Direct from the wheelhouse of Fiji's finest live-aboard
August 4-11, 2001
Rob: Onboard Manager, Dive Instructor and Photo Pro. Peni Master: Peni started as 1st Mate last Christmas on the Fiji Aggressor and his professional attitude brought him relieving our Master this week.
We all wish 'Happy Sailing' to our smiley and competent mate. Henry: 1st Mate. Russ: Dive Instructor and Video Pro. Baby Joe: Dive Guide. Big Joe: Engineers. Jese Steward. Luke: Our Supreme Chef.
Water temperature: 78 to 82°F.
Recommended wetsuit: 5 or 7mm and hood or hooded vest but gloves not necessary.
Air temperature: 84 - 86°F.
Weather Forecast: Light breeze and wind up to 15 knots.
Most of the week sunny with few clouds. Warm and dry weather, calm to moderate sea.
As soon as we welcomed our 8 guests onboard, Ray Carey brought his family of 6 with him, the Fiji Aggressor left from Nadi heading East toward Makogai Island for a 12 hour very calm and relaxing run throughout the night. Dinner was served after we had the traditional bowl of Kava.
We woke up in the marvellous bay of Makogai Lailai (small Makogai). The sea was flat calm and we went diving Peni Place, named after our Master.
Series of bommies with lot of colourful soft coral and numerous scalefin anthias. Second dive at Makogai Passage where a young hawksbill turtle accompanied us along the edge of the reef for a while.
Karin who had started her Nitrox course straight away coming onboard was already having longer and safer immersions since as soon as the second dive of the trip she was already on 32% Nitrox.
In the afternoon, we had a mellow dive at the two bommies of Elaines where the adult black and white snappers were hanging out in mid water. In the afternoon, we visited the giant clam farm and turtle nesting area on Makogai Island, a nice way spending some time on land at the start of the week.
We started our Night dive with a stupendous sunset. Rocky Bay Bommie is where our pregnant map pufferfish is soon to give birth to 12 to 15 young's. We presume 12 to 15 according the size and number of 'blobs' we can see on her belly. Her pregnancy doubles the volume of her body in height. When we finished diving that day, at the surface, we were just enjoying looking at the stars, the Moon and the Universe high in the sky...
Early in the morning, we were on the way to Wakaya. We arrived there for sunrise. The Wall awaited us with the blue ribbon eels, the black juvenile ribbon eel, the leaf scorpionfish, the white tip reef sharks and the manta rays. Good look at two fairly nudibranch mating and the surgeonfish changing colour as they were being cleaned. Dianne, Ray and Pat who also wanted a longer bottom time decided to join Karin for the EANx course and the three of them completed their first academic session and were then able to dive using the Enriched Air Nitrox for the rest of the week. The dive at Golden Rock was an exciting time especially with 2 manta rays coming to their favourite cleaning station. It is also where at a greater depth than 60 feet that we found the grouper family related square spot anthias which is only 4 inches long. After the soup, pasta party and salads that Luke prepared for lunch, we returned to the Wall and it was a real show for those who like watching manta rays. One female napoleon wrasse came to show her facial tattoos and a school of yellowtail barracudas was waiting to be cleaned close to the corner of the passage. Night diving at Gemstone and its flashlightfish, lobsters in a cave and lot of crustaceans. We checked the red seafans and discovered a few 'Aclyvolva', nudibranch imitating the seafan in its colour and texture even reproducing false polyps... After dinner, Peni gathered his crew and they sang a few Fijian popular songs before it was time to go to bed.
We started our day diving at Jim's Alley in an extremely good visibility. The narrow alley and its awesome seafans and soft coral always gives good subject for wide angle photography and for those who like close up photography better, we have discovered a blue ribbon eel so this dive sit makes every photographer happy. The current was right, going in, the visibility more than 120 feet and the grey reef sharks came to look at us as soon as we entered the water. The Nigali Passage will always be amazing. Big potato cod, school of jacks, and since a few weeks we are seeing a 4 feet Spanish mackerel cruising along with the sharks. White tip reef sharks in the passage and in the lagoon where we finish the dive following the inside edge of the reef. After a couple of minutes inside, we arrived to the lettuce coral garden and saw a hawksbill turtle, a banded sea snake and a white tip. We took the left over from lunch to check if the sharks would mind a bite of the tuna with lemon sauce and the steak with ginger. Obviously, they loved it, and the red snappers were present to have the first bites. During the afternoon, the Nawaikama village was ready to welcome our eco-divers. Visit of the church, the view over the bay where the Fiji Aggressor was anchored was (and is always) just so beautiful. We followed our hosts to the meeting hall for the meke, welcome party, and for the sevusevu, Fijian dances and songs. The lovo, underground pit, was cooked when it was time to leave and we had our traditional Fijian dinner meal when we came back onboard. What a feast
The island of Namena was spectacular for its great visibility, awesome drop off, brilliant and colourful bommies. We dropped at North Save A Tack for the two first dives of the day. The long and controlled descent in the blue to the edge of the drop off was a moment in our lifetime. We had this helicopter view to the bottom of the passage some 106 feet deeper, we could see the school of barracudas, the long nose surgeon fish, the grey reef sharks during the descent. We stayed at the edge for a while and then moved toward 'The Arch' where we encoutered a female napoleon wrasse and plenty of snappers and sweetlips. The current was gentle and we swam to 'The Window of Dreams', finishing our dive discovering a rich micro life, magnificient cleaner shrimps, pop corn shrimps and bande pipefish with the fuseliers passing along in the water column. Chimneys is one of our favorite dive site before it became one of our guests favorite. There was no current at all this week and it made possible to explore every corner of every bommie. Yellowtail barracudas staying still just a few feet away from us, great soft coral and seafans and very active unicornfish around the top of the bommies. The night dive was conducted at Patchwork, our newest site. A bit of current does not matter as the main bommie is wide enough to provide plenty of space and protection. Nudibranch, crustaceans, sleeping parrotfish in their cocoon, slugs, snails and coral trout.
The weather was perfect and we spent the day at E-6. Sunny Side Up for the first dive and then we opened the dive deck after we had tied the mothership to the huge seamount. Everybody was able to go diving, come back and fill tank to go diving again and again along the deep walls of the very famous E-6. Hawksbill turtles, white tip reef sharks, spanish mackerel, jacks, lionfish, huge seafans,scorpionfish, anemonefish and ... scalloped hammerhead sharks!
Our morning dive was just what we needed to end up a very good week. Isa Lei Rock on the Charybdis Reef was our dive site. We had a good look at three individual hammerheads swimming in the water column, cruising around and not too far from our divers so everybody had ample time to watch the details of the skin, the head and the swimming pattern. Then coming along the reef, a school of 25 hammerheads showed up. Everybody saw them and came back to the skiff with a big green. What a wonderful way to finish a trip. We sailed back to Nadi where our new friends went for shopping in the afternoon. The sunset cocktail party took place on the middle deck at 6:00pm before we went for dinner.
Breakfast, packing and it was time to say good bye and farewell. We enjoyed this week w