Boom and the 'Gang'
Nai'a welcomed back an old friend - Mike Boom. Mike worked aboard Nai'a as the trip videographer in 2008. Now back in San Diego. Mike missed the Fijian waters and decided that he would bring a group of his dive buddies along with him. Alacosta Dive Club is a group of friends who have been diving together for a number of years. Started in the sixties and still going strong today. John K. is one of the club's original members and also states "We are a club, not a Gang". They organize at least one big trip every couple of years and local diving one a month.
Lynn M. is Mike's wife and dive buddy. Lynn is a very accomplished underwater photographer and organized the trip for Alacosta Dive Club. Lynn is also a extremely understanding lady and stayed at home when Mike had the chance to work aboard the Nai'a.
Mike had recently won a trip to the Solomon Islands in an underwater film competition and decided to take a long holiday and follow this with a group trip in Fiji and visited Bega Lagoon for some rafting and the some outer Islands for some R & R before boarding Nai’a.
Both Mike and Lynn understand the Fijian culture well and are very well liked by the crew. A major part of there overseas travels involve sampling the local food, enjoying the local customs and having a cultural experience. Mike took the time to learn some Fijian whilst aboard Nai'a and this clearly goes down well. When we visited Makogai for our Village Visit Mike was a hit, he addressed the village in Fijian and the whole village remembered him by name. Fijian people are very respectful and polite in general and when this is reciprocated it is appreciated. Lynn had made Mike a choice pink dive skin which he was brave enough to ware throughout the trip. Unfortunately no one got a photo of him wearing it. He did however leave it behind for Captain Jonathon Smith and he has been wearing it with pride!. Thanks Mike you have given us something else to tease the Captain about.
Mike has customised a small, unknow brand of underwater video housing to meet his requirments. It looks a little different to most underwater rigs, but in Mikes capable hands does a fantastic job.
John K. has been diving for years. A very experienced diver, great sense of humor and never without a smile. John was proud to boast that he is the oldest member of the Alacosta dive club is every way. His elegant and long free diver fins and dolphin like movement made tackling the currents look easy. Always ready with a joke or tale.
To add some confusion to things we had three John's onboard plus the Captain.
John D. was a surprisingly calm individual, even when he had water leaking into his housing. A trained fireman and paramedic John didn't let a small leak bother him and had to dry the inside of his housing as well as the outside after a dive. With excellent buoyancy and a keen eye John was always ready when there were critters to shoot.
So too was John B. just with a still camera instead. With Rob V. as his buddy come spotter. John's years of diving experience were clear to see as he effortlessly glided around the reefs and made diving with a large camera look easy. Rob V. will be remembered for his bottomless stomach. With not an ounce of fat on his body Rob ate double portions and any gratefully received offerings from his friends. The amount he consumed was an achievement in itself. Rob was quiet and unassuming. Robs parents were Dutch and as a child he lived in England & Switzerland before moving to the states. Where did he get his appetite from?
Everyone wanted a Lovo, traditional Fijian cooking over hot stones. So we decided on Makogai for our village visit. Once we finished our third dive we set off for the village. Chief Watson met us on the beach with a big Fijian welcome,'BULA!'
During the village tour the Chief explains why this traditional cooking method is still used so widely in Fiji. While the food is cooking, it's time for the entertainment provided by the kids of Makogai. After building up an appetite with some Kava drinking, singing and dancing everyone’s ready for Lovo and the feast is taken back to the boat.
Stephen F. made one to two dives a day and got to enjoy Nai'a whilst everyone else was diving. When we came back from the morning dive at Wakaya Steve had found out that we could pick up a wireless connection and the frenzy too hold. It's not often you see people sunbathing with their laptops Wakaya also has a lot to offer underwater too. A curious Hammerhead, Juvenile Ribbon Eel, Leaf Scorpion Fish, Elegant Dart Fish, and popcorn Shrimp were some of the critters that were on offer. So with good reason they managed to drag themselves away from their laptops and get back in the water there were no complaints and everyone was happy enough to pack their laptops away and stay away from the real world while they could.
Namena Marine reserve provided excellent dives as usual. This trip we decide to spend three days around the protected reefs. On a dive at North Save-A-Tack Stella Couvre was amazingly patient waiting for a shrimp to pose next to it's goby. Just over 20 mins. Stella has travelled the world diving and her underwater photography was great. Always busy on her laptop between dives Stella has an extensive and diverse photo library of her photos. From pygmy seahorses to great white sharks off of Guadaloupe. A passionate diver and gifted photographer.
Animated meal times.
Meal times are usually a good time to gauge how the trip is going. As ever the conversation on board flowed thick and fast, a great atmosphere was always present. Most of the group knew each and had traveled together before. Tim G and Fran B. had both made many of the Alcosta dive trips before. Fran was very layed back and calm. Tim relaxed and jovial. After their 10 days of diving they joined up with Debbie, Tom, John B. and headed down to Pacific Harbor rafting and Zip lining.
"Thanks to all of you for an extremely fun & intresting dive trip. Your very hard work, attention to detail and pleasant dispositions are very much appreciated and will have us singing Nai'as praises to our fellow divers!."
Vianaka Cindy M. & Chris D.
"Vinaka Vaka Levu!. Thanks you all so much for taking such good care of my group. As always Nai'a has the best crew in the world and they make any trip a great success. I hate to leave as i miss you all so much. Many, many thanks!."
"It has been a wonderful trip. The Captain, Crew and Cruise Directors have made this a very pleasant experience. I hope to return."
Vinaka Tim G.
"Thanks to everyone on the boat for such a wonderful trip. The crew and Captain were the best ever. Not being a lover of live-a-boards, but this has changed my mind."
“Fiji is a hot spot of biodiversity. We’re here for the rich colorful soft coral reefs as well as the unusual stuff - the strange little creatures and endemic fishes.”
~ Dr. Tim Laman, biologist and National Geographic Photojournalist