07-July 2011

Makogai Island to RukuRuku, Ovalau Island - 17.87 nm

When the chief refuses your sevu sevu, you know it's not going to be good.......

The weather was changing again so we decided it would be in our best interest to leave Makogai and head to our next destination which was Levuka. We needed to get our next cruising permit plus we wanted to see the old capital of Fiji: Levuka.

Because of the weather, we decided against going to the main anchorage at Levuka as it is a lousy anchorage. As far as we understood things, our present cruising permit allowed us to be in Ovalau so we decided to anchor on the other side of the island in front of a village called Ruka Ruka. As our usual routine, as soon as our anchor was set, we headed into the village to present our sevu sevu to the chief. Like usual, the villagers were extremely friendly and happy to see us. We chatted for a while, then asked to see the chief. One of the guys, took us to the chief's house, however, this time after much discussion in Fijian, we were told that the chief wasn't feeling well so we agreed to come back tomorrow after we got back from Levuka. The chief's wife told us that the chief would be taking

the carrier into town (Levuka) tomorrow as well so we thought we would chat to him then.

The next morning, we got on the carrier but the chief was not friendly at all, (perhaps we should have clued in at this point!). He stared straight ahead and didn't talk to us at all. We had a fun and bumpy one hour ride to Levuka. We got off the carrier and stopped for a bite to eat at yummy Kim's Paak Kum Loong to get our paperwork sorted out before getting to the office.

Once we arrived at the office, the chief was there waiting for us, and then all hell broke loose. The customs official was like a raging tiger, screaming and demanding that we move the boat immediatley to the Levuka anchorage. Chris tried to calmly explain that our present cruising permit allowed us to be where we were but if it was that important we would move the boat around. Could we wait until 1230 to get a ride back on the carrier? Absolutely not! We had to take a cab back to the village immediatley. If we did not abide by this, we would be given a $10,000 fine.

Meanwhile, the chief of Ruku Ruku is yelling at the official in Fijian that he doesn't want us in his village and we must get out - now! Fortunatley, we found a very nice cab driver who could fit all seven of us into his cab and was willing to take the rocky road back to the village. We told him all of what was happening and he seemed very shocked and surprised.

Ruku Ruku to Levuka - 8.26nm

We motored over to Levuka and anchored. The anchorage was behind the barrier reef but was still not nearly as comfortable as the one we were forced to evacuate. It was very windy and rolly. We immediatley took our papers into the office and quietly tip-toed in. What we found was all the lights turned out, the window shades drawn and one of the officers almost asleep in his chair. He told us that our good friend was not there and would we mind waiting? Oh and would we mind turning the lights on for him? How long will be staying? Would we like to visit the school? It would be great for the kids. After about 30 minutes of chatting to his colleague and sharing recipes, our beloved showed up. We were expecting to be blasted again but this time, he was all smiles and calmness. He happily took our papers and seemed surprised when we said we would like to check out at first light in the morning. We took our new cruising permit and left.

We always try very hard to follow all the rules and regulations of the country that we are visiting but after this peice of nastiness, you realize that sometimes you just can't win.

We still had most of the afternoon, so we toured around town. Levuka has retained it's colonial buildings along the main street, it looks like a frontier town. There is a tuna cannery in town which wafes a fish aroma into every nook and cranny, althought what is funny is we never saw any fishing boats around. We did a walking tour and saw the pigeon post, marked by a drinking fountain in the centre of the road. Pigeons provided the first postal link between Levuka and Suva. The birds flew the distance in less than 30 minutes and were considerably faster and more reliable than Post Fiji.

Sacred Heart Church dates from 1858. The clock strikes twice each hour, wiht a minute in between. Locals say the first strike is an alarm to warn people who are operating on Fiji time.

We climbed the 199 Steps of Mission Hill although we all counted a different number ranging between 197 to 202. Nobody wanted to climb them again to recount. We were able to buy some groceries, a few clothes for the girls and a couple of large fijian beers to go with an excellent dinner at the Whale's Tale with our friends on Jackster and DeWare Jacob. Ah the ups and downs of the nomadic life.

Levuka to Yanutha, Nananu-I-Cake -- 58.77nm

True to our word, and after a rocky night, we uped anchor at the first light of dawn and started our trek to Nananu-I-Cake, an island just off the northern tip of the big island of Viti Levu. We had a beautiful downwind sail through Bligh Water. We ended up catching 4 skip jack tunas along the way, they weren't that big so the kids were into hauling these ones on board.

