Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 5 – Tilagica

September 25 – 29

16 11.382S 179 46.251E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

We still have not seen any other sailboats. This anchorage will have to be our NEW favorite anchorage. And it’s the local people that have made this a special place. We stopped here so that we could take the dinghy and explore the Wainikoro river but inadvertently ended up at the wrong river, the Nasavu river. We had picked out the anchorage based on another cruisers information but while we were trying to anchor where we thought they had anchored we ended up with a foot of water under the keel and the tide going down. It was a close call and we got a little bit of a scare. Once we were anchored we had a closer look at the description of the anchorage and realized that we were at the wrong river. We decided to explore this river while we were here. dsc_6646

As we started our river tour we saw a few villages and locals waving as we passed. We went as far as we could go by dinghy and it turned out to be the last village on the river. Unfortunately, we don’t know the name of the village. The people there encouraged us to get out of our dinghy and visit for a while. dsc_9674We ended up sitting in the shade with a number of the locals. We ate their papayas and drank fresh coconut water out of Fijian straws (a plant that has a hollow stem, which they cut and use as straws. They use the leaves to rub on infected cuts). Wish I knew the name of the plant. They ate the lunch I packed which included Sardines, crackers, chocolate chip cookies, fresh carrots and fresh radishes. The radishes they did not like!! We were the first cruisers to visit their village and they made us feel very welcome. They could see that the heat was bothering Denny a little and before long one of the ladies came out with a fan and sat and fanned Denny and me for the next 2 hours. dsc_6584Before long they brought out the Lali drum and beat out a rhythm while singing in harmony and a few ladies and one man put on a show dressed in some silly dance costumes. dsc_6603They got us out to dance as well and it was a lot of laughter, singing and story sharing. They were not even interested in a Sevu Sevu ceremony or Kava as that is what they grew and it is their main source of income. They invited us to spend the night but we gracefully turned down that invitation. As we left they offered us Papayas and handmade ‘fans’ as gifts (Denny expects me to fan him all the time now, NOT). dsc_6599

On the way back we made a little detour through a mangrove stream and ended at a little local farm where a lady was taking a bath in the stream. She spoke a little English and yelled out something in Fijian to her husband. He showed up with more Papayas and 3 fresh Capsicum (green peppers) for us. It’s been months since we had fresh capsicums. They wanted nothing in return and shouted God Bless you as we left knowing we had to get back before dark.

During the time we were anchored here we had a local boat from a nearby village drop by and say hello as they travelled to or returned from their fishing expeditions. They fished for sale at the Labassa market. They inquired about ‘Trump’. Everybody here has to ask about Trump when they find out the boat is from the USA. Well known but not well liked. They seemed to have cell phones and they explained that the cell phone tower was only a year old and things changed for them once they got ‘connected’. Now they have bills to pay. As one of the young men put it ‘We had the trees and the water, now we have the trees and the water and “Trump”‘. They were such a fun, happy bunch of young locals who badly wanted us to visit their village but we ran out of time.

We were visited by the caretaker of Tilagica Island. The island was purchased by an American ‘Sight unseen’ and has yet to visit the place. Stan Louis , the caretaker lives there with his wife Ana and their 4 year old son George and their dog Master. They dropped by the boat with more beautfiful, fresh Papayas and invited us to visit the island. It was a beautiful place with a main building flanked by two other buildings which were the sleeping quarters. The place even has a wine cellar, although we didn’t tour the inside. The Caretaker’s home was off to the side, small, quaint and comfortable. They served tea and deep fried dough bread (donuts) and then offered us use of their shower. What a luxury to be able to stand in a clean beautiful hot shower (although we both used the water sparingly and didn’t really want hot water). Beautiful family. In return we gave them a large bag of freshly popped popcorn and some new movies to watch. dsc_9704-1

It was definitely the people that made this anchorage our special Shangri-La!!

