12/06/2012, Viani Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
The cruising jungle drums started sounding - bad weather was coming! And so early yesterday morning we left the north west coast of Taveuni with our neighbours - Bruce and Alene of Migration and Rick of Guava Jelly - for Viani Bay and an anchorage off "Jack's place".
Viani Bay is in the northeastern corner of Vanua Levu and provides wonderful shelter from the north and west, and Jack is a wonderful fixture of the bay. He paddles out to make you feel welcome and to check if you want to dive the nearby White Wall - one of the world's best 7 dives. Needless to say tomorrow Dave, Alene and Rick are heading out.
The bad patch of weather lasted about as long as we were in passage from Taveuni to Viani Bay. We arrived well rinsed but ...warm ☺!!
To celebrate being dry we had a lovely night with our neighbours - eating walu sashimi and baked walu (the walu compliments of Migration, the sashimi one of Dave's masterpieces, the baking Rick's). Tonight its our turn to host the two boats for one of Dave's world famous venison stews - yum yum :-).
Carolyn and Dave
Photo is of the " Riada Pirates" taken by Rick of Guava Jelly before we left Taveuni, Guava Jelly in the background and Migration's pizza dough recipe safely tucked into Carolyn's bikini top :-)
07/06/2012, Wairiki, Taveuni
The last two days for us, Brett and Jen have been ones we will talk about for years.
We left the Cousteau Resort on Tuesday bound for Dakuniba Pass and the Loaloa family's home - the family whom we gave a 90kg striped marlin to last October. We sailed in to find members of the family boating towards us calling "No shoes Dave and Carolyn, you came back!"
When we met them last year seven of the eight Loaloa siblings and their families were at the family bure to celebrate an aunty's funeral. This time we were able to have a wonderful reunion with the oldest (Sele) and the youngest (Jone) Loaloa siblings and their families. This time we arrived with mahimahi and tuna, and a storybook for Martha (four) donated by Dave's uncle and aunt.
That night they insisted we joined them for a dinner of tuna prepared in coconut, grilled reef fish, marinated clam and cassava. After dinner Carolyn read Martha her storybook and we showed them photographs of our 2011 trip - including the photos of their family, and photos of Dave's passage back to New Zealand - especially his sailfish, and Matt and Chris' hapuka and snapper. In the morning we returned the favour by bringing the whole family out to Riada II for a cup of tea and "keke". For all of them it was their first time on a yacht, despite having hundreds visit their bay.
When we arrived at their "beach" we spotted a section of the cockpit of the yacht 'Touche' which had so tragically been wrecked on the nearby reef. Two of the Loaloa ladies had paddled out to the reef and brought it in. As a result Wednesday was spent sailing to the reef where sections of 'Touche' had come to rest. It was a very sobering reminder of the power of the sea and the need for care at all times! We took Sele, Jone and Sele's sons Tavite and Mateo with us, and so they all had their first ever sail.
Jone, his wife Eli and daughter Martha had travelled over from Taveuni for the funeral of Sele's wife in March, and when the rest of the Loaloa family departed afterwards, he and his wife and daughter stayed on for a while. Well that while had become three months as the weather had prevented a friend coming over from Taveuni (in his little boat) to pick them up. So yesterday we brought Jone, Eli and Martha back to Taveuni. Riada II was transformed into a ferry with bundles of wood for their first fire, papyrus grass for making mats, raw Tapa cloth and dyes, coconuts, pawpaw, citrus fruit, chillies, and coconut oil - as well as their bags ☺.
Martha loved being on the helm, and her Mum was fascinated by Riada II's organisation and technology, while Jone - a trained surveyor - was fascinated by the GPS and chart plotter.
When we had gone to leave the family presented us with beautiful pieces of tapa they had made for us the day before, a new sasa broom for Carolyn and bundles of fresh produce in coconut leaf baskets. We were over-whelmed by their generosity and hope one day to be able to return and help them by providing solar power and a fresh water pump.
For today's adventure we will cross back over the Somosomo Strait to Viani Bay where Dave and Brett will enquire about a dive on the nearby White Wall - reputedly one of the seven best dives in the world. We'll let you know how the boys find it.
