NZ-- Fiji Interum Summary
12 June 2008 | Viani Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
We returned to Miss Jody on March 30,2008 at the Norsand Boatyard in Whangrei New Zealand , where she resided during the
cyclone season. We flew to Nelson, New Zealand on the Sough Island to visit our new Kiwi friends, Tony and Andy Colin. Robby and Elecia Booth from Pensacola met us in Nelson. We and the Booths toured the South Island for two weeks in a motor home that Tony and Andy so graciously loaned us. The Booths went home and we continued for another week in the motor home touring the North Island. New Zealand is an amazing beautiful country with the friendliest people we have met!!!
We returned to Whangrei to complete preparations for our continued voyage to Fiji. Our good friends Clint and Adair Bush on Emmanuel and Dave and Gale Funk on Fifth Season were both in the boat yard working on their boats when we returned. Terry Kreitzberg, from Pensacola, was in a marina nearby on his boat Sora. Quantum Leap, with Tom and Betty Lee Walker from Mobile were also close by. On April 25 we sailed from Whangrei to Opua with Rich Firth on board. Rich, a good friend from Pensacola, came to assist with final preparations and sea trial to Opua, our point of departure from New Zealand. Johnny Smith, another good friend from Pensacola, joined us in Opua for the trip to Fiji.
The passage of 1200 miles took 8 1/2 days. We were very happy to make landfall on the Island of Vanua Levu in the harbor town of Savusavu. The first 30 hours was good sailing on a broad reach. Following that, the wind was forward of the beam 20 to 30 knots most of the time. Compared to other cruisers, we had an easy passage. The highlight of the trip besides landfall- was Johnny catching a tuna, the day before arrival. It was so large that it took an hour to get him to the boat, one half pint vodka to settle him, and two of us to drag him up the stern steps. Johnny and Joanne shared tuna with the entire anchorage. Emmanual was in VHF range the entire passage and we arrived within 15 minutes of each other. Quantum Leap arrived 3 days later, they chose a better weather window and had a better passage.
We decided to break our visit to Fiji into two parts. We are visiting the North and Eastern parts first. This is the least populated with very little tourist development. the area is pristine, untouched and beautiful. However, it has rained a portion of everyday and been cloudy most of the time. Makes for cool weather. The locals say they have two seasons, Rainy and more Rainy.
We spent several days in Savusavu getting checked into the country and then set out to do a little exploring with Johnny before he had to head back to Pensacola. We rented a car and toured the island and then moved the boat around to Viani Bay- a beautiful bay right off of the Somosomo Strait. A world class diving area. We dove a two tank dive with Dolphin Bay Divers and got to see some of the beautiful Rainbow Reef. We then headed to Taveuni- a resort Island and dropped Johnny off at the tiny airport to catch a flight back to Nandi and then on to Pensacola.
Ron and I then headed to Gamea Island- very close to Tavenui, where we planned to spend the night and head off for the Lau Group the following morning. We anchored in a beautiful bay surrounded by palms and reef. This was the first island we visited with a remote village called Ndilo, so we had to go ashore and ask permission to meet with the chief- we had to ask this of the second in command called the turanga ni coro- he was off the island when we arrived.
We have to present kava root as a gift for the chief- We will then be asked to sit and drink kava-. This presentation of the kava is called sevusevu- and once you do this you are invited to use their island- beach, reef etc. We have heard that if the chief doesn't accept the kava- you have to pick up your anchor and leave immediately. You don't have to do this sevusevu but it is considered very rude if you don't. The kava root is about $20.00- we bought 5 packages of root for our first trip out. There is lots of ceremony around kave presentation so we are a little apprehensive- have to wear a wrap that covers the knees, a shirt with sleeves that cover the shoulders, no sunglasses, no hats, no backpacks- sit Indian style around the kava bowl- showing the bottom of your feet is considered rude. There is also ritual to follow as you drink the kave- clap once before accepting the bowl and clap 3 times after drinking. We just plan to be very humble and explain that this is our first experience with sevusevu.
