Yalobi Bay, Waya Island, Fiji

July 30, 2014 – August 3, 2014

17 18.608 S 177 07.289 E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:17%2018.608S%20177%2006.235E

Posting by Barb:

DSC_6012-1The village of Yalobi perfectly fits the quote “an island of calm in the sea of craziness that can be the modern world”. As we brought our dinghy to shore we were greeted by a couple of young children with big smiles. They brought uDSC_6059s to where their mom was sitting with a display of her local art spread out on a mat. She encouraged us to buy her sea shell necklaces and made us promise that she would be our guide if we wanted to do any hikes near the village. She was very forthright and made it very clear that visiting cruisers was a large part of their income. After a cup of tea and a chat with French cruisers the 3 pre-school children led us to the chief Tom’s house. They were fighting to hold my hand, happy with the “Lollies” that I had pulled out of DSC_6062my backpack and given to them. The Sevu Sevu with Chief Tom was a repeat of the Daliconi village. It appears that the traditional Kava drinking ceremonies are slowly vanishing. Maybe we will get to experience this in the more remote villages.  

While in Yalobi, we did two hikes with different guides and with a few of the other cruisers. Of course one hike took us to another lookout, the other hike took us to a cave that the locals use to take shelter in during cyclones. It wasn’t a deep cave but well protected. During the last cyclone, the locals squeezed themselves into the cave for 2 days! After each cyclone the locals go back to the village and start the rebuilding process and this is something that they accept as a way of life.

 

The highlight of our stay in Yalobi was the visit to the Primary school. The school is attended by the children of Yalobi and two other neighboring villages. The 200 + kids that range from ages 6 -14 stay in dormitories near the school. The kids start school at 8 in the morning and after school they all have to do ½ hour of chores which includes washing clothes by hand. On Friday afternoon’s they go home and come back on Sunday. Each village is responsible to provide the funds and or food for a year. The families of Yalobi each take turns preparing the food for one week. There are about 50 families so each family would have a turn at least once a year. As we left the school grounds some of the children followed us and wanted us to take pictures of them as they did handstands. They would run back and gather around me as they all tried to look at the pictures on my camera. They would each squeal as they spotted themselves in the picture. Such joy from such a simple act!!DSC_6072DSC_6070DSC_6094

We had our first meal of crayfish and  shared a few happy hours and meals with Robin and Jennifer on Katydid and Zig and Barbara on Sorceress. It was great to share an anchorage with these special people!DSC_6018-1

Vuda Point Harbour,Viti Levu, Fiji

July 12, 2014 – July 24, 2014

17 40.842 S 177 23.204 E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:17%2040.842S%20177%2023.204E

Posting by Barb:

The route from Mbavatu Harbour to Vuda Point is about 200 nautical miles so we expected the passage to take about 2 days. The first day was a beautiful sail. We did throw out a fishing line but did not catch any fish. Maybe the full moon had something to do with it?? The second day was a motor and we had to be more vigilant as we traversed through a recommended narrow channel, Bligh Water, North of Viti Levu. DSC_4266This part of the passage could only be done in daylight as there were points where we could see waves braking close to the boat on both sides. We trolled two fishing lines through the channels. We did not catch anything that we could bring on board but the plastic X-rap Dive bait that we were trolling suddenly started skipping erratically through the water. When I pulled it in, there were deep gouges in the bait made by the teeth of some large fish. Maybe it was ok that we did not hook that fish. The bait hook that we were trolling on the other line was snapped off. I started to imagine all kinds of large fish living in the lagoon underneath the boat. Maybe not a good place to fall in.DSC_4252

I was able to do a Facetime call with my daughter Allison using my Ipad as I had cellular internet near the big island. It was such a treat to be able to talk to her as we motored along the island. We had to anchor in saweni Bay for the night as it was getting too late and we needed daylight to navigate through the narrow channel into Vuda Point Marina.

DSC_5873Once in the marina we had to grab the large orange buoy in the middle and wait for assistance from the dock boys to get us into a slip. DSC_5879We basically had to motor glide into the slip only big enough for our boat with just enough room for fenders between boats (Denny did some amazing navigating) . Can you spot our little boat next to the large power boat. This marina also offers haul-out service and the boats can be stored in pits so as to protect them from cyclones.

Once safely tied, it was straight to the showers, that’s always a treat after being living off the grid for a while. I also managed to do a load of laundry which was relatively inexpensive.

 

The marina has a great Bar-Restaurant, the Boatshed, that offers daily specials. We especially liked the 1/2 price pizza on Tuesday and the Thirsty Thursday which offers local beers for $2.50 Fijian (that’s about $1.38 US). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had a great time at the sitting outside at the bar on Sunday afternoon listening to a local band. The female vocalist did a great rendition of Adele’s song ‘Someone Like You’. It gave me goose bumps. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe sat there and enjoyed the entertainment with our new friends from Australia, Rocky and Inge from S/V Island Girl. There is a neighboring resort that cruisers can visit. It has a swimming pool, another bar/restaurant and a small white beach. On Saturday night, Rocky, Inge, Dennis and I spent a lovely evening sipping fancy tropical drinks and watching a Fijian dance/fire OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAacrobatic show. Rocky and Inge left for Vanuatu a couple of days ago. They were serenaded by the local staff as they prepared to leave. Inge was crying and overwhelmed by the wonderful gesture by the yacht club staff.

We also did a couple of trips to the second largest town in Fiji, Lautoka, using the local bus. Because of the bus schedule we always seemed to be on it at 3:00 o’clock and we have had to share the bus with dozens of school children, all dressed in spotless uniforms, with lots of smiles and Bulah’s (hello) for us. Lautoka has a very large fresh fruit and vegetable market with very reasonable prices.

