The next day, the weather was fairly nice, with slightly calmer conditions. I had hoped to leave but Monty was concerned it was still too windy.
He took on another project: attaching the hoses for the salt water faucet for the galley sink. It was not long before he discovered it was leaking so after some attempts to stop the leak, he resolved he needed a “left-handed screw-driver”! None could be found in Christian’s tool boxes! He disconnected it and resolved to have a plumber to tackle it some other time.
Thankfully, Spirare organized a beach outing to get us off the boat and take advantage of the calmer, sunny day. We all got in our dinghies and motored along the inside of the outer reef to a long beach east of Albert Cove.
Joanne, Serge, Monty and I explored the beach and collected shells.
Andre, Appie and their son trolled for reef fish. By the time we got back, they had a fire going and were grilling their catch.
They have never been sick from eating reef fish, not in Fiji. They said the trick is to avoid red coloured species, like red snapper.
We ate the little picnic Monty organized, an energy bar and peanut butter sandwiches, with warm bottled water to wash it down! I was envying the rice-vegetable salad that Joanne had brought. Why had I not taken more interest in preparing the lunch?
Afterward, we snorkeled off the beach and marvelled at the different corals and fish. Although the water was a bit murky, we saw a variety of fish, some large blue starfish and a field of tall spikey purple coral that looks like the large desert cactus. It was the nicest day, weather and activity-wise, since our arrival.
While we were out at the beach, we saw a few boats sailing by. We thought one might be Mauliola, a 60+ foot catamaran we had seen in Marsden Cove.
When we got back to the cove, Mauliola and another cat, Vive La Vie, had taken up residence.
We went to shore on our paddleboards and talked to a couple gals from Mauliola. They were going on a hike to the other side of the island. They invited us over for poopoos sometime.
The French people from Vive la Vie came ashore. We had a brief chat. They said they had been to Naquiqui, a small hurricane hole to the west, and it was very calm. They said there was a fancy resort called Resort Remote at the entrance to the inlet. They recommended the rather tough 1 ½ hour hike to the top of the hill overlooking Viani Bay for the panoramic views.
We paddled over to talk to Serge and Joanne. They plan going to head north soon, with a stop in Natewa Bay so Joanne can get the bus to Savusavu for some provisions. They were not sure when they would leave. The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow and stay nice for a few days.
We went over for a visit on Mauliola. The owners are Jerry, an American, and Conceicao, a Brazilian, very welcoming people. A friend from the US and a full-time engineer from NZ were also on board. J & C had spent some time cruising with the former owners of our boat. We talked about various destinations, made notes on waypoints and exchanged contact information. After hanging around Taveuni and Rabi for a few weeks entertaining visitors, they plan to go to the Lau Group in mid-August. They seemed keen to have company, and we would love to join them, but their timing might not work for us.
Mauliola was going back to Taveuni the next day to pick someone up from the airport. Taveuni has 3 direct flights daily to Nadi International Airport which makes it a convenient place for picking up guests flying in from around the world. The flights are often full of divers who come to dive the famous Rainbow Reef.
Monty mentioned to Larry, their engineer, that we had a problem with our shower sump pump. He offered to have a look. Monty asked Larry how much he charged. He said: “$60/hr, $90 if you watch, and $120 if you help.” Anyway, problem of a loose ground wire was resolved and we could use our indoor shower again!
The next morning, Serge and Joanne radioed us, asking if we had a satellite phone. She had received an urgent message from her sister that her father was in hospital with a terminal illness. We arranged our first satellite call using Monty’s iPad and our Iridium Go. She was able to let her sister know she would get back to Montreal as quickly as possible.
We mentioned that Mauliola was going back to Taveuni and they would know the ins and outs of flying back to North America. We went over in the dinghy to Mauliola and introduced them to each other. Jerry and Conceicao were very understanding and quickly offered to shuttle her to the airport with them the next morning. It meant that Serge did not need to leave Albert Cove, where he was comfortable and had lots of French-speaking company.
That day, a boat from Quebec, called Grace, arrived. As they entered the cove, Serge radioed them. He asked if they had been to the cove before and after a “negative”, broke into Quebecois French. I could understand a little as Serge gave them some advise on where to anchor in the now more crowded cove. They proceeded to drop their hook right in front of our boat, not exactly where Serge had suggested, he later told us. It was not long before they had dragged and were less than 30 feet off our starboard bow. They were aware they had to move when we called them. They pulled their anchor and redropped nearly in the same place, but a little closer to shore. We watched for a while, but they seemed to have set it on the second try.
We made some preparations for a passage, like taking the 15 horse-4-stroke engine off the dinghy. That is not such a difficult task now that we installed a pulley and stainless steel device for lifting and swinging the engine around the wind generator onto its resting spot on the arch. It would be impossible for us to do on our own.
Joanne and Serge were invited to visit Grace. We heard later that Grace always celebrates meeting fellow Quebecers by sharing a bottle of champagne. I can agree with that tradition! Maybe next year we will stock some for when we meet fellow British Columbians!
Joanne and Serge came over to our boat after visiting Grace and we shared dinner with them, bbq’d steak, mushrooms, onions and fries. It was nice to have a last visit with them before we set off. We had been so fortunate to cruise with them.
It was a very windy night, with howling winds and some bump in the anchorage. Does it ever stop blowing in Fiji or is it just an unusual year?
We woke early to 100% cloud cove. Could we leave Albert Cove today? We waited a bit and there were signs it might clear a bit. Around 830, we pulled our anchor which came up without too much trouble, thank the Lord! Outside the reefs, we turned southeast and headed back to Katherine Bay. Mauliola left with Joanne aboard a little while later and sailed by us in their fast cat!
As we turned south, the winds were 20 knots on the nose. We were glad we did not have to battle it any further and tucked into Katherine Bay. Monty wanted some exercise and I needed a nap. So he went by paddle board to explore the village. He met a villager and the minister of the big church. The minister offered him some breadfruit and Monty offered him a half dozen fish hooks in return.
We finished off putting an extra support strap on the dinghy, fishing off the boat, and sipping a beer. I made an attempt at making rolls for some burgers Monty intends to make with the boiled breadfruit this evening. It was a pretty lame attempt, but at least I tried. I will get better at it with some practice. The aroma of rolls baking in the oven is so good.
The moon was getting closer to being full and now rising later. It had been setting very early in the evening for some weeks. Moonless nights are great for star-gazing which was amazing at Albert Cove with no civilization other than a copra shed and a hut with a small cooking fire.
We positioned Monty’s iPad to see what constellations and planets and stars we were seeing. Neptune and Venus had been close together in the sky for a few weeks and shone so brightly in this darkness. We could see the Southern Cross, Scorpio, Capricorn, Aquarius, Virgo and many more. More fun than learning to use a sextant!