Friday, July 29, 2016

Mirror Man, Mangroves and Meteors

First: check out some new photos posted.

We moved on to a new bay along the north coast of Vanua Levu leaving "Bula Bay" on Thursday morning in good light so we could spot the shallow spots along the way. It was a pretty easy 8 mile trip and we motored to charge up and make some water.

As we approached this bay on the west side of a small island called "Tivi Island," we were met by the flash of light from the western hillside. At first we thought someone was doing some welding. Then perhaps we thought something was just reflecting the bright sunlight. That part was correct...what we finally saw was a man with a giant mirror on the hilltop. He was blinding us with the light. As we moved into the bay, he seemed to follow us running up the next hill with his giant mirror. We waved but couldn't get closer to the shore to make sure all way okay. Later when we met a man here, we asked about the man with the mirror and was told that he does that for any boat that comes this way and indicated that perhaps he was a bit wacky. It is sure interesting out here!

Once into the bay we got as far in as we felt comfortable with the depth. We dropped the hook in about 6 meters (20 feet) of water. We had the whole huge bay to ourselves. The area is less green as this is the dry side of the island. But the hills are quite dramatic with rocky ledges and huge black rocks strewn about. There is this one large very round rock that sits on top of a hill. The foreground is green with plantations of sugarcane growing. It is harvesting time and the longer we send here the less green cane we will see. Then along the shoreline are mangroves surrounding the entire bay. We should have bought that crab trap in the little store on the Wainikoro River and caught ourselves some "muddies."

After anchoring, we launched the dinghy and went ashore to get permission. But we had a hard time trying to figure out where to go. Finding the cut through the mangroves was challenging at best. We went one way and worked our way around, over mud flats and through the trees to end up along the sugarcane train track. But there didn't seem to be many houses around. So we went back out and around and went the other direction. Here we found another narrow cut through the trees that led to the train tracks. We tied the dinghy to the narrow bridge with the tracks crossing, climbed up and went ashore. We had to work our way around some of the train cars that are filled with cut sugarcane. We stopped at the first house that we saw and met Krishna. He told us to go along the road and look for a "Fijian fella" to get permission. The indigenous Fijians own most of the land. The Indians were brought in generations ago to work the fields when the British ran the country. Though most of the Indo-Fijian families have been here for generations, there is a clear distinction between Fijians (indigenous Fijians) and the Indo-Fijians (Indian Fijians). The language used here is Hindi Fijian. It is quite different culturally than the other side of the island.

We found a house along the main road where we met Jope (not sure of the spelling). He told us it was okay to be anchored there and we had permission to go wherever we wanted. It is always strange, because you aren't really sure if he is the one to give you permission! But it was good enough for us.

We made it back to the boat past many grazing cows and bulls.

The next day, we came back in (knowing the way this time) and decided to find the local shop and school. We met a man as we were climbing out of the dingy at the railroad bridge name Jiten. He was the secretary at the school and became our guide. His English was excellent so he was a great guide. He told us a god must have sent him to meet us. We walked back and he pointed out highlights and translated for us as Michael wanted to take some pictures of men loading some sugar cane. He pointed out his land which is actually freehold land – there are a limited amount of certain tracts of land that can be bought and owned by non indigenous Fijians. His grandfather gave some of his land for the school and cemetery.

The school, Wavuwavu Primary, was a very tidy place. We met the head school teacher and went into his office where we treated hospitably with a lovely chilled glass of juice and nice conversation. There are 83 students in the school and 6 teachers (plus head teacher). The parents seem quite involved with the school and the kids all seemed very well behaved and attentive (even though we added disruption!). We left a few school supplies though have decided that library books are going to be what we bring from now on!

After that we went to the shop and headed back to the boat. As we got back to the railroad bridge, we were lucky to meet a couple of men moving one of the empty cane carts off the tracks. Soon after that we heard the train coming and watched (within feet) as the train loaded with about 25 cars full of cane motored by us. Quite the event!

That evening, the sky was crystal clear and we shut off all our lights and watched the meteor show in the sky. With very little light pollution we saw about dozen meteors zip overhead. It was a perfect night to view. An end to a lovely day...

Today, we will probably head out to the point for exploring a bit of Tivi Island. We are sitting here until the convergence zone drops down and a trough passes through. This is a good place to wait out the weather – plus we need good visibility to move through the reefs. Hope we get some rain – the laundry pile is getting big!
At 7/25/2016 8:13 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.52'S 179°31.92'E

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