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Christmas Island, One More Delay on the Trip Home

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

What mixed feelings I have about this place. Halfway between American Samoa and Hawaii, it’s the only island within 1200 miles that has airline service. I thought that I had a length of wire long enough to replace my headstay, but it turns out that my spare was 16” too short. If I had run to any other island, I wouldn’t have been able get wire flown in and would have certainly had to come up with a less satisfactory, jury rigged solution. That’s the good.

The bad is that the passage to the lagoon has shoaled and it’s no longer possible to get inside the lagoon. Instead, I’m in a roadstead anchorage rolling away in the swell that wraps around the north side of the island. The motion of the ocean makes it difficult to work aloft and made for a trying ordeal when I took the headstay and furler down.

Additionally the beach along here is all coral. It’s a bit sharp to comfortably drag an inflatable up from the surf line. Oh yeah, that swell comes through and makes landing a dinghy that much more unpleasant. Fully doable, but the better option is to make the mile long trip through the pass to the old wharf on the inside of the lagoon. The pass is shallow and gets pretty good sized waves, especially when the wind is blowing against the tide.

The bright side of the long dinghy ride into town is that the water is absolutely beautiful and the sea life abundant. Large schools of fish dart away from your skiff as you pass through and I’ve yet to make the trip without seeing a sea turtle or a manta. The other day there were four mantas at once feeding off the point a few hundred yards from where I’m anchored.

Speaking of sea life. I came back to the boat the other day and was treated to a show as 40+ spinner dolphins were jumping and playing a few hundred meters from the boat. I went over and was able to get my little skiff up on a plane. The dolphins loved it. I had as many as 7 at once swimming in front of me, jumping and dodging back and forth.

Town itself isn’t much to write home about. Besides the weekly plane service, they get a few ships a year from Honolulu and Fiji. Even “fresh” food can be months old and prices are astronomical. Prices are in Aussie $. 1 egg = $1. 1 apple = $2.20. 30 pack of Budweiser = $105. Needless to say, I won’t be stocking up too much here. I did fill up 20 gallons of diesel to replace most of the 30 gallons that I burned on the trip here from Samoa. At $1.60 per liter, it wasn’t too expensive.

When it’s working, there is internet available and the local telecom run internet cafe. It seems to be down half the time and is pretty slow, but at $1 per hour at least it’s reasonably priced.

I was joined in the anchorage a few days ago by a Islander Freeport 41 named Journey ( Eric and Elizabeth are a young couple from San Francisco, 6 months into a 3-5 year cruise. They were good fun to hang out with, but only stayed for a few days before taking off for French Polynesia. They’d just come from the tropical paradise of Fanning Island and weren’t inclined to spend too much time here at Christmas.

Yesterday I scrubbed Bodhran’s hull so that I’ll be all ready to leave once I get my headstay fixed. I’d cleaned it in Pago Pago before I left. That was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life. The harbor water there is so foul and an amazing amount of growth had built up in the 4 weeks that I was there. Even though I was moving for most of the last month, I’d had a nice colony of gooseneck barnacles attach themselves to the hull while I was underway. It’s amazing how these little fellas float around in the middle of nowhere and then glom onto whatever happens along.

This morning was a bit of a heartbreaker. Criag Short up in Honolulu had tried to ship me a new length of wire to replace the headstay, but it was bumped from the flight. There’s only one flight a week, so I’m stuck here for at least one more week……sigh!

Unexepted Arrival at Christmas in May

Monday, May 19th, 2014

May 5th
It’s been 12 days since I left Samoa for Oahu. I’ve left a serpentine trackline behind me as I’ve tried to navigate through the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ). Oh the first few days were fine. I wasn’t able to lay the course that I wanted, but the wind was consistent and I was making progress. Then 8 days ago that came to an end.

I’ve sailed upwind before on the ocean, but rarely for more than a few days at a time. Even my recent run from Fiji to Samoa was mostly about waiting for the wind to die and then motoring like hell. This passage was going to be in excess of 2600 miles and I wouldn’t be able to rely on my engine to make it all the way there. Besides, I’m still a little concerned with my little Suzie Diesel. She’s been acting up on me lately and I don’t like to push her so hard.

