Steen Rally

Follow us on our sailing adventure from France to Australia

30 December 2015 | Sydney
29 July 2015 | Sydney
15 January 2015 | Sydney
22 December 2014 | Sydney
21 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
02 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
21 October 2014 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
01 October 2014 | Fiji
20 September 2014 | Fiji
08 September 2014 | Fiji
24 July 2014 | Neiafu, Tonga
06 July 2014 | Tahaa. French Polynesia
23 June 2014 | Moorea
23 June 2014 | Moorea
15 June 2014 | Papeete, Tahiti
14 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia

Rabi island and the forgotten people of Banaba

21 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
Voahangy
Fiji, Rabi Island, Aug 18-20, 2014

One of the best aspects of cruising is the fact that every day is different and brings its own set of experiences. Changing weather, contrasting anchorages, new encounters...you never know what will happen next.

We left Savusavu at 5am on Monday, feeling rather seedy after enjoying Malcolm's arrival on the boat. The first 3 hours were the roughest as we motored to windward in 20 knots winds along the bottom of Vanua Levu. Our destination was the top of Taverna Island but once we reached the lee of the island the sea turned into glass and Terry decided to make the most of the conditions and sail as far as possible until 3pm. That's how we ended up in Albert Cove, at the top of Rabi Island. And what a find that was!

Have you ever heard of the Banabans?

Micronesian Ocean Island located near the equator in central Pacific. Now part of Kiribati, the island was annexed by the British in the early 1900's and heavily mined for phosphate by the British Phosphate company. The heavy mining ravaged the island to the extent that living conditions became impossible and in the 1940 the British government began to search for a replacement island where to relocate the Banabans. They found Rabi island, in north Fiji, 2 100 km south east of Ocean island, and in 1942 bought it from Australian firm Lever brothers who was running a coconut plantation there. The funds used came from the phosphate royalties deposited in the Banaban Provident fund, meaning the people retirement savings! World War 2 and the Japanese invasion interfered with the resettlement which didn't take place until 1945 and today approximately 4000 people live on this small remote island. The tragic story of the Banabans doesn't end there though. In 1971, they sued the British government for a greater share of royalties from phosphate mining and restoration of the land to fertile conditions. While they were awarded an increased percentage of the phosphate export revenue, the extra income only lasted as long as the phosphate reserves and evaporated after these were depleted. As for the restoration of the land, it proved unfeasible and the High Court ruled out the case as inconclusive. A BBV TV documentary reported the court case to be the longest and most expensive to have come before the British judicial system, and exposed the wide cultural divide between the Kiribati traditional land system and the western concept of land ownership. Public outrage and support for the Banabans led to a one off compensation payment of A$10M by the British government in exchange for the dropping of any further litigation. Transformed into overnight millionaires, the Rabi islanders did well for a while, and then due to mismanagement and/or carpet baggers scams, became some of the poorest people in the Pacific.

We anchored in Albert Cove, away from the 4 villages where most of the inhabitants live. Not that we wanted to be antisocial, but the bay was so beautiful it felt like paradise found (and honestly, we were surprised to find only one family living there. But more on that later.

Protocol called for us to check in with local police in Nuku, a 4 miles dinghy ride away. While the island is part of Fiji, it also has its own set of rules so we had to comply with both Fiji AND Rabi islands' rules. No sevusevu here though, it was just a matter of reporting to THE police officer who presumably does the rest... Once that's done, you are welcome on the island. And I mean with open arms!!! Local kids watched over our dinghy like hawks, while we were shown the way to Nuku's latest venture: the Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil factory. BVCO was started a month ago, an initiative of local Terikano Takesau. A very enterprising lady, she is determined to lift the island's people out of the cycle of poverty/idleness/depression. The project was originally intended as the production of virgin coconut oil to take advantage of the hundreds of coconuts growing on the island and improve women's income (men earn their living from copra and fishing). In the process, they found they could market the by-products: soap, body lotion, sugar scrub, etc...Terri is embracing social media and actively promoting the company on FB (yes, internet is available on that remote island), making the most of every cruiser that comes past (in a good way!) We spent a few dollars, feeling good about helping the community and learning a thing or two: Coconuts are bought from all over the island for 20c a piece, 360 are processed every day, extracting 36 kg of meat which is sold as animal feed and virgin oil. The oil is filtered and fermented overnight, then sun-cured for 2 weeks before bottling. The factory is nothing more than a small shed but the tiny front office is overflowing with bottled products, marketing materials, computers and Terri's phone never stops ringing! As I took pictures of the operation, she was busy instructing workers, dealing with official visitors (as opposed to walk-ins like us!) and ensuring that the new billboard was on display! What a contrast with the seemingly relaxed demeanour of the other villagers...We certainly wish her and the women of Rabi all the luck and success.

