Cruising with Becky, a Sunday with our host family!!

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

Posting by Barb:

Suki had given us an invitation to participate in the Sunday service and we could see that it meant a lot for us to share that day of ‘rest’ day with them.

DSC_5102So early in the morning we got dressed in our ‘Fijian’ Sunday best. That meant a Sulu skirt for Denny. Becky and I had to put on our finest that covered the knees and shoulders. We arrived at Suki and Ba’s home in time for some pictures and then the DSC_5098Lali (Lali ni meke) drums sounded, letting us all know that it was time to go to the church. We were escorted to our own pew for the 1 ½ hour special ‘youth’ service that happens once a year.

DSC_5101After the service we were invited to share in the family feast. I know Ba made it all the more special because we were there! They gave us cutlery although Suki admitted they would eat the Fijian way and also that everything had been cooked the Fijian way (ie nothing fried) all boiled in coconut milk or cooked in the Lovo which is an earth oven (a fire made on in a pit in the ground lined with heat-resistant stones). So we had a variety of fish caught the day before (including a very large fish netted by Ba), Octopus, clams, crab meat which was cooked in a large pot and then nicely re-stuffed in the crab shell, sweet potatoes, greens that tasted much like spinach, and our donated curry rice and our home made coffee cake for dessert. It was a feast in Fijian style!! And yes Becky had a taste of most of it but I can’t say it was her favorite!

Cruising with Becky, Caviar of the Pacific

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

Posting by Barb:

Caviar of the Pacific – Balolo, what is it? Well Suki described it as a mass of wriggling, delectable worms that rise en masse to the surface during the third quarter of the moon, once or twice a year. DSC_6917Carlos and Elisabeta from S/V Barca Pulita, the only other cruising boat in Fulaga while we were there,  had experienced this in previous years. They said that the water around their  boat transformed into a sea of writhing, squirming worms. Once I did have internet , I researched this phenomena, and learned that the timing of the spawning is not quite understood but scientists believe it may be associated with rising sea temperatures, moon tides, length of daylight, conditions of the sea and observations of the weather. DSC_6913Balolo wasn’t something that Becky was anxious to try but Suki said not to worry he would make a Balolo pizza for Becky in the Lovo!!

As the Balolo would normally rise in the reef but outside the lagoon where we could not navigate with the boat, Ba explained to us where to go with the dinghy. A place called the ‘swimming pool’. We would have to be there just before  sunrise as once the sun was out the Balolo would disintegrate. We set the alarm for four in the morning and got in the dinghy with buckets and containers to catch the Balolo. DSC_6911It was a 10 minute dinghy ride and a 10 minute walk. We had our wet suits on but it was still a chilly dinghy ride in the dark. We walked to the swimming pool and waited as the sun rose. But on this third quarter moon there would not be any Balolo rising. It will probably happen on the next third quarter of the moon but unfortunately we will not be here in Fulaga to experience that natural phenomenon. As simple as life is here the complexity of nature is astounding and every day we get to be part of the wonderment or at least learn a little more about it!

Cruising with Becky, Fijian picnic

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

Posting by Barb:

Suki had suggested that we take our boat and go to the sand spit and have a Fijian picnic and we were game for that. Fijian picnic meant eat whatever is speared, picked or found that was edible and then cooked over an open fire. Despite Becky’s marginal fondness for seafood she was willing to try anything. I don’t think anyone of us realized that coming to Fulaga would mean endless meals of ‘fresh’ fish. We had plenty of meat in the freezer but the local hospitality meant eating what they offered.

