Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ovalau, Leleuvia and Viti Levu

We left off in Rukuruku drinking kava...
A return visit to the village was made the next morning and our intention was to take photos of the various classes. Fijians love having their picture taken! They are happy even if they only get to look at it in the viewfinder of the camera. As we arrived, the head teacher, Mister Sefa met us to ask a big favor. Could we take some photos of all the damaged buildings from Severe Cyclone Winston for him, so he could give them with his report to some education ministery folks who would be coming the next day? So Michael put on his photojournalist hat and went to work. After those were taken we had our first tea break of the day. The four level 8 girls who were taking their exams still had their family on hand to make the cakes and goodies. The girls joined us, the examiner, the head teacher, a teacher assessor who was visiting and the parents/relatives for tea and lots of "fijian pie" (that is the bright yellow topped cake I described earlier). After tea, we managed to finally get the class photos.

We got a good idea from Carol (my sister) about taking the photos. Michael took a "straight" photo first and than a "silly" photo. The silly ones were much more natural with kids being kids. We went back to the boat to start the printing process. Luckily Kathryn and Mark brought us more photo paper as we have been burning through it! We went back to the school after school was over (otherwise they would have fed us yet again and more tea and cake!) I got a lovely necklace from Cara (one of the test taking girl's (Titianna) mother. So I brought her a few small gifts as well.

We found the four girls and gave them copies of special pictures for themselves and then gave the rest of the class photos, destruction photos, ID photos and family photos to Mister Sefa. We had e-mailed one to Bobo from the day before and we printed one for the Chief and one for Cara of her family. We went to say our goodbyes to Mateo, the headman an give him his photo...of course we were assigned a young boy to take us there. After many goodbyes and the pleading of Tema and others to stay longer, we went back to the boat to prep for leaving the next morning.

We left around 10 for a short 12 mile trip to the island of Leleuvia, also part of the Lomoviti Group. It is a small resort island with the classic white sandy beaches, reef strewn waters of various shades of blue. They provide free moorings to yachts and in fact, sent a boat out to meet us and get us through the reef to our assigned mooring. We went ashore and had a fancy resort lunch (buffet wraps). Michael did some bottom cleaning in the clear water and we got hot showers at the resort. We did go in for dinner as well and sat with an Ozzie couple there on holiday. We enjoyed the evening out and made it back to Astarte to prep for an early morning leave. Weather is predicted to come in late in the weekend and we want to be in a secure place.

At 0600 we were under way for a 55 mile trip to Lami Bay, just SW of Suva (the capital) on the big island of Viti Levu. We had to motor in no wind for a bit to get around some big reefs and then ran along the reef. We actually shut the engine off for awhile to sail! What a treat. But it didn't last long as we did have to maintain speed to make our destination before dark. We motor-sailed much of the way. We arrived in Lami Bay to some free moorings near Tony Phillips house. He owns lots of stuff in Fiji including Copra Shed and Vuda Point marinas, chandleries and fuel outlets and generously lets boats use the moorings for free. It is a very protected anchorage form just about any direction. Once we sorted out which mooring we could use and got permission from Sonny on the boat Tau, we were settled. We made it before dark and there was room at the inn! Fish count: ZERO! *we ran two lines the entire trip and we were close to reefs and we had no bananas on board!

The next morning during the normal array of radio nets, Michael, who was net controller for the "Southern Cross" net got a call from Northland Radio in Russell, New Zealand. There was an emergency for a boat called "Galena" with a single-hander aboard. He was well off the west coast of Viti Levu and had a medical emergency on board. Michael got the details and would spread the word to see if there was any boat in the vicinity (though unlikely based on his last known location). Suva Rescue Coordination Center was in charge and they were thinking about sending out a navy boat after the attempts to get some fishing boats in the area to respond failed. More radio time was spent on "Tony's Maritime Net" and the word was spread as much as we could do.

Then we headed into Lami for a reconnaissance mission. We took the dinghy to the police boat dock to tie-up. The dock was in sad shape. Michael let me off on the sea wall and then went to tie up as I went to ask permission. I met Herman and got permission to tie up right next to the police boat.

We walked to town (about a half hour walk). We couldn't remember if there was a bank here or if we had to go to Suva. We were prepared to continue to Suva if necessary to get some cash. But Lami is a nice small town with all the necessities – bank, gas station, small fresh market, groceries and most importantly, a Hot Bread Kitchen! We got some money, meat pies, bread and sweet rolls.

The Hot Bread Kitchen is a small chain in Fiji that makes great meat pies and breads of all sorts. Because Monday was "Fiji Day" the staff were all wearing these fun Fiji Day T-shirts with the slogan, "Fiji, we love you like a cream bun" on the back. Cream buns are a Fiji treat – a kind of dinner roll with a slab of sweet cream in the middle. The cream buns for Fiji Day had this aqua blue (Fiji flag color) cream in the middle. Michael wanted a t-shirt so we were sent to "world headquarters for the Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK)" which is located in Lami. Michael asked if we could walk there and they said yes. It ended up being the day's adventure. We walked and would ask directions and be pointed in one direction. Walk some more and ask again and get pointed elsewhere. One woman, Elizabeth walked with us for awhile (she worked at the HBK) and then pointed the way. We still went by it and had to ask yet again! Once there, we asked about the t-shirts and they said they could sell us them but they only had white ones left. We left with our silly shirts.

We walked back and enjoyed our meat pies and some cold was a hot hike all over the industrial area of Lami! The next day we returned to Lami with four empty diesel jugs. We have burned through quite a bit of fuel over the last month with our guests and all the motoring we've done to get places. The lack of wind was great news for snorkeling and diving...bad news for sailing. So fueling up was that day's project. We did one load and cabbed back with fuel and some groceries. We loaded that fuel in the tank and then Michael went back for another four jugs. The tank is now filled and few full jugs on board. We should be good until we get around to Vuda Point and departure.

Today it is raining. Flooding is predicted for Fiji as this early season Tropical Depression is over the island chain. Luckily it isn't supposed to be packed with wind – just lots of rain, some squalls and thunderstorms. Not a nice day for all the planned Fiji Day celebrations. But the kids are all still playing the water. We'll fill the water tanks and start deciding where we go to from here. We have booked dentist appointments in Suva for Wednesday and will go into Suva on Tuesday as well (weather permitting) for some other errands (good butcher and huge fresh market and a locksmith).

For now, we'll do inside projects, read and write log entries! Happy Fiji Day!
At 10/9/2016 10:20 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 18°06.62'S 178°23.82'E

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