After a long night of being anchored off the west coast of Taveuni Island during a lightning storm and wondering whether not Dragonsbane would be lit up like a bug zapper. I woke to the slow rolling motion of Dragonsbane rocking it out to the northern swell kissing the west coast of Taveuni. My mind on the shore a few hundred feet behind us I chose to free dive the anchor chain and my favorite anchor the “MASON”. I dove to make my mined at ease because today the 4 crazy sailors will walk the Jungles of Taveuni in search of the 3 famous waterfalls that are fresh with Fiji water. But first, the adventure of holding my breath to 47 feet to see if the anchor is dug into a sandy rocky bottom. I put on my bright shark attracting green fins, black mask and jumped off the bow into the warm Fiji ocean swell. I followed the anchor chain until I lost its view in the depths of the ocean. Dive man, dive, to 47 feet and swim 140 feet to the end of that chain. From left to right I see sandy bottom but Dragonsbane chain tongue is making a 90 degree turn around a coral head the size of a VW bug car and then lays straight back through a maze of stones and coral with the anchor hooked to her crown in the sand. Now some old timers say being wrapped on a coral head is a bad thing. Well I think it is good anchoring tactics when on a windward shore getting ready to hike for a day through the jungle like jolly green giants in a field of sweet corn. So knowing that Dragonsbane will not be dragging her steel tongue across the sand bottom to the coral riddled shore we jumped into the dinghy and landed on the black sandy shore. Carried the ugly dock up to a tree and tied her off. The local school children were out for recess next to the beach and as soon as we left I looked back as the ugly dock was being used as a Fiji trampoline, good thing there were young children not Fiji Giants.
We walked the road to the north in search of a hitch ride or something to the waterfalls of Taveuni. Based on my inner stress of Dragonsbane being on a windward shore I decided to pay for a ride and stopped the first local taxi man. His name was Sammy and he had a diesel powered 4 wheel drive van that could take us were we wanted for a few bucks. We jumped into his rock tuned out van and stopped for fuel and snacks. After getting fuel, roti wraps, and spicy cookies we were off on a rough, pot holed road to the Taveuni. On October 31, 2013 a group of 4 named Dragonsbane signed in at the park HQ and ascended up into the Jungle Mountains looking for a waterfall to jump off of. Being the smart folks that we are we refrained from jumping into the first magic clear, blue fresh water swimming hole we came to. No the 100 foot white waterfall did not coax us into its misty froth. We continued up the mountain side to the second smaller water fall and still did not give into Taveuni’s little gems. We frog hopped over the greasy moss covered stones and up into the muggy misty goat trial to the pristine roaring waterfall called the 3rd one. The 3rd was heard from a far and when we dropped down from the mossy covered trail we looked up to see a waterfall spilt into two with white water drowning out the voices of others. In the crotch of the two falls was a perch that hung out over the blue water hole 30 feet below. I dove in and tested the depths below the perch and could not touch bottom so I waved Ben off the perch and flying he went into the air. He disappeared into the roaring pool and then popped up smiling, go for it man. I climbed up the moss covered rocks and hopped over the waterfall that had carved a stream deep and narrow through the rock into mid air.
As I stood on the preach I thought about how the out come of hitting rock would play out I leapt to my water catch and submerged my fears into the cool, clean fresh water. After some time Jess and Jade took there leap of faith and dived off the cliff between roaring white water. After a few hours of playing in the water and eating P&J cracker sandwiches we hiked back to the 1st waterfall. I stripped my cloths off and ran into the receded cavern behind the waterfall and ran as fast as I cold off the 20 foot drop into the waterfall white roar. I submerged into the energy of the water pounding the pools surface hitting my face like a 40 knot ocean storm. The misty spray was intense and I swam hard and fast for the middle of the falling water. I made it to the middle and waterfall pushed my head and body down deep. I just told myself to swim forward and go with the flow of energy. I was spit out in front of the great frothing beast and swam to the warm shore full of perfect round black pebbles and relaxed as Ben, Jess, and Jade followed suit.
