Sunday, July 31, 2016

Vanua Balavu

Jonathan anchored his boat, Chez Nous, near us in the Bay of Islands at Vanua Balavu. We sorted the supplies we had received from the Sea Mercy warehouse in Denerau and transferred them to Chez Nous.

We motored North around the top of Vanua Balavu and sailed South down the East side to Susui Island. The island representative, Jacob, met us on the beach and gave us a tour of the island.

Jacob and Dina walking along the beach of Susui
We met the ladies busy weaving mats and we visited the school that also received books and supplies we had carried.

School children at Susui
Susui Island, along with most of the Northern Lau, was hit hard by Cyclone Winston. Avea and Susui islands were still in the midst of rebuilding. Water tanks and systems, schools, churches and houses, as well as gardens were being rebuilt. We were able to offer Jacob 20 litres of diesel for the community’s one electrical generator. It is used for a few hours each night.

The ferry arrived in Lomaloma, the main village on Vanua Balavu, the next day and we went there to participate in the unloading of much needed supplies. People from all the surrounding islands and villages were at the pier to collect items from the ferry. We walked the length of Lomaloma, visiting the hospital and the school. We were pleased that the new printer we had brought with us from Vancouver, but never used, went to the Lomaloma hospital.

Traditional style building at Lomaloma
We then returned to the pier and helped Sea Mercy sort and distribute building materials for Avea, Susui and Cikobia islands. We also met the Chief of Avea Island which received some of the books and school supplies we had carried.

Jonathan sorting out goods at the ferry dock

It looked like it was going to be a cloud-free night, so Malcolm borrowed a wide angle lens from Anna and took his camera and tripod to the small island in the bay. He set up a time-lapsed session to photograph the stars.

Southern Sky at night
As we were on a schedule based on Anna’s return flight from Taveuni, we made our way back to the Northern tip of Vanua Balavu and anchored in a lovely, steep-cliffed bay with an unofficial “Yacht Club”. There was a small dock at the head of the bay and we had been told that a path leads to “The Plantation” where the manager, Citi, would be expecting us. SV Code Blue was also anchored in the bay, so we hailed them on the radio, introduced ourselves and made plans to go to the Plantation together.

The walk was nice, but the cyclone devastation was evident everywhere. There were hundreds and hundreds of fallen trees. The Plantation is co-owned by Tony, the owner of Vuda Point Marina and the Copra Shed Marina. He and his manager, Citi, have employed as many people from the island of Avea as possible as they knew these people had no other source of income after the cyclone. In addition to housing during their work rotations, Tony also authorised all meals to be provided to the workers at no cost. They are all busy clearing felled trees, tending the existing coconut trees (it is a copra plantation), cattle, pigs, chickens and ducks, as well as repairing Tony’s and his business partner’s houses on the plantation.
Pink pigs and pink dirt at the plantation
 One of the workers gave us a tour of the plantation which included a stunning viewpoint over the Bay of Islands to the West and another viewpoint to the East in front of Tony’s house.

"Yacht Club anchorage" seen from the plantation

Bay of Islands as seen from the plantation
To get back to Taveuni, we were going to be sailing downwind!! Due to the distance, we decided to head out in the late afternoon, sail overnight and arrive in daylight. As usual, when hoping to arrive at your destination after sunrise, the boat just goes extra fast and ruins the plan. With only the genoa (headsail), we were doing well over 7 knots in the SE trade winds and couldn't do much to slow down. As we were familiar with the Matai anchorage at Taveuni and knew our charts were accurate for this part of Fiji, we decided to anchor in the dark at 3am.

After sleeping late into the morning, we went ashore for a fine lunch at a local restaurant and some cold beverages. We watched our friends, Chuck and Lauri, on SV Free Spirit, pull into Matai anchorage and radioed them to join us for an afternoon beer. That evening, Anna treated us to a wonderful pizza dinner at Beverley’s Campground. We said goodbye to Anna at the airport the next morning.

Beer time Lunchtime at Matai, Taveuni