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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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