At 9:00 in the morning Suki, Ba, Tai (their grandson), La (friend of their grandson), and their nephew were at the shore waving at us to come pick them up. It took 2 dinghy trips but we finally had everyone on board. DSC_5002-1DSC_4997-1 

We decided to share our last fresh pineapple that we had on board with everyone. Tai wasn’t quite sure if he liked the look of the fruit but once he had a taste there was no stopping him. He didn’t talk much but just did a quiet eye brow raise which meant ‘I want some more please’. We motored to the sand spit, Suki happily steered the boat as he knew the route. It was a beautiful anchorage spot, sandy bottom, great holding, no reefs to worry about. That describes all the anchorages in the Fulaga lagoon.  

Once we were anchored and had everyone on shore Ba, with the help of her machete, quickly erected a shady palm leaf structure and had a little fire going. DSC_6909

DSC_6904-1We were told to bring nothing on shore but I contributed a couple of Mahi steaks and some ‘juicy’ drink as Tai called it. Becky wanted to lie in the sun and Denny and I accompanied Suki to his fishing spot. There were two reef passes nearby full of fish and I even saw a turtle swim by. Suki set off with his spear and Denny and I floated the passes amidst hundreds of other fish. Sorry no water camera!!

DSC_6883Suki managed to catch a fish for everyone and Ba cooked them all on the open fire. Even six year old La was walking around with a sharp knife wanting to clean the fish. DSC_6887I was wondering how we were going to eat the fish but Ba quickly wove together a couple of coconut palm leaf plates and DSC_6899filled it with a whole,  piping hot fish and a sweet potato (grown in Suki’s plantation). Then we just used our fingers ( we all passed the head and brain of the fish to Ba as it was her favourite part). I think even Becky would agree that fresh cooked fish can be pretty tasty!With just using a machete and a spear they prepared everything for a wonderful picnic.  I sometimes envy their simple lifestyle. Why do we insist on making life complicated and we call it progress!

Well after a month in Fulaga we were starting to miss the perks of complexity and progress as we missed family and friends that we normally stay in touch with using Skype, Face Time, Magic Jack or FaceBook. We just had a satellite phone and used that sparingly.

Cruising with Becky, Cannibalism in Fiji

Cannibalism in Fiji

19 08.864S 178 33.872E

Posting by Barb:

DSC_4941The word ‘Cannibalism’ itself creates an eerie feeling. But it is a fact that cannibalism was a part of life in Fiji hundreds of years ago. This practice of cannibalism increased during the early part of the 19th century and can around the same time ‘white man’ arrived. In the case of some tribes, the prime motive may have been revenge; at another, simply their appetite! or some of both. Our encounter with the locals in the Northern Lau had already given us insight as to how the locals felt about their history and in jest they would talk about eating each other.

From reading other blogs and talking to other cruisers that had visited Fulaga we had learned that there was a cave which held the remains of human bones. So we decided to ask Suki, our host, whether he knew of such a place. He of course did and offered to take us there. After a half hour walk up a somewhat steep incline we arrived at the open ‘gravesite’.DSC_4943-1 Suki gave us the approval to touch and explore the remains. As I picked up the human skull I got this unnerving feeling as I looked into the eye sockets of what once used to be a human being. We wondered how old the remains were and we were tempted to take a sampling of the bones for DNA testing. Just a thought, well we really did entertain that idea! Suki didn’t offer much of an explanation as to the origin of the bones  and I am not sure if it was because he didn’t know or whether it was better left up to our imagination.

From there Suki gave us a quick tour of the town. On the way back  to his home I noticed a hole dug in the beach that was obviously the size of a coffin. I pointed it out to Becky and she jokingly remarked ‘maybe it was for us!!’  . 

Later, after talking to our cruising friends in ‘Barco Punita’ we learned that the people in Fulaga were preparing for a funeral for a local that had died and the funeral was to take place ‘tomorrow’. Was he to be buried in the unmarked grave we saw on the beach?

