Parts Run to Taveuni

Mélanie and I made it all the way from Nasasobo to Dakuniba (maybe half a mile). First we went out for some internet and a snorkel by the pass on the outer reef. The water was almost too warm to swim in. We had to refresh ourselves by constantly diving down below the top level thermocline. The anchorage was deep and we were a bit close to the coral. When the wind decided to shift around 180 degrees it was time to go.

Instead of heading back to Nasasobo, we anchored off the village in Dakuniba. The anchorage is much deeper and less protected, but we wanted to go in and have a kava session and didn’t feel like trying to negotiate the trail to the mangroves after dark.

Mélanie and I went in and met up and Sakini and Ruta’s house. We were a bit early for kava, so Ruta made us up some tea and a batch of panecakie. Afterwards we rolled out the woven mats on the grass outside and had a nice night drinking and playing music under a full moon.

The next morning we were all ready to take off for Kioa. We hauled up the hook, cleaned all the mud off the chain, and motored out past the reef. Then then engine died. We had just enough wind to sail back into Dakuniba topping out at 1.7 knots on the way in. Once the hook was down, I quickly diagnosed that the lift pump wasn’t working. Upon further inspection, it wasn’t an electrical problem, so I had to replace the pump with a spare.

I’d also noticed that I was leaking coolant. I had a pinhole leak in one of the heat exchanger hoses. Unfortunately I didn’t have any spare hose. I might have been able to make a patch, but instead I arranged for Mélanie and I to catch a ride into Taveuni with Sakini and Ruta the next day. Sakini is retiring as the principal of the secondary school there and had to go over for a meeting.

We took off at 7am and were pulling into the beach off the school around 8am. Right as we were getting off the boat, the bus came and we hopped on. We didn’t have time to get an orientation from Ruta, be we didn’t want to wait 90 minutes for another bus.

The bus dropped us off at Naqara where it promptly started to rain. We found the one little hole in the wall where we could have some coffee and roti while waiting for the heavy stuff to stop. The rain didn’t let off, so eventually we just hailed a cab to take us around to all the auto part stores to look for radiator hose. The cab took us 30 seconds up the road where we found the right size hose at the very first shop we tried. There were only 3 on this side of the island, but still it was impressive that I was able to find 1 3/8” hose on the first try.

The rain wasn’t letting up, so we went back for another round of Nescafé. Naqara had a number of fruit and veg stands on the side of the road, so we took advantage of a break in the weather to buy more pineapples and avocados which are pretty much the staples of Mélanie’s and my diet these days.

We still had hours to kill before it was time to meet up with Ruta and Sakini at the boat. The lady at the coffee and roti place recommended that we go to the slides. I knew that Taveuni had famous waterfalls that you could slide down in certain places, but I thought that they were on the other side of the island. In fact when I hired a cab, I still thought that we were going to the other side of the island. I was surprised when we were dropped off at a trailhead just 10 minutes out of town.

The trail to the falls wasn’t long. We passed a group from the Tui Tai who were just leaving when we arrived. One of them made an off-hand comment not to go down too far as they were leaving. We had the place to ourselves as we tried to find our way up to the top. The trail was treacherously slick. I’d busted up my knee the week before in Dakuniba and didn’t want to put in a repeat performance.

The lower parts of the slides indeed looked treacherous as we passed them by. If they were the fiberglass slides from back home, they’d be tame. Instead these were rock, polished smooth by countless gallons of water buy rough and jagged just off of the water’s normal path. The slides range from 5 – 40 feet long with deeper pools in between them. At the end of each slide, you had no idea what you’d find in the pool at the end. Indeed a couple of the slides ended abruptly with a submerged rock.

We eventually made our way to the very top. We had a swim and then worked up the courage to try a couple of the very tame slides. They were fun. We didn’t scrape our butts too much. So we gradually went bigger and bigger until we got to the two long slides at the end. We still had the nagging comment about not going too far down in our heads. It would have been easy enough if there was someone with us to tells what was safe. Not knowing added to the adventure. We pushed on through the last two slide, which were amazingly fun, though one had a little drop in it that bruised your butt pretty well.

We were down at the bottom very proud of our sliding when 4 local boys showed up. The ran down the entire sequence of pools, surfing down the slides standing up and then hopping across the slick rocks to get to the next one. We were thoroughly humbled by their performance. Then, instead of using the trail, they turned around and ran back up the slides to start all over again. These kids were Bad-Asses!

After an hour and a half, we left the slides and went down to the school to meet our boat. I ran into Ruven at the petrol station who I’d met in Qamea the year before. We caught up a little bit, but hopefully I’ll get back to Taveuni and see him sometime in the next few weeks.

The boat ride home was uneventful. The rain held off until the very end. The hose fit perfectly and now it’d be time to move on if there wasn’t a big low passing Fiji giving us some very dark weather. It’s never fun to navigate reefs under heavy clouds, so we’re sticking around until the sun comes out. I’m not sure where the next destination is, we’ll see which way the wind is blowing when we leave.

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