Back to Albert Cove, we were cleared to set foot ashore and paid our respect to Sam, the local caretaker. He doesn't live here permanently, his role is to tend the vegetable gardens in the hills and report boat traffic. The latter seems to be a task done at the request of the Fijian government, and we certainly earned brownie points having checked in with Nuku first (saved him having to turn us away, something all islanders hate to do!). Sam's son, Robert, had arrived with his family for the holidays and between all of them they could not do enough to please us: a mere question about how to get coconuts led to Sam's grandson being sent up a tree to fetch a dozen specimens for us. Robert offered to give away his daily catch, when I mentioned that we loved octopus (we declined, as it was only big enough for his family and I certainly didn't want him to go back fishing on my account). My usual question "what are you having for dinner?" had Sam beckoning Malcolm and I to his camp stove by the beach and share his supper with us (coconut and flour dumpling, boiled in salt water, he would have 3 for dinner, 2 for breakfast, then eat the rest over the course of 3-4 days, boiling them daily so they don't get stale) When I offered him a parcel of flour/sugar/powdered milk in return, he asked us to come back the next morning for more coconuts and a chat. I bet he has a few stories to tell about early life on Rabi.. Overwhelmed by such hospitality, I wish we could have stayed longer: the beach was gorgeous, the snorkelling on the reef nearby looked good and the fishing was promising... We heard that 7 boats had just spent 1 week recently, I could see why. But the weather window for the Lau passage was slowly closing and with only 1 day to spare, we had to leave this paradise and head east to the Lau group.

Fiji, Rabi. Du 18 au 20 Aout 2014

Ce que j'adore dans la croisière c'est le fait que chaque jour est diffèrent et nous dévoile des expériences uniques. Un temps qui change, des mouillages pleins de contrastes, de nouvelles rencontres...on ne sait jamais ce que les lendemains nous réservent.

Nous avons quitté Savusavu à 5h du matin le lundi, nous sentant un peu miteux après une soirée bien arrosée la veille pour fêter l'arrivée de Malcolm. Les 3 premières heures ont été les plus dures, il a fallu faire du moteur au près avec des vents de 20 nœuds le long de la côte sud de Vanua Levu. Notre destination était la pointe nord de Taveuni, mais une fois à l'abri sous le vent de l'ile, la mer est devenue un vrai miroir et Terry a décidé de profiter des conditions et pousser le plus loin possible jusqu'à 15 heures. C'est ainsi que nous nous sommes retrouves a Albert Cove, tout en haut de l'ile Rabi. Et quelle merveille !

Avez-vous entendu parler des Banabans ?

Les habitants de Banaba sont un peuple unique, provenant de l'ile Océan en Micronésie située tout près de l'équateur au milieu du Pacifique. Faisant partie de Kiribati, l'ile a été annexée par le Royaume-Uni en 1900 et exploitée pour ses abondants dépôts de phosphate par la british Phosphate Company. L'extraction intensive fut telle que l'ile fut ravagée au point de rendre les conditions de vie impossible et en 1940 le gouvernement britannique commença à chercher une ile de remplacement ou relocaliser les habitants. L'ile de Rabi fut trouvée, dans le nord de Fidji, à 2100 kilomètres au sud-est de l'ile Océan, et en 1942 les britanniques l'ont rachetée au groupe australien Lever Brothers qui y exploitaient une cocoteraie. Les fonds sont provenus des royalties pour le phosphate, déposées dans le fond de retraite des Banabans, autrement dit ça n'a rien coute aux anglais ! La deuxième guerre mondiale et l'invasion japonaise ont entrave le processus de réimplantation, qui ne se déroula qu'à partir de 1945 et aujourd'hui environ 4000 personnes résident sur cette petite ile éloignée. Mais l'histoire tragique des Banabans ne s'arrête pas là. En 1971, ils décidèrent de poursuivre le gouvernement britannique en justice pour une augmentation des royalties provenant de l'exploitation des mines de phosphates ainsi que pour la restauration de leur terre dans les conditions fertiles d'origine. La cour leur accorda une part accrue des revenus miniers, mais ces redevances supplémentaires furent de courte durée et disparurent une fois les réserves de phosphates épuisées. Quant à la restauration de la terre, ça s'est avérée infaisable et la Cour Suprême déclara le cas non concluant. La chaine BBC TV produisit un documentaire sur le procès, faisant état du fait que c'était l'affaire la plus longue et la plus couteuse dans toute l'histoire du système judiciaire britannique et révélant l'énorme fosse culturel entre le système traditionnel de Kiribati et le concept occidental de la propriété foncière. Le public fut outre et apporta son soutien aux Banabans, forçant le gouvernement britannique à accorder un paiement exceptionnel de $A10M d'indemnités en échange de l'abandon de futures actions en justice. Devenus millionnaires du jour au lendemain, les habitants de Rabi se sont bien débrouillés un moment, puis suite à une mauvaise gestion des fonds et diverses arnaques de truands, ils sont devenus un des peuples les plus pauvres du Pacifique.

