Moca mada until next time…
Moca mada until next time…
The Fiji Siren was more than happy to welcome another fully booked charter consisting of 16 guests: A FULL HOUSE! All from the U.S. and organized by Volivoli Beach Resort’s American representatives – Andy and Lynn Siebert, from Sacramento. After our guests were settled onboard and had a quick tour, with the tide in our favor we weighed anchor immediately to make for the Island of Gau.
The winds for the week were forecasted to be a bit stronger, but this wasn’t going to deter anyone from diving. We got in four dives at Nigali Passage during our two days anchored there, with visibility improving every time. One dive had to be at a depth of 30 meters plus for the shark encounter. Amongst all the resident grey reef sharks we’ve seen an occasional bull and hammerhead shark, but this week we were also treated to a silvertip sighting just outside the passage. The baby greys that spawned two months back have gotten larger and started to school with the adults. It has been very ‘cool’ to watch this transformation in the juveniles and the general development of the shark population. Several manta sightings both in the south at Nigali Passage, as well as up on the north passage near Jim’s Alley and Anthias Avenue, were of course highlights of discussion when back onboard our luxury liveaboard.
We departed Gau on our second evening of the adventure and set course for to Wakaya Island. The first dive of the day we split the groups between Vatu Vai (Manta Rock in Fijian), and Lion’s Den where the divers saw a black manta, some HUGE hawksbill turtles and our first ever sighting of a winged ghost pipe fish! We switched the groups about for second dive, which minimized divers at each site, then as lunch was served we lifted anchor to steam north to Makogai for a late afternoon village tour. Our guests were treated to Meke performed by the kids there, and saw the operation of turtle and giant clam farms.
Some of the guests opted to do a late afternoon dive instead, as they’d had already toured on the mainland of Fiji, Viti Levu, prior to embarking on the Fiji Siren. The five divers who went ‘under the waves’ loved the wide variety of nudibranch they saw! The guests had now returned from their ‘Village Tour’ suitably adorned in Salusalu’s (traditionally made flower necklace’s – like a lei in Hawaii), which smelt of succulent frangipani. As we progressed past our third diving day we could see the guests almost falling asleep during dessert, with most turning in for a good night’s rest right after they’d finished eating.
Another early morning for dive day four was set, with the anchor lifted at 3am, as we moved towards Namena Marine Reserve for our last two full diving days of the trip. Winds had given us a bumpy ride to the area, but the superb diving more than compensated, and the attitude of the group was awesome. North Save A Tack Passage at Grand Central Station and The Arch impressed, at they always do, with large schools of barracuda and trevally present, and for the macro-lovers smaller critters like the scorpion leaf fish, pipefish and golden mantis shrimp. The following dives at South Save A Tack Passage showed our divers the colorful soft corals, so often printed to show the fantastic diving to be had in Fiji.
Mike commented to me after his second plunge at Namena during day two, where Kansas is a favorite “every dive of the trip has been better and better – I’m guessing you planned it this way!” This made me smile! Dives in the North Passage provided glimpses of hammerhead sharks for a few in the group, followed by a dive in the afternoon at the South Passage, which left the divers very content. Sights were then set on relaxation, dinner, and thoughts of the last day of diving to come.
We had five divers ‘drop in’ as darkness fell at Namena Beach for a ‘muck’ dive. Rick exclaimed upon his return to the boat “Best night dive ever!” This is a great testament to the dive site I thought, until discovering this was only Rick’s second night dive in his life, though we still agree! Very funny and the others loved the dive just at much! After our seafood dinner, all of the guests retired immediately, except for Laura who had been busy every minute, of every day, working on a research paper set for publication later this year.
At midnight Julian, our skipper, had the crew weigh anchor to steam overnight for our last two 2 dives of the adventure at the famous site: E-6 in the Bligh Waters, near the tiny Island of Vatu-I-Ra ( Rock Under the Water). Again, we split into two groups and with a giant stride off the starboard side swam the 20 meters to the reef. Both dives completed, the guests talked, or rather commenced planning their return for a 10-night adventure!
As Fiji Siren’s crew rinsed and cleaned gear, as well as the dive deck and surrounding areas, we made our slow voyage back to the mainland and the Rakiraki area. The guests chatted with the crew asking many questions about Fiji, the diving and trying to guess what the menu was for our Bar-B-Que planned for the evening! A great time was had by all as photos were taken, e-mail addresses exchanged, fish and underwater creature ID’s debated and researched, as the guests relaxed into the twilight.
A 7am wake up call had the guests eating a hearty breakfast, and doing the last bit of packing preparing for their transfer back to the Nadi area, and their return back state-side. The crew wished the passengers a heart-felt ‘Moce mada’ after they sang “Isa Lei” – the traditional farewell song of Fiji, which typically has guests shedding a tear or two.
Safe travels and diving to this great group, and we look forward to seeing them all on board the Fiji Siren in the not too distant future!!!