a far eastern set of islands that people say are the best part of Fiji. We’ve missed them each time due to the problematic point of sail directly into the trade winds. So we headed off to Viarni Bay to visit our friend Jack Fisher and head north to Rabi island when we had the opportunity to do some tours of Taveuni, a large island to the east of Viarni bay.

The crew of Qi, Jack Fisher and Yuki, a Japanese sailor who joined us for the day

That’s when I had my mishap. We visited the highly acclaimed waterslides, a cascade of waterfalls over smooth, curved rocks. There was no one else there so Thomas and I decided to just have a refreshing swim instead of going down the falls as we weren’t sure of a safe path. I slipped and fell on the rocks and twisted my hip flexor. The pain was instantaneous. I knew it was bad.

Before cascades with rocks that deserve respect

Thomas couldn’t believe it. He’d only taken his eyes off me for one second and I’d only fallen a small distance. He helped me down the slope with the aid of a young Fijian lad and I rested in the cool pool for a moment. A waiting taxi got us back to the boat. It was agony getting on board. Thomas decided to get me back to Savusavu where the hospital and anchorage would be suitable for a long stay. An x-ray revealed our hopes that there was no break. It had taken four big blokes to lift me off the boat into a wheelchair borrowed from a 91 year old female sailor. Thomas has now borrowed crutches from a one-legged sailor. “What about him?” I asked. “No worries, he has a fake leg” Thomas replied. It took me five days to get into the cockpit and I’ve been ashore once for a shower, but a wayward sneeze has set me back a bit as I stretched the muscle again during the action. They say it may take four to eight weeks to heal depending on the severity. I’d say mine was fairly severe so I’m resting up and not trying to do too much too soon. More pics below

Caught up with our beautiful friends Lynne and Eric. We hadn’t seen them since the Caribbean

A sunset at Savusavu

I haven’t been writing much but I’ve been making flags for my grandson, Charlie

Sam doing selfies underwater

This whole bommie is covered in giant clams

Cloud 9, the floating bar on the reef outside of Musket Cove

My vego curry at Thomas’ birthday dinner. Such variety. delish.

Thomas and I caught this Mahi Mahi as were approaching Vanua Levu. I’d only just put the line in after checking it after a strike. Lucky I got the bungy chord out in time. Thomas took over as we approached the reef. We couldn’t waste anytime. The fish was a golden colour before the life ran out of it. Made me a bit sad but I knew Thomas would have fish for a while with this one

A nice pic of my bum that Sam captured as we snorkelled off Beachcomber’s resort

Sam’s feet framing the Octopus resort after a snorkel on the reef out in front

Thomas was bought a drink by all sorts for his birthday

Sam paddling towards Qi

Sam preparing for a snorkel. Probably checking for sharks knowing her

Sam and I walking on a deserted beach near the site they were filming Survivor

Sam sipping cocktails on Cloud 9, the floating bar near the famous surf break Cloud break

Rainbow Reef, known for all the rainbows. You can see one between Thomas and Jack. Jack is happy if he’s driving the boat.

My beautiful gift basket from Jolene, who used to run Waitui Marina, and we weren’t even staying there this time

My sunset on watch while crossing the Pacific

More party goers for Thomas’ birthday

Sammy’s taste of resort life

The beautiful Lauri off Free Spirit made this delicious cake for Thomas.

Thomas had good company on his birthday

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