Sunday, August 21, 2016

To Southern Lau Group

We left the SW end of Taveuni Island and sailed in lots of wind and waves directly into the wind coming from the SE. With a reef in the main (not the full main sail) and the genoa (the head sail), we had the rail in the water and were sailing fast. We were aiming for the gorgeous and remote island of Fulanga in the Southern Lau group of islands in Fiji. Throughout the night, we could not get far enough east, so we aimed for Totoya Island, another island in the Southern Lau about 30 nm west of Fulanga. 

We arrived early – before sunrise – so we tacked back and forth outside of the pass in the reef around the island. Once the sun rose, we could see that the pass was wide and deep so we headed in and anchored in a quiet bay, had a nap, then went for an afternoon snorkel. 

A French boat from New Caledonia, SV Ilo, was anchored on the other side of the bay and the two men aboard began whistling and waving their arms at us. We thought something was wrong, so we rushed over. They had been snorkelling and caught 3 large lobsters. They wanted to give us one. We said, no thank you, as Malcolm is slightly allergic and Dina is not keen on cooking lobster, but they did not comprehend us turning down fresh lobster, so one ended up in Tubby. We thanked them, returned to our boat and promptly released the lobster back into the water.




The trade winds were quite strong, so we decided to give up on heading upwind to Fulanga and sailed west instead to another island in the Southern Lau group, Matuku. But first we had to unwind our anchor chain from a large rock. This involved Malcolm snorkelling at the front of the boat telling Dina which way to drive the boat and Dina running between the helm to steer and the front of the boat to work the windlass.

We arrived at the anchorage off the village of Lomati on Matuku Island. The bay has a tricky entrance and is surrounded by mangroves. The water was murky and the bottom dark with good holding. We immediately noticed the sounds of many birds which seems quite rare for Fiji. The island also had many pine trees.

We went ashore and met Jay, the village ambassador. The Chief was away farming but we were welcomed to meet with the women who were weaving in the communal building. We did sevusevu with the Chief the next day. It was one of the more personal ceremonies. Although we could not understand the Fijian, we heard the Chief say our names, “Vancouver” and “Canada”. In addition to the requisite kava, we also gave the Chief many glow-sticks for the children of the village. We then went for a walk with Jay and his daughter, Margaret. We walked up behind the village to get a good view of our boat in the bay. Jay collected coconuts along the way.
Anchored at Matuku  
Jay climbing for coconuts

Margaret helping with the coconuts

We enjoyed the fresh coconut at Jay’s house where we meet his wife and son. As we walked back to the boat, a woman rushed out of her house to give us bananas. The next day, as we were preparing for an overnight sail to the Great Astrolabe Reef. Jay and Margaret came by in his small boat and gave us a woven palm basket filled with eggplants, zucchini and bok choy!
Jay and Margret
Margret and her brother - back in the village