We have been in Port Vila for the past three days. There are a number of boats that we know here, including those that got stuck in New Zealand until early July by the horrendous weather of all of June,and only recently arrived direct from New Zealand.
Before our passage to Port Vila, we had one day in Dillon Bay on Erromanggo Island. Two locals in a skiff (Wilson and George) invited us to view the children’s day celebration on the island that was being hosted by Upongkor village just up the Williams river. They offered to take us to the village and we accepted since it seemed tricky to navigate the river mouth without local knowledge. Before heading off, we bought two large freshly caught lobsters from them. Having no good place to keep live lobsters on the boat, George just cut off their tails for us to freeze.
We leisurely walked around the village waiting for the 2pm start of the celebration, and spent time talking to villagers and schoolchildren. The wait was for children from the village on the other side of the island who had not yet arrived. To get to Upongkor they had to hike for a full day, with an overnight spent in the mountains. As we toured around, Wilson pointed out the rock on the Williams river on which the outline of it’s namesake, the missionary Reverend Williams, had been etched in stone before he was cooked and eaten.
At 2 pm, the children and chaperons of the other village processed over the river and onto the public square, led my the Opongkor children singing songs of welcome. In the square, there were welcoming speeches by local dignitaries (in Bislama) as well as a long fiery sermon by the local minister.
Like children everywhere, the speeches made the children fidget and inattentive. There were more songs and the day ended with Kustom dances by the men (with bow and arrows and other weapons), and then the women in grass skirts. I took lots of video and photos and promised to send a DVD to the village as soon as we got to Port Vila.
When it was time to return to Sabbatical III, George and the skiff were nowhere to be found, so Wilson took us in a tiny outrigger canoe. Wilson plus two big white persons is a bit of an overload for the outrigger. Laura put the camera bag on the bottom of the canoe in front of her. Sea water entered the canoe as Wilson paddled us back to the boat, and our Canon mini-DVD digital movie camera was ruined. We are very disappointed as we had hoped to film dances and other rituals we will encounter as we make our way north through Vanuatu, and because we cannot send a DVD of the children’s day celebration to Opongkor village as promised. We have a little low resolution Flip video camera that we bought just before we left Rhode Island, so we still have some video capabilitiy.
We were up at 3 am that night to begin our passage to Port Vila. After getting past the considerable wind shadow of Erromanggo, it was a fast if somewhat rolly downwind sail with poled out genoa plus mizzen. The town of Port Vila looks fine but a little shabby. There is one nice supermarket (Bon Marche II) about a 15 minute walk from the dinghy dock. There is fruit and vegetable market in town that is open 24 hours a day, except weekends. In the market, there are a few dozen vendors selling manioc, taro, and sweet potatoes, plus coconuts, bananas, pamplemousse, and some prepared foods.
We have not solved the internet problem yet. There is no wireless in the harbor, and connect time is quite expensive if paid by the hour. We may buy a weekly pass from a place near the Bon Marche II but they are closed over the weekend. We tried to buy a SIM for our cell phone from the central office of Digicell, but there is not a SIM or cell phone to be had in the country. They are just all out. We will remain at least through the celebration of Vanuatu’s National Day on July 30.
Click on the image above to play video of Mount Yasur eruption.
July 22, 2008
It is morning in Dillon’s Bay on the island of Erromanggo, Vanuatu. We arrived yesterday afternoon after an 8 hour (55 mile) sail in near perfect conditions. As we left Port Resolution and headed north, we could see Mt. Yasur puffing black clouds into a clear blue sky.
Two days ago, we made a trip to the cone of Mt. Yasur to have a look inside. We were accompanied in the pickup truck by Michael and Britta of Vera, plus “the Italians” (two interesting couples on two boats), and three Aussies from two boats. One of the Aussies left earlier to walk up the volcano. Everything in Vanuatu is owned by one “family” or another. A family owns the volcano and charges 2000 vatu to ascend to the top ($1 = 88 vatu).
