Monday, June 10, Nananu-i-Thake, Fiji
It’s amazing how natural it feels to be back on the water, cruising once again on Anthea. The body memories of life aboard, the mental awareness of one’s surroundings and movements, the physicality of daily activities, the regular routines associated with running the ship – which had all lain dormant for the last 10 months, have returned with remarkable ease and clarity. Almost every one of us has independently commented that we’ve have picked up our life on the water again so easily that it’s almost as if we hadn’t left – except now we have Andrea with us, and a practi-cello.
Andrea fits in with us very comfortably and well. She is easy going, has a good sense of humor, is game for most anything we propose, and we appreciate her good sailing and general boat skills. Though the practi-cello has lain dormant the last couple of days, it was a most welcome addition to our daily routine before we departed Vuda Pt. Marina, and we look forward to soon hearing its melodious sounds again. There’s something special about sitting on deck under the brilliant night sky, listening to Devon play his favorite pieces and work on new ones.
We are here in the safe anchorage of Nananu -i -Thake Island, on the north tip of Viti Levu, one of the two main islands of Fiji. We’ve been here four nights now, arriving after a two day motor up the inside passage of the leeward coast. It’s as beautiful as it was last year, but with stronger, more sustained winds, which have made for two epic kiteboarding days. The strong winds are reinforced trades, caused by compressed isobars of atmospheric pressure due to a large high moving eastward from Australia; in addition an approaching trough of low pressure will bring rain and cyclonic wind flow tonight and tomorrow. We will weather the inclement conditions right here. But I digress..
Yes, two epic days of kiting. Anson and Devon will hopefully never forget the kiting they’ve just enjoyed. I was shore support, ready to assist in the dinghy if need be. They never needed a rescue. Yesterday was day two. Day one was made possible because we now have two 12 meter kites, so they could kite in wind that would have been too light otherwise. Yesterday the wind built to the mid-20s, with significant wind waves and chop. They kited for hours. Devon was moving across the water faster than I thought possible; he seemed propelled like a high-speed motorboat and I could only imagine the exhilaration and adrenalin rush he must experience as he rushed over the water on his board, pulled along by the force of the kite strings on his harness. I watched him from my downwind location at the launch site working his way upwind and above a reef, I realized how difficult it would be to rescue him. I thought of Icarus and hoped that Devon would more wisely exercise his new-found powers of flight and speed. Fortunately, he did. He returned to the main channel where he and Anson kited till they were utterly exhausted. As I helped Devon roll up his kite he noted, somewhat under his breath, that it was another of those “on the verge of being in control” days, especially when the wind increased and he was still using the larger kite. He had a huge grin on his face.
The kiting days were separated by a wonderful day of snorkeling on an outer reef at a location called “golden dream.” We arranged to be taken there by a dive boat affiliated with a local resort. The operator, Wilo, was welcoming and assured us that he was taking us to place that had healthy coral, clear water and lots of fish. He certainly did deliver. This areas is popular with divers from abroad because of the clear water of the Bligh Straight (yes, Captain Bligh and his faithful sailors did come this way on the open longboat they were put in during the mutiny on the Bounty). Due to the reinforced trades, there was a significant chop and wind waves, but I assured Wilo, when he asked, that we were all strong swimmers and good snorkelers; I did not find out till that evening that this was Andrea’s first ever experience snorkeling(!). Next time I’ll ask first. We he said “now, go” we all jumped overboard into some strong wind and waves. Swimming a few yards, the wonderful, familiar, and transportingly beautiful world of the coral ecosystem appeared before us. For close to two hours we kicked, swam and dove over the outer edge of this outer reef, enthralled by the beauty and diversity of the coral and its many brightly colored denizens. It was a wonderful way to re-familarize ourselves with the spectacular beauty of coral reefs. Later that day, after lunch and down time/naps to recover, we pulled out the books and identified as many of the tropical fish species as we could.
But now the clouds have cleared, it’s approaching noon-time, there’s restless energy on board to go kiting or kayaking or both and so I’d better bring this post to a close get on with the day’s program.
Yes, life on the water – how fortunate we are.
P.S. Another wonderful part of being back on board has been reconnecting with friends and familiar boats, primarily over the SSB radio on the local South Pacific net and the Gulf Harbor Radio broadcasts out of New Zealand – but more on that later.