We decided to leave Viani Bay with Joanne and Serge on Spirare on July 19th. Monty and I both did not want to leave Viani Bay, but the winds were predicted to crank up and go south and Serge did not like our anchorage for those conditions. We were concerned about finding a different anchorage in the bay as there was so much coral. Katherine Bay on Rabi Island, north-east of Viani Bay, was selected as the next anchorage. It had a muddy bottom and an easy entrance through the reefs. It was a good intermediary spot.
We attempted to raise our anchor early in the morning. It was clearly stuck in coral again! Monty jumped in the water and had a look.
Then he tried to use the Free-diver but it would not allow him to get down far enough to free the anchor. We were in at least 12 metres of water and the hose on the Freediver would collapse when he dove down 5 or 10 metres.
It was time to call Dolphin Bay Divers again. I got them on the line and was waiting to speak to Roland when the minutes on my phone card ran out. I emailed them and let them know our anchor was snagged again. Within a half hour, Roland appeared.
It was so nice of him to respond so quickly. He only took a few minutes to free it this time. He would not accept anything for the trouble but asked us to come by the resort and have a drink sometime. We plan to go diving with him when we return to the area too. We were sorry we had to leave so soon, but it seemed to be the prudent thing with the forecast.
We navigated out Viani Reef and put the lines in the water. The sea was very calm and winds were light on the nose so we motored up the Somosomo Strait. We were glad it was calm because the winds can howl, and the seas can be very rough in the strait.
A few miles before we had to turn in and head through a reef, we heard the fishing line zing. And then the other! Wow! Two fish on at the same time! Finally, we might catch something! Monty went from one rod to the other, reeling them in, and I minded the helm, grabbing a net, alcohol, the cutting board and knife as needed. With the boat on autohelm, and turned away from the reef, we got a call from Spirare wondering what we were doing. We explained, “2 fish on!” Our hearts raced with excitement! We scrambled around to get all the gear ready to land the fish and I got my cameras ready. After about 40 minutes, Monty had landed both of them. They were a nice size, about a metre long. We took photos of our first catches!
Our spirits were definitely lifted from the success fishing. Finally, a cruising reward, after dealing with some boat maintenance, which is all new to us, and having our anchor stuck twice in coral!
Spirare called us again and we let them know we had both fish on board. They advised that we should clean them as quickly as we can because friends of theirs had gotten ill from not doing so. Monty used his Thunder Bay fish filleting skills and had them cleaned and the fillets in the fridge in short order. Lots of good eating ahead! We had heard that the villagers like to use the heads for bait and/or cooking, so we kept both heads and one skeleton.
A large imposing church stands guard at the entrance to Katherine Bay.
The guidebook says that the Rabi Island residents are from Banaba Island in far away Kiribati, Micronesia. You can read about how these people came to settle on Rabi Island, if you are interested.
Anchoring in Katherine Bay was as easy as it could be. There was one other boat in the bay, a boat called Samoa, owned by a Frenchman named Andre. Serge had met Andre last year and had helped him with his SSB radio. We saw Andre and his Fijian wife and 3 year old child out trawling in the bay that evening. They went over and had a chat with Serge and Joanne when they saw him anchor. At Serge’s suggestion, we gave Andre our fish heads and skeleton. He and his family had truly embraced the cruising life. Most of the time, they ate what they caught. We could learn a few things from them!
We passed a quiet night, enjoying our freshly caught mahimahi and looking at the stars.
The next morning, we were able to pick up one of the cruisers’ nets on the SSB radio, and were able to share our fishing story with the other listeners. It was exciting to finally hear something on the SSB!
The next day, we gladly shared some fish with Joanne and Serge who had been so generous with their wahoo from Viani Bay!
There was little to do in Katherine Bay with mangroves surrounding the bay and a very small village, so Whistler and Spirare opted to move again before conditions deteriorated. The winds were forecasted to get much stronger and Katherine Bay can get some swell from the south. At the north eastern end of Rabi Island is a cove that sounded interesting and that Joanne and Serge recommended. It is called Albert Cove.