Nous avons mouille à Albert Cove, a l'écart des 4 villages ou la plupart des habitants se trouvent. Ce n'est pas qu'on voulait être antisocial, mais la baie était tellement belle on se serait crus au paradis 9et honnêtement, on était très surpris de ne trouver qu'une seule famille a terre). Mais, on parle de cela plus tard.

Le protocole voulait que nous nous rendions au poste de police de Nuku, à 4 miles de la, accessible uniquement par annexe. Bien que l'ile fasse partie du territoire des Fidji, elle a ses propres règles et codes et il nous a fallu suivre les règles non seulement des Fidji mais aussi de Rabi...ici, pas de sevusevu, il suffit de se présenter au policier de service qui se charge du reste...Une fois termines, nous étions bienvenus sur l'ile. Et par bienvenus, je veux dire à bras ouverts !!! Les enfants du village se sont portés volontaires pour veiller sur l'annexe pendant que nous faisions le tour de Nuku et son entreprise la plus récente : la production d'huile de Coco vierge de Banaba (Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil ou BVCO). BVCO n'a commencé qu'il y a un mois, a l'initiative d'une personnalité locale Terikano Takesau. Une dame très enthousiaste, elle est déterminée à extraire les habitants de l'ile du cycle de la pauvreté/ oisiveté/dépression. Au début, le projet était de produire de l'huile de coco pour profiter des centaines de noix qui poussent sur l'ile et améliorer le revenu des femmes (les hommes eux gagnent leur vie de la pêche et de la production de copra). Entre temps, ils ont découvert qu'ils pouvaient aussi commercialiser les produits dérivés : savons, lotions, produits de nettoyage, etc...Terri est à fond dans les réseaux sociaux et promeut sa compagnie sur Facebook (oui, l'internet marche sur cette petite ile du bout du monde), profitant de chaque plaisancier qui passe (D'une bonne façon !) On a dépensé quelques dollars, ayant bonne conscience en aidant la communauté et apprenant quelques choses : les noix de coco sont achetées dans toute l'ile pour 20c la pièce, 360 noix sont traitées chaque jour, produisant 36 kilos de chair qui est transformée en nourriture pour volailles ou huile vierge, L'huile est filtrée et fermentée pendant 24h, puis stérilisée au soleil pendant 2 semaines avant d'être mise en bouteilles. L'unité de production n'est qu'un simple garage mais le minuscule bureau déborde de bouteilles, de matériels publicitaires, d'ordinateurs et le portable de Terri n'arrête pas de sonner ! Pendant que je prenais des photos, elle était affairée à donner des ordres a ses employés, recevoir des visiteurs officiels (non pas comme des touristes imprévus comme nous !) et assurer que le nouveau panneau publicitaire était bien en place ! Quel contraste avec l'attitude débonnaire des autres villageois...On souhaite a Terri et a toutes les femmes de Rabi, tout le succès qu'elles méritent.

