Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fiji. One Last Post Before We Leave!

Saturday October 31st 2015


Mark diving Namena Reef, Fiji

Since our last post we have spent a little more than a week and a half back in Savu Savu while we waited for our steering part from Amel (delivered from France). It came relatively quickly and was less expensive than we originally thought it would be !  This combined with the fact that Mark was able to do most of the rebuilding on his own, made this one of those rare 'positive boat project' experiences !  While Amelie was  on a mooring ball with her steering wheel dismantled, we enjoyed a lovely Sunday onboard SV Perry who was anchored just outside Savu Savu at the Jean Michel Cousteau Resort. We enjoyed discovering the good reef with them. 


While at Savu Savu Meg got to hang out with a few fellow cruising teen aged girls in the afternoons after school. Together they explored the little shops in town, swam and generally had some good old fashion fun together !


Meanwhile her parents were grateful to have good internet as we spend nearly a whole day “watching” the Canadian National Election. It was surreal to see the results as they unfolded, almost in real-time for us, from the Globe and Mail website. As Canadians we certainly have entered a New Era! Later that same day we went on land and had a beer to toast Steven Harper’s departure and his 10 years of service (as PM for our country) and raised a glass to Justin Trudeau: “The King is Dead , Long Live the King!”  wishing this newest (and younger) Prime Minister all the best, we will be watching him with interest !  


Mark pointing out some of the good diving spots on Namena Reef


Namena Reef and Natural Reserve: A Diving Heaven ! 

We left Savu Savu for the last time on October 29th and sailed to the Namena Natural Reserve. We got to find out what happens when you actually actively protect the reefs and fish (no fishing allowed); You get a snorkelers' (or divers') paradise called Namena Reef ! 


As you swim along marveling at the sights you become aware of someone saying: “wow!”  WOW!’ over and over, and then you realize that it’s YOU , the words just bursting out of your mouth into your snorkel above your head!  


At one point it felt like I has swum OUT of the ocean and INTO a screensaver, the perfect mix of colourful hard and soft coral, large schools of neon blue fish and another school of yellow and blue swimming in the opposite direction, they pass each other like traffic at a busy intersection. Add to this the occasional appearance of ridiculously colourful parrot fish, some unique-never seen before by yours truly- orange, white and black butterfly fish (that are reminiscent of Creamsickles) and the large groupers opening their mouths revealing the small neon blue cleaner fish inside, Oh, and look, right there amidst this visual smorgasbord, a clown fish in his anemone, completing this perfect picture ! 


One of the Kiwi cruisers we met recently told us that when he hears people talk about “Natural colours”, well ‘he reckons’ that (judging by what we saw here), NATUR-al colours include, hot pink, deep purple, fluorescent green and yellow, and every other shade you wore in the 80’s, well, okay that I wore in the 80s (me and Don Johnson)!  


Now, I know that I am gushing here folks, but it’s just THAT beautiful here and, sadly, there really aren’t that many place left in the world where you can see reefs like this anymore! The soft coral, intermingled with the largest quantities of different of fish fish species we’ve seen in a long time, ranks this place right up there with Fakarava (Tuomotus), Ningaloo (Western Australia) and Sulawesi (Indonesia) as far as best diving we’ve ever experienced . When Meg came back from her early morning dive on Halloween I had to smile when she pronounced it: “The Best dive she’d ever had!” I guess my point is: If you are looking to find an incredible diving or snorkelling experience, head to Fiji and look up Namena Reef (or Rainbow Reef) !



We don't have the proper camera gear to help you see the actual colours !

                      

Conrad from SV Perry, swimming with the fish 











Meg gives Namena two thumbs up! 


Boobies Everywhere! Another bonus for us at Namena reserve was the abundance of boobies and other sea birds to watch from the cockpit. Boobies are such funny birds, so goofy and seeming to lack the good sense that other sea birds have. 


They are as interested by us as we are by them..they fly by at very close range to spy on us, at one point when I was resting in the dinghy with Matthew (while Mark and Meg were in the water), one of these daffy birds even landed on my back ! I was leaning over to reach a mask at the bottom of the dinghy, when I saw Matthew, sitting across from me, look up in alarm and saw the shadow of fluttering wings from the corner of my eye, then I felt this weight on my back and his feet as he made himself comfortable as he gingerly perched on me, not perturbed at all by my loud expression of surprise (What the $%*@!)


He just sat there for about 30 seconds until I got tired of being horizontal under his weight, he flew away as I pulled myself up laughing a few more tried to land on us after that, they looked so funny as they hover in place just a foot or two above our heads with their big clumsy looking feet in front of them.


The entire island seems to be one large colony of Red Footed, Nazca and Brown Boobies. We also saw the elegant tropic birds, with their long slender white tails, and these share the space not only with the boobies but also with those ruthless pirates of the sea: The Magificent Frigate Birds, well known for frequently stealing food (and young!) from other birds. 