This is not an experience that would ever be permitted in a Western country. You hike up the cone and look down into a boiling cauldron of lava. There are no railings or viewing platforms of any kind. The only safety instruction is “do not turn your back on the volcano.” This instruction has nothing to do with offending the spirits. The volcano has a mini-eruption every few minutes in which it throws out flaming balls of lava (“lava bombs”). It is said that 99.99 percent of these fall back within the cone (500-750 meters in diameter). You have to be prepared to dodge the 0.01 percent that do not. As you walk up the cone you can see the congealed remains of lava bombs littering the slopes. In principle, it should be much easier to dodge a flaming lava bomb than it is to catch a pop fly to center field in the Minneapolis Metrodome, for example. It just that the ill consequences of misplacing these fly balls are so much more severe. Fortunately, our abilities to track flying objects was not sorely tested on this evening.
The volcano is the main tourist attraction on Tanna. There are a number of very simple resorts near the base of the volcano that shuttle their guests up to Yasur for the view. There were about 40 people,including some children, at the volcanic cone the evening that we were there. The volcano put on a spectacular show for us. I juggled three cameras and have some great photos and video. Each eruption is preceded by a roar and then the fireworks begin. As night fell, the sight of bright red plumes of lava being thrown high into the sky was a “National Geographic” moment.
I tried my hand at fishing during the sail to Erromanggo. It was too rough on the trip from Fiji to even consider fishing. I hooked a very large fish just off the north cape of Tanna. Unfortunately, we had not prepared my “fighting belt.” In fact we did hot even know where it was since we had not used it since Tonga last year. As Laura rummaged around below, I tried to reel the fish in with the rod still in the rod holder. I had to tighten the line brake quite a lot to keep the line from unspooling, and grabbing the rod without the fighting belt seemed unwise. Even then, I got the fish almost to the boat before he broke the line (70 pound test) and headed off. Ninety minutes later I got a bite on my handline. The handline uses 200 pound test and the only equipment required to haul in a fish with it is a pair of gloves. I landed the heaviest fish in my short history of fishing. It was a 20 pound tuna that was more than one foot around.
As the sun set in beautiful Dillon Bay, we enjoyed very fresh sushi and sashimi and two bottles of cold white wine with the Veras. Britta is expert at preparing sushi and sashimi and brought over pickled ginger, wasabi,and sushi rice. We had the tuna and soy sauce (but, alas, no chopsticks). After dinner we listened to songs from Mercedes Sosa, our favorite singer this sailing season, and watched a million stars, including the Southern Cross, shine in a crystal clear night. As Michael and Britta dinghied back to Vera at the end of the evening, their dinghy left a brilliant trail of photoluminescence in its wake.
There is a strong low pressure system headed our way. The plan is to leave Erromanggo at about 3:30 am (local time) tonight (actually tomorrow morning) and head for Port Vila on Efate Island. We should arrive there before sunset tomorrow. Port Vila offers protection from all directions of wind and wave. It is the capitol of Vanuatu and has real supermarkets (French), internet access, fuel, and restaurants. We hope to upload photos and video to our web site from there and also fix our blog.
Satellite photo showing Mt. Yasur cone (red icon) and Port Resolution anchorage (yellow icon)
We have been in Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu for only 48 hours and have had more adventures than in the prior month. We arrived here after a rollicking sail from Fiji and a rather scary entrance through a narrow pass into this bay. The pass was scary not just because of the big seas breaking on rocks and reefs but also because it is so badly charted that it looked like we had to sail onto a high hill (according to the chart) to get into the bay. A 50 foot Beneteau sloop was famously lost on the reef here 4 years ago, so we were a bit anxious. Someone said that the chart is based on that prepared by Captain James Cook when he was the first European to visit Tanna in 1774. There is a famous painting of Captain Cook coming ashore in this bay to meet the locals. The bay is named after his vessel, HMS Resolution. When HMS Resolution left here, she went southeast and discovered New Zealand.