When the wind left me, it didn’t leave all together. It’d come and go in spurts. Evaporation during the day would create huge squalls every afternoon that would creep across the sky like alien motherships dropping their lead gray payload on the sea below. These squalls would bring wind, often lots of it. So may day would be filled with trying to play the light air to get to the next squall. Then I’d hastily reef down the sails as the squall front hit while still trying to maintain the best sailing angle to get east.

It’s all about the easting. The wind predominately comes from the east. The currents flow from the east to west. The cards are all stacked against me. At least in the southern hemisphere, the winds are supposed to be from the southeast, not that they’ve done that for me. When I get to about 8 degrees north, I’ll pick up the northeast tradewinds. If I haven’t made it far enough east by then, these winds will push me west of the Hawaiian Islands. I’d have to beat right into the heart of these intense winds and waves. I’m not sure either Bodhran or myself are up to the task. So I try for my easting in the southern hemisphere.

For a whole week, I play the light airs. After 3 days the squalls dry up. I’m surrounded in the distance by puffy white clouds and bright blue overhead. The real problem is my tacking angles. Bodhran isn’t a very weatherly boat. At the best of times, she can barely hold a 50 degree angle to the wind. Now with the light airs and ocean swell, I’m not able to sail closer than 70 degrees to the wind. When the wind is out of the due east, that means that I can either sail north on a course of 20 degrees or south on a course of 160. Either way I’m not making much easting. So when the wind dies, I fire up the diesel and motor as due east as the waves allow.

May 8th-11th
I got 4 good days of sailing in. The east wind filled in 10-15 knots and I was finally making 100nm days towards my destination. I was just south of the equator when……………..

May 12th

Oh what a sickening feeling. I’m sailing downwind. I’d spent days trying to claw my way east against wind and tide. Now I’m giving it back running for Christmas Island. It’s hard to describe how disheartened I feel.

Last night, while beating into a 10-15kt east wind I came down hard off of one of the occasional 4-6′ swells that I was bashing into. I heard a telltale snap from up forward. My first indication that something was wrong was that the jib was flogging. The jib sheet having been loosened slightly. Upon further inspection forward, I noticed that the furling drum was swinging around inside the pulpit. Something was definitely wrong. Fortunately I was still able to furl the jib and take the load off the presumably broken headstay.

Once the sail was in, I hooked up the spinnaker halyard to the bow roller and winched it tight to make a temporary stay. Fortunately Bodhran is cutter rigged and the inner forestay kept the mast from breaking. I eased the jib halyard to see what would happen and the entire sail/furler started to come down. Obviously my headstay or some other component in the chain had failed. I re-tensioned the halyard to further support the mast and made the decision to fall off for Christmas Island 220 miles to the west.

I’d already been out for 18 days. It’d been a long hard slog, playing the squalls, light winds and currents the best I could to make nearly 1000nm of easting. I’ve never had to work so hard at a passage in my life. I’d expected ESE trade wind conditions, though the pilot charts said that I’d be as likely to get force 3 as force 4 winds. As it turned out, I had winds from north of east for most of the previous 18 days and only 4 days of fine force 4 sailing winds.

Still, I’d made my 1000 miles of easting and had turned north. I was just about ready to cross the equator when the headstay snapped. I had a bottle of champagne chilled and ready. Instead of celebrating my return to the northern hemisphere, I turned away in defeat.

Matters were made worse by the light of day. I can see where the headstay snapped at the mechanical fitting just below the masthead. If the water was calm, I could climb up there, replace the fitting and re-attach the stay. I could be back on my way. Instead there’s still a 4′ sea running making it impossible to do any delicate work aloft.

Hopefully I’ll find the refuge in Christmas Island to make the repairs I need. It should be straight forward, but it would be an immeasurable help to have a second pair of hands on board. The worst part will be when I leave Christmas and have to start working my way due East again to regain this 200+ miles before I pick up the northeast tradewinds.