We took a few walks along the shore to get closer a closer look at the nesting boobies, their fluffy white young and their wonderful red shoes. They are a lot of fun to watch and listen to as they cackle away to each other and fly by totally unperturbed by our visit.As I got back to the dinghy I enthusiastically told Mark: “I could spend the entire day watching Boobies !” He smiled a sly smile: ”So could I !”  he said!


A baby Booby in its nest

Magnificent Frigate Bird

Red Footed Booby

Red Footed Booby

A tropic Bird tucked in his nest ( in a hole in a tree)

Red footed Booby
Trick-or-treating 


Our Second Halloween On Board Amelie ! Halloween on board was fun! The kids weren’t going to dress up this year but then our only neighbours (Mark and Conrad from Perry) were so happy to go Trick or Treating (just between the two boats as we were the only ones in the Namena anchorage) that Meg and Matthew decided to join them. Putting together some sort of “South Pacific Pirate-Nerd Type” of costume at the last minute. They turned out great !  We set out our Calabash Jack-O-Latern, gathered the candies, made some spooky themed lunch and dinner and watched the obligatory scary movies ! 


Our calabash Halloween Pumpkin


Trick or treating cruiser style !


South Pacific Pirate Nerds


A tree full of Boobys

Coming up ! As I type this, we are on our way to Coconut Point on Vanua Levu, from there we will be crossing to the Main Island: Viti Levu, just in time to celebrate Matthew’s 16th Birthday ! We will also be doing some last minute boat preps (a few repairs on the mizzen sail are needed) and get ready to welcome 4 new crew members as Amelie is getting ready for an all boys trip down to New Zealand soon!



Meghan On Amelie (written in November 2015) 

Namena

After spending a couple of weeks back in Savu Savu to work on the boat (steering disfunction which we got the spare part for), as well as meeting a couple of boats with teenagers on them, we left with SV Perry for Namena Reef which we had really been hoping we'd be able to go to since not all of us had had a chance to see the Rainbow Reef. 


Right off our boat, on the island, there was a huge booby bird colony.  We were especially surprised to see red footed boobies since when we had seen them in Galapagos, we had been told that they only existed on two islands in the world (both of which were in Galapagos).  Yet, here they were and it says in the Fiji guidebook that they are common throughout Fiji.  Anyways, again as I said in my Galapagos blog, red footed boobies are my favourite types of boobies because they really have a character.  They stare at you and squawk really loudly if you do something funny and when you're in the dinghy, they fly right over your head (just half a metre) and one even landed on mom's back when she was bent over!


We went snorkelling and diving as well on the reef.  The Rainbow Reef is famous because it has amazing soft coral but Namena should be just as famous because I actually liked it a bit better than Rainbow Reef because it had LOTS of fish as well as nice coral (not as much soft coral though). 


We are now at Vuda Point, near the Nadi airport, on the main island of Fiji.  On the 12th, Matthew, my mom, and I are going to fly to Auckland.  My uncle and three of my dad's friends are coming here and will help him sail the boat down to New Zealand where we will meet him in Opua. 


The reason we are flying down is because this trip is known to be rougher with more sailing into the wind and it's just not practical to do school in those conditions.


At first when my mom mentioned the idea, I said, "No way! I'm not going to back down or shy away from sailing even if it's a little harder sail. I am not going to be a wuss!"  Then, I thought about it and I realized that I crossed the Pacific ocean, it wouldn't be so unreasonable if I said I said I didn't want to do school in 35 knot winds.  Plus, flights to New Zealand from Fiji are quite cheap and this way, we get to explore Auckland a bit early so we know what to do when we sail there. 


For those of you who don't know, we have been talking about spending cyclone season (November-April)  in New Zealand for almost a year so it feels very surreal to be so close to it now.  As I write about all these little islands though, it makes me a bit sad that I don't know when I will see remote islands like them again. "When one door closes, another opens" they always say though so stay tuned for November's blog: all about a new place, New Zealand: Adventure Capital of the World!


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2 comments:

  1. I'm just a FEW months behind on blogs. Figured I'd finally try to catch up a few at a time. So glad I did as, while reading of Boobies and pirate candy, I realized how much I'd missed these blogs.

    I not only see the world through new eyes by reading your descriptions, but I also widen my mind. There is SO much more out there than I could have conceptualized at the peak of my imagination. Extraordinary! Simply extraordinary!

    My eyes are drifting tonight so it seems like I've only caught up by one for now but still an utter pleasure. Until the next moment I find to take a read, know that you're loved and thought of daily.

    From Canada,
    Cmo

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm just a FEW months behind on blogs. Figured I'd finally try to catch up a few at a time. So glad I did as, while reading of Boobies and pirate candy, I realized how much I'd missed these blogs.

    I not only see the world through new eyes by reading your descriptions, but I also widen my mind. There is SO much more out there than I could have conceptualized at the peak of my imagination. Extraordinary! Simply extraordinary!

    My eyes are drifting tonight so it seems like I've only caught up by one for now but still an utter pleasure. Until the next moment I find to take a read, know that you're loved and thought of daily.

    From Canada,
    Cmo

    ReplyDelete