June 2011 - Page 2

Yanuca, Budd Reef to Qamea Island 17.08nm

Along the way we went through a school of yellowfin tuna and caught three of them, yum!

The Mitchell family lives where we anchored and have a plantation. However there are no coconuts on the palm trees! The last cyclone killed them all but the good news is that soon the coconuts will be back. Everybody in Fiji speaks very good English so it is very easy to talk to the locals.

We met up with our friends on Oso Blanco and Kamaya. It was Bears 9th birthday so we didn’t want to miss it. The local kids were all out on Oso Blanco and Eric was taking them tubing. They had so much fun, it was great to see and they are so incredibly polite. In the evening we got together for a potluck and Bear opened his gifts. He received a decorated stick, a copied DVD movie and a whole yellowfin tuna as well as some nicely decorated cards. He was so happy with all of this. This is what I love about the cruising life-- simplicity!

Church service on Qamea – We were invited to come in on Sunday morning for a church service so we obliged. Everybody sits on woven mats on the floor, we were given a nice welcoming in English and they even apologized to us because the whole service was going to be in Fijian and we wouldn’t understand a spoken word, still it is always interesting to go to a church service. After church, we were given the most lovely of shells, three of them were nautilus shells which I have never seen before, they are beautiful.

Qamea Island to Vurevure Bay, Taveuni 7.6 nm

This was a quick motor over to Vurevure Bay on the island of Taveuni. We came here to go to Bouma National Heritage Park’s Tavoro Waterfalls and Lavena Beach. The anchorage is next to a river and so is quite muddy. There is also a mooring ball one can use next to the pearl farm (run by a French –Canadian!)

We did our sevu-sevu in the village of Vurevure and met many locals. Along with our friends on Jackster, we walked down the road past two more villages Waitabu and Bouma. One simply cannot be in a rush whilst walking down a road on a Fijian island, everybody that you meet you must stop and have a chat, they will want to know where you are going, where are you coming from, if you like Fiji or not, and if it is your first time here, for us it turned into a very enjoyable activity. Even the Fijian children are extremely friendly and love to talk to visitors so they can practice their English. We walked back to Vurevure with many children returning from school. We met another man who invited us to his village so we could see what it is like to live in a Fijian village and he ran back to his house and gave us some bananas.

We arranged for a cab to pick us the following morning to take us to the base of the Tavoro Waterfalls. The first waterfall was a 10 minute hike and this is where they filmed scenes from the movie “The Return of the Blue Lagoon”. The second waterfall was another 30 minute hike, we swam at both – it really felt like paradise and extremely refreshing after a sweaty hike.

After lunch we decided we still had enough oomph in us to go and see Levuna Beach. We took about a 20 minute stroll on the beach when we got back to the village, the visitors centre said we had to come in and sign the guest book, then they told us that we had to pay $15.00 for the privilege of walking down the beach! We were stunned! It is hard to argue with the Fijians though and so we paid a smaller amount after a bit of negotiation. Scenes from the movie were shot on this beach as well, so that’ s what happens to places when they get popular – thanks alot Hollywood!

That evening we saw a ton of people out on the beach so we kayaked over to investigate; they were catching fish and roasting them on a stick!

Vurevure Bay to Dere Bay, Koro Island 61.92nm

Our cruising guides didn’t say much about Koro Island but we decided to stop there because it was the halfway point between Taveuni and Levuka. On the way, we caught two huge mahi-mahi.

We ended up having a great time. We found “the longest dock in Fiji” for the dingy and was initially met by a very friendly local women who was from of all places-- Northern Ontario! She had just moved here in February of this year. As we walked around the beach trying to get our bearings we met more and more locals that were foreigners. We met a couple from New Zealand who spend their winters in Fiji and summers in New Zealand, we met a family with four children from Hawaii, a couple from Australia, a young couple from Washington, DC, another young couple with a baby from Argentina (him) and Great Britain (her) and the list went on. These people have decided to make Koro Island their home base either half the year or full time. They live totally off the grid: catching rainwater; using propane for refrigeration and stove, solar panels on the roof for electricity, grow their own vegetables and fruit, even have their own chickens (free range, of course!) – this all means that their expenses are very low. They can live for $1,000.00 or less a month and have a very tranquil life.

Turns out that a local Fijian corporation (owned by an Aussie) is selling lots or lots with homes(this is who built the longest dock) and all the foreigners who buy these live in this one area in Dere Bay, Koro Island. We found out that there are 40 lots left if anyone is interesting in purchasing one.

The Fijian village of Nabuna is about two miles down the road and they seem fine with their neighbours, it seemed like a very contented place. There are 14 villages on Koro Island and on Saturday all 14 villages came together for a rugby tournament in Nabuna (Nainbuna). It was fun to watch and they seemed like talented players.

Pic:Grinding the kava for tonights party

Mooring balls vs anchor

The corporation has put in mooring balls and suggested that we use them to save the coral, however we had already anchored so we just stayed put. Another boat came in and took a mooring, that evening (luckily they were awake and were on the boat) the wind really picked up and the mooring ball broke free at the base and off they shot towards shore. Fortunately, they were able to re-anchor in the pitch dark surrounded by coral reefs and everything was fine. But that is the chance you take being on a mooring ball.

Dere Bay, Koro Island to Makogai Island - 26.65 nm

According to the weather forecast, a real nasty south-wester is heading our way, so we decided to move over to Makogai which looked like a very protected anchorage, was only 25 miles away and situated half way to our next destination – Perfect! We sailed / motor-sailed through pouring rain and poor visibility. We chose to save some miles by going through the north-eastern entrance through the reef and although it was very narrow and pouring rain, we were still able to see the reefs and made it through without any drama.

The pink colour on the chartplotter is our radar showing clouds and squalls.

We hunkered down in this anchorage for two whole days while the wind whipped and the rain pelted down, the weather forecasters were correct, it was wild out beyond the reef, we could see from the boat the difference between where we were and where it was unprotected.

Makogai used to be a Leper colony.

Once the weather cleared, we were very happy to get off the boat and stretch our legs on shore. We received a tour by the man who runs the clam reserach station. There are fragments of the leper colony still visible; like the old hospital, a movie theatre, the jail and the very overgrown cemetary.

We also received a whole education on how they grow the clams and giant clams, boy those suckers are huge! We now understand where that clam came from that we gobbled down in Corbia! Oops!!! Once the clams are big enough, they move them from the tanks on shore to the water just past the beach, then they will move some to other locations around Fiji where they think the clams will be able to grow and breed.

Dave and Jacquie on Jackster gave Andrea a scuba diving lesson and she is loving it. So while we snorkelled with the giant clams, Andrea was down deep with them.

**As a side note --it is in one's best interest to make friends with divers. One morning as Cari was emptying out our brand new expensive coffee carafe, she dropped the top overboard. Chris marked the spot on the GPS but 45 feet was too far for either of us to free dive, even Ryan. We asked nicely if one of the divers could retreive our coffee pot and they said of course they would. As Chris was helping by lowering our dingy anchor to the spot where our GPS said it was, he forgot to tie the dingy anchor off and the dingy anchor was lost to the deep too! Fortunatley for us, both Jacquie and Dave have training in retreiving things in murky, sandy water and they were able to retreive both of our items. Yeah!! Thanks you guys, we owe you one!(or two actually).