After an hour of play we tromped back wet and happy with delight. We jumped back into Sammie’s Van and asked to be dropped off at the famous 200 foot rock water slid. A two hour van rid over bumps, pot holes, and a million hand waves to locals later we turn onto another mud, pot hole road. The road took us past the Fiji prison and locals homes to a small mud trail that leads up into the hill. We paid Sammy, he told us to hike ten minutes up the trail and we would be at the rock slid. Sam was right, 10 minutes later I looked up the stream and saw a perfect tube slid that was carved out of rock. Like a kid I ran up to the top and slide in. As I started being forced down the shoots I thought about rock raking up my back but the good news is that it did not happen. I shot down the rock slid and laughed all the way down. Ben followed by Jade, and Jess to the end were we went back up 10 more times.
We dressed and hiked back to the main road put out our thumbs and had a ride in five minutes back to town. We picked up ice, bread, walked back to the ugly duck dinghy were the kids helped us put it into the water. I pulled on the pull cord several times to start the outboard but it would not run. I then notice that the emergency kill switch was removed and I looked at the shore to see 10 kids laughing. I put the cord back on and pointed at the kids as they ran off laughing and the ugly duck started up and took off. We enjoyed the evening with fresh caught yellow tuna cooked up and gin & tonics.
Another great day!
From land to sea I travel on the back of Dragonsbane to the Rainbow Reef with the help of a old Fiji man named Jack Fisher. Jack Fisher took us to the white wall were I strapped on my scuba gear. It felt like a 100 pounds of weight and stress that I have felt in my short 30 years on this complicated world. As I looked down into the depths of unknown creatures and monsters with big teeth I felt the hair stand up on my neck. I took a leap of faith into the dark iron blue ocean and sank down. I sank down in a twisted swirl and smiled as I became one with my new world of bone crushing pressure and monsters that smiled with big white toothy smiles. Yes, the 100 pounds of weight and stress melted away and I was in the next world under the sea. But to get to the other side I had to dive through a black cave that showed me the way to the white wall. I sank deeper into the ocean through the dark cave opening and looked into the scary depth and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I descended to sixty feet to the bottom of the cave that was covered in coral fans and big tropical fish to a small opening. I swam through the open and came into the bright light of the white wall. The white wall was covered in white coral and bright colored fish. I descended to 100 feet and looked high into the ocean above and watch the bellies of bright big fish swim along the white wall. The ocean held me tight in her grip at that depth and I felt the world hugging me and I was at peace drifting through a world of balance, no thoughts of anything but peace.
But from the world under the sea I rose to the surface to meet the clear blue sky, the warm hot sun on my face, and roar of the ocean hitting the coral reef a few boat length behind Dragonsbane. Jack Fisher smiled and laughed in his old man way and asked, was it nice? With little excitement I said it was perfect, and I silently went about my way filling the scuba tanks and geared up my friend’s next dive. My Friends Jade, Ben, and Jess enjoyed there own journey through the black cave to the white wall. For Jess she completed her first deep dive to 90 feet. Ben and I saw a sea snake at 70 feet. Ben took a picture but the snake was being boring so a good push with the camera got it moving around right to his face. Funny thing is that the Fiji Sea Snake is the most poison snake in Fiji and Ben punched it at 70 feet. Jade and Jess dived together and played in the depths doing rolls and taking pictures in the cave. Well I was top side I learned about Jacks 7 wives and how he made lots of money in his day and then lost it all to women. So After a full day of diving stories we anchored in front of Jacks house and drank beer. I then took a sea bath under the stars naked as a blue jay and watched a storm off in the distance flash by.
Good Night Friends,
Let today be great!
Two days ago I left the very busy port of Savusavu to a small quite bay called Nasasobu. Nasasobu Bay is right next to Dakuniba Village where Chief George lives and over see all the land and anchorages. After a 40 nautical mile sail from Savusavu we made our way through a very narrow passage in the reef to get to Nasasobu Bay for the nights anchorage. As we passed through the swell the waves were crashing against the reef only a few boat lengths away but we made it through with no problem. We dropped the anchor in a calm bay with a mud bottom. The high mountains of Fiji surrounded us and a small house tucked up on a hill over looked us. A man in a kayaka approached us and welcomed us to the bay and invited us for Sevusevu drink. We stowed away our gear and dropped the dingy into water and paddle off to meet the local people that live on Nasasobu Bay. We had no idea what to expect or how the customs of Fiji should be handled but went anyway.
