A huge, 1040 mb, high-pressure system is slowly, very slowly squeezing its was eastwards between NZ and Fiji, compressing the winds at its northern periphery into 25 - 30 knot, near-gale conditions. So in Fulaga the normally placid water in the lagoon has been whipped into white foaming waves and the locals are all feeling cold again. Several yachts are wanting to leave to meet appointments with incoming flights bringing family and friends to Nadi so are getting increasingly twitchy about the unseasonably brisk winds.
The weather isn't the only unusual thing in the skies at the moment. On Monday evening, about 7.00pm, several crews over at the Sandspit anchorage saw a huge fireball streak across the sky from east to west and heard a loud rumbling 'boom' after it disappeared over the hill of the island. Sera, the nurse, and her husband Sikele, saw it pass high overhead as they were sitting outside and saw it explode into several large fragments, hearing the boom about five seconds later. It caused quite some consternation in the village! We've passed the information on, via the Gulf Harbour weather forecasters, and they have logged it with a research unit that tracks meteors and fireballs; hopefully we'll get some further information back from them.
Back on the ground, Graham spent a brilliant day on Friday with Lutu and Mini, Meli's brothers. The task was to go and find another tree big enough to make the second deck (known as a 'tua') and side planks ('sai') for the dugout canoe. In about four hours of hard labour, a huge hardwood tree was felled and some amazingly skilled work with a chainsaw saw the deck, about 7 feet long and 6" thick, cut to shape and hollowed out. We're low on satellite data allowance so photos and video will have to wait, unfortunately, but it was a really wonderful process to watch. We can't help feeling that this just might be the last sailing canoe to be built here but Lutu thinks that, as soon as it is launched, everyone will want to borrow it to go fishing so perhaps it'll generate sufficient interest for others to keep the traditional skills alive. What surprised us is that the canoes have a relatively short working life – without any kind of paint or anti-worm preservative they last only six or seven years so you can see why the modern 'fibers' and their outboard engines have taken over.
We had our hosts Lutu, Bale and little Acosita, aboard Maunie for lunch yesterday. The last beef mince in the freezer compartment made a pasta Bolognese change to their normal fish and crab diet and the Christmas Pudding with whipped cream was a big hit. It was a lovely, relaxed afternoon and Lutu presented us with a beautiful carving that he'd been working on; he'd been amused that we'd grown attached to the Remora Fish that had become equally attached to Maunie's keel so made a wonderful 18" Remora for us to go with Meli the Penguin.