De retour à Albert Cove, libres d'aller et venir, nous nous sommes rendus à terre pour payer nos hommages à Sam, le gardien local. Il n'y habite pas de façon permanente, son rôle est de s'occuper des jardins communautaires dans les collines et surveiller le trafic maritime. Cette dernière tache semble être imposée par le gouvernement des Fidji, et nous avons été bien vus pour avoir fait les formalités à Nuku (évitant a Sam de nous renvoyer, chose que tous les iliens détestent faire !). Le fils de Sam, Robert, venait juste de débarquer avec sa famille pour les vacances scolaires, et entre eux tous, ils se sont plies en 2 pour rendre notre séjour agréable : une simple question pour connaitre les différentes façons de récolter une noix coco, a amené le petit fils de Sam à grimper à l'arbre pour récolter 12 fruits pour nous. Robert nous a offert sa prise journalière, quand j'ai mentionné notre gout pour le poulpe (que nous avons décliné, vu que l'animal était juste assez gros pour sa famille et je ne voulais pas qu'il reparte pêcher dans le noir rien que pour moi). Je demande toujours aux gens ce qu'ils font pour le dîner, et ce coup-là n'a pas raté : Sam nous a fait signe a Malcolm et moi de regarder ce qu'il mijotait sur son petit feu de camp et nous a invité à partager son repas ( des boulettes de coconut et farine, bouillies dans de l'eau de mer, il en mange 3 pour le dîner, 2 pour le petit déjeuner, et consomme le reste durant 3-4 jours, les réchauffant tous les jours pour qu'elles ne s'abiment pas) Je suis revenue plus tard avec un sac de provisions (farine, sucre et lait en poudre) pour le remercier de son hospitalité, ce qui nous a valu une autre invitation pour le lendemain et la promesse d'autres noix de coco et palabres. Je parie qu'il a pas mal d'histoires à raconter sur la vie a Rabi...très émue par tant de gentillesse, j'aurais aimé rester plus longtemps : la plage était superbe, le snorkelling sur le reef avoisinant un régal et la pêche s'annonçait prometteuse...Quand on a appris que 7 bateaux y avait mouille pendant toute une semaine, ça ne nous a pas surpris. Mais comme d'habitude la météo dicte notre programme, et la fenêtre pour la navigation sur les iles Lau commençait à se fermer, nous laissant seulement 1 journée pour quitter ce petit paradis et mettre le cap à l'Est.




