Posted by: asolare | 23/06/2008

Vanua Levu, Rainbow Reef and Sharks..

Just over half the size of Viti Levu (The Big Island) Vanu Levu is Fiji’s second largest island. Again volcanic in origin it is apparently home to nearly 140,000 people although so far we have seen just one, Fred Fisher.

A big draw for us is diving and the 32km Rainbow Reef here on the south west coast of Vanu Levu is apparently one of “the” places to dive. Approaching Asolare this morning in his aluminium dory, Fred Fisher, son of Ned Fisher the authority on these waters quoted in our trusted pilot “A Yachtsman’s Fiji” by Michael Calder, was about to shape our day.

With Fred’s tales of the Great White Wall drift dive and it’s glide through cave, Blue Ribbon Eel Reef, The Zoo and Cabbage Patch it did not take long before we were planning an adventure with him. After agreeing to meet again just after 10am Fiji time (we took note and put our clocks back another hour from Tongan boat-time) Tim quickly started the compressor and began the noisy process of charging our air-tanks.

Yesterday as we came through the 75m wide and 6m deep break in the reef to enter we knew these waters would be good. The disturbed sea escaping the lagoon gave way to smooth swell and crystal clear visibility, the never seen by us before, bright blue and yellow bi-colour angel fish were just pin-clear as were a squadron of grey bottom-dwellers holding station on the sea-bed beneath us.

Tucked into a small lunchtime anchorage behind the main reef we managed two dives yesterday. The first was a pretty dive of coral gardens with exceptional soft coral, beautiful blue-tipped stag coral and thousands of reef fish. The second dive after lunch involved a long surface swim to the reef edge itself. We were not put off but with the tide change and lower visibility but it was not long before we headed back towards Asolare.

Back on the boat Suzi’s afternoon read was interrupted when her sunglasses inexplicably fell into the sea! With no-one around she leapt in after them and executed a deft recovery. Still fresh from her success, Tim and Clare returned with photographic evidence of sharks! In a shoal patch just 50m from the boat we had seen both white and black tip sharks. Caught in shallow water with several dead ends, Clare was pleased to learn only when she returned to the boat and after an unaccustomed expletive from Peter, that the gentle reef sharks she was taking pictures of were not quite what they seemed!

The compressor has finished, Peter has returned with Fred. We are about to head off for the day…

Clare

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