Captain Cook stopped here because he saw a great glow in the sky and wanted to investigate. The glow was the Yasur volcano that towers over this bay, and the volcano is still erupting. More on that later. Some decades later Cook was followed by missionaries. The locals preferred to cook and eat the first few sets of missionaries. Cannibalism in Vanuatu ended finally in 1969. The island population is split among three main groups, Christians, Kastom (customary ways except cannibalism), and John Frum (a cargo cult).
Port Resolution is a fairly small bay with a black sand bottom. On the shore just 50 meters behind Sabbatical III, steam and hot water comes boiling out of the rocks. You can swim close by and a have a very warm soak but the flow of hot water is variable and it can get too hot. Another volcanic vent just above the shore regularly puffs out steam. When Captain Cook anchored here in 1774, the bay was significantly deeper. The volcano caused the shallowing mostly through uplift (primarily in1928), not volcanic deposition.
Early yesterday, our first morning here, we picked up the Vera’s in our dinghy and motored our way to shore. We had to pick our way through rocks and reefs to find a beach on which we could land. A steep path took us up to the “Port Resolution Yacht Club.”
It is not a yacht club in the usual sense. It is a pavilion with two walls and a roof that was set up by the village of Port Resoluton to help the visiting yachties interact with the traditional culture of Tanna. We found Wery, who is the person designated to talk to yachties, to arrange transport across the island to Lenakel, where one could check in. Wery said that he would have a pickup truck available to take us the next day (today). He said that there was a wedding celebration in the village and we were welcome to walk around and watch. Before heading off for the village 500 meters away, we told Wery we would like to have lunch in one of the small very informal island restaurants. You need to give them at least a half a day’s notice (presumably to find some food to serve you).
The wedding celebration had started the day before but yesterday was supposed to be the big day. In the morning there was a formal ceremony in which the couple was presented with gifts, lots of pots,pails, and washbasins. At noon, we were then led through a narrow path across the peninsula to a small hut on stilts overlooking the crashing ocean surf. Some young girls from the village scooted by us in the path carrying pots and trays with food, which it turns out was our lunch. They set out a buffet lunch of rice, taro root, manioc, sweet potato, some other tubers, island cabbage, bread, “shoo-shoo” (a green vegetable), bananas, and chicken curry. It was a huge amount of food for the four of us,and we loved it. We sat on a low bench in the hut and ate our fill.
We returned to the village and found that the dancing had begun. It started off slowly but the tempo was building as the afternoon progressed. We took photos and videos and chatted with Wery’s sister Esther. The dancers were of all ages but danced separately by sex. Most wore t-shirts with colorful grass skirts. The bride had feathers in her hair and white powder on her face. The wedding party sat under a canopy of palm fronds, and sometimes the dancers danced in a circle around the canopy. They also did a line dance that looked like the hora. By late afternoon we were feeling a bit sunstroked and dehydrated, and returned to our boats. We were told that the dancing would intensify and go on through the night. We thought of returning in the evening but could not see how we could navigate the dinghy to the beach in the dark.
This morning we were us at 5 am in order to take the truck to Lenakel. The truck was an open pickup with no shade and hard benches 9 inches wide along the bed.
Forewarned of this, we brought sun shirts and cushions. We also brought jackets and warm tops since we would have to climb over Mt. Yasur to get to the west coast of the island where Lenakel is located. Lenakel is the capitol city of the southernmost province of Vanuatu, encompassing a number of islands in addition to Tanna. It has a customs office and an immigration office, as well as a market and some small stores, in a city of nearly 1000 people. Joining Vera and us were David and Mary, two retired doctors from Victoria, Canada. Victoria has a special relationship with Tanna. In particular, it supports the small hospital in Lenakel. David and Mary had boxes of medicines with them to deliver to the hospital that they brought from New Zealand in their sailboat.
