rcwucruwssuaxyfwyucraqweycfvw

Drop Zone: Fiji Blogs

Day 1 Blog From Cheyne Magnusson

Cheyne Magnusson on day 1 of the Drop Zone Fiji trip. Photo: Balzer
Cheyne Magnusson on day 1 of the Drop Zone Fiji trip. Photo: Balzer

Hot And Sweaty
That's how I can describe our first days here in Fiji. That's optimum for me because I just want be underwater the whole trip anyways. That being said, we've been logging some serious bottom time! It's day two and we already have three dives under our weight belts and one very successful free dive for yours truly. So far the marine life tally is through the roof with sightings of but not limited to: turtles, snapper, reef sharks, sea snakes, and my favorite Spanish mackerel.

If you didn't know I'm also an avid spearfisherman and the Fijian boatmen were more than happy to let me jump in and try to catch some dinner the other night. I couldn't believe my luck when my favorite reef fish swam underneath me right when I jumped in! So after two over excited botched shots I was able to pick off one of the medium size guys that was just a little too curious! I was so excited and I immediately made sure to dispatch of him as humanely and quickly as possible and rushed back to the boat. I made sure that I filleted him myself so I knew none of the fish went to waste! He fed our entire crew and some of the Fijian staff here at our hotel and we even used the carcass for chum on our scuba dives. I want everyone to know that spearfishing is a very selective and conservatory way of obtaining fish for eating purposes. The first rule I ever learned and still live by is "never take more than you need."

cheyne-splits

Click through to the next page for more…

Day 2 Blog From Cheyne Magnusson

Home sweet home for the Drop Zone crew...
Home sweet home for the Drop Zone crew...

Home Sweet Home
Today we traveled from the south of Fiji to the north. We had to get up super early and we were still late as usual. I really enjoyed taking the little island hopper flights because the view of Fiji from the sky is nothing less than breathtaking. All the little islands and barrier reefs surrounding them make for a really entertaining flight!

All I could think of was what was swimming around those reefs and if anyone had ever dove them. When we touched down in Vanua Levu we were informed that our car ride to the Tui Tai would be about three hours…

Six hours and about thirty farts later we pulled up to a little cove with a massive pirate ship anchored in it. I was freaking it was like seeing captain hook's ship from peter pan. We took the dingy out and were greeted by about fifteen crewmembers singing and handing us leis. The "boat" was more like a floating five-star resort complete with fully stocked bar and spa. So we all indulged in a few cocktails and talked about who was going to jump off the mast first and pulling a mutiny on board and just living on the boat. I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to come on these trips and today was just another reminder how blessed we all are.

pirate-ship-2

Click through to the next page for more…

Day 3 Blog From Cheyne Magnusson

Alex Gray does the SCUBA... Photo: Justin Lewis
Alex Gray does the SCUBA... Photo: Justin Lewis

Stardate June 22nd
2010 earth time 4:33 PM.
We have just finished up our first day of epic diving off the Tui Tai in the north of Fiji and I am stoked. Our first dive was a drift dive along an outer reef just to get acquainted with our new underwater surroundings. We saw some cool stuff: sharks, parrot fish, and my personal favorite Christmas tree worms. Those little things are super fun to see and it reminded me of Pandora from "Avatar." We surfaced and went back to our floating Hilton and had lunch. After that we dove the great white wall, which is thus far my favorite dive yet. We saw some awesome sea life, the highlights of which included: giant groupers, soft coral, and a "horny oyster."

It was an awesome dive and everyone high fived afterwards. It was cool to have Bede along with us because he has never dove in the tropics and he was freaking out about everything! It's always fun to be there for people's first experiences because it becomes contagious.

At the moment I am sipping a Fiji bitter writing this blog about to get a Swedish massage on our boat shaped paradise. Life is good.