Other than having to fix the diesel tank, we have been having a great time in Vuda Marina. As the diesel tank is now fixed we will be heading out tomorrow for a beautiful clean anchorage with white beaches, great snorkeling and resorts we can visit on Mana Island. We plan to stay there until the first week in August and then it’s back to Vuda to pick up Allison and Mike. Woohooo!!

 

 

Mbavatu Harbour, Vanua Balavu Island , Fiji

July 9, 2014 – July 11, 2014

17 11.088 S 179 00.007 E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:17%2011.088S%20179%2000.007E

Posting by Barb and Dennis:

We motored to our next anchorage which was only a couple of hours away. This anchorage was so different than the Bay of Islands. Mbavatu Harbour is a well-protected little bay and when we arrived there were 6 sailboats already there. There was a neat little yacht club there owned by Toni, who also owns Copra Shed in Savu Savu. We quickly realized that this place would be a social anchorage. At 5:30 all the cruisers in the bay get together at the Yacht club deck for Happy Hour. Toni was there the first night so the yacht club was open. He drops by once every 2-3 months so it was unusual for him to be there.

On another night it was decided that it would be Pizza night so we all had to bring a pizza. We enjoyed tastes of chicken, fish, curried, and spicy sausage pizzas. Dennis of course made the spicy sausage pizza and it was a hit!

DSC_4243-1On one of our day excursions in Mbavatu Harbour, we decided to do the hike up the well-built 276 step stairway to the plantation at the top. We had been told there was an outlook there where we could see the Bay of Islands. When we reached the last step there were 2 young locals, Usaia and Peni, who were anxious to show us the way to the lookout. It was about a 20 minute walk to the lookout and they entertained us with some of their folk stories and their experiences. I got the feeling that they genuinely liked the company and the opportunity to share their stories with a great sense of humour.  They were botDSC_4244-1h working students; Usaia is going to be a carpenter and Peni a Mason. We learned that they were devout Methodists as they blamed most of the damage done by cyclones to the other islands as punishment from God for the sins of the locals. On one particular island the only building left standing after a cyclone passed was the church. A long time ago, the locals at this particular village had eaten the missionary and God had not yet forgiven them for doing that!   They are very aware of their cannibalistic history and jokingly told us that in another era they would have contemplated eating each other even though they were friends. They were nice enough not to hint that we would probably have made a good meal as well!! On the walk back from the lookout Peni plucked a fruit from a tree, which he called Sour Sop, and broke it into four pieces to share among us. 

Soursop Fruit

Soursop Fruit

The fruit was white, spongy, and juicy and it tasted like a combination of pineapples, limes and oranges. It was delicious and very filling. Peni invited us to his house to sign his guestbook and then gave us some beautiful, large bananas without once asking for anything.

We did come back with a few fish hooks for them. They use potato chip bags cut into strips and tie it to the hook for bait.

 

Our diesel tank has started leaking so it turns out that we actually do have a leak somewhere. The diesel has started seeping into the teak flooring so we have decided to head back to the main island to get that fixed. We again have to say good bye to our newly found friends and we are very sad not to be able to explore the rest of the Northern Lau group. But we cannot ignore the diesel leak and we are afraid it will get worse. We checked the weather window and it looks like it will be a day of sailing and a day of motoring as we make our way to Vuda Point Marina on the Island of Viti Levu.

Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu Island , Fiji

July 6, 2014 – July 8, 2014

17 10.539 S 179 01.045 E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:17%2010.539S%20179%2001.045E

Posting by Dennis and Barb:

DSC_5809The Bay of Islands was a magical place. Everywhere we looked there were outcroppings of limestone rocks ranging in sizes and covered with green vegetation. The water was a multitude of colours as a result of the varying water depths and what lay underneath which was a combination of rock, reef and sand. There were fruit bats flying overhead and every now and then I would spot a sea turtle coming up for air and having a look at us. DDSC_5826ennis navigated the boat through some narrow channels among the limestone islands (not the way most cruisers would navigate through the bay but what would you expect) looking for the perfect anchorage.  We ended up next to Sea Whisper again and enjoyed a Happy Hour with them on their boat. They were preparing to leave for a night passage to another anchorage. Part of the cruising life is always saying hello and or goodbye. We spent 3 nights at the Bay Island anchorage and after the first night we had the place to ourselves which made this place even more magical! The snorkeling here was pretty nice. We found a reef that did have abundance of colourful fishes, an occasional sea turtle and on the way back to the boat we spotted several stingrays feeding on the sandy bottom.  On a calm day we took the dinghy out and meandered around all of the limestone islands and made a video of our trip. It’s hard to capture the beauty of this place with a picture and we wanted to record the experience on film. DSC_5785IDSC_5797 wanted to have an anchorage picture from a higher view point so I set out to climb a nearby rock outcrop. I managed to conquer my fear as I climbed higher and higher, each time trying to find the next hand grip or foot hold. I knew a fall would mean severe injury or worse. It was such a relief to get to the top and I knew the picture would be worth it. I took my camera out and couldn’t figure out why the picture would not focus. And then the realization!! I had left the camera battery back at the boat as I had taken it out a couple of days ago to charge it!! I did manage to climb the outcrop again the next day and this time Dennis came along so it made me feel a little better although he really couldn’t do much except encourage me! But we did get a beautiful panoramic picture. After the climb we sat in the cockpit without any restrictive clothing sipping on a gin and tonic with ice!!! (Yes we have ice in our freezer). This place was heaven. We knew it was time to leave after 3 days when a new boat arrived. It’s the kind of place that’s made special when anchored all alone. We have so many places to go to with so little time!