Sunday, August 4, 2013

Still exploring...

After having been turned back on our attempt to sail to Fulaga, we decided to explore some other areas on Vanua Balavu. Our first destination was Bavatu, a well-protected harbor on the north coast. Shortly after we arrived, this traditional Polynesian canoe came in from Suva. Crewed by a mix of Fijians and people from other South Pacific nations, Okeanos had been part of the Pacific Voyagers fleet that sailed to Hawaii, San Francisco, down the coast all the way to Panama, and then back to French Polynesia in 2011-2012. One of the main reasons we had come to Bavatu was to hike up to the plantation above the bay, and across the island to a viewpoint overlooking the Bay of Islands. Our next stop, a couple of days later, was the village of Mavana, where we had to offer sevusevu for the privilege of anchoring in their waters and hiking on their land. One of the first people to greet us after we stepped ashore was Tevita, who is originally from here but at one point had been the mayor of Suva. He is one of several important Fijians from this village; the former prime minister and the head of the Methodist Church in Fiji are also from Mavana, and still maintain homes here. And little wonder - it is a truly beautiful spot. Tevita asked us where we wre from, and mentioned that there was another American named Mark living here. After doing our sevusevu, we went to meet Mark, his wife Noemi from Manzanillo, Mexico, and their three children. They have a long relationship with Fiji, one of their kids having been born here. They are preparing to build a house on the neighboring island of Avea, in the left background in the picture. After leaving Mavana, we anchored in a neighboring bay that is called Little Bay by cruisers, but I think the locals refer to it as Raviravi. This was a great spot for dinghy exploration and there was great snorkeling at an off-lying reef, where we saw huge lettuce corals and found this giant clam shell (which we put back after photographing). we were getting low on stores and fuel, so we finally had to head back to a slightly more developed part of Fiji. Our last anchorage was just inside Qilaqila Pass, from where we could make an early departure for our planned crossing to Taveuni. We are grateful for our brief taste of the Lau Islands, and hope we can return to this part of Fiji next year.

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