May 16th
Sailing to Christmas was excruciating. Without a headstay I couldn’t fly the spinnaker or the jib. Instead I was limited to the staysail hanked onto the inner forestay. If I wasn’t a cutter, it would have been worse. I wouldn’t have been able to fly any headsail at all. I also kept a reef in the main sail. It probably would have been ok to fly the full thing. Going downwind, there wouldn’t have been much need for the headstay, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So I limped along between 3-4 knots.

To add insult to injury, I had a 10 knot ESE wind with me the entire way. This is the perfect wind for Bodhran to be sailing upwind and making more easting. Instead I had to sail wing-on-wing dead downwind, one of the least comfortable points of sail know to man. Wing-on-wing sailing causes the boat to roll 10-20 degrees to either side as you go down the face of the following waves. The sails give almost no stability to the motion of the boat. I was already very depressed giving up all this easting, the rolling of the boat was just icing on the cake.

The best part of my 3 day sail to Christmas Island was the night sailing. I’d left Pago Pago just before the new moon. Now I was sailing under an almost full moon under a cloudless sky. The moon was far brighter than most compact florescents. I could have read by it’s light if my Kindle hadn’t crapped out on me the day before I lost the headstay.

I timed my arrival off Christmas, with a little judicious motoring, to ensure that I’d be 10 miles off the island at first light. It took most of the morning, but I’d made it around to the lee by 10:30 and dropped the anchor a few hundred meters south of the wharf on the leeward west side of the island. Alas the sandy patch that I picked was just a shallow layer of sand over rock and my bruce anchor found no purchase.

I dropped in deep water and had 200′ of chain out. The last thing I wanted to do was haul all that chain back up, but up it came. Exhausted after 20 days at sea and hauling 200′ of chain in the equatorial sun, I moved up to a shallower spot closer to the wharf and dropped the hook again.

This time the anchor skittered across the bottom as I backed down on it. Then it stuck. I put more power to my little Suzie Diesel and my heart sank as I broke the anchor free. This spot was also no good. Greg and Bonnie had anchored here before and told me it was the place to be, but I wasn’t having any luck. So up came the anchor again, except this time it was much heavier. When I finally got it up, the weight of my Bruce had been augmented by a nice hunk of rock that I’d broken off and taken with me.

As recently as 2007, you could get inside the lagoon here at Christmas Island, but the channel has gotten too shallow and you have to anchor off. The water is crystal clear and I noticed that there was a nice sandy patch just north of the wharf. Greg had told me that south was the place to be, but after getting the anchor free of the rock, I was just about spent. I motored north of the wharf, dropped the hook in a beautiful patch of sand and was set.

I put the skiff in the water, grabbed my documents and went in to deal with formalities. The wharf has a beautiful floating dock where I merrily hitched my dinghy and jumped up the rusty stairs enjoying my first steps on solid ground in 3 weeks. I made it as far as the security gate and then was told that I had to return to the boat and wait for a boarding party to come with all the officials. Dejected, I returned to Bodhran. After 2 hours of waiting in vain for the officials, I decided that it was time to get drunk… I did.

This morning I set to work on the headstay. I climbed the mast and took off the broken fitting. I could see that the headstay had unraveled and that I wouldn’t be able to replace the fitting in place. So I climbed down the mast and began the agonizingly sow process of trying to lower the whole roller furling/sail/headstay assembly while anchored in the ocean swell. Through a complex series of lines I was able to slowly lower the assembly down to the spreaders when a couple of guys I’d met on my way in yesterday swung by in their outrigger canoe. Mariga and the other fellow whose name I can’t remember made short work of getting the 40′ long furler/headstay assembly down onto the deck. I served up some coffee to the guys and we chatted in the cockpit for a while until they took off to continue their fishing.

The officials hadn’t been answering their radio all morning. Now I get a call from them. I need to move 500 meters to the south. I’m not allowed to anchor where I am. Siiiiiiiiiigh! So up comes the anchor, and I moved to a spot 500 meters south of the wharf. The holding isn’t good, but I’m too tired to do anything about it after all the exertion of yesterday and todays project of getting the headstay down. It should be good enough where I’m at to deal with customs at least.

