The weather, for once, followed the predictions - and we had rain and wind as we headed south. We had looked at the two following days and opted to try and get down to Toberua Island the next day as the Sunday was due to be very wet. 140mm of rain in 3 hrs!
The Saturday wasn’t too bad in fact. Yes, some rain but not as much as forecast and we were certainly not cold as we motored steadily south. Just as we anchored off the Toberua resort, the rain started and didn’t stop for some time.
Sunday wasn’t as bad as forecast and we ended up going ashore for lunch at the resort.
Yvonne and Ania in their glad rags. Even I put a collared shirt on (though no photographic evidence available). Lunch was very nice indeed - and I also managed to get some hints from the dive shop about how to get out through the somewhat shallow pass the next morning.
Early next morning, with no wind, we picked up the anchor and headed towards the pass. Eyes on the foredeck helped guide us through the shallow stuff, but we saw nothing less than 3m below the boat’s keels (and this on a falling tide about 2hrs after high tide neaps). Once out, we set the fishing lines and headed towards the Great Astrolabe reef. Motoring, of course!
As we approached the bottom of Viti Levu, the radio squawked. ‘Yacht on my port bow, this is naval ship....’ - yes, we were stopped. The customs guy was put onboard and we had to explain why Yvonne was onboard but not on the coastal clearance. Not a big deal, think we got away with it!
Our destination was the North Great Astrolabe reef. There’s a lighthouse on ‘solo’ (kandavu for rock, whereas ‘vatu’ is the Fijian word). The local legend is that solo is the remains of a village that sank into oblivion. It has a surrounding reef, with a small entrance - so using the Google Earth charts, we headed in and anchored.
It was a lovely spot, but there was a persistent roll which made the crew (both) uncomfortable. We had discussed moving on, but decided to stay on the hope that the swell would drop with the wind. After a somewhat rolly night, the morning started with no wind and the swell was definitely easing.
We opted to dive the wall, but the dinghy carbuerettor needed ‘fettling’. This took a while (longer than usual), and then the dive cylinders needed filling. However, it wasn’t too long before we were heading out to the reef. We snuck across in the dinghy without touching, and went for a dive. Ania and I were under the water, and Yvonne was drifting along with the dinghy as she snorkelled - often helping me tow it, which was very handy.
Once back on the surface, we headed back to the boat. The sea had got even flatter.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without visiting the lighthouse. Being the South Pacific, the lighthouse doesn’t work - but the structure is still there.
Having exhausted all the possibilities, we headed down to the Great Astrolabe reef, and anchored off the island of Dravuni where we are now. We will go ashore tomorrow for Sevusevu and to hike the little hill here....