Posts Tagged ‘Giant Clams’

8 Miles High

Friday, September 16th, 2016

We made it. We wanted to stop at Makogai on our return from Savusavu. Our goal:  bring some “goodies” to the village that was so decimated by Winston. We had stopped on our way  to Savusavu and  spent a day assisting in the building of the local school. There we met some wonderful residents and cruisers.
W/ had an idea what to bring but talking to Jolene at Waitui Marina she changed our minds. She told us what locals would most need and we went to the store in search of those supplies.  With lighter wallets and heavier stores we returned to the boat. There we prepared to leave the following day. We moved out to the Cousteau resort where we

A wonderful sail from Savusavu to Makogai, Fiji

A wonderful sail from Savusavu to Makogai, Fiji

anchored with John on Ichiban. He wished to see Makogai as well and was heading back to NZ at the end of the this cruising season too. Ichiban and Elysium thought they would leave at first light, however Ichiban couldn’t wait.  We found out John had left at 2 am!  Fortunately leaving Cousteau is easy as open water is due West with minimal dangers.
After a delightful sail we entered the outer reef at Makogai. 30 minutes later we were  anchored and received a call from Quxiotic on VHF (the hurricane yacht Lewis and Allyssa refurbished in Savusavu). They were returning from Suva and planned to anchor for the night at Makogai.  They offered to share their luck. The had just caught a nice Mahi-Mahi, and they invited the American Samoa boats for drinks and dinner. John on Ichiban, Louis and Allyssa on Elethurea – now on Quixotic, and Elysium were all in America Samoa at the same time last March. We shared some drinks, lies, and great food in just about that order.  Quixotic was returning to Savusavu the following am and we were planning on a hike across the island. I was ready to deliver our supplies.
In the am we talked John into accompanying us and then called Liberate to see if they wanted to join us.  Liberate is

Wendy and John following the road? Makogai, Fiji

a sister-ship of our last boat Principia (a Westsail 32). The more the merrier. We met ashore about 11 ish and began the trek across / around the mountain.  At one time there was a road / path and while much of it is still there, there is a great deal of growth. The tropical forest never rests.  I carried our supplies in a large dry bag. No, I wasn’t planning on getting wet but it was the best back pack like bag we had. Elsewise it would have been impossible to carry 70 lbs of supplies. Off we went, I as quickly as I could figuring the faster I hiked the sooner I could rid myself of this load.
As with most of W/s and my hiking we didn’t bring enough water.  One liter between us barely  provided adequate hydration in which to make the village. Once there we hoped to refill our container. If not,

One can still see the ruin after Cyclone Winston, Makogai, Fiji

One can still see the ruin after Cyclone Winston, Makogai, Fiji

I’m not sure what we’ll do.  When we worked there a couple of months ago they had good drinking water from the new school’s catchment system. I hope all is fine. With only a couple of stops I soldiered on. I was so goal oriented I didn’t stop for any photos but I did stop to beg W/ for more than my share of the water. The views are magnificent and I doubt 300 tourists in any one year may cross this island.  From a few 100 meters up we looked down into an ocean that appeared to be glass with colors from deep blue to aqua. Reefs and shallow areas were various shades of orange to  brown.  And near our anchorage we saw a fish weir ( a manmade  trap created out of rocks using the tide to trap fish in).

Fili and his Grandchildren, Makogi, Fiji

Fili and his Grandchildren, Makogi, Fiji

Dropping off the dead weight at the school porch I was newly energized for about 15 more minutes.  Thus W/ chose me to hike up to the village to find Fili.  I found Fili working and re introduced myself. I also said we had brought some supplies for the villagers with us. Those supplies included the traditional Kava which is the principal drink of Fijians.  He commandeered a teenager who commandeered her younger siblings and cousins to bring the wheel Road from Research Station to Village, Makogai, Fijibarrow.  The teenager; like many in the US would have, never made the walk preferring instead to let her siblings do the work.
We took a few pictures and shared a brief tale of our walk with Fili and his grandchildren. Then the youngsters  hauled off the supplies back to the main part of the village. We chatted with our cruising friends on the school project while resting in the shade. After drinking our fill of water and filling up the water bottles we began the trek back.  I felt born again Vistas-Makogai, Fijiwalking like I had just dieted and lost 70 lbs. Light on my feet I eased along the trail. How sweet it is. The vistas were still gorgeous, the company grand and the hike hot.  We are in the tropics. 🙂 But, by the end  the km’s wore me down.
Makogai, Anchorage, FijiAs we made the final bend; 8 miles later,  we were joyous at seeing the  Fiji Research Station; the old Leper Colony. After descending the hill I went in search of our dinghy.  I couldn’t wait long to get back on the boat, wet my whistle and shower. With a rising tide the path to our dinghy was through thick forest and the easy ways blocked.  I left my valuables with W/ and waded  into waist deep water around fallen trees. 15 minutes later I located the dinghy floating securely tied to a tree.  I untied it, climbed aboard and started the engine. I know this will sound funny, after freeing the painter I lifted the wheels. We had installed the wheels so we could haul the dinghy as far up on the beach as possible.  After lifting the wheels I picked up John and W/. John had not put his tender in the water so we were the chauffeur today.  Later, most likely after a shower and a nap I would  chauffeur Jon back so we could add our list of lies and adventures.
That evening we let John know we were staying another day because I wanted to see the giant clams. One of the locals had told us where they were in the harbor. Bingo. And they were within snorkeling distance of the boat. John was going to take off. He didn’t like the wx recently (we had one low pressure system move through while we were in Savusavu) and John was looking for a window to head S towards NZ.  Tomorrow was looking like a great sailing day to head over the top of Viti Levu. We would follow a day later but head S to Suva.
The following am, once all the boat chores were completed we don our snorkel gear to visit the giant clams. l grabbed the GoPro and we jumped in the water. Oooo~ a little cool.  What?…. we once lived in Iowa…. whats a little chill! We snorkeled to the clams and I fidgeted with the GoPro.  I prefer electronic gear to be intuitive and the GoPro was more than enough confusing to me. There are …. three…. buttons.  I thought I got it working and we marveled at the size and colors of the Giant clams.  A couple of openings taking water in… filtering the food out and expelling water. As well as the size I loved  the variety of colors.  Back to the boat for more study and to download my great pictures.
Before we left the water however we spent some time cleaning the bottom of Elysium.  While we had a freshly painted bottom when we left Vuda Marina it has been 3 months in the water and slime always is attracted to boat bottoms.  We had a bit more than slim than I would have guessed and we cleaned what we could while snorkeling.  Aboard with a shower and some refreshments I went to see what the pictures looked like. Oh-Oh!
None, nada, zip.  I am not yet a GoPro expert.  While there are only 3 buttons I have not spent any time reviewing the manual nor really understanding what each button does.  Dummy me.  Had I been 19 and my eyes of their original excellence I would have been able to read the fine print on the camera underwater. Just playing with the buttons did not work. Unfortunately I am no longer 19 and screwed up.  Ah… not to worry. We are not the first to  come across the Giant clams and I’ll link to  pictures from the internet to show you.  Tomorrow we head S. to Suva with a stop at another World Heritage site, Ovalau.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Say Long