Discovering Silver Bay

Silver Bay shell

Our plan over the weekend was to link up again with our friends on s/v Kamaya. They are Americans, with two kids on board, that we spent time with in Tonga. We hadn’t seen them during the 6 months we were in New Zealand. In fact, they originally had plans to sell their boat there and head back to the States. While in Savusavu last week, they contacted us by E-mail and we told them we would try to link up after our dive course.

After a nice sail from Savusavu to Viani Bay on Saturday, we discovered Kamaya, Stray Kitty, and m/v Oso Blanco – all three kids boats – had left earlier in the day to visit Somosomo on Taveuni. We contacted them by radio and said we would try to meet up with them the next day.

Meanwhile, there were a lot of boats in Viani Bay. I went over in the kayak and met up with s/v Jerana and s/v Passages. Later, Stuart from s/v Imagine came by and we chatted. Passages called out on the radio to suggest floating Sun-downers. This meant we took out our dinghies, rafted them together, and drifted while drinking and having some snacks. In addition to the other boats, joining us for the sun-downers were: s/v El Regalo, s/v Kilkea II, Boree, and s/v Ocean Breeze. Eventually we drifted in our huge raft of dinghies over a reef. Someone tossed out an anchor so we didn’t drift all the way across the bay. The drinking and talking kept going until it started to rain and everyone headed back to their boats.

The next day was another beautiful sunny day. We headed out of Viani and went around the peninsula to a bay called Nasau (pronounced: ‘nahsah-oo’). The kids boats had all headed over there earlier in the morning. We soon pulled into the bay and dropped our hook between Kamaya and Oso Blanco. Oso is a large 65′ Nordhaven motor yacht.

Soon we were re-united with Kamaya and catching up over at Stray Kitty. Later we went for a snorkel at a very nice reef inside the bay. We saw lots of live coral, clown fish, a couple of reef shark, crown of thorn star fish, sea cucumbers, and a moray eel. After a quick lunch, we all pulled up our hooks and headed out of the bay. It was kind of rolly in there, as it was unprotected from that direction of wind. So, we had decided to move to the leeward side of the next island north called: Kioa. We had no information in our guides about the possible anchorages, so this would be an exploration.

We went around the southwest corner and immediately saw there was a large pearl farm on the southwest side. A couple of guys jumped in their motor boat and made sure we didn’t veer into their farm. The first possible anchorage looked surrounded by mangroves and not too inviting. So, we motored on up to the northwest side of Kioa and found a more secluded bay. Stray Kitty and Tahina investigated first. We found it was very deep – 100+ feet – going way back into the bay. We eventually found an area around 100′ deep with a couple of shelfs up to 40′ that had coral on them. Most of us went ahead and set our hooks in 100 feet of water – pretty deep for anchoring.

The kids all went swimming while the rest of us started preparing some food for a pot-luck dinner. Oso Blanco offered to host the dinner. Near sundown we all headed over to Oso. Karen and I had never been on board and were very impressed with the nice fittings, and excellent equipment on board this motor yacht. Very nice! Soon the kids were in one group, the women in another and the guys in another all chatting. A while later, dinner was served first to the kids, and then the adults all gathered at the stern on a large table there. We spent quite a while chatting about cruising stuff, drinking, and eating some tasty desserts. Eventually it was 9 PM and so we all departed.

The next day, Tim from Kamaya and I got up at 7 AM and took our kayaks out to explore the bay – we didn’t know the name of the bay as it wasn’t on the charts or guides. We had fun looking into the shallow areas right near the shore. Just a few feet off the shore it immediately dropped to deeper water. But, near the shore you could see lots of coral and fish. On the shore it was mostly mangroves. We found a few spots where streams came out that could be traversed if you wanted to get to the land. While we were out there, two fishermen in locally-built canoes came into the bay. I spoke to one while Tim spoke to the other. It turns out they were father and son and lived just a short distance north. The younger one, named David, was asking if there were any boats from Germany. It turns out he lived in Germany until recently when he came back to take care of his father who is getting older. David asked if I had any spare books, and I said I sure do. Later he came by to pick them up and brought me a really cool shell. He said this bay is called Silver Bay and the shell is very rare. It looked like a tiny conch shell, but has a long thin “tail”. There are inch-long spikes protruding all around it. We have never seen anything like it. See the photo at the top of this post. David said the shell is unique to Silver Bay. Very cool!

Before noon, the other boats were departing. We would catch up later with Oso and Stray Kitty, but Kamaya would be leaving on a faster pace. They are planning to get to Australia by August because they want to get their daughter back in school in the States. Then they will be selling their boat in Australia. We went over to talk to them one last time since we may not see them again for quite some time. We also gave their daughter Maya some of the scuba equipment we had saved from our daughters when they were that age. The other set they would give to the older daughter on Stray Kitty.

We motored east from Kioa to Taveuni at Naselesele Point. There several boats were anchoring to join in a celebration for s/v Dignity who are having their 25th wedding anniversary. As you can see, we have a busy social life in the cruising community!

And here are a few pictures from our holiday weekend:


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3 Responses to Discovering Silver Bay

  1. Rob Roy says:

    Hi Frank, looks like you’re having a lot of fun in Fiji (very jealous).

    That shell sure is pretty, but i’m not sure how unique it is is though. Perhaps it is a sub-species endemic to Silver Bay, but it looks like a common or garden variety Murex Tribulus to me :) I used to free dive at night for them when a teenager living in Fiji – they crawl along just under the surface of the mud and you follow the furrow in the mud or sand for anywhere up to 30 feet. The shell is under the bump at one end (there’s a hollow at the other end of the furrow) If you get to Suva there used to be a lot on the mudflats opposite the Teachers college. May be worth a trip in the dinghy one night :)

    One word of warning though (although I’m sure you already know this Frank) – cone shells also do the same trick of crawling along under the mud or sand, and some of them can be deadly. Best not to investigate a track using your hand, but just wave the water to expose the shell before trying to pick it up. If a cone, only pick up across the fat end as the stinger comes out the pointy end.

    • Frank Taylor says:

      Thanks for the details about the shell Rob. I had a feeling the shell may not be exclusively in that bay. And, I had a feeling a shell with that many pointy ends might have some other protection – thanks for the tip about the stingers.

      • Rob Roy says:

        Just to clarify, Frank.

        The murex’s like yours aren’t poisonous. I think the spikes are deterent enough :)

        It’s the cones (Conus) shells that have stingers, some of them deadly to humans. They’re carnivorous so the harpoon and venom are for killing prey, or for stinging humans who pick them up and hold them in their hand.

        See http://bit.ly/lR2rkI and http://bit.ly/jC0VoV

        Add stonefish and risk of coral cuts getting infected, and it makes decent footwear a must when beachcombing or exploring in shallow water in the tropics :)

        Rob

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