 

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 4 – Nabubu

September 22 – 25

16 10.829S 179 54.701E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

Once through the reef we were escorted into this beautiful anchorage by a local boat that asked for matches in return. We were greeted by a pod of dolphins that hung out for the day feeding on an abundance of small fish.

There was also a large number of jelly fish in the water. The locals pointed to where there was a fresh water stream. We were looking forward to maybe being able to wash off some of the salt but we weren’t counting on much as it hasn’t rained much on this side of the island.

 

 

It was a nice dinghy ride through a mangrove stream and it opened to large fresh-sea water hole dsc_6561 with a little waterfall. It turned out to be a stunning swimming hole. 

We spent two days exploring the various pools filled with nibbling fish, swam, bathed and did all of our salty laundry.dsc_6528 Two days of walking around comfortably in the nude enjoying our own private swimming hole. We saw bats, dolphins and turtles.dsc_9647 And after the initial encounter with the locals we were on our own to explore the mangroves by Kayak or dinghy. Our favorite anchorage so far!!dsc_9650

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 3 – Nukudamu

September 18 – 22

16 09.557S 179 56.849E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

We left Rabi at 6:30 in the morning and it was a beautiful 28-mile sail with the wind on the beam. The pass through the reef was a little daunting and at one point we only had 4 feet of water. There aren’t many cruisers that actually sail the north side of Vanua Levu so we expect to be soloing most of the way and going through somewhat uncharted passages. dsc_6471-1That’s what we like to do!! We anchored in a beautiful shallow spot surrounded by coral which were very pronounced when the tide was low. There were a few local boats that passed by and all were excited to see a ‘big’ boat and made sure to wave and welcome us.  It was a great spot to do some boat maintenance which included going up the mast to try and fix Wind Speed indicator. In the meantime, I played with my kayak and I played in the galley being trying to figure out the 101 ways of serving fish.

 

 

dsc_6472-1On our last day we took the dinghy to a nearby, dilapidated peer to visit an old copper open pit mine. We did the ‘death march’ hike on what was probably the hottest day since we left NZ. At the top we found the old mining camp and in the shade in the remains of one of the buildings were about 10 local Fijians all dressed in their Sulus, shirt and ties holding what looked like a ‘Bible’ study. dsc_9629They welcomed us and gave us permission to look around especially since we announced that we had Cava in our dinghy and would do Sevu Sevu at the Chief’s house in the village. The walk around was almost unbearable in the heat and we didn’t see much except evidence of the mineral ‘tailing’, a beautiful view of the reef pass and a spider web with one fat, greedy spider.

Back at the village we did the Sevu Sevu and they actually had a Fijjian, wordy, clap clap ceremony, all dressed in their finest. We hung out for a little bit and did the customary group picture.dsc_9632

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage #2 – Rabi Island

September 14 – 18

16 27.314S 179 55.990W

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

Back to cruising where the white beaches are

It was a beautiful sail to Rabi Island. Close to our planned anchorage we hooked another fish on the rod and reel.dsc_6367 We probably had hooked another fish on the trolled line but the coke bottle-Oreo cookie lure was bitten clean off. I was a little nervous about losing this fish again. It was hard to tell what we had on the line as it just seemed to dive deep taking a ton of line off the spool. After 20 minutes of playing with the fish we got it close enough to see that it was a nice size Wahoo. We did bring it on board and managed to bend the gaff in the process. dsc_6371

 

Rabi was a pleasant anchorage and we were the “little boat” again with a 62’ Dashew on one side and a 52’ Catamaran on the other side. Denny ended up getting sick with a flu bug that seemed to be going around in Savu Savu making our friends Ernst and Michael sick. This particular virus seemed to like male hosts only, luckily for me. So while Denny recuperated I played with my Kayak.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dsc_6377The island offered nice sandy, white beaches and we even managed to have a beautiful picnic on a nicely deserted beach. We did a little snorkeling but there really wasn’t anything to exciting here. A walk through the nearby local homestead, which we did while they were away for the night, left Denny and I a little sad. dsc_6381It was drab and a little unclean and there were some large pigs and many, many piglets making themselves at home while the family was away.dsc_9611 Maybe Copra was their main source of income but they were obviously very poor. After 4 days in Rabi we felt it was time to leave.