The tide was low that evening as we paddle to shore and tied our dingy to a Mangrove tree. The mud stuck to our toes as we waded to shore and then climb up the steep hill to the mans home. A large group of men began saying hello in there native language and had big smiles to see us. We took off our shoes at the door and walked in and sat on the floor of there home. Each person introduced themselves and was informed of the homes owner who was George. George owned all three homes that over looked Nasasobu Bay and the entire family lived there. We sat in a circle as the Sevusevu was prepared in front of us. We were told to relax and wait for the Sevusevu to be prepared and served before we spoke. I was served the first cup from a hand made coconut cup and was asked if it was high tide or low tide, this meant do you want a full glass or half glass. I choose high tide because I like the taste of Sevusevu which is the same thing as cova that I spoke about in my last blog. We had at last 10 cups of Sevusevu and my mouth was very numb and I felt very relaxed. We discussed where we were from and how long it took to get to Fiji sailing. We asked about there schools, work, living, and cultures. It turned into a dozen people talking with us and exchange culture ideas. They wanted to know how many cows I owned and how big my farm was, I told them I had none which confused the young man I was chatting with. After a long evening of drinking Sevusevu I was asked to tell a story, so I told them of the great winters and snow from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I told them about ice fishing and how we drilled wholes in the ice to catch fish. They all laughed and enjoyed the tales of Upper Michigan. As soon as I was done talking the woman said the sevusevu was finished and to have a good night.
We woke this morning and went over to Dakuniba Village and brought a offering of Sevusevu to Chief George. We approached Chief George’s home and a nice lady invited us in to see Chief George. We sat on a large hand made mat and Chief George sat with us, I placed the Sevusevu dried plant on the ground in front of Chief George for him to decided weather or not he wanted to offer his protection and grant us permission to stay on his land. He picked up the Sevusevu and I think gave us a blessing and then tossed the Sevuseve in the corner and welcomed us to his village. We then waited with Chief George and asked questions about his village and how the fishing was. Then one of his grandson came in and took us to the water fall and some accent stone carvings. The grandson told us that no one knows what there meaning is but his great grandfather said that one day when the meaning of the carvings is known there will be great riches for the village and its people. Then he told me about how the Japanese have come this year to there village, took soil samples and thought that there was oil and gold on there land. They think that they will make a lot of money soon and are very excited. I really want to tell him that letting in the Japanese or who ever would destroy all there land and leave them with nothing in the end but I bit my lip and just said ok. It’s a shame how these beautiful places and people are corrupted by the outside world.
We then went back to Dragonsbane for lunch and then went back to Georges house for a hike over the mountain to Viani bay were the worlds famous rainbow reef is. We were told that the hike should take 1 to 2 hours and some of our new friends would take us to Viani bay. We started hiking through the Mangrove swamp and got full of mud and then to high ground were we walked through a coconut farm. Soon after that our new guides were very lost and we found out it was there first time hiking over the mountain to Viani Bay. I really kicked myself for not bring my compass. Anyway we hiked up the ridge of a tall mountain and reached the top in a few hours. We had to bush whack our way through tall grass that was over our heads and then through Jungle forest to get to the top of the next ridge and saw down into Viani Bay. Looking out you could see for miles in all directions and the reefs that surrounded the island. The skies were clear and the air was hot but it was so beautiful up on that mountain. We then bushed whacked our way down the grass covered hillside back into the Jungle and followed a creek to the ocean into Viani village. We went to our guide’s friends home and waited for him to give us a boat ride back to Nasasobu Bay. The hours went by and the woman of the house cooked us supper and gave us fresh lemon tea to drink as we sat on the floor eating cracker jam treats for dessert. Finally at 10pm the boat showed up. Under a very clear star bright night sky we zipped across the reefs and watched the ocean water sparkle with bright flashes of bioluminescent. The bioluminescent would explode all around us at the same time and look like thousands of flashing lights going off. Then we would look back and see stars shooting across the sky. It was a perfect end to a long day and it only cost me a gallon of gas. We are off to bed now so we can go scuba diving on Rainbow reef tomorrow.
