Wednesday, June 20, 2012

island stuff

This is a random assortment of photos from the last couple weeks. Yes I've gotten that lazy... here's my 1000 words in pictures...

Britannia anchored off the north west side of Taveuni

Kitty crazy- it's been a long time for me.

Snorkeling with a group of cruisers

Sundowners on Dilligaf

Sliding rocks 

Very fresh water

So yeah you start on the top and slide all the way down- exhilarating!

An exotic flower in front of an even more exotic scene.

Banana flowers

Oh climbing coconut trees isn't as easy as it looks

This is the main road around Rabi

Cruising= boat projects in exotic places. Eg. patching sails in Fiji

The Methodist church. Took 40 years to complete.

Kava plant

Relaxing on deck. Do I really look 35 years old?!

Swimming above coral and fishes.

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish...

Krister in his usual "I'm stoked" pose.

White-tip shark- don't worry they don't really like us around either.

Still in Taveuni...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Coconuts, Solder, Mystery... Light!

In a scene reminiscent of the movie "The Gods Must be Crazy", a man on the beach here in Albert Cove stumbled upon an interesting piece of flotsam on the beach as he went out to catch fish for his family. It was sort of mushroom shaped - about two feet in diameter with a clear plexiglass dome and a squat "stalk". Caution labels were printed in both English and Spanish.

The man took it home, hoping that when night fell it would light, as some of the buoys here do. The palm covered structure he shares with his wife and children has no electricity save for the eight D cell batteries that he's placed in series using a stalk of bamboo as a housing, allowing for use of a small DC radio. A cluster of LED lights once competed with the radio for battery power but this has stopped working awhile back, so the only light comes from the fire.

When we stopped to anchor in front of his home, we were invited by "Bill" (a westernized version of a name that I'm sure I'd find unpronounceable if he hadn't been as kind) to have brunch with him and his family. The cruisers brought brownies, pasta salad and a casserole dish. The Banabans prepared taro root, coconut, fish and crab. All drank kava for the better part of the afternoon.

The "homestead" 

Lauren Boy and I dismantled the mysterious dome and found a microwave antenna (GPS?) coupled to a solar array and sealed lead acid batteries. As we debated what in fact it was, I grinned as I realized that despite the fact that we were able to determine some of the components of the charging circuit, ascertain the health of the batteries, etc. it was equally mysterious to us. I felt like we were on the right side of the cultural divide.

We ripped out the microwave antenna (I like to think that Command Central somewhere is now on high alert) and added a socket for the spare lights that we had on board - a self contained solar power station.

As we watched the sunset and I saw the lights turning on shoreside, it felt good knowing that we'd made a meaningful contribution to improve the quality of life for our new friends.

The youngest member of the family entertaining himself while the adults drank kava and worked on the new solar light machine.

Learning to weave palm fronds to be used as plates at our potluck lunch.

At 6/16/2012 10:05 AM (utc) our position was 16°26.75'S 179°56.28'W

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving Around in Fiji

We left our anchorage on the northwestern tip of Taveuni yesterday, planning on sailing around the island and ending up on the eastern side where we'd be well positioned to jump off to the Lau Group.

Unfortunately, when we weighed anchor, we almost immediately ran into heavy squalls and pouring rain. Piko and Dilligaf were both within a mile or two of us, and I lost my visual on both boats due to how heavy the rain was.

Getting around Taveuni isn't as easy as it sounds. There are a pile of reefs that require dodging, and if the visibility is poor that becomes a pretty dangerous proposition. We decided to reroute ourselves to a clearer anchorage, and we're now tucked into Katherine Bay in the island of Rabi (pronounced "Rambi").

Moving through reefy waters anywhere is scary, but in Fiji it's particularly bad. I've been playing with a program called MaxSea (Dominic, look into it if you haven't) which allows for a comparison of the two major electronic charts companies (CMap and Navionics) as well as a satellite image. It's a horrifying exercise - if you overlay the two electronic charts in places, they only vaguely resemble each other, and it becomes particularly scary to overlay the satellite image (which we'd presume to be accurate) and see that both sets of charts read like a novel "loosely based on a true story". No where else have we had the charts be off like this.

It's pretty infuriating - the charts are extremely expensive, and those companies should be fully capable of performing the same Google Earth comparison that we're making. I realize we're living a ridiculously cushy life navigation-wise (sextant who?) and maybe I should just be grateful.

We've heard of too many boats being lost on reefs here. In fact, a boat we made landfall with was lost about 10 days ago on a reef.

So, we're being cautious. Waiting for better weather and getting ready to explore Rabi.
At 11/22/2011 8:38 PM (utc) our position was 35°18.69'S 174°14.80'E

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visiting the Village

Yesterday we wandered ashore to check out the school that's here in Viani Bay. It was pretty impressive and an odd juxtaposition of familiar grade school elements (math posters on the wall, map of the world, too small desks...) in a setting that is about as exotic as it gets. There are 59 kids (some walk to school, some are bussed and some are picked up by the "school boat" which makes perfect sense, but totally cracks me up), 3 teachers a few computers and a campus that feels like the very best of the third world - water catchment, solar, barefoot kids, a few more dogs than you'd expect, but extremely clean and sort of impressive.

Anyhow, we checked out a trail that lead away from the school and found a "village" about a mile back into the bush. Quotes used because it's really just an extended family home. There are 20 people who live there, all of whom are related (and two of whom are mentally handicapped - I wondered if it was a genetic predisposition or perhaps a lack of variety) and all of whom were incredibly sweet, kind and happy to have a few gringo visitors. They're 100% subsistence livers from what I could tell, and there was a vibe that reminded me a lot of being home in Alaska.

I'll post pictures when I can - I got a good one of Amanda, Lauren Girl and about half the town.

The next few days are forecast to be rainy. Having the solar power to write a blog post in the rain still blows my mind.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snorkeling in Viani Bay

These are from two different snorkeling excursions, both in Viani Bay near the pass in the reef.
Cool coral formation

My favorite new fish of the season; the red and purple one in the middle.

Blue fish taking shelter in the coral

Not sure what kind of this fish is, but it's cool

Coral garden perspective

Brown and cream spotted clam- new to us this season.

This one is new to us too; love the teal and brown coloring

Krister is free diving 50-60 ft these days

Swimming over awesomeness

Sue's birthday snorkel on s/v Katie M II with crew from Piko, Britannia, Sea Esta, Hokulea, Sea Bride, and Vixen 7

Buddy boats; Britannia, Piko and Diligaf anchored in Viani Bay

Viani Bay

We made it out of Savusavu and are now anchored in Viani bay, a short sail up the coast. It's gorgeous here - the anchorage is calm and the snorkeling is breath taking. It feels good to get out of town and be back out in the real world again.

We're waiting for a good weather window to head to the Lau Group, and are excited to see an area that's only just recently been opened up for cruising - sounds fascinating...
At 11/22/2011 8:38 PM (utc) our position was 35°18.69'S 174°14.80'E