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage #1 – Naqaiqai Creek

September 14, 2016

16 43.271S 179 53.414E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Dennis:

Early, at 2am, we left Savu Savu heading for Rabi island 80 miles to the northeast. We motor sailed out and around the point into four foot seas with the wind on the nose, it was going to be a long day.  Landfall did ok loping through the waves, it is not very encouraging when you see -.8 VMG (Velocity Made Good toward our plotted way point) on the plotter, it is going to be a very long day.  The Day just plugged along with landfall banging its way along at a good twenty degree heal.  It is hard to imagine just how much work it is to move around when the boat is healed over like this.  You can’t really cook or do much of anything, it was turning out to be a very long day.  As the day wore on we worked are way eastward getting more in the lee of the island of Taveuni so the seas eased and soon we were beating straight toward the Somo straights.  As we motored trough the reef Barb hooked a Dorado fish on the rod and reel. It was fun to watch her play the fish as it leaped out of the water and would run from side to side. It is so much more fun to catch a fish with a fishing rod rather than a rope.  Finally, she lost the fish, which was just fine with me, since I didn’t feel much like cleaning the thing anyway and our freezer was full of Dorado. We were hoping for a Tuna or a Wahoo.

View of the narrow entrance we navigated by night

View of the narrow entrance we navigated by night

The problem was it was getting late in the day and we were not going to make it to Rabi island so we were going to have to anchor somewhere for the night.  So we went for plan ‘B’, a noted hurricane anchorage. We ended up pulling in to Naqaiqai Creek in the dark using the spotlight and anchored in front of a small house belonging to a very friendly old man. We knew it was ok when we heard his booming voice over his barking dogs “Bulah, welcome home!!”.  Then it was a dinner of boiled vegetables and off to bed, a very long day indeed.

Minerva

September 12, 2016

23 39.395S 178 53.958E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@23.39395,-178.53958,12z

Posting by Barb:

We have been in Savu Savu, Fiji for a week. We have been catching up on emails, phone calls and dining out with friends.  We are now getting ready to make our move to the next anchorage on Rabi Island about 70 miles away. It is a little more isolated and we will not have internet so we will be emailing and posting via SSB. But before we go I wanted to post our Minerva pictures.

dsc_9594-2We both loved Minerva. There are many stories of shipwrecks and seeing the reefs on the navigational charts, it was a little daunting to think we would have to safely navigate through a pass in the reef  but once there I realized there was nothing to fear. Denny of course had no fear.

We had a couple of relaxing days there. I managed to try out my Oru Kayak for the first time and loved it. We explored some of the shipwrecks and walked on the reef at low tide. But the highlight for me was the Crayfish feast we had. Denny and I headed to the edge of the reef during low tide and scouted some pools where there may be Crayfish. I will never forget Denny’s face of utter astonishment when he went for his first dip in a pool to come up 30 seconds later exclaiming there were 50 or more BIG crayfish below him. But they disappeared pretty quickly in the overhang crevices. In the meantime the waves were crashing in and dsc_6343Denny took a beating as you can see by the numerous scratches on his legs (and it was worse than what the pictures can show). We quickly learned that there were pools around with Crayfish but far enough away from the edge of the reef so that the waves weren’t washing in. Catching the crayfish was a simple of matter of catching them as they swam to the safety of a rock crevice or hole. And when they latched on to the rocks with their claws there was no getting them off. In one particular ledge overhang there were 5 lobsters hanging out but when Denny had a closer look he spotted a large Moray eel giving him the evil eye. From that point forward Denny was a little more cautious about sticking his hand in the crevices searching for the Crayfish. We came home with 5 large ones and had a fine feast.dsc_9576-1dsc_9589

 

 

 

 

 

For more Minerva Photos click here

 

Cruising with Becky, Goodbye Fulaga

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:19%2009.248S%20178%2032.430E

Posting by Barb :

Barring any schedules we usually stay in a particular place until Denny and I both feel that it is time to go. Can’t quite explain what that feeling is but it always happens and we usually stay in a place until that happens. And so it was with Fulaga, beautiful as it was. Not being connected to the rest of the world, specifically to family and friends back home may have had something to do with the feeling that it was time to say good-bye.