Again there’s no response on the radio. I decide to make some lunch and wait. An hour later I get a call from the officials. They don’t want to walk the mile up to the wharf, can I please re-anchor a mile to the south down by the pass into the lagoon? Arrrrrrgh! Up comes the anchor for the 4th time in 24 hours. I’m fairly certain that I’m going to have to get an electric windlass when I get home.

I anchor again near the pass and go ashore to pick up the officials. Instead of having a nice floating dock, I have to pick them up through the surf on the beach. It wasn’t a problem, but it took some doing to not swamp the boat while the less than nimble officials were clambering on board, simultaneously keeping off the sharp coral beach that was just waiting to punch a hole in my skiff.

Clearing in was no problem. There were no fees which was great after being gouged for a $165 to clear in and out of American Samoa. I had to handwrite my forms in quadruplicate, but the officials were cheerful and never even bothered to come below. I just dropped them off on the beach. It’s too late to go in and find internet, so hopefully I’ll get this posted tomorrow.

I’m here to fix my headstay. I have spare wire and fittings. I think that I’ll be able to get it done in another couple of days, especially if I can enlist a couple of helpers to wrestle the thing in place as I raise it up again. Christmas looks like a beautiful island. I was met by two huge green sea turtles on the way in yesterday. The water is amazingly clear. Hopefully I’ll get my repairs done, take a couple of days to tour the island and then be on my way early next week. Keep your fingers crossed!

May 18th
A couple of problems here. First, my spare length of wire is 16” too short. I’ve tried to figure out a good way to MacGyver it together, but I wouldn’t feel good setting out for Hawaii 1200nm to windward without a well functioning headstay/jib. The second problem is that I bent the furler extrusion when I was taking it down. I should be able to beat it back into shape, but I’m going to have to take it apart. It’s riveted together and I don’t have any rivets, so they’re going to have to be sent in as well.

On the bright side, the pass into the lagoon is teeming with life. On one trip in, I saw 2 green sea turtles and 4 mantas. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to do some snorkeling there. The folks in town are friendly. There’s a brewery here. It was Sunday when I passed by it yesterday, but I’ll definitely be heading back to check that out.

Happy New Year from Viani Bay!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

We pulled into Viani Bay on Christmas Day thinking that we’d celebrate the holiday with a snorkel and maybe some Fiji Gold. I’d picked an anchorage that looked like it had pretty good shelter from the south easterly winds. I couldn’t tell from the chart that there was a house right there, nor that the only place to drop the hook was about 150 feet from the beach right in front of that house. Indeed while we were looking for a place to drop the hook a respectable distance away, a very European looking Fijian man came out to the beach and directed us to the one good spot to anchor. Mélanie and I immediately dropped the skiff into the water and went ashore to say hi.

The man on the beach turned out to be Jack Fisher. I’d heard of Jack, as he is well know in the cruising community. He takes yachties out diving to all the good spots in the area at a dramatic discount over the local dive companies. The house belongs to his Aunt Francis and the whole Fisher and Evans clan was over for Christmas. Lunch was just about ready to be served. Our timing was impeccable and naturally we were invited.

I didn’t have my camera around for lunch. It consisted of an overwhelming spread of fish and curry dishes, boiled crabs, salads and of course cassava. I think that we each had 3 plates. Then it was time for desert and kava. Mélanie and I excused ourselves and went back to Bodhran to change out of our grubby sailing clothes and to grab the camera and instruments. We got back just in time to sit under the mango tree and get the party going.

I brought in a bunch of “pop-its” that I had left over from Diwali. The kids found it to be great fun exploding these on the back of their Uncle Johnny. Johnny is the definite black sheep of the family. Very entertaining, but he doesn’t work and spends a lot of his time scamming off everyone in the bay, so even Jack’s wife Sofie got into the game of blasting him with “pop-its.”

Went the sun got too low, we shifted from the mango tree to the almond tree for shade, but the grog party went on all night. We pulled into Viani Bay without expectation and ended up having a Christmas celebration that I’ll never forget and making lots of friends that we’ve been hanging out with for a week now.

