We went through the pass easily, and then we pulled into the large bay on the west side of the pass and dropped our anchor in forty feet of water. The sv All the Colors pulled into the bay a few hours later and dropped its anchor to our starboard. It was a pretty relaxing evening with light winds so we slept very well.
The next morning we went to pull the anchor and discovered that, unfortunately, it was on top of a coral platform, but we were able to pull the anchor without a problem. We were following a track on our GPS and were doing just fine, moving at about four knots in 80 feet of water. We were both in the cockpit talking when Steve suddenly saw the depth go to 30 feet and then 24 feet. I jumped up and stepped to the port side deck. When I looked down, all I saw was coral. We immediately slowed down and waited. The depth never went below 24 feet, but the coral always looks closer to the surface than it is.
We motored on for a short time, but then the wind picked up, and we turned off the engine and were sailing on a nice broad reach. All the Colors had left just a bit ahead of us, so you sailors reading this know what happened. Whenever two sailboats are going in the same direction, it becomes a race. The winds were contrary so we ended up reefing and unreefing the main sail about eight times so Steve certainly got his workout for the week. We kept right up with All the Colors, which was good because it is a lighter boat with a longer waterline.
We moved around the southwest corner of Vanua Levu and then up the west coast. We decided to pull into Bua Bay for the evening because going on to Yadua Island would mean getting in late in the afternoon. We turned into the bay and went into the bay a little further this time because the weather indicated that the winds might pick up. This bay is a river delta, so the bottom is pure mud, which provides excellent holding.
On Thursday morning we left early to cross over to Yadua Island. The winds were between 10 and 12 knots, but we were able to sail along on another broad reach. The seas were pretty small so the crossing was not bad at all. As we came around the western side to enter the anchorage, the wind was gusting again but not nearly bad as it did the last time we were here. All the Colors was anchored on the left side of the bay so we dropped our anchor close to our old spot. We put out 180 feet of chain because the weather was again indicating some wind.
That afternoon a local fishing boat came by and offered us four lobsters--they were huge. We asked how much they wanted, but they couldn't seem to bring themselves to quote a price. After Steve talked with them for a few minutes, a price of $10 Fijian per kilo came up. Steve figured that the four of them weighed about 3 kilos, so we offered $30, and they countered with $40. We agreed, and they gave us the lobsters. We decided to give them some extra kava that we still had on board, and we gave the two small kids in their boat some watercolors and a balsa-wood airplane. We all seemed happy with the exchange.
The fishermen had already cooked the lobster so Steve went to work getting the meat from the shells. We planned to eat two of the tails, but after eating one and a few of the legs, we were so stuffed that we ended up freezing the remaining tails. The meal was delicious. Actually, it was so delicious that the next night Steve made a lobster chowder with the meat from the rest of the legs, and it, too, was wonderful.
Friday afternoon Steve and I went to shore to cut some wood for a beach fire with sv All The Colors; however, they planned to leave early the next morning and decided not to participate, and we agreed.
Saturday was a snorkel day for us. We had to stay in close to shore because of the wind, but we did find a nice shelf. Most of the coral was in good shape, and there were quite a few fish. On our way back to the dinghy, Steve spotted a white-tip shark that was about my size. I was more than happy to get back into the dinghy.
Sunday afternoon we went over to sv Morning Star to play a board game with Terry and Rick. It was a fun afternoon, and we enjoyed talking about our cruising experiences. When we left their boat, we stopped by sv All The Colors in order to drop off a birthday gift for Monica, who was celebrating her twelfth birthday. She wasn't on board, but she called us on the radio later to thank us for the gifts, especially the Snickerdoodles.
The weather has continued to be contrary, and we are becoming frustrated. We though that we would have too much time here; however, we have been held up quite a bit by bad weather and then end up traveling on the good days only to sit and not be able to do much when we get somewhere. Hopefully, we have some better weather over the next few weeks.
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