So we spent a day putting together gifts. Becky spent a couple of hours making batches of Snickerdoodle cookies for Salote. Denny and I went through the boat and dug out anything that we hadn’t used for quite sometime but that could be useful to Suki and Ba. So we made a final trip to town. Salote cried when Becky said goodbye. We said goodbye to Ba’s parents who were always quietly around. They gave us a big hug and sniffed our cheeks. I later realized that was the Fijian way of saying good-bye. It was a sniff-kiss!!

DSC_7182We invited the whole family back to the boat but only Suki and Ba committed to coming. They showed up with gifts for us. A miniature Kava bowl and a miniature  Lali Fijian drum of the wooden slit-gong type both made by Suki out of the infamous Vesi wood. Ba gave us a variety of beautiful woven purses, baskets and mats woven from the leaves of the voivoi plant.

DSC_7184It was our turn to pamper and cook a feast for them. For all the meals that Ba cooked for us not once did she sit and eat with us. As part of their culture Ba always ate after we had all been served and fed. So this time we enjoyed having Ba sit at the dinner table with us. We served Spaghetti!! To our delight Suki and Ba slurped and wolfed down the noodles. For dessert we had fudge brownies and Ba kept going for seconds. We made them take some Brownies to share with the rest of the family. I am pretty sure the cookies were eaten during the 20 minute walk back to town.

We said our final farewells and Ba became very emotional and started to cry.  Soon all of us ladies were crying. We did spend some good times together, learned a lot from each other, shared quite a few meals and became friends. But somehow there is a kind of finality when saying good-bye to friends that do not have access to internet, do not have mobile phones and our mailing address is always changing.

We promised to visit their family in Suva and drop off some off their large Kava bowls and frozen fish caught by Suki the day before. We were then able to share all of Fulaga memories with the family. You can imagine their delight at seeing the pictures of family they have not seen in quite sometime. We just sat back and watched the joy in their faces as the slide show on our laptop was played over and over.

DSC_7187

 

Cruising with Becky, Paradise

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:19%2009.248S%20178%2032.430E

Posting by Barb:

DSC_5052Although it may appear that we spent most of our time with our host family we actually spent a lot of time on our own exploring the beautiful island of Fulaga. The anchoring was ideal with sandy bottom and no coral. We could quickly anchor, go  and  re-anchor. There were lots of beautiful white unspoiled, untouched, pristine, virgin white beaches. There aren’t many places left where we could walk barefoot, sand between our toes and know that we would be alone, well with the exception of the crabs that seemed to be everywhere. DSC_4971Becky did lay out on the beach but was always on the look out for the little critters.

Looks like an elephant head?

Looks like an elephant head?

There were many limestone rock outcrops that made it fun to explore with the dinghy.

Becky and I fished over the side of the boat with bait given to us by the locals. We caught enough fish to throw on the BBQ, Fijian style, the whole fish after Denny gutted it. Ate and enjoyed every morsel. We ( not Denny as he was having problems with his ear) swam the pass and saw some pretty amazing large fish and I even saw a pair of grey sharks. I did scramble into the dinghy pretty fast when I saw those two! Fish, fish, fish!! To think when we set out Becky said fish wasn’t her favourite food, didn’t want to touch fish and wasn’t sure she could snorkel as she was afraid of big fish!!
We anchored off a little island on the lagoon and soon realized it was inhabited by a single man with his 3 dogs. DSC_5164We took the dinghy and went on shore with gifts. He was very appreciative and invited us to his home and wanted to chat for a while. His home was more the traditional Fijian Bure and everything was neat and very tidy. He had 2 large Trevally fish hanging on a tree and he was planning on throwing them in the Lovo to cook it. He had caught the fish from the shoreline using hook and bait. He has lived there for 30 years all by himself, never married and no children. Occasionally his brother would drop by and pick him up and bring him to the village to re-supply. I think he appreciated our company for a little while.

