31 Jul Vanua Balavu, the Northern Lau Group, Fiji
We reached the anchorage in front of Daliconi Village at 1340 on July 16, arriving with Starlet and Harlequin. We heard talk on the VHF radio from other boats who had arrived earlier in the day, they were arranging for inbound crews to meet on the beach to present our sevusevu gifts to the Village. Once we anchored, we quickly prepared to go in, getting the dingy ready, and getting ourselves dressed appropriately for the welcome Ceremony. Women in long skirts, men in slacks or long shorts and nice shirts. Our preparation was a little slower than the rest of the group, so luckily Starlet picked us up and we joined the group of Yachties assembling on the beach. We were met by two men from the village, who were there to escort us to the Chief.
The 20 of us were led a little way through the village to a non-descript building, where the Sevusevu would be held. We handed our offerings (mostly of Kava) to the older of the two men and were ushered up to a large open room. All of us visitors, sat in a horseshoe shape around the room facing the chief. We were greeted and prayers and blessings were recited in Fijian once our gifts were presented to the chief. At the end of the ceremony we received permission to explore the village and the nearby lands that are controlled by this village. The ceremony was short and sweet, and not all that serious as we were told that the Chief’s wife had recently died, and he was looking for a White Woman. Our guides got a big chuckle out of this.
One of us Yachties asked if there was a store in the village. Those who were interested, were led on a small tour up and around, past the schools and to the small shop. The door was closed, but our guide spoke with a couple young boys standing around and they hurriedly went to get the shopkeeper. She came quickly and a few items were purchased. The store had mostly dried goods, if we wanted fresh produce, a truck ride to the village of Lomaloma would be necessary.
That evening we enjoyed a beautiful sunset that shone down across the reef and the full moon rise over Daliconi village, as well as a calm and quiet night sleep.
The next morning, we were off to the Bay of Islands, just a mere 3 miles away. We motored our way out around the reefs and small islands and made our way into the magical world of Ships Sound. Here we anchored in a small alcove, with both bow and stern anchors, we were surrounded by large rocks, islands and bays of every shape and size. We spent a full week enjoying the peaceful surroundings. We relished some amazing snorkeling, had fun exploring caves, stand-up paddling, rowing in the dingy, socializing and just plain relaxing.
There was a good number of boats here in the Bay of Islands, luckily near our small bay there was a bigger bay where there was room for a large array of boats. While we were there two different Superyacht’s came and went, but by our weeks end, it was filled with many fellow Yachties. We enjoyed hanging out with Harlequin, Starlet, Muskoka, and Zensation. Midnight Sun also caught up with us. It was fun to run into Begonia, who we had met in Suwarrow a year ago. They are a couple who has wandered far and wide on their catamaran. They are the only boat we know of who sailed down and around the South Island of New Zealand last season!
I know it sounds like all fun and games, but we did do some “work”. Water was made, laundry was (hand) washed and hung out to dry. The beautiful sunny weather finally gave us a chance to patch the kayak that had exploded last year in the Cooks islands. It now needed time to cure and hopefully soon we would stich it back together. Excited to think that we’ll be back in the kayak before too long.
On July 23 we moved on to Nabavatu Harbour, (Mbavatu) a large bay with tall fjord-like walls and a small dock. The land surrounding is a working plantation. We enjoyed hiking up through the beautiful countryside to a look-out that had an awesome sunset view of the Bay of Islands!
Our next lovely anchorage was Little Bay, a narrow bay only .1nm wide, that fit 5 of us nicely (Zensation, Starlet, Muskoka, Harlequin & Maia). We may have been able to squeeze in one or two additional boats, but its name is apt, Little. Cindy and Gert (Zensation) planned a beach party bonfire. As they were getting wood ready for our fire, Tui, the local caretaker came to visit. He had Gert bring him around to each of the boats and let us know that we could either give him our Sevusevu now or tomorrow hike into the village with him to present it directly to the Chief. The beach party turned out to be a surprise 50th birthday party for Gert. We had great night partying with the crew.
The next morning at 0945 we dinghied to the beach where Tui was caretaking the land. He led us on a beautiful hike through the forest to Mavana village. Tui asked if any of us would be interested in fresh produce and along the way he would yell to farmers and let them know that we would be back later. The village is located on a beautiful big bay, we had a short Sevusevu ceremony with the chief and Tui. We checked out the village store, had a lovely lunch hosted by Tui’s wife Boey, and met his daughter and granddaughter.
Our final stop in Vanua Balavu was the village of Susui. On Friday, when we arrived, we joined a pack of 15 other boats, sv Rewa had arranged a cruisers feast that was to be hosted by the village. It was a fundraiser for the village and a fun gathering for us Yachties. For those of us that had arrived in the last couple days our evening started out with a Sevusevu ceremony. We arrived at the social hall at 1600 with our gift of kava. Each boat presented their gift and the blessings imparted, and we were given permission to use their lands. Kava or yangona is a root that is ground, then mixed with water and drunk during a sevusevu ceremony. A person may notice its effects, tongue and mouth numbness, sleepiness. There were 20 or so yachties and about 8 male villagers sitting around in a circle. The Kava was served by two men, a cup was dipped into the big bowl and taken to an individual. When presented with the kava you clap once and say Bula. Then you drink the contents in one gulp and clap three times. The number in the circle ebbed and flowed as yachties and the village men came and went. Local women do not participate in kava ceremonies. Once we had our fill, we moved on to socializing outside the hall. It was an enjoyable evening with an amazing feast, prepared by the village women, with entertainment by the children, who put on a little show with songs.
That night the winds picked up and we had quite the weekend, with two nights of strong wind and cleansing rain. We had some trouble sleeping with strange noises the first night, then actual swell on night two. Unfortunately, we did not have the flopper stopper out, it would have helped some with the rocking and rolling.
Sunday afternoon it calmed enough for us to go in for a walk, we picked up Jennifer (Starlet) and Lisa (Harlequin) and were greeted by a group of 5 or so local kids who joined us. Lisa organized some of the kids in picking up trash while others helped in shell hunting. A couple of the boys teamed up with Dick (so cute) and he had a large load of shells by the time we got back to the dingy! We had the kids lead us to the other side of the Island and we enjoyed the Ocean view and long sandy beach. Unfortunately, there was trash everywhere. It looked as though the village had started large holes for dumping, but it felt like wherever we walked you would see plastic dumped here and there.
Several boats left during the strong winds, on Sunday, however we waited for things to calm a bit. On Monday, when we first got out of the protected waters, we had a 3 meter swell. So glad we did not head out earlier, as it must have been rough, but I’m sure the others enjoyed their sail. We are off to the big Island of Viti Levu and the capital city of Suva.