Fiji is one friendly place. The locals are constantly greeting you with a friendly Bula! and so far everyone has been really pleasant. Now I can’t say that about the Fijian underworld Gods who have not been friendly to our anchoring gear. I blogged about getting our anchor stuck in Lautoka and bending the anchor swivel when we first arrived. We are now out in the Yasawa Island group on the NW side of the lower main island. We came in late into the north anchorage (17* 10.33S 177* 11.19E) known as Mantaray. It is named for two reasons. Number one is little the Mantaray Resort located close by and secondly because there is some local Manta Rays that like to cruise the pass nearby. Unfortunately the Manta family is on holiday and hasn’t been seen for a while in the pass- maybe today.
When we arrived late at the anchorage there were 3 other boats already anchored. There is a small, narrow shelf that is 25ft to 45ft deep available to anchor on. When we came in, the winds were gusty, going from 6kts to 20kts as they came over the hill and the anchored boats were turning every which way, due to the changing winds and the tidal current flowing through the pass. Because of this, we didn’t feel comfy anchoring close into the other boats and ended up taking a spot in about 60 feet of water. The next morning the anchorage cleared out and we decided to move in to the shallower area.
No joy in getting the anchor up. The chain was solidly stuck in 72ft of water. After battling with the windlass and driving the boat in circles, we gave up and headed into the resort to find the dive shop. After the afternoon dive session, 3 guys came out to free the anchor (you can see the divers in the pic above). Two went down and worked underwater for about 30 minutes or so. Then they had to do a slow ascent to avoid decompression issues, as they had already done 4 dives that day.
When they came up they explained that the chain is stuck hard under a large coral boulder with no slot to get out and no way to slide it. They could not see anyway the chain could have gotten under the boulder. They plan to come back today and give some more Fijian effort.
Just so we don’t get bored in the meantime, the Fijian Biosecurity boat in the background here decided to stop by and board us. They run through the islands checking their fruit-fly traps. So they don’t get bored they board all the yachts they see to ensure that the check-in Biosecurity paperwork was done correctly and any declared pets are still with the boat. This is the second time in two week we’ve been boarded by officials who seem primarily interested making sure that all the paperwork from our check-in is correct.
The dive team came back this afternoon to give it another try. They took a bunch of empty jugs down and attached them so when filled with air from a separate tank they put lifting frce on the boulder. They worked at it under water for close to an hour. With all the air-filled jug force we could put on it plus some windlass tug and boat moment they freed the chain. Tough work – I’m glad it wasn’t me trying to do this with tanks at that depth. The crew looked tired when they left to head back home.
Its nice to be free. Plus we heard that the mantas are back in the cut.