The time is 7:22pm and I am 30 feet from shore moored to a short 1 inch line that keeps me comfortable away from shore. I glance to my right and see the hot spring flow into the ocean giving off a fog of hot steam. Then in front of me I see our new friends form the UK and say hi “HI”. The day has been full of rain and yesterday it was full of rain. The weather is cool around 80 degrees and high humidity. As I slowly spin in a circle in a ballet twirling around with all the other sailboats in our little mooring field I smile knowing I am not going anywhere to night shacked to a mooring line. Now I am reminiscing with my crew or my good friends about our adventure yesterday. But before I can tell the tail I must fill my blue bubbly glass with more Gin and Tonic with a splash of fresh lemon, so no limes in Fiji. Nobody knows why there are no limes but I like the lemon as it really spices up the GIN. Did you know that Fiji make a great London Dry Gin that is better then there Bounty Rum? Well it is quite a find and I feel like I am floating around in the Gin perched on a ice cube looking up at the cloudy sky smiling hoeing for a glimpse of the star sky for the night.
So I digress back to the discussion of yesterday’s adventure. After a very stress free encounter with immigration, customs, health, and bio security I am now very much a sailor in Fiji and would like to say thank you to all officers for such a wonderful experience clearing into Fiji. Anyway back to the adventure, we decided to join our friends Jory and Lauren on a bus trip to the north side of Vanua Levu Island to the city of Labasa. The trip took 3 hour to get there packed into a bus with local people for only 5 dollars Fiji which is about $2.50 USD. Anyway we toured through the bus windows as we stopped every few miles to drop off locals and saw the landscape of the island. High mountains and fields of sugar Cain covered the land. Houses made of tin and wood with pigs and cows were the norm. All the local Fiji people were very friendly and warm. When we arrived in Labasa I was taken back by the overwhelming amount of the India population that over whelmed the local population by my guess five to one. The city was very busy with fast moving traffic and shops filled with everything from raw beef to vacuums if you need both at the same store.
After doing some window shopping and seeing what the city had to offer we wondered to the fresh market and walked through the endless buildings and tents of fresh fruit, vegetables, and spices. From there we walked across the street to a local gathering place were a man offer us to buy a live goat for $300 dollars per goat, we said no thanks. But a local women did convince us to have a seat and drink Kava “Latin for intoxicating pepper, is a crop of the western Pacific, the roots of which are used to produce a drink with mild sedative and anesthetic properties”. The kava tested like wood chips but did make my mouth go numb and I felt very relaxed. I enjoyed our conversation and wondered how I would feel in the morning after drinking local water and brown root juice. Good news I felt fine the morning considering the verity of local food consumed yesterday. So after a day of window shopping, drinking kava, local Roti wraps, and people we boarded the return bus at 3;30pm and made it back by 7PM. After a day of hot buses, food and adventure I enjoyed my first hot shower in 4 months that evening. I forgot how wonderful a hot shower is, O the small things in life.
Like normal today was spent it on boat project. I spent a full day spelunking in the bellows of Draognsbane bilges changing out a float switch and cleaning the nasty grease from her bilges with the help of Jade and Jess. Ben, bless his brave soul buffed the hull of Draongsbane in the rain standing in a dinghy holding onto a power buffer. Anyway Dragonsbane is looking closer to ship shape and I am looking forward to our passage to New Zealand in a few weeks. But first we have to cruiser Fiji and see the hidden things that she holds under the sea in the Jungles.
You never fail if you never quite!
Well, after a few days of squalls and taking showers on deck as we sailed long at 8 knots we have arrived. Savusavu, Fiji is a wonderful place and the prices are so cheap. Anyway I wanted to let you all know that we made it. Take care Friends.
LAst night was full of dark skies and squalls. The Squalls did not pack much wind, only blew up to 20 knots but were filled with bucks of rain. After the squall would pass the wind would die down to 4 or 8 knots and come from any direction. This is kind of passage weather is very annoying because it requires constant sail changes and reefing to handle the changes in wind speed. After a long night of being wet and sleepy I awoke to no wind this morning. So we fired up the motor and went for about 2 hours till we had 8 to 10 knots of wind again. We hoisted up the spinnaker and have been rocken that sail sense noon today. We are making slow progress at 4 to 5 knots but in the right direction. I am hoping that we will make it to Fiji by night fall tomorrow. The only cool thing to note about last nights sail was the jellyfish on the surface of the ocean would exploded like a flash going off as we sailed by them. I believe that they were giving off bioluminescent. The flashing jellyfish made night navigation difficult because the rain was so heavy at times it would make the ocean foam white around us and it would make it very hard to see the real horizon or the splashing of the rain. Then throw in exploding Jellyfish bright white flashes and you think that you are being run down by ships. So I turned on our radar and could tell that there was no ships and relaxed. Very odd night and looking at the squall filled skies ahead of us tonight I know it will be fun navigating through the Fiji Island pass at night. Don’t worry I will have the radar on and charts set.