Cruising with Becky, Fulaga

October 13, 2014

Posting by Barb:

After 2 days sailing we finally  could see Fulaga. It was early in the morning and before long we were going through the narrow reef passage. We just barely floated over some coral and realized after that we had gone a little off the recommended track. There were two other boats anchored near the shore where the trail led to the village. These boats were there for their last night after spending considerable time in Fulaga. We were able to say hello and goodbye to them and we were encouraged with all the good things they had to say about the island and the people. It was about a 30 minute walk to the village where we did the Sevu Sevu with with Daniel the chief.

Sevu Sevu with Chief Daniel

Sevu Sevu with Chief Daniel and host Suki

It was a little more elaborate and sincere although we still didn’t participate in the ceremonial drinking of the Kava. After the ceremony Suki introduced himself and informed us he would be our ‘host’ family. The ‘host’  family concept was something new  that the people of Fulaga had set up so that cruisers could bond with a family in the village and thus making it easier to experience the village culture and feel more ‘at home’. There are many different opinions shared by cruisers as to whether this was a positive or negative thing (there is an obligation to always go to the family when visiting the village and it minimizes the freedom one may want).But to us there is no dispute. We are the visitors to their home. Each time we anchor we are fully aware that once we step off our boat we are the guests and this is ‘their’ home and we respect their philosophies and we acclimatize ourselves to their way of doing things.

Suki and Ba were fabulous hosts and they made us feel at home and very welcome. Although they had no knowledge of our arrival they invited us to share a meal of sweet potatoes cooked in coconut milk (we probably ate their supper but there was no way of saying ‘no’ to their invitation). It was a simple offering served with such joy, pride and full of expectation of their forthcoming sharing of cultures, food and gifts. We asked them what we could give in return for their hospitality. They only thing they asked for was ‘water’ as it had not rained there for the last 3 months. The next morning they pulled up next to ‘Landfall’ in the communal power boat with their large water jugs to be filled and then left gifts of Papaya and Water Melons.

That afternoon we visited them at home and dropped off baked muffins and a box of tea bags. And so it began, the giving and receiving for our 3 weeks in Fulaga  and what will follow is our highlights of our time there (October 13– November – 4).  

Cruising with Becky, Savu Savu

October 10- 13, 2014

16 46.666S 179 19.959E

Posting by Barb:

So finally here is the cruising with Becky postings, a little late and after our arrival in New Zealand so we apologize for the sequence of blog postings.

We had had over a month with Allison and Mike and a week and a half with Pete and Melissa so we were getting accustomed to having company on board. It is after all only about 37 feet or11.2 meters of living space.

DSC_4913Becky arrived on a little plane at an airport near Savu Savu. It was basically an open air, chicken wire fence landing strip. Once the little plane landed, passengers were expected to hang around the plane while the suitcases were thrown out of the plane. Becky looked a little tired but that was expected after 24+ hours of flying and stopover time. We quickly brought her back to Landfall for what was probably one of the hottest nights on board. Becky slept despite the heat but I can’t say the same for Denny and me.

Without delay, the very next day, we made the decision to go to to Fulaga (pronounced Fulanga), Southern Lau. It was a ‘must go’ destination for Denny and me and luckily we had the weather window and we were able to do it. It is 185 miles South East of Savu Savu ( 298 km). It is usually a passage against strong prevailing winds and that seems to keep that Island  fairly isolated (i.e No resorts, very few other cruisers, no internet, no shore power, no stores, etc.). With Becky’s help we provisioned for a month and by 2:00 DSC_4923-1pm we were motor sailing out of Savu Savu. Becky enjoyed the last little bit of internet for a while as she talked to friends while we were heading out.

It was a 2 night sail and Becky adjusted very well to being on water. We trolled four fishing lines and caught a large Mahi Mahi on our home made line and caught another on a smaller lure. We kept the larger of the two fish (the one on our homemade lure). That was a great start to our cruising with Becky and the beginning of our countless meals of fish.DSC_4925

Suva, Fiji

November 14, 2014

18 07.256 S 178 25.262 E

Posting by Barb:

Dennis, Becky and I spent almost a month in Fulaga, Fiji and it is without a doubt the prettiest island in Fiji. So we have a few stories to tell about this magical place but it will have to wait until we arrive in New Zealand. However I did post the Fulaga pictures in our photo album.