We stayed in the anchorage off Francis’ house for 3 days. We’d go in for tea from time to time, but mostly we hung out on the boat with Jack and Sofie’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Tukana. Tukes is the family’s singer and guitar player who takes Fijian culture very seriously. I left my spare guitar on the beach for him for the three days and you could hear it being played all day long. Naturally Tukana and I hit it off, but it was Elizabeth who adopted us. She came out and spent the better part of two days hanging out on Bodhran snorkeling, fishing and carrying on. She brought us out buckets full of hermit crabs for bait and even baited our hooks for us. Of course all the catch ended up going back to the house.

On the 4th morning, Tukana and Elizabeth were heading back across the bay to Jack’s house. Jack has a couple of moorings that he put in for yachties. We figured that would be a better place to hang out, so Tukes and Elizabeth came on board and drove us over. The next day we had a pizza party and then decided to go out trolling on the outer reef. Jack joined us on Bodhran and took the helm. We had three lines out, but didn’t get a single bite.

The next day we had Jack’s whole family out for a shopping run over to Taveuni. We were running a bit low on fresh stuff and wanted another try at a fish. The morning was flat calm. Jack took the helm and steered close to a number of bombies, but we still didn’t have any luck. We anchored off Waiyevo and took a cab to the MH in Somosomo to buy groceries. We had quite an entourage with us for whole shopping trip.

It took 3 trips in the dinghy to get the groceries and Fisher’s back on the boat. The wind was up and we sailed off the anchor. We had a rousing good sail with Jack steering the whole way back. The wind was blowing 15-20 knots slightly ahead of the beam as we blasted across Somosome Strait at almost 7 knots. Sofie would whoop with glee every time the boat heeled over. Still we had no bites until Mélanie pulled in the handline and found a small barracuda on the end. Once we were off Jack’s place we finally started the motor and picked up a mooring.

That was New Years Eve. Both Mélanie and I had been feeling sick for a few days. We wrestled with going into the village for New Years or not. Reluctantly I took the skiff in to tell Elizabeth that we were going to bail. She met me on the beach and immediately asked if we wanted to have Tukes and her back out on the boat for a tanoa or two. This seemed like a much better plan. As it turned out, the village New Years Eve celebration consisted of 2 hours of church until midnight. Mélanie and I were both pretty happy we missed that one.

The real party was on New Years Day. The tradition is to douse people with water or even better pick them up and throw them in the water. This helps wash away the old year and bring in the new. We missed the morning mass dunking of people on the beach, but went in for lunch. The massive lunch was followed with a procession from the neighboring village women. They came marching through the village wearing makeup and their sunday finest, banging on pots and pans. The women from this village then proceeded to douse them with buckets and pans of water, including one filled with curry stained dirty dishwater. Waste not, want not.

We then settled into the familiar kava/music session under a mango tree. Like so many other places that I go in Fiji, there were plenty of musicians, but no instruments. So my uke and two guitars were passed around until it was time for the women to all leave for their own wetting at the other village. A bunch set out on foot for the 2 mile walk. Mélanie joined the crew that went by boat a short time later. I thought it best to leave the women to their business and stick around the village with the fellas.

I moved from the kava session to the volleyball court. I got in 4 good games, winning two and losing two, but burned the crap out of my feet on the black sand. It was hot enough to give me blisters on both feet. I had to bow out of the volleyball game. It was OK, the fellas were more impressed with my camera skills than my skills on the court.

We left at sunset after a nice swim and freshwater shower. The forecast is for no wind for the foreseeable future, so my next blog post might be from Viani Bay as well.