Comments
Vessel Name: VOAHANGY
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 560
Hailing Port: Sydney
Crew: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
About:
Terry, 71, skipper, ex-pilot, surfer, aerobatics champion, can fix anything, never sea sick, loves a beer, hates the cold, is happiest anchored off a deserted beach. [...]
VOAHANGY's Photos - Main
84 Photos
Created 20 November 2014
2 glorious months, cruising various parts of Fiji. So many different experiences in one country: lush rainforests, colourful indian towns, blue lagoons, traditional villages, great fishing, fancy resorts... And the best part was sharing the cruising with family and friends. Can't beat Fiji with company! Here is a collection of our favourite moments (and there are a few!!!)
1 Photo | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 12 October 2014
Some of the whales actions we witnessed in Tonga, to read with the Whales action post by Anne!
7 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
Whale watching, snorkelling, bonfires, making new friends...One of the most remote and austere destination, far away from big tourism, with friendly people holding on to their traditions. Weather a bit chilly, but who cares???
46 Photos
Created 10 September 2014
49 Photos
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38 Photos
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20 Photos
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72 Photos
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55 Photos
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27 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
37 Photos
Created 11 May 2014
40 Photos
Created 30 March 2014
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 15 March 2014
The time finally came to leave...a month of celebrations and sadness!
30 Photos
Created 5 March 2014
Another holiday within the holiday! Spent 13 fantastic days in Whistler, British Columbia joined by Aussie friends David and Denise. First time on skis for them, perfecting camps for Marc and Anne, loads of fun for everyone.
70 Photos
Created 8 February 2014
Nothing like having family and friends coming for a visit in the sun. Lots of eating, drinking, swimming, laughing...showing everyone our small paradise.
99 Photos
Created 30 January 2014
End of school year in Puerto, many get togethers before flying off to Paris for a family Christmas.
25 Photos
Created 23 January 2014
Day of the Dead festival, a friend visiting from Australia, Anne participating in her first martial arts tournament,...As usual a lot of eating and socialising!
40 Photos
Created 2 December 2013
68 Photos
Created 6 November 2013
Having visitors means putting on our tour guide hat "Voahangy & Co in Mexico", much exploring and eating: ruins, cenotes, beaches, villages, markets,... . I shared Mexican cooking lessons and was repaid with Dutch baking classes from our French guest. We ate a lot of cakes this month! So much sugar, no candies needed for Halloween this year, just parties...
74 Photos
Created 1 November 2013
This is the slowest month of the year in Mexico: hurricane threats, hot and humid weather, torrential rains drive the tourists away and confine the rest of us indoors. It poured for 22 days non stop! We still managed a dive (in the rain) for Father's Day, a day of all you can eat and drink at the local resort for Terry's birthday, and as usual lots of cooking and eating. Just on cue, the weather cleared at the end of the month for the arrival of Marie Suzanne, a French girlfriend. So lots of touring and catching up. Celebrated Mexican Independence Day all month long (it seems), eating black beans and pork verde!
47 Photos
Created 10 October 2013
No excursions this month. Just hanging around Puerto Aventuras, school, friends, ...Sat thru a couple of storms, torrential rains, big winds...Nowhere to go so more time spent in the galley and writing about it!!!
33 Photos
Created 12 September 2013
Holiday month for everyone: visitors from the USA, kids in and out, parties, US National Day celebration, French National Day celebration, Tulum for a night (bliss...) The start of a new food blog meant a month spent in the galley experimenting. Not much in terms of local food, mostly home cooked French. Chocolate cake anyone?
41 Photos
Created 24 August 2013
Holiday Seasons with old and new friends, provisioning and preparing to leave the USA...
54 Photos
Created 16 July 2013
End of school year performances, lots of baking/cooking for school festivities, Marc hospitalised, first tropical storms testing our nerves, road trip to Belize... Eat ceviche, my latest food addiction!!!
15 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 July 2013
Lots on! An interesting road trip to the Chiapas region, wonderful ruins of Palenque, green and lush Tabasco, Anne's birthday, Cozumel by boat, Kids sports graduation...Eat chilaquiles, breakfast with a difference.
26 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
Settling down and mixing with the locals: kids are off to school, birthday parties, more of Tulum, unexpected reunion with fellow cruisers. Eat: black bean soup!
30 Photos
Created 2 July 2013
Not much tourism this month. We finally made the decision to stay for the rest of the year. So it's head down with school, get together with cruising friends ( they're passing thru while we stay behind) and switching to "landlubber's" mode. Resolved to eat at home more often, back to healthier diet.
19 Photos
Created 13 June 2013
Exploring the Yucatan peninsula by car, to Uxmal ruins and Merida. More of Tulum. Marc's Birthday. Try Flyboarding. Join in the local community of Puerto Aventuras. Xel-Ha. Discover Playa del Carmen. Eat nachos.
27 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Landfall in Isla Mujeres, find our way around our new home in Puerto Aventuras, excursion to Coba ruins, discover Tulum, swim with dolphins, eat tacos...
31 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Our last few weeks (even months) have been spent in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. Not much cruising for us, more like enjoying company of new friends, safety of a protected harbor, and relaxing for a while, knowing we don't have to go anywhere for a while...
25 Photos
Created 2 April 2013
2 weeks in an island where time has stood still for 50 years! Road trip La havana - Vinales- Cienfuegos - Trinidad - La Havana. Cruise down the west coast, beautiful beaches, good fishing, diving,... Warm waters at last!!!!
3 Sub-Albums
Created 5 February 2013
To be enjoyed while reading the post!
43 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Exploring Charleston and Savannah
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 27 December 2012
2 weeks shore leave, driving to Shenandoah National Park: lots of hiking, eating "country style" food, looking for bears, avoiding bears...Long drive across to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to visit the Wrights brothers memorial and Cape Hatteras.
28 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Caught up with friends, left the boat on display at the 2012 Boat Show, toured historic downtown and US Naval Academy, watched a football game...welcome to the US sailing capital!
51 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Unforgetable summer cruising around Block island, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
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46 Photos
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A leisurely cruise from New York to Newport. Quite anchorages, fresh ocean breeze, ...a million miles away from Big City living!
37 Photos
Created 5 September 2012
July and September in the Big Apple. Cruise, Eat, Shop, Walk,...Look at some of our best memories (work in progress, I am still sorting thru thousands fo photos!)
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 3 September 2012
Museums, memorials, parks, bike trails...the most photogenic city.
85 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
First voyage in July, on our way to Washington DC. Passing thru quaint and historical towns, sampling crabs and oysters in hot summer nights... Returned in September, enjoying all Annapolis has to offer (well, nearly), and the spectacle of autumn foliage.
20 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
Where there are some seriously clever people!
22 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
29 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Shore leave: Make believe, dreams come true, thrills, fast food...Anything goes here!!!
42 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Welcome to America! Our port of entry, last moments with friends, base for a mini-refit, and our first taste of the USA...
18 Photos
Created 30 June 2012
59 Photos
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17 Photos
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33 Photos
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52 Photos
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19 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
30 Photos
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28 Photos
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28 Photos
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40 Photos
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36 Photos
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25 Photos
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49 Photos
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37 Photos
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Created 28 December 2011
What happens during a transat?
40 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
44 Photos
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22 Photos
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40 Photos
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13 Photos
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30 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
21 Photos
Created 30 October 2011
18 Photos
Created 22 October 2011
24 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
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Created 8 September 2011

S.V VOAHANGY

Who: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
Port: Sydney