Blood Moon Rising
Blood moon rising…
A super sunny warm afternoon and we welcomed aboard our 6 guests; 3 couples from different parts of the globe – The U.S., Russia and Australia. It is our smallest group yet and the first day went extremely smooth and quick. Two of our guests – Matt and Julie – are second timers on the Siren Fleet after sailing on the Maldives Siren last year. Boat tour, dive and safety briefings and emergency safety drills complete the Fiji Siren lifted anchor immediately and set sail heading south for The Island of the Sharks – Gau. As darkness overcame the waters the sky filled up with stars and a nearly full moon. The winds calmed and the sea provided a calm passage for our evening sail. Dropping anchor at close to 3am the boat became very quiet as the guests were all asleep and the engine was shut down awaiting my 6:30am wakeup call.
With a marginal tidal swing of only 1 meter, the tide was late turning in Nigali Passage so the small group dropped on the outer reef and came into the passage just as the current was changing. The second dive the group dropped right into the ‘Bleachers’ for a spectacular 30 minute shark viewing. A couple of White Tip Reef Sharks joined the Greys schooling in front of the divers which is quite rare – but excellent for the divers and photographers in the group. Day two at Gau and in Nigali Passage was full on with schooling Trevally, Barracuda (Big Eye, Yellow Tail and Chevron or Great) and Grey Reef Sharks. Our two divers from Russia – Eduard and Irina – said that the dive was one of the best they have ever been on, with the sharks closer than anywhere else in the world. We left Gau after our 3rd dive and headed to Wakaya for our night dive to finish off the diving day. The following day, we managed to get in 3 dives before 1pm, spotting a great hammerhead on each and an extra juvenile one of the 3rd, after which Fiji Siren picked up the divers and proceeded to the village on Makogai Island. The guests thoroughly enjoyed the visit, with the tour consisting of the turtle farm, giant clam farm, the old cemetery, the 100 year old generator that is still working today, and of course the traditional Sevusevu with the Meke performed by the children. Again our skipper Julian thought it best we head north towards the Namena Marine Reserve just after the guests returned to the Siren to avoid having an early anchor up!
One highlight of this trip, besides the phenomenal diving, was the full lunar eclipse the guests and crew witnessed on our travels from Makogai to Namena. The sun was just setting as we lifted anchor, and as we were departing the bay at Makogai the moon was rising over the trees. The lunar eclipse was just starting at about 6:20pm and by 7:30pm the moon was in full eclipse, but a faint blood red color. The skies were clear and all of the guests were in awe at the number of stars in the sky above the Fijian islands; it was a treat for everyone on board. At about 8:20pm the earth had traveled out of the direct line from the sun to the moon, and the shadow of the earth started to recede across the face of the moon. By 9:30pm the full moon was back to its full illumination showing us Namena Island as we were about 30 minutes from dropping anchor. An awesome sight to behold.
The two diving days in Namena always fulfill the expectation of Fiji diving for our guests. Starting from the small critters, amazing soft corals and huge gorgonian sea fans in the south, to the schooling pelagic sharks and rays in the north. Our little Hippocampus Severssi pygmy seahorses are a delight, as well as a highlight of the trip. Namena is also providing our guests with the best night dives on any Beyond the Bligh itinerary, with nearly a constant 100% participation from the guests. Our last night on the open sea had us travelling to the Bligh Waters near Vatu-I-Ra Island and in the early morning hours we arrived at E6 the dive site named by Jacques Cousteau.
A particular draw is ‘The Cathedral’, which is just a small portion of this huge pinnacle that drops to depths of over 1000 meters. So much so that we opt for a second dive every time! Whether it is the huge gorgonian sea fans, the Blue Dragons, the yellow soft coral or the sunlight cascading in through the fissure that opens on the top of the reef – it’s a huge favorite of our guests. 2 dives done, and the guests back on board, the Fiji Siren does a lazy sail back towards the northern most point on Viti Levu – Rakiraki and Volivoli Beach resort. Packing of bags and dive gear, browsing the boutique for souvenirs to take back to the families, having some draught beer or cocktails, watching a movie or just chilling out on the sun deck loungers covers much of what the guests do on the way back in to our home port. In anticipation of the final night bar-b-que the realization of having to disembark the following morning hits – the last night on board is always bitter-sweet for the guests. Knowing they have to leave, but realizing they can always return is the saving grace for tears that eventually are shed when the crew sings ‘Isa Lei’ – the goodbye song in the Fijian native language. It’s a song that tugs at the heart strings and brings a tear to the eye – but there is always a smile on the faces of the guests as they listen to this enchanting song. Moce mada to all, we wish you safe travels, and look forward to your return.