DSC_6995There were times when it got quite hot and Becky really wanted to just sit in a float in the water. So with Denny’s help they tied all the fenders together and she had her float. It was great until a large turtle popped his head up close to where she was and that gave her quite the start!

While Becky enjoyed sunning on the deck, beach or on her float Denny and I swam in our private little swimming hole . The little pool was well protected from any wind by the limestone cliffs. A little opening to the outside of the lagoon allowed the fish to swim in and out so there was always a variety of fish swimming with us. Stunning!Swimming hole

DSC_6888We shared a couple of dinners with Elisabeta and Carlos from S/V Barca Pulita. They were professional photographers and short film producers. They were there to do a short film about the slow evaporation of the traditional Fijian way of life. For Denny’s birthday they gave him a copy of their ‘Sailing Around the World’ book, with some stunning pictures which describes their 80 wonders of the world encountered during their 20 years of sailing. They had scribbled ‘Buon 55 Compleanno Dennis’ which we laughed at and told them that it was actually Denny’s 56th birthday (they had made an appearance at the birthday party and saw the banner). They wanted to make the correction on the book but Denny wanted it left as is!! He really did want to be 55 years old for another year!

On the back cover of Elisabeta and Carlos book they wrote “A sailing boat is a wonderful form of transport that allows the crew to reach far places shile sensing the slow and natural rhythm of sea and wind. One leaves, sails for days that become weeks until a new and unknown land finally breaks the horizon – offering the reward of meetings, discoveries, images and emotions never experienced before”. I think that pretty well describes our experience and we feel so lucky to be able to share that with the people that we love. But to us Landfall is not just a form of transport, it is our home. Fulaga was definitely a paradise of images, discoveries, meetings and emotions.DSC_6975

Cruising with Becky, Happy Birthday Denny

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:19%2009.248S%20178%2032.430E

Posting by Dennis:

DSC_7077Well celebrating your birthday in Fulaga was a real experience to say the least.  It all started a couple of weeks earlier with ‘big mouth’ Barb asking what they could do to celebrate my birthday.  DSC_7097From there the planning started by our host family and it grew into a huge party, Fulaga style, with me being the guest of honor, which I totally hate, and the entire village being there for the full blown kava party.  We arrived in the village around three in the afternoon,  as Ba, Suki and Uni (daughter in Law) were finishing up with the last of the decorations.  Barb contribute some tacky balloons to the decorations which she had saved for such an occasion.

DSC_7146The first thing they did was re-dress me in a flower shirt and a equally colorful sulu, a long piece of fabric that you wrap around your waist and kind of knot in back on itself. This never worked very well for me because every time I stood up (which was often considering the amount of kava I drank) the sulu wanted to fall to the ground leaving me there in my underwear.  They then put a very big lei around my neck of very beautiful, but very smelly flowers and it was massive (biggest I have ever seen). It was made by weaving the different flowers together.  They had constructed a cabana, wrapping all the poles with palm bows and flowers, and at the head of it was a grass mat banner with Happy 55th Birthday Dennis Ommen woven on it.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I was turning 56 (Barb thought it was hilarious and she said it wasn’t every birthday that one gets to be younger instead of older).

DSC_7088I was instructed to sit below the banner just in front of the large kava bowl with the other elders of the village.  They then mixed up the kava with water and we were all given a turn to drink from a coconut shell. We were asked whether we wanted a ‘high tide’ (large portion) or low tide to drink. I wasn’t given the option, it was high high tide for me every time! We all sat around talking as three or four of the younger guys played guitars and sang.  Then the elder of the village called out “Taki”  and it was time for another round of kava.