Stanley, the young son of the village chief of Port Resolution, came along to guide us. Stanley had been partying most of the night at the wedding and had drank 7 bowls of potent kava (kava in Tanna is said to be the most potent in the world), plus a bottle of vodka. He claimed that it was the vodka that did him in. He had returned to his home at 3:30am and his wife would not let him in his house. He slept on the ground for a couple of hours before meeting us at the pickup truck. He was very hungover. Fortunately, Stanley did not drive the truck. He did pass out at lunch and slept on the beach at Lenakel in the afternoon. When we returned to Port Resolution early this evening, his wife met the truck and angrily balled him out (in Bislama, the pidgin English national language). She was angry at his vodka binge the night before (not his kava drinking, since that is customary), and for forgetting to buy the things she asked him to get in Lenakel.
It was quite an amazing and scenic trip across the island. The road is just a track through the forest. You have to keep your head down to avoid getting whacked by a tree branch. The pickup truck bounces vigorously as it jumps over rocks and ruts. We climb up the forested slope of Mt. Yasur and had wonderful views in all directions. Suddenly, vegetation disappears and we drive in a moonscape of rocks, gullies, and crevaces. Finally, we cross below the volcanic cone, driving in ash, curving around large dunes of grey volcanic ash. Puffs of smoke and ash rise from the volcano’s cone. Two hours after we depart Port Resolution, we descend into Lenakel. Immigration and Customs are both extraordinarily efficient and friendly — quite unlike Fiji. There are simple forms and warm greetings. Receipts are provided without having to request them. Our doctor friends are dropped off at the hospital with their cartons of medicines, and the Sabbatical’s and Vera’s check out the market and find lunch. It was not a market day (those are on Friday and Monday), so there was not much for sale but we did get some avocadoes, pineapple, peanuts, lemons, and ginger. Bananas are not for sale since they are everywhere and in every yard, so who would ever buy them, except the odd yachty?
Stanley came along with us to a small restaurant where the menu consisted of rice and beef or rice and fish, but they were out of fish. That made choosing so easy. Stanley was still feeling his hangover but did rouse himself when the food arrived. After lunch, we had 3 hours to kill until the pickup returned. There is not much to do in Lenakel and there was literally almost nothing on the shelves of the few small stores. We could not even find bottled drinks for sale. We hung out on the beach under a banyan tree and watched women strip bark off of branchs to make “grass” skirts. The trip back was somehow even bumpier than the trip out, but in the late afternoon light the scenery was even more spectacular. As we stopped beneath the volcanic cone, it gave a loud burp and puffed out a nice cloud.
When we returned to the boat, we were dehydrated, dead tired, and covered in volcanic ash. After a shower and quick dinner, I wrote the above and we headed off to bed. Stanley had invited us to a circumcision ceremony at the village at Black Sands, for the next day, but we could not see ourselves making the 7 am start. Now it is the next day (Thursday July 17), and we just returned from the circumcision ceremony. We went late but it did not matter, we were there for the best parts. It was quite extraordinary. The recently circumcised boys had painted faces, flower leis,colorful feathers in their hair, and other special attire, as did their families. There was joyful dancing, piles of taro and manioc, laplap, and the killing of pigs (the latter is what we missed by coming late). We gave a pair of new flip-flops as a gift, and received a large taro stalk. Six of the seven boats at anchor were present, and we were all treated as welcome guests. I took lots of photos and video. People do not mind having the photos taken if you first ask permission, and they love it when you show them the digital photo. The children scream with laughter.
So it has been a very eventful two (now three) days. We have not had the opportunity to take down our spinnaker pole until just now, and boats chores have gone undone. But what can you do you do when the neighbors invite you to a wedding and a circumcision?
S 19 degrees 31.6 minutes
E 169 degrees 29.7 minutes
Hooray. We just arrived in Port Resolution on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.Our passage from Fiji took exactly 2 days and 8 hours. We had expected that it would take 3 days and 3 nights. It was a record breaking sail for us in terms of speed – we had two days where we made 200 miles each day. This was the first time we have ever made 200 miles in a day. This speed got us into Vanuatu well before sunset and saved us that 3rd night at sea. Conditions were far windier than we had expected – with winds of 30-40 knots pretty much the whole way – and large seas – up to 6 meters at times. It was not a comfortable passage – but at least I can say that it was not our worst either. We left Fiji with Vera and were within 7 miles of her the entire 465 nm passage.