Carolyn and Dave
(the photo is of Eli and Carolyn with their gifts of produce, about to depart on Riada II for Taveuni and their first ever sail)
We loved Makogai and Naigani last year and so it was fabulous being able to share them with Dave's crew of John, Brett and Jo again in 2012. We explored the island and its ruined, refreshed our knowledge of their clam breeding programme and turtle sanctuary, snorkelled the marine reserve, paddle boarded around an nearby island, spotted lots of turtles and caught a walu - outside the reserve ☺
Naigani had the most beautiful water and we collected green coconuts and shells on shore, Brett and Jo also killed 5 crown-of-thorns, the enemy of the coral reefs which sadly we see everywhere we go.
We made our way back to our favourite marina - the Copra Shed at Savusavu via Koro Island on Friday, to find that the 3 yachts that Dave and crew had met at South Minerva Reef were also there, with many other yachts. We timed our arrival perfectly as we were invited to a cocktail party on board one of them, Migration, that night!
Yesterday we taxied to Lambasa to take John over for his flight back home to NZ and to go back for the amazing curries at Oriental Restaurant - especially the crab curry. We bused back with the locals. A colourful trip, but taking over three times as long as the taxi as the bus stopped whenever anyone needed to get off - often we only made 200m before the next group disembarked!
Today we have been anchored off the Coustaeu Resort but we are heading back into the marina to host the three yachts from Minerva Reef for fish curry and venison stew - yumm!
Tomorrow Jo will leave us and we will head along the Vanua Levu coast for more of our favourite haunts - Rabi, Qamea and Taveuni Islands - as well as explore some new jewels. Can't wait!
Carolyn and Dave
Riada II, her master and crew are safely riding at anchor just off
Levuka. There was no sign off life at 6am - I imagine there was late
night celebrating and then a lot of sleeping!
I haven't spoken to them yet, as they have to wait for Customs,
Immigration, Health, Agriculture and Fisheries to visit and clear them
for landing but... I can't wait to see them :-)!!
I imagine today will be a day of provisioning and refueling before heading for a sheltered spot - its still 15-20 knots SE in the harbour. Maybe we'll be back at our favourite Makogai by nightfall - yay!
Cheers until next time,
Carolyn (and Dave
Dave and crew have left North Minerva and are a day into their 360 mile sail to Levuka, and should be at Levuka on May 25th (although I'm picking they will be here even earlier as while at 5.30 last night they only had 10knots SW, here we have 25 knots and its predicted to stay a stiff breeze until Friday :-))
While they harness the breeze and digest their last crayfish I have made it to Levuka after exploring a wet (but warm) Suva and Suva Museum.
Its wonderful to be back in Levuka again. Everyone says Bula! to you as they go past and I have already seen familiar faces from our stay in Levuka and Makogai last year - including the senior Fisheries officer who taught us all about clams and turtles.
Marilyn and John (and their very vocal parrot "Bula") have made me so at home here at the Levuka Homestay (where I am their only guest -
thanks to travel warnings our governments are putting out). I will be able to see Dave sail in from the balcony. Everyone seems to know that he is coming in - and we even had a false alarm this morning. I had to explain to the lovely Fijian
man that Riada II was still a couple of days away :-)
We went to the Ovalau Club last night for the very official meeting of
the Tuesday Club - no agenda, no minutes, no speeches, just a few
yarns over a beer or two, and then we all went off to the Whales Tale Restaurant
for dinner (where "drinking, eating gambling and carousing" are all
encouraged). The expat's tales were wonderful - one lady had lived her earlier life in PNG and if you didn't have any idea about the frontier town it is now, let alone 30 years ago, you would have thought she was lying, while the 33year old man from Quebec who is writing his book about early retirement had some interesting perspectives on life. The only thing we didn't discuss was politics!
I wish you could be here - the sun is shining today and the rain has
evaporated (but there's still the stiff wind) and the local village seem to be having a drumming competition - it really feels like I am in the islands today.
I'm off to discover a little more of Levuka - to find the oldest
school in Fiji, the oldest Police station and the site where Fiji was
"ceded" to Queen Victoria.
Lots and lots of love,
19/05/2012, South Minerva Reef
We made it to South Minerva. The fishing is s..t but ...we're dining on seven big Pacific lobsters - feeding ourselves and three other boats :-). Off to North Minerva on Monday, depart for Levuka on Tuesday.
Dave and crew