DSC_7150After a couple of hours of this it was time to go into Suki and Ba’s dinning hut and we enjoyed a wonderful meal of local seafood dishes and even a baked chicken which was a real special treat. The Roast chicken was placed in front of me and nobody could take any until I had cut of my share first! DSC_7091I will never forget just how great the seafood was that Ba made. During dinner I was presented with some gifts. A beautiful miniature Kava bowl and a set of woven baskets. The young local that presented me with the Kava bowl also thanked me for the work done on the ‘youth’ fiberglass boat!!

As soon as we were done eating it was back to the cabana for more kava and chatting.  As most of the elders had left they asked if Becky would like to be in charge of saying “Taki”. So of course she did  and she did it often. So she is responsible for the way I weaved my way back to the boat (though Barb will remind me that Becky was drinking ‘high’ tides with me as well but just handled it a little better, young blood). DSC_7080 DSC_7066We sat there talking to the locals and drinking until well after midnight and then we said our goodbyes and  did the mile and half hike back to the dingy and the wet ride back to the boat.  The next morning Suki paid a visit to our boat on the way to their fishing trip to see if I was ok. He proudly said that Becky set a new record as she outlasted and out-drank the music group. That had never happened before.

It was a Birthday to remember, that is for sure ( Barb knows it will be payback someday, some birthday, it’s coming !!). Lots more pictures of my party in our photo album but not any of Barb as she was taking pictures while Becky and I partied.

 

 

Cruising with Becky, Trading Skills

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:19%2009.248S%20178%2032.430E

Posting by Barb and Dennis:

During our Sunday visit Ba had asked whether Becky and I wanted to drop by and learn a little about Fijian cooking or weaving. DSC_6974I had already commented on the large beautiful woven mats that covered the floors in every sparsely furnished room so she knew I was interested in their art of weaving. I knew Becky wasn’t that interested in learning the 101 ways if cooking fish in a Lovo or in coconut milk. While we were in church on Sunday we had longingly looked at the fans the ladies were using to cool themselves in the stifling heat. That would be something we could use!! And in return we asked if there was something we could share with them and Suki asked whether we had the materials and skill to help them fix one of their fiberglass power boats which was obviously in need of some repair. So we made a plan; Denny would spend the day helping repair one of their boats and Becky and I would spend a day weaving with Ba.

DSC_6961We arrived early in the morning with fiberglass and resin in hand.  The boat was in desperate need of repair,  the entire gunnel of the boat was wore through from years of dragging nets over it.  DSC_6971Denny just gave instructions and shared his knowledge while Suki and a couple others did the work.  It was like putting a bandaid on a major wound.  But Denny showed them how to go about doing the repair and promised that he would ship them some fiberglass and resin when we got to Suva (which we did and it only cost $2.00 to ship 4 litres of Resin and 15 metres of fabric).

Ba whisked Becky and me off to her ‘cooking’ hut where she had the coconut palm leaves, cut and ready for us to start. She worked with me first and my fingers moved a little slow and many times she proceeded to take over and I would have to smile and take it back so I could do it myself. Salote (which she proudly explained was also the name for the princess of Tonga), Ba’s sister, had dropped in for a visit and she took an immediate liking to Becky. So she took Becky’s hand and they disappeared for quite some time. Becky returned with a gift from Salote. DSC_6963A little parrot carved by Salote’s husband, which they named Cocky. Together they had woven a little mat for the parrot to sit on. Ba then showed Becky how to make her own fan. Becky’s fingers moved much faster than mine and Ba didn’t have to intervene quite so often. I could swear Becky had done this kind of thing before!!

It was a great day of sharing skills. We walked back to the boat, using our new fans to wave away the mosquitoes that seemed to swarm the 20 minute walk to the boat. Denny walked back a little lighter without the fiber glass and resin but happy with the repairs done to their boat. Becky had a new pet, Cocky, and a new friend, Salote.