We had mistakenly written in our last blog that we were sailing east-southeast, but just to clear the record we were sailing west-southwest. Just wanted to keep you all on your toes.
We are really tired. There is a huge volcano here and it looks gorgeous from here. Time for sleep!
Tomorrow morning (2030 UTC July 11) we will leave Momi Bay on the big island of Viti Levu, Fiji for Port Resolution on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu. The course is a 460 nautical mile straight shot from here on a course of 246 degrees magnetic. The forecast is for winds 22-26 knots from the east becoming ESE with seas of 3 to 3.5 meters, easing. These robust winds should get us to Tanna Island fairly quickly. We may need to slow down in order not to arrive before dawn (local time) Monday in Tanna. If the wind is too strong on arrival or out of the north then we may deviate to Port Vila on the island of Efate since Port Resolution has limited protection. “Vera” will be traveling with us. Our current position is:
South 17 degrees 54.9 minutes
East 177 degrees 15.9 minutes
Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu is located at S 19 degrees 31.6 minutes, East 169 degrees 29.1 minutes.
Yesterday I had another interesting unusual birthday. Last year we were in Papeete, Tahiti on my birthday searching through the industrial section of town(incredibly ugly) looking for a water pressure pump. This year we were in Lautoka, the second largest town in Fiji – doing last minute stuff to prepare for our departure to Vanuatu. It is a pretty ugly town too – with lots of crime. It is recommended that you do not walk anywhere at night (and we did not) – and we found that even during the day there a lot of unsavory characters walking around. Too bad, because it “could ” be a very charming town, filled with Indo-Fijians – complete with saris, sari shops, curry, etc. There is a terrific fruit market with piles of fruit and vegies and kava to buy – everything for either $1 or $2, depending on how big the pile was. We were thrilled to finally stock up on some fresh fruit after having very little of it these past 3 weeks.
The night before my birthday we went to a nice Chinese restaurant with Michael and Britta. All of the stores in town have metal grates covering windows and doors and someone has to unlock the door for each customer. Lovely. The meal, however, was yummy, and we were able to jump right in a cab after and head back to our boats. The other bad part about Lautoka and the harbor is that they process sugar cane right by the docks and there is a huge plume of black sootpouring out of the factory night and day. It gets into your lungs and by morning the entire boat was covered in black soot. So much for paradise.
We were able to go to an internet cafe yesterday (first time in 2 months), but are still not able to get our blog working. We will try again in Vanuatu.
We had a little birthday party on the boat last night with Michael and Britta from “Vera” and another couple we just met on “Promesa” (she is from Columbia and he from Holland). It was really nice – I even got presents!
We checked out of Fji this morning – after filling out four pages of forms (with the exact information we had been asked for in triplicate when we checking in a month ago). It is quite sad – such a beautiful country, but bad government and a whole lot of unhappy citizens do not make it a paradise for visitors. We enjoyed the islands very much but would never want to spend any time on the “mainland” where the cities are.
So now we are anchored in the lovely quiet and clean little anchorage 25 miles south of Lautoka awaiting the morning light when we will lift anchor (with Vera) and start heading the 460 miles east-south-east to Vanuatu.
Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. I had a memorable birthday!
Some people have asked us what sevusevu is (referred to in our e-mail a few days ago). It refers to a ceremony which I will explain. In Fiji the people (men actually) love to drink a kind of tea made from the roots of the kava plant (a type of pepper plant.) It is slightly intoxicating – mostly it numbs the mouth and throat and makes you quite mellow. It is a big deal here and when we visit an island , it is traditional to go to the chief (yes, there are village chiefs) and ask permission to stay. You are not supposed to do anything without first asking permission of the chief. You start by offering him some dried kava. We bought several bundles of the stuff in the main town of Lautoka before heading out to the islands. Although we stayed in several different anchorages, all on different islands, there was only one that actually had a village and therefore a chief – so that was were we presented the gift of kava and asked for permission to stay. That is called making sevusevu. Apparently they often ask you to stay and drink some of the stuff with them after they grind it up and mix it with water, but that usually happens at night. We made a point of visiting during the day as we did not really want to drink it (we have tried it and find it kind of nasty) and also we did not want to walk back across the island to return to our boats after dark.
