Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sailing Through the Reefs

We left our lovely and protected anchorage in Nasasobo Bay to make some progress on our adventure around Vanua Levu. We decided to make a bigger jump and head to places we had not been to in the past. The first step was getting through the Dakuniba Reef break. The winds were about 15 knots and there was an incoming tide – so there wouldn't be standing waves – but we would be fighting both those elements. The going was very slow with big waves crashing on each side – but we worked out way through the cut and started east. Our track took us to Somosomo Strait towards the island of Taveuni and then north. We went through a few cuts in the reefs and then around Kioa Island. This is an island owned by residents from the island of Tuvalu (an all atoll nation that we loved). We then got to our destination of Rabi Island (pronounced Rambi).

Rabi Island is another island that is in Fijian waters but actually settled by inhabitants from another island. The people here are all Banabans. They came from Ocean Island in Micronesia, (also known as Banaba in the former Gilbert and Ellis Islands (now Kiribati)). Their island was devastated by phosphate mining. The British (the miners) bought Rabi for resettlement of the islanders. It is a very sad story. The first group that came from their home island which is located near the equator, suffered greatly here because the weather and waters were so much colder. Many froze or died from illnesses associated with the temperature, food and housing differences. They are citizens of Fiji (since 1945), but speak their native tongue which is Gilbertese. They preserve their age-old Banaban traditions including music and dancing which is said to be very different than the Fijian dance. We hope in our time here we can see some.

We anchored in the southern most bay, Katherine Bay. We had hoped to stay here a few days by checking in with a council member that leaves in one of the homes here and then taking the "adventure" ride into Nuku where we have to formally check in with the local police and council. But the anchorage based on the current winds and swell is not that comfortable. It is not horrible and one night was quite doable. But instead we will head around the island to a place called Albert Cove on the northwestern side and settle there for our visit here. It is 15 miles around but we need good light to get through the various reefs. We will then be able to walk a few miles into Nuku for our permission.

We can see some Cyclone Winston damage on the island – mostly leafless trees, some coconut palms that lost their tops and some hillsides that are bare. But there are still healthy mangroves lining this bay and much green landscape. The gardens seem to be replanted and growing. There are still many homes here – don't know if any others were lost.

It is a pretty bay and a pretty island. It will be fun to explore this different culture.
We did fish on the way – so far fish count ZERO!

Latitude 16 31.608s
Longitude 179 59.388w ***note west not east
At 7/13/2016 3:58 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°31.61'S 179°59.39'W

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