Tuatara

Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Taveuni and Surrounds

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
Jean
22 July 2015- Catherine Bay, Rabi Is, Fiji.
Bula
Photo is of Jack and Alan having a Waikato beer at Viani Bay.
Rabi Island is off the NE corner of Vanua Levu. Rabi (Rambi) was settled by the people of the island of Banaba in Kiribati, in 2000. The British government bought Rabi with the islanders own phosphate royalties. Their island had been ruined by phosphate mining and wartime invasions and atrocities. Just a few miles away is the island of Kioa which was purchased by Tuvalu just after WWII and some Tuvaluans came and settled there. So we are still in Fiji and yet not exactly Fiji.

We left Suva on a beautiful clear morning, the sun began to fill the sky with light just as we left the passage. With no wind we motored off into a pink and gold sky. After days of cloud and wind it was a nice change to see the clear sky. The batteries needed a charge and the water maker filled the tanks then half way to Gnau the wind came in lightly and we motor sailed the rest of the way. Gnau is a big island 50 miles east of Suva, we visited there in 1991 on Sousa with Sarah and Andrew.

With the sun high in the sky we found the pass easily although the tide had just began to ebb and the outflow was causing small waves. I could feel Tuatara being pushed around as I steered in with Alan up the mast giving directions. The anchorage at Herald bay looked lovely but we knew there was a NW change expected that evening so we motored on down to Waikama. After a week of lovely weather there in Sousa we had woken up one morning to a screaming norwester and our stern was bouncing up and down uncomfortably close to the coral reef off the beach. We hastily up anchored and high tailed it to Waikama. So with those memories in mind we had a night in the not so pretty but safe anchorage at Waikama. By the early hours of the morning the NW wind had been replaced by the reliable SE and now we were bouncing up and down in drizzle. Convinced it would be a different day around the corner we motored back to the favoured anchorage, wearing coats against the cold as much as for the rain protection. Fiji has been quite cold until about a week ago.

In the hour it took to return the day had changed, the sun came out and 3 yachts were anchored where the day before there had been none. The yachts had sailed from Suva overnight and had come in at first light. These were 3 of the kid boats we had met in Suva. After anchoring in a bay in Fiji, sevusevu must be done as soon as possible. Sevusevu is a ceremony where the visitors present the village chief with a bundle of Kava and in return he gives permission to anchor in their bay and come ashore on their land. So we arranged to meet on the beach and walk over to the village together. One of the boats had another family visiting so it was quite a crowd which gathered on the beach, 10 adults and 10 children.

We set off to find the track through the tangled trees, the one which we said was just behind the beach. When 20 people couldn't find the track I was relieved to find out the Swedes had also been there before and agreed there was a track. Just as one too many tracks were ending up in a muddy pig wallow someone found a track up the hill onto a grassy road. We set off in drizzly rain(again) on the road to the village of Sawaieke in the next bay. We were a spread out damp raggletail bunch by the time we got to the edge of the village, frogs and pigs had waylaid the kids. We found someone to take us to the chief, who as luck would have it was about to start a Friday afternoon meeting/kava session so the kava bowl was all set up ready to go. Once we were all quietly seated on the floor, the 4 skippers presented their kava, welcoming words and prayers said, a bowl of Kava was prepared. A round of kava was given to all the men starting with the Chief then the oldest elder then Alan being the oldest visitor. The women had kava on the second round, the kids all got bananas. The circle around the kava bowl expanded as the village men arrived for their meeting. Luckily after one bilo of kava it was ok for lady visitors to decline another. It has been 10 years since I have had a bilo of Kava, it still tastes like dish water! The afternoon was getting on and with the grey clouds outside, the responsible members of the group...the women, were getting a little concerned about getting back before dark so we could find our way through the bush to the beach. The Chief assured us if we walked on the road a little further a short track to the beach would become very clear to us and anyway we couldn't go until the Kava bowl was empty, which apparently was, for the men, about 4 bilos each. A bilo is a cup made from half a coconut.

As we left Sawaieke for the trek back over the hill, village kids and parents were returning from a Sports day where they had won the rugby and netball. They were very proud to say they were off to represent the island in Savusavu. The chief had reminded us that the famous Fijian rugby player, Serevi had come from the island of Gnau.

The walk back was a repeat of the trip over, rain, wet grass, pigs and trying not to step on small frogs jumping across the path. As the chief said, we walked a little further and found the path that just took us a few metres through the trees on to the beach, no pig wallows to step around this time. As the light dimmed we dragged our dinghy out over the rocks exposed by the low tide and got back to Tuatara in time to put the anchor light on.

The next day we went around to the village by dinghy and had a look at the church and the village in finer weather. Sawaieke doesn't seem to have changed much in 24 years, the hall and the church look a little more dilapidated. The people are still welcoming and they still think that Gnau Kava is the best in Fiji... but then on Kandavu they say theirs is best, go to Taveuni and nothing is better than Taveuni kava. I am not sure if they ever get to taste each other's kava to really know.