All of the resorts here do little kava ceremonies here with the tourists as well and we have seen it a few times (also in Tonga). Traditionally there is a big wooden bowl filled with it in the center of the room. Everyone sits on mats and there is one person who is assigned to pass out the kava in little coconut shells – same shell passed from one person to the next. You have to clap your hands once, say “bula”, drink the whole cup, and then clap your hands three times before passing the coconut shell back to the leader. It seems phony, but is actually done with great seriousness as far as we can tell. The locals will drink many cups of the kava and get quite euphoric or mellow, or maybe just stoned. Hard to say. It is extremely popular here.
We are still carrying a kilo or so of kava with us and it doesn’t look like we will have anyone to give it to. Should we send you some?
We have had some adventures the past few days. I guess most of our adventures involve mishaps of some sort. Two days ago we left Land Harbor at the northern part of the Yasawa Islands and started heading south. We need to get back south in order to check out in the town of Lautoka. It is too hard to sail directly back to Lautoka (because of all the reefs in the way) so we have been breaking up the trip with brief stops at the islands along the way, just as we did as we worked our way up the Yasawas.
Unfortunately there are just not very many anchorages that provide good protection from wind and waves and swell here. We ended up dropping anchor at a very lovely, anchorage – basically a narrow channel just below the southernmost portion of Naviti Island. It is protected from the north by Naviti and from the south and some of the south-west by two small islands (Narara and Naukakuva).Because it is actually a passage (with openings at both the easterly and westerly ends) the wind can blow quite strongly through there. The bottom looked sandy, however, and there was no swell inside the anchorage and by the time we reached there it was almost dark and we had no other safe options for the night.
It was lovely, with hundreds of birds circling overhead and green palm trees covering the small hills close by us. The current running through the passage, however, was very strong, and during the night we noticed that although the wind was blowing from the east, the current was running from the west, and the boat had turned around and instead of facing into the wind (most preferable), it was facing into the current. That, in itself, is not necessarily a problem, but we could tell from the sounds below us that our anchor chain must have gotten wrapped on something on the sand-bottom due to all the turning. We could hear a scraping sound from deep under us every time the boat moved, meaning only one thing – the anchor chain had gotten wrapped on coral. The boat was also doing a lot of slapping up and down as it bounced up and down on the swells coming in with the current.
Sometimes it is easy to unwrap an chain caught on coral, just by moving the boat forward or backward a bit when pulling up the anchor. This time, however, it was clear that it was really stuck badly and we would not be able to get it out without someone diving to the bottom and actually unwrapping the chain from whatever was holding it. The water was fairly clear, but the anchor was way too deep to dive down without diving equipment. Luckily, our friend Michael, on Vera, has diving gear, and after he got his anchor pulled up (with some difficulty too), he put on his diving gear and came over to help us. The current in the passage was so strong that he had trouble swimming even 10 meters over to our boat, and he had to hang on to our dinghy trailing behind our boat in order to make it the final few yards. He dove down and found that the anchor chain had actually wrapped itself over, then under, and then sidewise across a very large and solid piece of coral. Very bad situation! But, with Michaels’ diving skills, and Mark floating in the water above him wearing his snorkel gear, we were able to maneuver the chain free – with Michael giving Mark hand signals from down below on when I should pull up the anchor chain (done with an electric windlass, so there is no strength needed). It worked great and 15 minutes after Michael went down we were free and we all sailed off together – very glad that all was o.k. and that we were buddy sailing with such competent friends.
