Friday, July 21, 2017

Palmlea Farms and Kia Island

The wind finally settled enough to make the 18 mile run along the northern coast of Vanua Levu to a mangrove surrounded anchorage in front of Palmlea Farms. We came here last year and got to know the owners Julie and Joe – former cruisers. The "farm" is a small resort with a few rooms, a nice restaurant with great view and hundreds of goats. They raise the largest meat producing goat and have quite an operation. We enjoyed two evening visits and nice meal with Joe and Julie. They had several guests the second night so we scooted out of that anchorage and came to Kia Island.

Kia Island is located in a large horseshoe bend in the Great Sea Reef. So it is surrounded on three sides reef and the water is crystal clear. There are three villages on this island – Daku in the northwest corner, Ligua in the southwest corner and Yudu on the southeast east side. We came to the middle village Ligua that has the school for the entire island. The children arrive in the morning from the other two villages by a "school boat" - an open fiberglass 22 foot boat with a 60 horse Yamaha. There are 56 children in the school.

Upon arrival we had to re-anchor several times to avoid the many "bommies" in the bay – and Michael had to keep diving in to check that we were clear of them. Where's anchor boy? A boat did come up as we were anchoring to see if we needed any help – it was two guys with about nine giant lobsters on the floor! Once settled in about 30 feet, we went to shore for sevusevu.

Because we had been here last year as well, we did know a few folks and Save (prononced sah-vay), the torongo ni koro, was on shore to meet us. It was great seeing him again. Last year we did some nice family pictures for him but had to leave because of weather prior to delivering them. Luckily our friends, Lance and Michelle from "Sweetwaters" made the delivery for us! Save thought that was pretty cool. We did sevusevu with Save and Varesi, the village elder.

After a nice visit we went to the school to see if they wanted school photos and then to Save's house for tea and pancakes. (this is a traditional treat with tea of fried dough – very tasty).

The anchorage is interesting here – the wind funnels around the high island around the north and south points. Where we anchored, we would get gusts from either side of the boat at different times, which meant that Astarte would go around in circles. With all the bommies around this makes for interesting noises aboard and hopes that we don't get tangled or do damage to the reef. It gets a little rolly when the tide is at its highest point as the waves come over the protecting reef structure and we get some swell. But it doesn't last but a few hours a few times a day.

We did school pictures the next morning and had intended to have Save and his grandchildren out to the boat later in the afternoon. But we got some sort of stomach bug – no surprise with all the hand shaking and kids around! So we asked to postpone the visit when Michael delivered the printed photos to the school. Perhaps tomorrow.

We are the first boat to come to shore at Kia this season. That makes it interesting with lots of boats stopping by to visit Astarte on their to or from fishing expeditions. The island is renowned for fishing prowess. They provide much of the fish for all of Fiji. They work hard at it though. One boat of four young men stopped by after they had been out for two days on the reef – this is an open 22-foot fiberglass boat – no bimini or protection from the sun and certainly no facilities for comfort! They were out there in this for 48 hours.

The next entry will be some observations on the changing village life in Kia.
At 7/20/2017 9:43 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.04'S 179°05.22'E

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