Cruising with Becky, Paradise

19 09.248S 178 32.430E

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

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

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.