We weren't sure wether we should go ashore before making sevusevu but that was made clear to use the next morning when a very handsome young man named Noxie swam out to the boat for a visit. He drank some juice and wolfed down cookies and stayed for about an hour. We asked about sevusevu and he said they grow much kava on their island so do not require a gift. He invited us to come ashore. We took the dingy in and were greeted by several friendly, smiling faces. Noxie introduced us to his uncle who inturn introduced us to the chief- he welcomed us and encouraged us to tour the village. We were with another boat called Emmanuel- Adair and I were invited into a hut where we exchanged bags of flour and sugar for a dozen beautiful cowrie shells. The village only had one boat and it had a hole in it so Ron and Clint gave them all the supplies necessary to do fiberglass repair. We spent several days there enjoying the people and the wonderful snorkeling. Then it was on to the Lau group.
We sailed overnight to Vanua Balavu. We had to get special permission to visit the Lau Group. The government is very protective of this area in Fiji. We found our after we arrived in Lau that we and one other boat were the only ones allowed so far- evidently the government was having second thoughts about visitors. We feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. We anchored off of Dalconi Village and went ashore to make sevusevu. Thinking this time we would have the real ceremony. We were met by a woman named Lako who took us to the chiefs house. She explained that the chief was actually bedbound because of a stroke so we would meet with the elders of the village. There were about 5 men sitting around on the mat and several women off to the side. They gestured for us to sit- we all introduced ourselves and Ron handed the kava root to Joeli- the spokesman- He spoke for several minutes in Fijian and then in English told us welcome, to consider ourselves members of their village. They asked us questions about where we had been on the boat, where we were going, how many children, etc. Then one of the ladies brought a tray with tea and crepes and told us to enjoy. We continued to visit a little longer and then Lako took us for a tour of the village.
Sunday we went to the church service- they are mostly Methodist on the island- the choir was made up of 8 women and 6 men and the harmonizing was beautiful. The pastor that preached is the main pastor for several villages and he only visits occasionally- he welcomed us and asked our indulgence because the sermon was in Fijian and that he hoped the Lord would speak to us- well he certainly did through the singing and all the smiling faces. After church we were invited to lunch at the home that was having the guest preacher to dinner. We sat on a mat under the Fijian open sided hut that is used for ceremonies. The men and children eat first and the women serve the food and then sit next to you fanning the flys away . Then they eat. Ron and I were asked to sit next to the preacher . We were given a knife and fork- the Fijians eat with their fingers. We had fish, taro greens, lost of starchy root vegs, and land crabs. Several of the villagers picked out the meet for us. It was pretty much like eating blue crab. They dip the crab in coconut milk that is seasoned with lime and onions. Very Good. I had made a big pan of lemon squares and cut them in tiny squares and just about the whole village got to try one. The men wear coat and tie and then the lavalava wrap with flip flops. As we sat around waiting for lunch several of the men were wrapping a single strip of tobacco in a 1 in wide strip of newspaper. the cigarettes were about 6-8 inches long and very skinny. Very funny looking. Several of the men that weren't smoking kept making fun of the ones that were. it is evidently entertainment for them all. I asked if the three that were smoking were trouble makers and they all got a kick out of that. I guess there was some truth to it. We went back ashore at 6 pm and were escorted to the school- we sat in the head teachers hut and attempted to help her with her fax machine. At least that's what we were told needed fixing. When we got to the hut, she explained that they cant use the fax because use of the land line is too expensive. They have recently acquired a very complicated Brother copier, fax,printer and had already used up the black cartridge making photo copies for the students. They said a cartridge is 40.00 and they have to order it from another island. They wanted help downloading pictures from a digital camera but didn't have batteries for the camera. They said the main use of the copier is for school work. I recommended they not print pictures because that really uses the ink. I did tell them how to download the pictures straight from the flash card because they also don't have