The Big Blue

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Ooo Lau Lau

17 June 2013 | Lau Group, Fiji
Mark
After enjoying the small town of Savusavu for a week or so, we picked up our visiting guest Tricia, got diesel, propane, topped up the water tanks, did some tourist shopping, bought kava, fresh veggies, more groceries and beer and shoved off for the Lau Group. Our first stop was just an hour or so out and we dropped the hook at the Jean Michel Cousteau resort for what we thought would be one night. Shandon was anchored there and after showing us where to anchor, we were invited for drinks later. Lolo and I had a nice snorkel and walk along the beach at the resort. Ever since I tasted Angelina's (LaFiesta) laksa soup, I've been a fan and we had provisioned in NZ for several bouts of it. We try not to go empty-handed when visiting boats and since David is a single-hander, all the more reason to bring dinner. So I whipped up a big batch of the spicy Indonesian soup and we all headed over. I had warned David it was spicy, but upon tasting, he exclaimed "you should have told me it was seriously spicy!" We enjoyed David's stories on into the night. Next morning, we readied the boat for the 40-mile passage down the coast (against prevailing winds) but ten minutes after clearing the reef entrance, were hit by 30-knots of wind, big seas and squally rain. The rain was coming down so hard there was no way to see. After a few minutes, we opted to abort the plan and try the next day rather than bash into that. The next day was even worse weather. It was sweltering hot and humid and because it was raining so hard we had to keep all the hatches closed as we sweated down below. For dinner, I made Thai eggplant special with lots of fresh hot peppers..... Upon tasting the meal, Tricia questioned the spicy food theme in such hot weather and mentioned that we were already sweating enough. But there was more to come. Next day the clouds cleared, but it was still howling 'round the corner' so we opted to explore the inside reef area and go for a snorkel. Though the visibility was bad from the stirred up water, it did not stop us from seeing black-tip reef sharks and a bunch of colorful fish. The trouble was that Tricia had opted for a tank-top shirt and I don't think any of us thought about sun screen. Later that evening, writhing in her flaming skin, Tricia began laughing and explained that "this had so far been the most painful vacation do date!" Next day, we locked down everything on the boat, put in 2-reefs and headed out into the wind. It was rough and windy, but at least it was sunny. Once we cleared the point on the reef, we were able to bear off and head mostly toward Viani Bay, but we knew we'd be tacking to get there. Laurence was already shooting evil stares in my direction as green water poured over us about the third time. Tricia had opted to cover herself today from exposure to the sun and so was wearing long sleeves and trying as best she could to cover her beet red knee caps. We were making slow progress in 28 knot headwinds due to the short steep seas. Surely this wind had to ease at some point. About two hours in, the wind suddenly dropped down to 10 knots and though it oscillated a few times, it did finally abate and veered slightly more south allowing us a fast close reach. By this time, and since Lolo had already muttered a few words about mutiny, we decided to head to a destination some 12 miles closer. We needed good sunlight to enter the reef wherever we ended up and Viani Bay was looking too risky at this point so we veered toward Dakuniba and the closer we got, the lighter the wind. Finally about 2-miles out, it died down to about 7 knots but the swell was beam-on and so quite rolly. On came the iron genny and we motored safely in through the pass in the reef and were safely anchored in a beautiful quiet cove just east of the village by 4:30. The boat and ourselves were salt encrusted and so a swim followed by a cool drink was in order. We were the only boat anchored in the bay and it was beautifully green and quiet...just the thing after a hard won 30-miles of bashing. Too late to do our Sevusevu, we opted to wait until next morn. After watching the large fijian fruit bats take to the skies in the dimming light, fresh water rinses and a meal made for an early for all of us. Next morning, we donned our Sunday best and headed into the village to do Sevusevu - the ceremonial offering of kava to the chief where you formally ask permission to anchor, swim, snorkel, fish or whatever you can think of. I was dressed in black pocket lava lava (aka skirt) and a LONG sleeve shirt to show respect to the chief. Women are supposed to cover their shoulders and everyone must cover their knees, not wear sunglasses, hats, shoes, etc so we were all were dressed accordingly. Approaching the beach with our bundle of kava, we were met by Margaret and directed to the chief's house where we all sat cross-legged in a circle and listened to chief George utter the formalities in Fijian. It was all over very quickly and after a short chat, we walked through the village. Before we got even half way around the 15-house village, we were invited by Amelia to join them for breakfast. This small village is very meager by American standards and certainly would be characterized as "below the poverty level" yet Amelia, her husband Chris and grandmother would share their breakfast with us without batting an eye. We sat cross-legged on the floor of their home and enjoyed small whole fish in coconut curry and breadfruit. A memorable moment. Though we had been invited to church service, it was already hot, so we opted to head back to Radiance and go for a snorkel. We dove at two places and the abundance of fish and colorful corals were amazing. I'd seen a small white tip shark already and was on the lookout when I spotted a large one cruising the edge of the reef. Danny and I both swam along and got a good view of him before he disappeared into the blue. Danny has obviously taken to this world class snorkeling, and in fact the whole lifestyle. I remind him that he is pretty darn lucky to be here at his age...as are we all. This morning we pulled the hook and threaded our way through the inside of the barrier reef to Viani Bay. With Danny atop the first spreaders looking for coral bombies, Tricia watching the computer screen and Lolo on the bow, we safely made Viani Bay and tied to one of Jacks moorings next to Blue Rodeo. Just minutes later local Jack stopped by to inform us that he was just about to take a group out to the reef for diving and snorkeling and would we like to tag along? We quickly tossed our gear into the dinghy and headed over to another anchored boat Gipsy Heart already en route to the spot. Four boats tied off their dinghies and we all clamored aboard Gipsy Heart as Jack motored us to the dive spot. Soon we were moored to an underwater mooring on the most beautiful reef we've see for a while. The variety of corals, both hard and soft were staggering. Schools of fish were feeding along the edge of the reef and I saw some larger ones just out of view but managed to follow a large Napoleon Wrass. Most of the boats had dive gear, but the reef was shallow enough and we all dived and relished the clear water and scenery. Just as I had gotten out of the water, Danny yelled "there's a manta ray right here!" And we all piled in again. Unfortunately Danny was the only one to see it, but it was certainly a highlight for him today. Tomorrow, we move on up to Buca Bay to connect Trisha with her bumpy bus ride back to Savusavu and a connecting flight home. Though it may have been the most painful vacation yet, she seemed to enjoy herself today. :)
Comments
Vessel Name: Radiance
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau First456
Hailing Port: Seward, AK
Crew: Mark Ward, Laurence
About:
M [...]
Extra:
Radiance is a German Frers designed Beneteau First456 sloop. She has the deep lead fin keel and tall rig. She competes in the local sailing regattas and had taken top honors in all events on multiple occasions. Laurence and Mark have returned from a 2.5 year blue water cruise that essentially [...]
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