Our next stop was just 8 miles south of there – the anchorage on the western edge of Waya. We stopped here two weeks ago and loved the little resort – the Octopus – and thought it was one of the most beautiful anchorages we had seen in the Yasawas. Unfortunately we were chased out of there last time by a tremendous swell which made it an incredibly uncomfortable place to try to sleep. When we pulled in on Saturday it was pretty calm and the wind forecast looked good. Within an hour, however, a strong squall blew in from the west (the most unprotected direction for that anchorage) and we had to wait out a monster downpour for a couple of hours. The beautiful sunset that followed was worth the storm though, and it ended up being a relatively calm night.
Sunday was clear and calm and we decided to risk staying another night. The winds were very low and the seas were quite calm, but the forecast was for winds to pick up to 20-25 knots by midnight (that’s a lot) – but from a direction which should be ok for that anchorage. Well, the winds did pick up, but not from quite the direction we had expected, so had another very rock and rolly night at Waya. Earlier in the day we had met our friends from Wombat of Sydney who were anchored at an anchorage just 4 miles away, and were much better protected. They had hiked over the hill and met us at the Octopus Resort for a drink at sunset and told us how comfortable it was on their side. So first thing this morning we picked up our anchor (easily) and we (Vera and us) motored through rough seas to the northern anchorage of Waya which is totally protected from the rough seas and strong winds out there. We are very happy to be here. It is not only well protected, but is really gorgeaus – one of the prettiest anchorages we have been in yet. With the weather forecast predicted to be rough for the next 3-4 days we may be here for at least that many days.
We liked Land Harbour so much we stayed there until this morning. A wind shift from the north was forecast and Land Harbour is protected from every direction except north. It was time to move on in any case.
We are now anchored in the Mocelutu Passage, a narrow strait between Yaroiko and Nanuyalabalava Islands. It was a seven hour sail through reef strewn waters to get here. We actually sailed (rather than motored) for most of it since we followed the route that we took in. That route was recorded and saved on our digital chart plotter. The wind did indeed come out of the north and this is a good place to be. Our current position is:
South 17 degrees 11.6 minutes
East 177 degrees 10.6 minutes
We did have some adventures in Land Harbour (called Nadala Bay by Fijians). On our second evening there, a small canoe came alongside and asked if we wanted to trade for fish. We had seen the lone fisherman working a handline in the hours before and were happy he stopped by. We gave him a box of cookies, some candies for his children, and pair of men’s shorts. We got two good-sized fish called “Sweet Lips.” He also said that we should go to the village of Tamasua and do sevusevu with the chief.
The next morning we dinghied to shore along with Michael and Britta of Vera to look for the path to Tamasua. It was low tide and the southern part of Nadala Bay was almost dry. It was about 1/2 kilometer to the beach from the edge of the tidal plain. We pulled the dinghies onto the tidal plain and put out dinghy anchors and hoped that they would hold since we knew that the tidal plain would be under water in just a couple of hours.
It was difficult to find a path but we finally found one and followed it inland through 2 meter tall grass and the occasional tree. This was the flood plain of the small river that drained the tall hills of southern Yasawa Island. It was 40 minutes until we got to the small, neat village perched on the windward side of the island. We were directed to the chief who performed the short sevusevu ceremony on his veranda. We presented him with two bundles of kava root, he made some incantations over it, and then thanked us in English.
We then toured the village, led by our fisherman friend of the previous day. We traded sunglasses and a t-shirt for fruit and a pumpkin, and then were led on the “short-cut” path back to Nadala Bay. The dinghies were where we left them but floating in two feet of water. That night we cooked the two Sweet Lips fish on Vera — they were delicious.
The snorkelling in Land Harbour was excellent. The coral was almost as good as Navadra and there were lots of fish, including big fish. The water was not as clear, however. The Vera’s were the only other boat in the bay all the time that we were there.
We will continue to retrace our route through the Yasawa Islands and back to Lautoka. We expect to provision and check-out of Fiji in a week or so, heading for Vanuatu about 520 miles away.