Nananunu-I-Cake is privately owned, as well as the next small island, called Dolphin Island so we did not go ashore, but it was a great place to catch up on boat projects, school and practice our skurfing and water skiing skills.

Nananu-I-Cake to Voli-Voli Point - 4.08 nm

We motored around the corner to Voli Voli point where we anchored in front of the Voli Voli Beach Resort. The owners of the beach resort are orignally from New Zealand and the whole extended family is there running the resort. They are extremely friendly and welcoming. It is a beautiful resort as well. They told us that they have been running the resort for 8 years and they started from nothing.

Amazing! We left our dingy on the beach and used their pool, the kids played air hockey, had drinks and they even had a 4th of July party with bbq hotdogs and fireworks (which we actually never saw or heard).

From the parking lot at the resort, we hired a cab and took it into the town of Vaileka on the mainland of Viti Levu. We were able to stock up on provisions at the grocery store and the market. It's interesting to observe the differences betweeen the Indo-Fijians and the indigenous Fijians, in the bigger towns and cities is where you find the Indo-Fijians and it is a little taste of India without the long flight.

We asked the cab driver to stop at Udreudre's Tomb,the resting place of Fiji's most notorious cannibal. In 1849, some time after the death of Ratu Udreudre, a Reverend asked Udreudre's son abotu the significance of a long line of stones. Each stone, he was told, represented one of the chief's victims, and amounted to a personal tally of at least 872 corpses. Ratavu went on to explain that his father consumed everypiece of his victims of war, sharing none. he ate little else, and had an enormous appetite. The stone was a little underwhelming after reading that story!

Back at the boat..... The kids were having their morning swim before school, they were up front hanging off the anchor, Chris decided that he needed a swim too, luckily he did because as he was going down the transom steps he saw that a sea snake had slithered up the ladder and was sunning itself on our back step (seems like an odd thing for a snake to do). The sea snakes around Fiji are poisinous, however their mouths are little so the possiblity of one biting you is slim. I think tf would have been possible that if the children were climbing up the ladder face to face with the snake that it ould have easily bitten one of the kids between the hands. Anyways, the catastophe was diverted and all was well and we had a lesson on sea snakes.

Voli Voli Point to Nananu-I-Ra - 5 nm

We moved over to Nananu-I-Ra, this was a beautful spot to hang out, the snorkelling was very good, there was a walk up to a lookout for a fantastic view. We played bocce ball on the beach, Cari fell in love with the local caretakers dog Brownie and his brother Bruno too. We even had a chance to hang out with semi-wild horses who were extremely friendly, eventually we had to chase them off as they starting getting curious about our bocce balls, especially the yellow one!

Nananu-I-Ra to Sawa-I-Lau Island - 52.75nm

We had another amazing sail, the spinnaker run the whole way, the captain felt so relaxed that he even got out his lawn chair and his kindle and settled himself on the bow.

It always wakes you up, when the fishing line starts buzzing and this happened four times! Unfortunatley, we lost two of them overboard AFTER we landed them.

Sawa I Lau is the beginning of our tour of the Yasawa Group of Islands. The Yasawa chain is composed of 20 or so sparsely populated islands and stretches for around 90 km. The group forms a roughly straight line within the Great Sea Reef. The climate is much drier here and you can see right away the yellow tinge to the islands.

Sawa I Lau is a limestone island amid a string of high volcanic islands. We did our sevu sevu in the one of the villages and were given permission to stay. The ladies brought out some wares to sell but most of the things were made in China, you can tell that we are getting closer to the more touristy places. I found some coconuts and bananas fortunatley as the thought of buying another necklace made me cringe. On our tour of the school, Cari found the Grade 1 and 2 class and was extremely interested in what kids her age was up to. I had to drag her out of there!

We paid a fee to tour the caves. We were told that they get 50 visitors to the cave every day! (the caves were cool but they are famous because Brooke Shields swam in them in the movie "Blue Lagoon"). The entrance to the caves is up some concrete steps leading up from the small sandy beach. Once inside, there is a large pool of water open to the sky in an amphitheatre type enclosure. You have to swim under for a few seconds to get into the second part of the cave, the tour guides held you by your neck and pushed you under the water and through, luckily it only lasted a few seconds!! Legend says that in days gone by, before the water rose, people walked through an under ground tunnel to the Lau group of Islands on the eastern side of Fiji, hence the name Sawa-I-Lau, tunnel to Lau.

We are starting to see many larger charter boats. The New Zealand mega-yacht VVS1 has been to alot of the same anchorages as us and it is always a curiosity to see who may be on board chartering for the week. Unfortunatley, my binoculars have not given me a clue, yet.... Here is a pic that I took of it anchored in Sawa-I-Lau plus one from their website.