the cord needed to download pictures. They have a community generator that only runs 2 1/2 hrs each night. However, Lako explained that some nights it doesn't run because some of the villagers hadn't paid the $3.00 monthly fee. The teacher gave us a large bunch of bananas. We then went back to one of the families houses where they were watching a D rated horror flick. They got out the kava root and pounded it and made kava and shared it with us. Finally we got to experience the kava ceremony in a much laid back atmosphere. As we were leaving. one of the neighbors brought us in 2 papaya from their tree and several of the ladies escorted us back to the dingy. The next morning we went ashore and picked up Loka. We took the dingy a mile away to another village where we got on a mid size truck with seats and covered top and for $2.00 each rode over the worse roads you can imagine to the largest village on the island- Lomaloma- it took about 30 mins of bouncing up and down. We went to the two grocery stores and then walked around waiting for the truck to take us back home. I found a clam shell that weighs at least 50 lbs- One of the big local guys carried it to the truck for me. I know we are on a catamaran and weight is an issue but some things cant be helped!!! When we got back to the boat we stopped and let Lako write her daughter an e mail on our computer - they don't have internet on the island. She has 6 children and one of them is married to a young man serving in the British military. Ron and I are both feeling so very lucky for this opportunity.
After several days at the village we headed about 5 miles away to the Bay of Islands- a very secluded spot with lots of islets scattered throughout. We spent several days there and then went around to the Nobavatu Plantation. This is a copra plantation owned by 2 Australian men who also own the large marinas in other parts of Fiji. We were warmly greeted there- Ron was asked to help replace a motor capacitor on a coconut grinding machine
as well as help the young girl running the tiny store figure cost per item for new stock they received from Suva. After that we were showered with fruits and vegetables and some of the children came for a tour of the boat. We spent several days exploring and to my amazement I found 8 nautilus shells in this area. Only one of them is complete but they are truly treasures.
We then headed back toward Savusavu- spending several days at a secluded island and then to another with a wonderful resort-
Our only frustration with our visit so far has been the weather. It rains almost everyday- sometimes all day- the positive is that everything is green and lush. It does make you appreciate the sunshine!!
Today we are back in Viani Bay waiting for some good weather so we can dive again before heading back to Savusavu.
We plan to fly to Pensacola on June 23 for a one month visit. Upon return we will go to the west side of Fiji which is more developed before heading on to parts unknown.
Joanne & Ron
Kava Prep.-- Nadilo Village
21 May 2008 | Nadilo Village, Qamea Isle, Fiji
we are anchored in a beautiful bay surrounded by palms and reef. This is the first island weve visited with a remote village so today we have to go ashore and ask permission to meet with the chief- we have to ask this of the second in command called the turanga ni coro- he was off the island yesterday when we arrived. So when we meet him we have to present kava root as a gift for the chief- the turango ni coro will actually give it to the chief for us. we will then be asked to sit and drink kava-. This presentation of the kava is called sevusevu- and once you do this you are invited to use their island- beach, reef etc. We have heard that if the chief doesnt accept the kava- you have to pick up your anchor and leave immediately. You dont have to do this sevusevu but it is considered very rude if you dont. The kava root is about $20.00- we bought 5 packages of root for our first trip out. We are actually heading to the Lau group- we had to get special permission to visit these islands- they arent commercialized like the other islands. We will spend about a month cruising on this side and then return to Savusavu to come home. then when we return to Figi we will take the boat to the other side where all the resorts are. There is lots of ceremony around kave presentation so we are a little apprehensive- have to wear a wrap that covers the knees, a shirt with sleeves that cover the shoulders, no sunglasses, no hats, no backpacks- sit indian style around the kava bowl- showing the bottom of your feet is considered rude. There is also ritual to follow as you drink the kave- clap once before accepting the bowl and clap 3 times after drinking. We just plan to be very humble and explain that this is our first experience with sevusevu. So wish us well and I will let you know how it goes.