One of our favorite destinations remembered from our 2006 Fijian cruise aboard Raven was Viani Bay, a quiet pastoral spot on Vanua Levu’s southeast corner, just across the Somosomo Strait from the island of Taveuni. Viani Bay is so secluded it is not even serviced by a road. Access is by boat (or maybe chartered seaplane) or a very long walk! In the morning the school children cross from one side of the bay to the other to attend school on the local version of a school bus.
And we had fond memories of Jack Fisher, a colorful local man well known amongst the yachties. It was a pleasure to see he was still there and up to his same old routine. Jack is a big jolly fellow, full of stories. He has set himself up as the resident dive guide for visiting yachts. His knowledge of local weather and water conditions and reef topography makes it a pleasure to have him join us for a morning of diving. The entire bay is populated with Fishers – Jack’s grandfather was a British (I think) sailor who bought the entire bay at the turn of the century. Jack would be 3/4 Fijian, but he speaks with an odd accent that must have a bit of the old country mixed in.
Jack’s son ferried him out to AVATAR at the pre-determined time; as soon as Jack climbed aboard we were off to visit the best dive sites along the Rainbow Reef: the White Wall, the Purple Wall, Fish Factory, Cabbage Patch, The Point; whatever the selection of the day. He guided us to the best anchorages, gave us detailed instructions for each dive, and manned our dinghy for us while we explored below the water – following our bubble trail and picking us up when we surfaced.
Rod’s girlfriend Mayflor is just learning to scuba dive this trip, so with Jack watching out it made it easy for all four of us to dive together, Rod supervising May, knowing AVATAR was securely anchored and our dive tender was tracking our underwater route. My favorite dive was the White Wall, a sheer wall festooned with soft white corals. Access is through a descending tunnel in limestone, lined with sea fans and ending in blue water on the sheer face of the wall at 20 meters or so – a great photo op. But another dive was a close second, along a shallow reef rich with soft corals and swarming with literally millions of small brightly colored fish. Mike laughed when I was attacked by a pair of clown fish – I must have been close to their nest because instead of tucking themselves safely in the tentacles of their anemone house, they came charging out at me in the blue water, darting right up to my face mask, too close to even focus.