Another charter boat that we have seen around the Yasawas is the mega yacht called "TV". We looked it up on the internet and for only $850,000 a week! you too can charter this boat. Unbelieveable!!!!

Sawa-I-Lau to Blue Lagoon -- 10.1nm

I wasn't sure I wanted to go to the Blue Lagoon because in one of the cruising guides it says that there is a marker in the middle of the beach where you can't go past as half the beach is owned by Captain Cook Cruises and they use it for their guests only. We went anyways because our curiousity got the better of us (it was alright but very busy). There is a trail across the island which you can walk over from Blue Lagoon to Lo's Tea Shop which sells banana cake and chocolate cake, warm pop and cold tea. Dave had to wake up the gentleman who was watching over the tea shop because after walking all that way in the heat, he was not going to go back without his cake!! It was rather humerous watching him knock at the door of his house next door to the tea shop trying to rouse him.

After the big ferry "Yasawa Flyer" did a transfer of back-packers right in front of our boat we decided it was time to leave and look for some more peacful spots. Good luck!!

Blue Lagoon to Narewa Point,Somosomo Bay, Naviti Island - 13.27nm

We left Blue Lagoon at around 3:00 p.m. thinking that we were only going 5 miles to meet some friends who were anchored between the islands of Yaqeta and Matacawalevu Islands. Turns out that we couldn't get in at low tide, plus our charts were blank for this area, we were navigating solely by eye, not the most quickest or relaxing way to travel. Alot of the Yasawas are not charted correctly, our charts have been off by as much as 1/4 mile, there are also many uncharted reefs and coral heads, therefore we couldn't believe that we were travelling as the sun was setting behind us. We

know better than this! However we couldn't get into Yaqet so we continued on to Naviti Island. We arrived at 1800 just as the sun disappeared, a good reminder to leave early and arrive early, won't be doing that again.

We did our sevu sevu in the village of Somosomo and were welcomed. The lady who brought us to see the chief was wondering if we wanted to come into the village for dinner as a fundraiser for the church. We were going to until she told us the price $200.00 for our three boats so we politely declined. We are getting closer to the more touristy places!

If you beach your dingy around the middle of the beach, look for a white plastic bag tied to a tree and that is the path to the other side of the island. We took the day off of school, gathered our snorkelling gear and hiked over to the spitfire lagoon. This is the site of the World War II Grumman Hellcat fighter plane submerged in 10-12 feet of water. We went at low tide so were able to walk

most of the way there. We found the plane right where we were told it would be by the mooring balls but while we were searching for it, we came upon a sleeping guitar shark, supposedly these are quite rare. This pic was taken by Frank on Tahina (remember that our Olympus underwater camera dies the minute it gets a drop of water on it!!!), alas I must rely on others for this task. He also took

this picture of Cari diving down and touching the tail of the plane.

There is a family that lives there and the lady told us the story of the plane. She was five years old and saw it with her own eyes. The pilot clipped a palm tree with one wing and down it went. A few months or years later, the pilot was found living among a Fijian village, happy as a clam. The family was so nice, they even made us a dish of octopus and cassava and gave us a bag of lemons on our way back to the beach.

The white sand beach was beautiful and we met some people from the village collecting sea grapes. We offered to buy some however we got the boats mixed up and bought some from the first boat when they came by to see us so when the second boat came by to deliver our sea grapes, we had to go find some more $$ and another bowl, now we have more sea grapes than an army can eat and we are not even sure how to prepare them!! At least we are helping the local economy.

Baking as a way of life

Cruising, and a low carb diet are mutually exclusive. It just cannot be done, believe me I've tried. Add kids into the mix and forget about it......I enjoy baking and I love bread and when you are cruising and can't buy these things then you figure out a way to make them yourself, so far I have learned how to bake, from scratch: pancakes, bread (all types, not just white); english

muffins, regular muffins, bagels, braids; banana bread, and cinnamin buns to name a few. There is nothing better than waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread wafting to your nostrils while anchored in a remote bay. The kids have taken on some of these tasks, Cari is a whiz at kneading the dough and Ryan is pancake boy. One morning, because he loves them so much and is always asking for me to make them for him we decided it was high time he made them himself, he was up to the task and did his best, (we realize that all those lessons in fractions need some real life examples and he couldn't figure out what 11/2 plus 11/2 equals!) Doh! Anyways the low carb diet is going to have to wait!