We decided that Sunday afternoon was the time to leave to get to the Northern Lau islands in a good weather window, short, but 24 hours was all we needed. By 8 am the next morning the window was shut, the wind was on the nose and the Koro Sea was big and lumpy. We were 40 miles from the pass into Vanua Balavu but we could not make enough progress motor sailing or tacking across the miles we needed to go before dark. A 38 metre yacht crossed our path heading for Vanua Balavu also, we looked at their speed of 4 to 5 knots against the rough sea and thought if thats all they can do there is not much hope for us. In the middle between Taveuni and the Lau group we left a track of indecision on our chart, should we go north to Qamea or west to Taveuni and pick up a mooring at Paradise resort. We eventually decided on Paradise, with a name like that it should have been a no brainer. We turned west and had a quick but windy downhill ride to the south end of Taveuni. The wind was still whistling around the SW corner as we crossed the bay to Paradise. We wondered just how sheltered this place was, just a few metres from the mooring ball the white caps stopped, the wind eased as we tied on to the mooring, Paradise found!

My first overnight passage in 18months had not been enjoyable, I felt tired and bruised. Alan had kindly taken a longer first shift while I adjusted to unusual seasickness. We were both tired so we stayed on board leaving going ashore until the next day. 24 hours after leaving Gnau it was nice to have a cup of coffee in peaceful waters. The next day the sun was out for the whole day an unusual occurrence so far this season at this end of Fiji. The weather seemed to have turned the corner, maybe just the influence of Paradise. The resort is primarily a dive resort, although there was also a wedding party there preparing for their tropical nuptials. The resort is owned by an Australian couple, however their Kiwi friends Phil and Faith were there giving them a hand. Phil had lived in Hamilton as a child and had gone to Hukanui primary, many years before our kids. The resort is very welcoming to yachties or as they call us "our sailing guests". The moorings are free with the understanding we use the bar and restaurant. Happy hour coincided with sunset so no hardship to go ashore and have a cold beer as the sun goes down. The pool was also free to use but there was no need as Tuatara was sitting in the clearest cleanest water we had been in for a while. The staff were very friendly and helpful. One afternoon we decided to go for a walk up the road, the restaurant manager saw us going and called us back to give us a bottle of cold water each. He must have had intuition as to what was going to happen. We had walked a little way and we were having a sit down on an old boat by the side of the road while we had a cool drink of water. A young man in a ute stopped thinking we were hitchhiking, not unusual on Taveuni. Alan said why not, we can go for a bit and walk back. Well the bit turned into the next village way down the coast. We went further than we thought while Alan and the driver talked rugby. Apparently the bus was due to go back towards the resort at any minute so he let us off at the bus stop. A local young man came to the stop and confirmed the bus was due. Five minutes later the bus roared around the corner but kept going with some apologetic waving and something in Fijian. The young man informed us that there had been a breakdown and for some reason that bus could not stop and pick us up and that there was to be no more buses that day. We looked at the time, nearly 3pm, time to walk and hope we get a lift. The young Fijian set off walking and soon disappeared out of sight. We strolled along waving to the vehicles going in the opposite direction, passed the broken down bus which had two very greasy men working on the wheel bearing, still no one going our way. We were just commenting on the nice man who gave us the water when a truck stopped to pick us up. He had a load of dry brown coconuts he was taking to the oil factory right near the resort. It didn't seem so long a distance sitting in a truck but we would have been tired if we had walked all the way. As we walked past the school there was the bus that couldn't/wouldn't pick us up, loading up with kids. The emergency seemed to be they had to be back for home time, not sure the two minutes stopping to pick us up would have upset the school run too much. No harm done we met some nice people and saw a little more of Taveuni than we expected. After 3 nights on the mooring we said we would leave for Viani Bay, all of 10 miles away, the next day, but then two boats came in we knew, so we stayed another night. The next day it really was time to leave but not until we had looked around the resorts vege garden, their very smart new piggery and a visit to the little chickens which had just arrived. Paradise is trying to be self sufficient and are certainly moving in the right direction. '

Viani bay is a lovely bay on the east coast of Vanua Levu. The bay is popular with yachties who want to dive and snorkel on the various walls, gardens and fish farms of the famous Rainbow reef. The anchorage is close enough to go in your own dinghy without paying the 300 dollar resort charges for a morning diving. Also living in the bay is Jack Fisher whose family owns most of the bay, he will take divers out in his long boat and take them to the dive spots for $20 each. His wife Sophie and daughters also cooked us a beautiful curry meal as a church fundraiser and apparently Jack puts on a great Lovo every so often. Although Jack was a diver he now just guides from above the water. Alan went with a group of yachtie divers and Jack for a snorkel and a dive. It was good that Alan had others to go with, the weather was good for going to the Nth Lau group but we took the opportunity for Alan to have people to dive with. So hopefully another weather window comes along. After several days of calm weather the SE is returning so we have shifted north to Rabi. When the weather eases again we will visit Jack and Sophie again for Alan to do more diving then across to Paradise for a night before ..well could be the Lau group or Savusavu.
Comments
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward
Tuatara's Photos - Talitha (Main)
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Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