Vanua Balavu is the largest of the Northern Lau Group islands and we have enjoyed exploring a few different anchorages. After leaving the anchorage near the small village of Daliconi, we made our way about eight miles around the corner to an area called "The Bay of Islands." It is a very scenic area with various sized "rock" islands strewn about. Most of these islands have been carved out at the bottom by the sea and so they all look like inverted pyramids or blocks sitting on tippy bottoms. It makes for a very picturesque site as you turn one corner and see another beautiful blue lagoon with lots of varied sized rocks growing out of the water.
We found a spot to drop the anchor and though deep, 15 meters or so, it was quite calm and we were surrounded by cliffs, trees and the barking of the pigeons! At dusk, it was one of those "National Geographic" moments as hundreds and hundreds of giant fruit bats(flying foxes) left their spots in the nearby trees and flew by the full moon to go looking for dinner. There were so many of them and they squeak and squeal as they fly by. The next day we went exploring by dinghy and found the trees where they "hang out" in the daytime and managed to stir them up a bit. When we get internet again, hopefully there will be a few good shots of these flying critters.
Michael and Matt (from Superted) went and explored a cave one afternoon (we all went back the next morning to see it). At high tide, you probably wouldn't even know it was there – but we went in at mid- low tide and swam into this huge cathedral like cave. There were a different variety of bat swarming along the top of the cave. They were much smaller and living in caves as proper bats should!
Today, Monday, we headed out of the Bay of Islands to come to Bavatu Harbour. When we started it was sunny but then a lot of clouds and some rain came through. This is not a good thing when you have to watch for reefs and rocks and shallows in badly charted waters. You see our electronic charts aren't quite as accurate as you'd hope – in fact most times they have us anchored on land! But luckily when we really needed it to clear, it did. There is one area where we heard just the last week or so, three boats hit some rocks! We could luckily see them just sticking out of the water.
We are now anchored in a very pretty protected bay that is privately owned and known as the Plantation. It was an old plantation and someone is trying to develop it as a small boating area. There is a small clubhouse and lots of trails here to walk. So tomorrow, we'll start out early and take a long walk along one of the paths. Then we'll probably head out to the reef for a swim. We continue to look at charts and try to plan where we will head next. This week's plan is to continue down the Lau chain and hit a few more islands in the chain before heading back towards the other Fijian island groups. But we tend to change our minds like the tides. The international date line crosses through the island of Taveuni – so we are popping back and forth between eastern and western longitudes. It doesn't change the date as that has been adjusted to be countrywide decisions as to what "time zone" they are in.
Boat projects continue to pop up – the outboard needed some tender loving care as did the windlass. The cockpit winches (three of the four anyway) have all been serviced and cleaned and what a difference that is making! The watermaker is all fixed with the part we picked up in Savusavu and is running well so we have full water tanks again.
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