Bats and Quebecois

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Mélanie giving me her duck face

Mélanie giving me her duck face

Cyclone season is here. Bodhran has a new 18 month permit for Fiji as well as a new crew member. Back in September, I was planning on sticking around Fiji for all of cyclone season. Irie and Guava Jelly were taking off, so I thought that it might be nice to get a crew member to accompany me, especially if I were going to be in some of the more remote areas of the Lau Group like I had planned. To that end, I placed ads on FloatPlan, 7Knots and Couch Surfing. By October my mind had changed. I was planning to go up to the Marshalls and it wouldn’t be convenient to fly a crew member in and out. I turned down a number of responses apologizing for the fact that my plan had change. I hadn’t got a response in 3-4 weeks when I got a message from Mélanie from Montreal. At first I told her that I was heading north and that it wasn’t practical, but after a couple of days, I decided that the better route home was through Samoa and Hawaii and that it was actually a better idea to stay in Fiji until March. Coincidentally that was exactly how long Mélanie had off. Meeting a crew member over the internet is always risky business. It’d be horrible if she flew down here and we just didn’t get along. We skyped a few times. We seemed pretty compatible and Mélanie bought her tickets.

We spent a few days in Savusavu getting to know each other’s habits and tastes and letting Mélanie acclimatize with the help of lots of swimming in the 80 degree water. We got a test sail in, after which Mélanie began memorizing the names of everything on the boat. After a four days, it was time to get going. We were thinking of being gone for up to two months. So we loaded the lockers with as many groceries as Bodhran can carry. We then crammed in 5 cases of Fiji Gold and 2 cases of Broken Shackle Classic Red. We figured that we could last for a little while at least with all that.

Our forecast had been for two days of northerly winds. The plan was to head back to Fulanga. Then the forecast changed and our two days of wind became 6 hours. We figured that the weather would be best used by heading east. I wanted to check out the cyclone anchorage at Nasasobo 40 miles east of Savusavu so it worked out perfectly.

We got an early start on a dark and rainy morning. A tropical depression was passing to the south of Fiji and we were getting the effect on the fringe. We motored down to Point Reef where we were met by a large squall with south winds. I almost turned around in the face of winds 180 degrees opposite the forecast and a tropical depression off in the distance. Instead, we hove to under double reef main and waited for the wind to die. The decision was made to sail to Naidi bay a mere 9 miles to the east.

Coming into Naidi Bay

Coming into Naidi Bay

I hadn’t been to Naidi either. It’s a good idea to scout out all these anchorages and lay down track lines on the GPS in case of emergency. We tacked back and forth into a light headwind for 3 hours before we lost the wind completely and motored the last 3 miles into the bay. The entrance was wide and easily navigated even on such a gloomy day. After one soft grounding on a muddy bottom that looked nothing like the Navionic chart, we dropped the hook in 16 feet of water and settled in for the night. We still had the internet. Trucks bounced up and down a road right along the water’s edge. An incredibly fancy looking resort dominated one side of the bay while mangroves and a village took up the other. It was a good place to spend the night, but we might as well have still be in Savusavu.

We got a leisurely start the next morning, motoring for an hour or two before we caught the wind and sailed most of the remaining 25 miles to Nasasobo. Fish were boiling under flocks of sea birds, but our fridge was full and we didn’t trail a line. Instead we had sailing lessons, listened to podcasts and enjoyed the bright overcast day.

Navigating the reef was easy enough, but would be difficult in adverse conditions. I tried to keep Bodhran square in the middle of the pass to create as favorable a gps track as possible in case we need to navigate here with a cyclone breathing down our necks. It was too dark to see the shoals in the bay, so instead of exploring, we picked a good spot in the back corner near the mangroves, dropped the hook and cracked some beers. We were then treated to one of the most spectacular spectacles that I’ve ever witnessed. It started with a flurry of fruit bats over the mangroves. As the sun set, the bats came out in force. So too did the colors in the sky. At it’s apex, we were surrounded by thousands of 3 foot wide fruit bats under as dramatic a sunset as you could hope for. We sat out for hours mesmerized by the grandeur of it all.

The next day Mélanie and I took the skiff around to the next bay to do our sevusevu at Dakuniba village. Malaki came out from under an ancient banyan tree to meet us. He took us in to see chief George, where we presented our yanqona and talked about the area. We’d heard of the waterfalls and prehistoric petroglyphs above the village. Chief George wanted $10 a head to go and visit. This wasn’t very Fijian, but he said that he wants to develop the area by digging around the stones and making them more presentable. Hopefully the money goes to this, but who knows. Either way, we didn’t have any money with us and said that we’d come back in the morning.