The Drop Zone Fiji crew with divers/surfers Bede Durbidge, Alex Gray, Maria Gonzalez, Holly Beck, Cheyne Magnusson and their Fijian hosts.
The Drop Zone Fiji crew with divers/surfers Bede Durbidge, Alex Gray, Maria Gonzalez, Holly Beck, Cheyne Magnusson and their Fijian hosts.

Click through to the next page for more…

Day 4 Blog From Cheyne Magnusson

Alex Gray at Frigate's Pass in Fiji. Photo: Balzer
Alex Gray at Frigate's Pass in Fiji. Photo: Balzer

Man Overboard!
Wow, lot's of traveling today! We should change the name of the drop zone to planes, trains, and automobiles!
So, the day begins with us leaving the Tui Tai at about 5:00 am. After that we take a three-hour van ride to the airport. We arrive there and find out our flight is delayed an hour, as usual. Finally get on the plane for an hour and get off to quickly be informed we have another hour and a half bus ride to the harbor. Get to the harbor and take a two-hour boat ride to the surf spot! Done. Sort of. Wow my fingers hurt after typing that! So the juice ends up being worth the squeeze and we pull up to a reef pass absolutely firing!

Bede Durbidge moments before the Drop Zone skiff got caught inside by a rogue wave... Photo: Balzer
Bede Durbidge moments before the Drop Zone skiff got caught inside by a rogue wave... Photo: Balzer

Huge barrels and shallow water. Great combo. So we all freak out and jump off the boat like sharks at the first scent of blood. Everyone is getting good waves and having the best time ever. Then, Murphy's law kicked in: I kicked out of a wave and a huge set behind it landed on my head. I bailed my board and my leash snapped, shit.

I come up and immediately my broken leash leaves my thoughts at the sight I beheld at the surface. The dingy with all the photographers and video guys are literally riding a wave. I watch in horror as everybody bails out and the boat gets sucked over the falls and capsizes. Everyone was freaking, I made sure I could see everyone that was on the boat and started swimming towards them. Luckily, no one was badly injured and everyone made it back to the mothership in one piece. The tally for lost equipment was: 1 video camera, 1 still camera, the engine, everyone's towels and clothes, and the priceless photos and video contained in the cameras. I was able to throw on a mask and somehow find the still camera lying on the bottom of the reef. It was unreal, but it could have been worse. So we all celebrated just being alive on the boat ride home with a couple beers and accepted our loss. Hey, you gotta pay to play.

Maria Gonzalez charging Frigate's Pass. Photo: Balzer
Maria Gonzalez charging Frigate's Pass. Photo: Balzer

Click through to the next page for more…

Day 5 Blog From Cheyne Magnusson

drop-zone
The big, bad bull shark... Photo: Justin Lewis.

Diving With Bull Sharks
Today I dove with bull sharks, on purpose. That sounds stupid. I actually think it is too. Bulls are super unpredictable and curious and they have a "bite first, think later" mentality. If it wasn't for the Fijian divers surrounding us during the dive we would all be shark poop now. Those guys are super heroes. That being said the dive was one of the scariest and coolest experiences of my life. I have an even higher level of respect for sharks and their awesome power. It was an amazing experience and I will never forget it.

Maria Gonzalez in Fiji for the upcoming Drop Zone: Fiji movie. Photo: Justin Lewis.
Maria Gonzalez in Fiji for the upcoming Drop Zone: Fiji movie. Photo: Justin Lewis.

If you are ever in Fiji and want to be reminded of how small we really are in the big scheme of things go to Fiji and do this dive!

Holly Beck swims with a massive ray. Photo: Justin Lewis
Holly Beck swims with a massive ray. Photo: Justin Lewis
Holly Beck gets slotted at Frigate's Pass while filming for the upcoming Drop Zone: Fiji movie. Photo: Balzer
Holly Beck gets slotted at Frigate's Pass while filming for the upcoming Drop Zone: Fiji movie. Photo: Balzer

For more on this trip and to get yourself SCUBA certified, go to www.padi.com/scuba