Savu Savu was getting boring and we realized if we didn’t leave soon then we might as well all get Fijian driver’s licenses and local jobs because life there was just way too easy there. But the night before we decided we would leave, Mystic convinced the crews of Obelisk and Slick to go on a weekend backpacking trip to the island of Taviuni to see the biggest waterfalls in Fiji. We agreed and off we went.

The bus ride there was incredible, it was one of the worst I have ever had, and that says something. The road was torn up for construction for about 20 miles and fresh hard rains made it one long mud track. There was a point where we even had to be chained up to a tractor to pull the bus over the hill. The drivers were sliding all over the road and we saw several trucks end up in the ditches. After the bus we all climbed onto a primitive ferry and crossed over to Taviuni, this was a nice boat trip, and we were all relieved to be on the water but not be responsible for anything.

Upon arrival in Taviuni we set up camp and went to some natural water slides. This was heaps of fun and was a nice finish to an overland day of travel. The next morning we had a few hours on a bus to take us to the district of Buoma where the waterfall hike is. The hike was great and the three waterfalls are very powerful. They were as majestic as any others we had seen but the volume of water was much greater. The hike was partially in a rain forest too. At the top waterfall there was an 8 meter cliff that we could jump off into the falls. We all did it a few times. However, Zach had a massive fear of heights and falling, so we goaded him a bit and he climbed up. He went up so gingerly that we thought he would just jump, but once he looked over the edge he froze up. After about half an hour of almost jumping and some coaching from Jesse, he finally went for it, ending his fear of heights. Later in the day he jumped off another fall with out even hesitating.

That night we camped again and had kava with the locals. At first I think they were skeptical but it turned out to be a very nice time. The only thing was the kava I brought as a gift was from the market and apparently of very low quality, so they made some jokes about us and then we bought some of there local stuff which was noticeably better. The return home was uneventful other than the road was now dry so it was quite dusty.

When we got back I went to see Cam the woodcarver again and we traded some of his carvings for some of the pearls I purchased in the Tuomotos. That night, we all went to his house for dinner and had a really great time. His girlfriend cooked a fantastic meal for us and Zach was in the kitchen helping and taking notes the whole time. The next day we left.

We anchored in 85 feet of water inside Namena reef. I was not happy to anchor so deep as Zach and I would have to pull the anchor up by hand. Also, we only have 95 feet of chain so we cannot let out too much rope as we wouldn’t want to have the rope rode cut on the coral, so we rode out the night on a 2-1 scope, which I was not happy about but it worked OK. On the way in, I asked a Canadian boat for a suggestion where to anchor and he told me get in my dinghy and look for myself. The next morning though, he got a talking to by the authorities for fishing in the reserve. Way to go Team Canada!

We continued the next day for the Yasawa Group and after an overnight passage anchored at Sawa I Lau Island. There is this fantastic cave there and we spent the day climbing and cliff diving and snorkeling through the cave. It was quite a nice place but there was a steady stream of tourist brought in from the local resorts. The next day we moved down to the Blue Lagoon of Brook Shields fame. On the way I caught a travali and we had him for dinner that night. He was delicious and the first new fish since leaving Kauhi many months ago. We hiked across the island and had snacks at a local tea house then back again. Unfortunately the headlamp I had died and we had to walk in the dark. That night a thunderstorm rolled through and threatened to put us on the reef, so in driving rain we motored into the wind slowly to relieve the anchor. But I accidentally drug it off the shelf and into deep water. This caused us to drag later. Having had enough we moved to Manta Ray Bay for a nicer anchorage. I did, however, get the windlass fixed so anchoring in deep water is not quite as painful.

Upon arrival in the bay I went to the local resort to see if they would allow us at happy hour and to find out about the mantas. Well, there were none but I met a couple at the bar and they wanted to see the boat. So we had them out for dinner and ate a Cero Mackeral that Obelisk had caught that day, another new fish. Well, it turns out that the guy from the resort, Yoep, wanted to sail a bit so we decided to take him as crew to the Solomons, so now I have new crew! We took him and his backpacking friend with us the next day.

Weather predicted a trough moving through so we headed down to Waya Island where there was quite good protection. The trough was intense with a line of thunderstorms to go with it. Zach and I split up the anchor watches and it was a long night. I think the highest winds were only 30 knots but that didn’t make it any easier. At 5 am Zach woke me up for my second shift but he said he thought the trough had passed. I checked the barometer and sure enough it was by us. It was dead calm so I went back to sleep, only to be awoken 20 minutes later by a fast, nasty thunderstorm that moved in off the main island. I came up just in time to see a huge lightning bolt strike the water 200 yards off the boat. I turned off all the electronics and really should have unplugged them. Having had enough of weather, when the storm was over we motored to Vuda Point Marina and Yoep’s travel-friend went back to the village where she volunteers. It was nice to be secured in a marina again after such a storm.

On the way in I caught a barracuda and thought it was a wahoo at first so I gaffed it. When I realized it was a cuda though I felt bad since they can have ciguatera and I had already pretty much killed it. We gave it to Mystic as they had already had one and thought it fine to eat. We tried also to stop at Beachcomber Island but the wind and wave action were a bit rough and there was not really any protection. On the way in to Vuda Point we spotted Batten Anna also on their way in. So the family has all been reunited. It is quite nice to see them again and we have all spent a few nights partying in Nadi and having a great time around the marina too. Oh and Obelisk got hauled for some new paint so I am pretty sure he will have the advantage on our race to Vanuatu.

So we are just awaiting the arrival of Gudren V in the next few days when Axle will sell me his solar panels and we will then be flush with power! After that, when the right weather window comes we will leave for the active volcano island of Tanna, a 450 mile sail. As for the far future of this trip, I am getting sort of tired of sailing and have decided that once I make it to Gizo Island, I will take a short break then try to get to Thailand in time to ship Slick to Turkey. Yes, I decided, for now, to ship her to the Med to avoid the pirate situation. This is a pretty expensive alternative but I think the right thing to do. While she is on her own little boat trip, I will travel overland to Hanoi where I will then take a train to Bejing and ride the Trans-Siberian Express to Europe and meet Slick in Turkey. That is if I can cover 6500 miles in 6 months and still see everything I want to see. That will be quite an en devour!