On the way out, we chatted with Malaki on the beach when Sakini and Rota came back from Savusavu. Going to Savusavu from this village entails taking a boat through the reef and 5 miles west early enough to catch the bus at 6am from the next bay. If you miss the bus, you might as well come back as there is only one per day. Apparently you can also walk 5 miles up the “road” until you get to the main road and catch a bus from there. Of course then you’d have to carry all your supplies 5 miles back over the road with you. We chatted with Sakini and Rota for a while and decided that we’d meet them in the morning for the trip up to the waterfall.

We went back to Nasasobo and decided to scout the mangroves. We found the bat roost in the morning, but now we’d been told that there was a small pass near the anchorage where we could leave the skiff and walk to the village saving us from making the long wet dingy ride. After we found the dinghy landing, we scouted up the creek on the opposite shore for a while until we found William’s copra drier. We took a quick look around and then went back to the boat just in time to catch the evening’s bat show.

In the morning, we tried out the dinghy landing. Unfortunately the tide was out and we had to drag the skiff through the thick mangrove mud over a couple of roots before we reached the rocky haulout. From there we had to follow the uncertain trail until we found the road and walked down into the Dakuniba. We met Malaki and Sakini while they were changing the blades out on a weed whacker. Then Sakini and his entourage of children, nieces and nephews took off with us for the waterfalls.

The trail up was wet, but easy enough to follow. We first went to the petroglyphs where Sakini pointed out the different shapes. No one knows how old they are or what they mean. They’re quite large and it looks like the carvings were once all on one large flat stone. Now they’re spread across many stone fragments and are obscured by lichen and time, but they’re still interesting.

After the petroglyphs, it was time for a dip in the falls. Instead of a single large drop, the falls was made up of a series of pools with the overflows cascading one down to the next over a 100 feet of elevation. The top pool had a great “hair washing” fall that you could sit under and still breath easily while your head was pummeled with water.

Coming to the falls was the height of fun for the kids. They’re not allowed to come on their own for fear that they might hurt themselves. Indeed I slipped on the rocks myself and heartily cracked my knee while simultaneously splitting my elbow. The kids entertained themselves by jumping off small drops into the shallow pools and by sliding down the slippery surfaces on large leaves. It took a few extra leaves, but I was able to make it down the waterslide a few times myself.

Afterwards it was time for tea and scones under the banyan tree. Later Sakini and Rota came out to Bodhran with the kids. Alas, I was too busy showing them how to raise and lower the sails to take any pics. I should have never had told Malaki’s son that he could climb the ratlines or showed him how the folding mast steps worked. Within seconds he was up to the spreaders. I finally stopped him at the inner forestay. He came back down and then commenced to doing laps jumping off the ratlines, climbing back up on board and then starting over again.

Yesterday we took a hike up to find a good viewpoint looking out over Nasasobo. It was hot and there was not trail. Instead we pushed through grass taller than Mélanie earning some nice grass cuts for our effort. In the end we were rewarded with a good view of the bay as well as some nice shots of the village on the other side of the ridge. We didn’t dare stay long in the heat and quickly made our way back down to the shade of a tamarind tree to drink a couple cold Fiji Golds and re-coup. We went down to the village to say hi, but the morning church session was delayed to 5pm and we got there just in time for everyone to go to church.

Right now we’ve taken Bodhran out to the reef to do some snorkeling and get some internet. We’ll probably stay at least one more day here at Nasasobo and then take off for Kioa Island. Malaki has invited us to his village and there’s going to be a big wedding on Friday. As long as the winds allow it, I sure don’t see any reason to skip a party.

Glasgow Gathering 2013

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

I’m wrapping up my time here back stateside. I’ll be off to Fiji on Monday, so it’s about time to get the blog fired up again. To that end, I just threw up a photo gallery with pics from the 5th Annual Glasgow Gathering, informally renamed to the Boise Bothering held last weekend at Tate and Beth’s place in Boise.

You can find the pics here!