Bay of Islands…..Diving…..

Dear F&F, July 28th – 30th

We moved the boat back to the \”Bay of Islands\” where we had briefly traveled through on the way to Dalconi Village. It is a limestone group of small islets that is very similar (on a smaller scale) to the \”Rock Islands\” of Palau. I have vivid memories of the Rock Islands where on our honeymoon, Cindy and I swam in Jelly Fish lake. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there were also salt water crocodiles in Jelly Fish lake!

The limestone islands are heavily eroded from the constant action of waves, current and tide. They look like large rock mushrooms. Navigation amongst them is very tricky.

We found two ideal anchorages and tucked in for the expected heavy southeaster to arrive over the next few days. We had made arrangements with Sam & Shaz of s/v \”Yanti Parazi\”. ASIDE: The boat name sounds Italian doesn\’t it? Trust me it\’s not! I got the story from Sam – you\’ll have to ask me, I\’m not going to write it here.

Sam & Shaz (Shaz is a Kiwi/OZ nickname for Sharon) arrived with \”Ba\” the local fisheries researcher as well as \”Samo\” and our driver. They were going to take us diving on the north side of the outer reef area near the pass entrance.

Ba had to do some fish counts of a particular type of grouper so for the first site, we went to his research area. It was deep, but interesting. Anja found a lovely nudibranch (sea snail) with electric yellow and black about 2 1/2\” long (7 cm). The second dive was just Anja, Shaz and me. Shaz was doing very well, it was only her 8th open water dive.

This time we had two curious white tip reef sharks whom Anja sort of played with the entire dive. They\’d come close, she\’d sort of chase after them and this little game of tag went on and on. The site was Trigger Rock (Thank you Angela for identifying it for me!).

\”Trigger Rock\” so named as to the plethora of trigger fish was in somewhat better shape than the first reef. Cyclone Thomas two years ago apparently beat the Lau Group up pretty good and the reefs looked it. So we saw the \”clown triggers\”, the white tip reef sharks and lots of other usual suspects. The vis was a bit stirred up by Fijian standards, but quite good relative to anyone else\’s!

After a lovely day\’s diving, we were treated to trips to the \”Underwater Cave\” and \”Garre Ni Bosa\” (The Cave of the Gods).

The limestone in the Bay of Islands is soft and over the centuries lovely chambers have been created in the stone. The \”Garre Ni Bosa\” (Cave of the Gods) was the most interesting. A very short swim of about 3 feet (1 meter) got us into a 60 foot high (20 meter) by 80 foot long (26 meter) chamber. It had high cathedral like ceilings with stalactites. The light in the afternoon was perfect and it gave the feeling that the \”Gods\” (if not crazy) we\’re having an artistic day when this natural beauty was created. The \”underwater cave\” required a short 10 foot swim (3 meter) to enter. The water was very calm and still. The chamber was perhaps 10 feet (3 meters) high and 15 feet (5 meters) by 50 feet (15 meters). The water was about 20 feet (6.5 meters) deep. The water color was a beautiful light blue from the afternoon light coming in through the entrance. There was a bit of positive pressure to the ears as the tide was rising against the sealed chamber.

There were apparently other caves including the \”lovers\” cave and the \”signature\” cave. The signature cave was right next to the boat, so we did that on our own. The signature cave is so called as it\’s easy to get into and over the eons of time people have carved their names and initials into the rock walls. We didn\’t. The lovers cave was a bit more challenging, but aren\’t all loves?… Very sharp rocks. It would definitely require mats to partake of it\’s legendary name.

After a day of peace to ourselves, s/v \”Kira\” and s/v \”Mandalla\” anchored in the cove next to us. Sandrine had her second \”experience dive\” with me. Anja and Sandrine did some major kayaking around the cove. We\’ll move to Mbvatu Bay soon and hike up to the overlook of this bay. The bay is only a half mile away as the crow flies but perhaps 7 miles by boat as we must negotiate/navigate around the bays and islands. The photos should be stunning. KIT, Scott with Anja and Sandrine