Current position: 5:28utc, 16deg 31.5min South, 178deg 47.1min West, COG 290, SOG 5.7kts, wind speed 10kts, cloudy skies
Our passage to Fiji has been quite splendid with our first 24 hours of sailing making 153 nautical of progress. Wind is still behind us pushing Dragonsbane easily and roily across the ocean expanse. It is lovely to have three watches and 8 hours of rest between shifts. I also like the meals that are being prepared underway as Dragonsbane rolls from side to side which helps stir in the flavors of mixed rice and curry. The girls enjoyed there first watch with out Ben and I pointing out the mistakes they made. They did a fine job and even tacked the sail during the 4 hours of ocean watch. I think I may have made two more mad cruisers that have been bitten by ocean sailing bug. But for now I am smiling even with the gray cloudy sky overhead about the miles ahead, wondering about nothing.
Current Position: 04:25utc, 17deg 25.8min South, 176deg 55.0min West, COG 270deg, SOG 6kts, Wind Speed 18kts, Swell 1-2meters, Cloudy Gray Skies.
Easy Swell Everybody,
After going round and round with Customs and Immigration documents we are underway, Ben, Jessica, Jade, and myself. We left the Vava’u Pass at 13:30 today 10-14-13 and estimate that we should arrive in Savusavu, Fiji by Thursday if the wind stays our of the southeast. Currently we are making 6.5 to 8.5 knots of speed with wind speeds of 18 to 24 knots with clear skies! I am happy to be underway again and I am looking for to a new country and its challenges! I hear the shark diving is very good in south Fiji so I hope to dive with some Tigers and Bulls. Anyway I will keep you all updated as we sail our way to Fiji through the coral chain of reefs and unmarked objects that scatter the ocean crossing from Tonga to Fiji. We already passed a volcano on our way out today.
Current Position: 05:25utc, 18deg 32.0min South, 174deg 41.0min West, COG 286deg, SOG 6-8.5knots, Wind Speed 20knots, Wave height 1-2meters, clear skies.
Hope they have Rum in Fiji,
It has been a few long days and nights sense my last thought on my blog and well, a lot has happened. Its funny when I was home I could say in the last week I went to work for 10 hours a day and sat in traffic for at least a hour or two each day. I am sure that you would all be very interested in that blog. The life of a east coast rat racer, big whoopee. Sorry I didn’t stay long enough to get the white picket fence and BMW fuel efficient car in Baltimore. I traded in for a sailboat, a father that said lets go for the horizon and see what happens. My mode of transportation is a sailboat that gets 1000 nautical miles per 30 gallons, suck it PETA. Anyway I digress, the Rum has flowed because Fiji only always 2.4 liters of rum per boat. O yeah I am leaving with the best crew Jess, Ben, and Jade for Fiji 427 nautical away on Friday, look out for the passage blogs. Why Fiji, because I can and want too. So I have alot of Rum and with it, it has been a short journey down the rabbit hole of Tonga. Here in the Land of Tonga I have Scuba dived the worlds best coral gardens, snorkeled through breaking swell only 2 inch’s of ocean between my belly and flesh taring coral. Narrow passages between ship sinking coral reefs. Deep dark blue waters that holds the great hump back whale that breaches the ocean ceiling to show me that I am a small and insignificant part of the world. Surfing behind a dingy and shredding up the salt water with Jelly fish filled bays hoping not to fall in a pit of stinging tentacles. Hitch hiking along ocean islands on the backs of open flat bed trucks. I am once again lost in the moment of tranquility and planted with feet in the cockpit of Dragonbanes that allows me to see this transformation of what I was to what I am now. For now Dragonsbane and me sleep 12 feet over a coral reef with the little tropical fish swimming and feeding. The sunset is of reds and cloudy shadows that bask my face with a warm heart feeling. With my tobacco pipe in hand and crew I love, I suck down the days events with a large pearly white smile laughing at our mistakes and our joys of a free spirited world. We all wonder what we will do with our life after this life style. Its a thought of what does one do when you have balance and joy. I say who cares about the modern drive for more, I am happy!
Off To The Horizon Friends,