We have been in Suva provisioning, socializing and weather monitoring for a week. It looks like the weather window for a sail to New Zealand has arrived so we are leaving in a couple of hours. We did manage to fix our SSB problem and give it a trial test run so we will be posting our locations when we can. We anticipate that it will be a 10 – 12 day sail but so far the weather window is predicting very light winds so it may take us a little longer than that. No worries!

Although we loved Fiji we are excited to be going back to New Zealand!!!

Namena, Fiji

October 3  – October 6, 2014

17 06.689 S 179 05.587 E

Posting by Barb:

The boutique marine reserve island of Namena has been observed as one of the last breeding grounds for turtles and protected red-footed boobies. It is a host for colorful soft and hard coral reefs and abundant fish life. We were really looking forward to some fantastic snorkeling. We have not been able to find the variety and vibrant coral that we saw in the Tuamoto Islands, French Polynesia. And it was fantastic but unfortunately our underwater camera was not working so I had no pictures to capture the moment. The highlight for me was a pair of Octopus holding hands, well tentacles, and moving along the bottom floor trying to get away from us. Dennis was hoping to do a dive here but unfortunately he started experiencing pain and discomfort in his ear so he thought it best not to dive.

We managed to go ashore and take a few pictures of the baby red footed boobies. The shoreline trees were peppered with their nest. The Boobies were actually quite tame and did not mind being photographed at all.

It was a couple of days of quiet, tranquility, relaxation and some Happy Hour moments with Lilian and Mike, a Canadian couple on SV Meikyo.




Makogai, Fiji

September 29 – October 2, 2014

17 26.315 S 178 57.192 E

Posting by Barb:

After spending a little over a week in Vuda Point Marina we started to make our way to Savusavu where Becky, Dennis’ daughter, would be arriving after a long flight from Minneapolis. Savusavu seemed to provide a better tack for sailing to Fulaga, a must see for us before leaving Fiji. We decided to make a stop in Makogai and Namena on the way to Savusavu. I will say that Makogai is a fairly deep anchorage, i.e. 80 feet of water and not great holding.

DSC_4752Makogai is a beautiful little island that is rich in history. It was a successful leprosarium from 1911 to 1969 with 4,185 patients landing and 2,300 returned to full health. It closed after Dapsone, a  sulpha drug, was discovered as a cure for leprosy and patients were finally effectively treated and released. DSC_6845We learned that not only were the lepers segregated to the island of Makogai but they were then further segregated to separate villages for Fijians, Indians and other Pacific Islanders and then segregated again to separate dorms for the women and for the men. We also learned that sex among the patients was  not allowed and it was an offense that resulted in prison incarceration.  After completing the required ‘quicky’ sevusevu we toured the island and explored many of the ruins. I was expecting to have a gloomy feeling as I thought about the people that were sent here with no hope in the future of being re-united with their families and the imminent life of pain, disfigurement and loneliness. I was however surprised by the extent of the infrastructure based on theDSC_4707-1 ruins that were left and we realized that people here were well taken care of and the town included schools, hospitals, churches and even a movie theatre. Catholic nuns from France also lived in Makogai and they looked after the people physically, emotionally and spiritually. In one of the ruins Dennis found a little bronze lock still attached to a door and he managed to pry it loose and take it back to the boat. It will be a fixture in a future home.

