|Photos by Bruce from Pacific Hwy|
Returning, blinking in bright sunlight, to the surface we thanked our guides and asked about doing a sevusevu ceremony in the nearby village. 'No problem' they said, 'we'll come to your boats.' Sure enough, a 'fibre' fishing boat arrived alongside, we handed over a parcel of yagona, one of the chaps said three sentences in Fijian, we all clapped three times and they were off, all done in about 30 seconds. A sign of the times and the tourist popularity of this place: a drive-by sevuseva.
Our anchorage, of about 8 boats, is dominated by the 240ft superyacht Dragonfly which is owned by one of the Google founders. He's the third owner so got the 6,600hp, 27 knot, 18 crew boat for a bargain US$45 million, allegedly. It also had a twin-engined seaplane bringing in new guests (and you can charter it for 490,000Euro per week according to this site ) so little did we expect to be climbing aboard it the following morning.
|The seaplane arrives with new guests|
Mike, the Captain (who, we later learned, completed his training in Fleetwood, Lancashire, just down the road from Dianne's home village), was immediately friendly and helpful on the radio and said that they had a doctor on board and that we could certainly bring Dave over for treatment. So Graham, as mere dinghy driver, was allowed to sit on the aft deck of Dragonfly, chatting to the crew, whilst Dianne accompanied the patient, and his young daughter Natalie, up to the bridge where the doctor and the captain snipped the end of the hook off and, with plenty of local anesthetic and a pair of pliers, worked it through to come out of a new, second hole in Dave's hand (the end of the hook had a barb on it so pulling backwards would have caused all sorts of damage). It was about this point he fainted!
All the crew we met were super-friendly and interested in our boats. Alex, the chief engineer, was from Kingsbridge (15 minutes' drive from our home port of Dartmouth) and James, one of the deckhands, grew up near Itchenor where Maunie was built. As Graham chatted to them, he couldn't help noticing all the 'toys' in the aft locker - 20 kiteboards, scuba gear for 15, paddleboards, two jet skies and two 8.5m RIB tenders. The crew are all allowed to play with all this stuff 'after work' and seem to have a good rota of 3 months on, one month off.
Mike and his crew's immediate willingness to help seems to be typical of their positive and friendly attitude. Mike happily answered little Natalie's endless questions (including the classic "Why are you all wearing the same clothes?" - the skipper and crew all wore understated grey, or pink for the girls, t-shirts and board shorts) and we learnt that they'd managed to thread this enormous yacht into the narrow entrance at Fulaga and then had donated ten tonnes of fresh water from their huge desalination plant to the villagers who were almost out of drinking water after this very dry season.
Anyway, the good news is that Dave emerged from surgery without complications and Dianne was extremely relieved not to have had to attempt the procedure. The best ongoing advice regarding fish- hooks is not to get one stuck in you in the first place.