I am 30 feet below the surface. Water rushes past me in cold currents. I see a pod of dolphins above. I see a humphead wrasse bigger than a pony. I see clownfish hiding inside a sea anemone forest. I see the rainbow, it’s getting brighter.
I swim into a cave. There are pockets of light revealing big-eyed beings. Floating, suspending, upside down and inside out. I drop down into an opening. I am 100 feet deep now.
To my left there is a depthless wall of soft white coral, rising up and falling down for as far as I can see. It is ornamented with splashes of fish and coral of every color; purple, orange, yellow, red, green, blue. There are more fish than particles of water. Everything is billowing and bubbling; fins, antennas, tails, tentacles, mouths.
I am blown away, I’ve never seen anything more dazzling, breathtaking, delicious, divine. It reminds me of Christmas in Singapore, or the heart of a gemstone, or a sunset after a storm. It’s so cosmic and surreal that it almost seems unnatural. Like somebody dreamt it. What if everything that exists was dreamt into existence? Maybe it was.
Sea shanties and lost legends flood into my head. I’m a mermaid, I’m an oyster, I’m saltwater. I stare at a piece of bubble coral where an orangutan crab plays like a pixie. I watch ghost coral change colors when touched, from red to white. Everything is alive and alien and waving at me. I am lost in space. I don’t want it to end. My eyes want to drink up everything in this underwater kingdom. Time. I need more, but I am running out of air.
I ascend. Everything goes blue, blue, blue, bubble, blue. I surface. I scream a scream of intoxicated delight. I feel like a ship in orbit. It’s as if I could live off my memory of that dive site for forever. Like I no longer need food, or air, or water.
The site is known as the Great White Wall and it’s one of the treasures found at Rainbow Reef. It can only be seen on a perfect tide at the perfect time, cause that’s when the soft coral blooms wide open.
Nature is so hypnotic. Bird, flower, sea, sun.
The winds picked up and everybody got kicked out of paradise, so I sailed over to Viani Bay to get closer to Rainbow Reef. I’ve been diving it every day since; The Garden of Eden, Purple Wall, Cabbage Patch, Rainbow Bridge, Barracuda Corner. I’m seeing it all.
I got a new PADI certification along the way. It wasn’t easy, with my fear mounted against the underwater skills I had to do to get the certification, but I did it. I had to. I had to free myself of the panic that diving causes me. I had to dive until diving became my new palace of Zen. I can’t hold someone’s hand underwater forever, you know.
Viani Bay is a little beach village on Vanua Levu, where no roads go. You have to bushwhack for hours or ride a boat through Rainbow Reef to get here.
Damn, how I love the feeling of a place without roads. So serene. Places like this, feel like the only places I can really exist. I like the feeling of “this is it.” Like there’s nothing over yonder or on down the road to see, because when there is more to see, I want to see it, I must see it, I can’t sleep until I see it!
The village has a hundred or so people and they all have the same last name, Fisher. It’s got dogs that don’t fight, children that love to be held, and a lot of wild pigs. So many pigs that people burned all the hills on the west side of the bay to get rid of them. That side looks like California.
You know what I love most about this place? There’s a drum beat that plays three times a day to signal morning, noon, and night. Bam, bam, bam-bam-bam, bam. There are horses that I get to ride bareback, down the beach, at low tide. And there’s a dive company here that has a seaweed farm, a coral farm, and they make sea salt.
Word has gotten around the village about me; the gal alone on a boat. Sometimes men Kayak over, under the stars, and bring me ripe fruits; mangos, coconuts. They ask if I’m single. “No, I have a partner. He’s in Savusavu, and he’s as tall as the trees and as wide as the sky and as strong as a gale,” I lie. I have to lie. I have to lay low.
Little do they know, the only thing next to me in the V-berth is my old anchor. I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t in good conscience give it away, it’s too dangerous, too untrustworthy. And I don’t have anywhere else to stow it. So my old anchor and I sleep side-by-side and it makes me grateful that my new anchor is secure enough to allow sleep.
I can feel summer coming. The days sag and drip and melt with sweat, and lightning storms chase themselves through the new moon nights. Cyclone season is near.
Cyclone season is the hot topic among the other cruisers. They ask me what I’m doing for it. I say, “I don’t know, I want someone else to decide for me,” I shrug, I pause, I continue, “or maybe I will apply to go to Australia? There is some reason I’m meant to go to Australia, but I don’t know the reason yet.”
They say, “Oh no, you don’t want to go there. Everything in Australia can kill you! They’ve got saltwater crocodiles that eat sailors, and kangaroos that kick you in the face. They’ve got great whites, and lethal spiders and snakes. Oh and have you heard about the microscopic jellyfish? One sting and your gone. You can’t see them, so you have to swim in full-body ninja suits and hope that they don’t sting your face. Australia is dreadful!”
A cyclone does sound better than all of that. But I had a dream the other night that revealed almost everything. I think that I’m supposed to make another ethnographic film. About a community that lives on an island. They live like nobody else is living. They live in a place I already sailed past or intended to sail past. Maybe I am to make a film about the aborigines in Australia? A film about Dreamtime, perhaps. I don’t know, but I love dreams and I believe in the power of dreams. I could spend my days making a film about a community so connected to dreaming.
I will dream on it some more.
In the meantime I’ve got a map of all the cyclone holes around Fiji. I will sail up some mangrove, throw down all three of my anchors, and pray it passes me by.
*I started a Patreon account. https://www.patreon.com/wildernessofwaves?fan_landing=true I will be doing live Q&As for Patron members and each member will receive a link to my tracker. If you are already donating monthly via Paypal, you will also be invited to attend the Q&As. The contributions made will allow me to keep creating content surrounding this journey. It is high time that I dedicate my filmmaking skills to this circumnavigation!
* I am also so grateful to announce that I am now sponsored by PredictWind. If you are heading offshore, you can use PredictWind to download GRIB weather files & track your journey. You can download it here: https://www.predictwind.com/?ref=oliviawyatt and learn more about it on my sponsorship page to learn more.