In 2011, Makogai officially became a Mariculture Centre. As per information I obtained from the Fiji website:

“One of the main projects that the team of fisheries officers based here work on, is culturing giant clams (Tridacna). Once in abundance on Fiji’s reefs, many species have been overharvested and current levels are low. The adductor muscle is considered a delicacy and an aphrodisiac in China, which coupled with the harvesting of clams for food, shells and the aquarium trade – it is unsurprising that they have found themselves on the IUCN’s vulnerable list. In the 1980s an Australian-funded project began culturing them at Makogai – and thousands have since been transplanted to various parts of Fiji”

It was interesting to walk through the primitive tanks were the baby clams and turtles were being nurtured to maturity. I also saw many turtles and large clams during a snorkel swim close to the boat.

DSC_6785DSC_4678DSC_4703During our stay , a ‘Dive Specific’ cruise ship with about 20 people stopped in for a day and this gave the little village on the other side of the island an opportunity to provide the tourists with entertainment. They organized a Meke and we were invited to attend. It was an evening of Kava drinking, children doing traditional dancing dressed in colorful costumes to acoustic, rhythmic music sung by their parents. Once the children were finished with their show then the music continued and the locals took turns dancing with us.  It was our first Meka in Fiji and we never expected that in Makogai. In appreciation, the tourists donated about $400 for the school.

DSC_6827DSC_4766We did a 10 km walk to the village on the other side of the island. We stopped on the way and had some fun with the camera taking pictures of bugs, frogs and any other wildlife we came across. At the village we visited the school. It was well maintained and had a very nice library with a large supply of children’s books all in English. I was intrigued by the notice on the bulletin board which outlined the Do’s and Don’ts. I included the picture and it is worthwhile to enlarge it and read the “Do’s, Don’ts, Should, Report and Watch Out” postings to get an appreciation of the expectations of the kids and teachers.DSC_6811

On our return hike we met a woman sitting on the path with a machete in her hand looking a little lost and forlorn. Dennis of course sat next to her and asked if everything was ok. She started to cry and explained that she had to hide from her husband so that he would not beat her and that she would go home in a little while after he calmed down. She indicated that she had family on the other side of the island but we got the feeling that she considered this as part of life, it was her problem to deal with and her family would expect her to deal with it. We sat with her for a while and then had to leave as it was only an hour from sunset and we still had a 10k hike back. We gave her  a box of tea bags and a box of cookies that I had in my pack for return gifts when people gave us free fruit, etc. It was a little something that made her smile, if only for a minute. It left me sad and powerless to help.

The visit to the school and the encounter with the local lady gave us a new awareness of the Fijian culture, the good and the bad.


Cruising with Pete and Melissa, Somosomo and Navadra, Fiji

September 15 – 18, 2014

17 04.923 S 177 16.752 E

Posting by Barb:

mel12Our return from the Yasawas back to Vuda Point Marina included a stop in Somosomo. It was just an overnight stop but long enough to do some snorkeling. Surprisingly enough, the choral here was vibrant and alive. Denny did a night snorkel and he spotted a few baby OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcrayfish and some interesting corals that closed like a fern leaf when he shone the light on them. DSC_6591-1None of us were brave enough to go with him but based on his excitement I may consider going the next time. We contemplated going on a long hike to do a snorkel of a WWII airplane that went down close by but we were running out of time. Instead we pulled anchor and headed to our last stop, Navadra, one of our favorite anchors.

In Navadra we there were 6 boats already there so anchoring was a challenge. A super yacht was not so happy that we dropped anchor near their stern and waved at us but Denny elected to ignore them. Sailing vessel Huck and Double Diamond were 2 of the boats there so it would be Happy Hours with them. We all gathered on the large Catamaran Double Diamond for Happies and Nappies (drinks and appetizers). For our last night together on the boat we were rewarded with a fantastic sunset. I never get tired of the vibrant, warm colours.

mel13Once at Vuda Point Pete and Mel opted to spend their last night at a nearby resort, ‘First Landing’,  and invited us to join them for dinner there. We had one of the best steaks Fiji has to offer with a fine bottle of wine. Thanks Pete and Mel for the great dinner and great company and see you on board next year when we circumnavigate New Zealand and maybe this time we will catch some fish !!