Monday, June 29, 2015

Lunch with the Chief today!

Well, and his extended family, but it was such a treat and totally unexpected!

Doug was working with the men (villagers and cruisers) to rebuild the porch at the school dormitory. Last time I checked on him, they were all sitting down to lunch.

The ladies (villagers and cruisers) were in the Community Hall weaving all kinds of wonderful things. Lunch was in progress as well.

I decided to cruise the village and take pictures of the activities and the people - it really is a pretty village. And, as always, the children love to have their pictures taken. Big Smiles all around.

As I passed one of the buildings I heard "Cala, Cala". Several ladies had recognized me and invited me to share their lunch. Besides the ladies, there was the Chief, his daughter Lisoni, his brother, cousins, etc. We had a wonderful lunch and visit and I felt so welcome. I just forgot to tell everyone where I was. Doug eventually tracked me down!

I big surprise, Lisoni, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. What's the odds of that? Her and her family live in Isleta and are truck drivers. She comes back to Fulaga a couple times of year to visit, plus she helps with the village projects - like solar panels, lights, etc. Pretty amazing. I told her I would make her a batch of red chili sauce before she heads back to the States.

Plus, the captain of one of the cruising boats in the lagoon works at Los Alamos Labs. We haven't met him yet, but hope to.

What a small, small world we live in!

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

More Fulaga Time

Even though the weather has been unsettled and cold (73 degrees inside the boat this morning), we are having a great time exploring and getting to know the villagers!

We got dressed up and went to church on Sunday. Lots of lovely voices singing, a Fijian sermon, and pews - what a treat. We expected to be sitting on the floor! Afterwards, Joe and Tara (our hosts) invited us over for lunch: fish, cassava, flour/bread, and everything covered with yummy coconut cream. We brought chocolate cake stuffed we candy. So much food we skipped dinner - yikes.

Our friends, Karen and Cheryl (s/v Interlude) led us over to a nice beach where we had a big trash burning party, plus foraged for sea grapes/caviar. Karen added them to her salad that night - they were very good. It is amazing what you can find in the sea.

We have enjoyed spending so much time with Interlude - lots of cards, domino's, food, and wine of course. They left yesterday for the Northern Lau - looking forward to catching up with them again.

John and Lisa (s/v Orcinius) had given us a box of books and blowing bubbles for the school, so we delivered the box to the head teacher. He was very grateful for the contribution. The children enjoyed the distraction - peeking out the window and waving at us. Very sweet.

We invited Joe, Tara, and family out to Moondance for lunch. Unfortunately, Joe went out fishing and couldn't join us, plus it was a rainy day. We still had a nice visit with the rest of the family. We made things that were new to the villagers: hummus, lasagna, cornbread, and cheesecake. They seemed to enjoy them all, plus we sent a box of leftovers home for Joe. A very nice afternoon.

Yesterday, we hopped in the dinghy and went exploring the lagoon. So many beautiful beaches, clear blue water, and interesting rock formations. I don't think we will ever get tired of Fulaga.

The weather forecast says that we are finally started to get back to normal - sunshine and warm weather ahead - we hope. Time to have some fun in the sun, plus splash around in the water. About time!

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Enjoying Fulaga

Fulaga is a huge lagoon (6 miles across) and it took us awhile to figure out we were at the wrong anchorage - hah!

We were supposed to anchor by the main village, Monacake, where our friends on Interlude and Paws Time were waiting for us. Plus, we needed to meet the island Chief and present our Kava for the Sevusevu ceremony.

After a good nights rest, we decided to motor over. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. The monsoons hit, plus the winds kicked up. So, we went right back to where we started - soaking wet. You need good visibility to maneuver thru all those coral heads in the lagoon!

We had much better luck the next day and are now anchored safely in front of the village. Another beautiful anchorage, 10 feet of clear blue water over sand, surrounded by all of these interesting mushroom limestone/rock formations with green jungle tops. Hard to describe, but they are so cool. Can't wait for you to see the pictures! There are 8 others boats here, but plenty of room for all. (Now, we are down to 4 boats - yachties are always moving around.)

Our friends on Interlude gave us a ride to shore. We were having dinghy engine issues (which have been resolved), plus they wanted to introduce us to the villagers. The path leading to the village was beautiful - so lush and the moths, butterflies, and birds were flying all around us. Just like in Mary Poppins.

In Fulaga, you are assigned a "host" family that takes you into their home, teaches you about life in the village, and so much more. Our hosts are Joe and Tara - very sweet people that we are enjoying getting to know.

Joe took us, our Kava, and our $50 to the 83-year old Chief's home. The Sevusevu ceremony was very nice and we were officially welcomed into the village and given permission to fish, forage, and make ourselves at home in Fulaga. Afterwards, we were invited to Joe and Tara's home for tea and papaya curry - a very nice welcome. We promised to come back on Sunday for church and lunch at their home.

Friday, we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on Jeff and Penny's boat (Paws Time). It coincided with Penny's birthday, so there was champagne, wine, cake, and lots of good food. So nice to celebrate special occasions with friends (new and old). I think we all had to much fun, but it was worth it. We even ran across Frank on s/v Another Adventure. We haven't seen him since 2013 in Western Samoa. Small world...

So, we are settling in and enjoying life in Fulaga. We haven't got in the water yet. The weather is still unsettled, so lots of wind, some rain, and it is COLD. The temperature has been in the 70's. Brrrr. As soon as that sun comes out, we are going to do some exploring!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Anchored in the Falaga Lagoon finally (Lau Group)

And we might never leave!

#1 - This is one the most beautiful and amazing places we have ever been to (can't wait to show you the pictures).
#2 - The pass into the lagoon scared the crap out of us. Waves surfing us in and a 4 knot current pushing us out. Definitely need to come in at slack tide.

I think we will just call Falaga home - hah!

But, we made it safely and are very happy to be here. It has only taken us 2 weeks to go approximately 330 miles. We do travel slow, don't we?

I did see my first Fiji whale as we made our way to Fulaga, plus a turtle swam by as soon as we dropped our anchor. Pretty cool!

We have friends that arrived before us and we are looking forward to spending time together and do some exploring.

Tonight, R&R'ing and a good night sleep.

Summary of our 24 hour trip from Matuku:
- First 12 hours - bashing into waves (15 - 20 knots)
- Second 12 hours - rolly polly (10 - 15 knots)
= Two tired old people!

PS: Wish we could have stayed longer in Matuku. We wanted to do some more exploring, plus we were just getting to know the locals. Jay and Mary sent us away with a care package of papaya, bok choy, spring onions, and more. So sweet of them. Guess we will have to go back!

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Still anchored off of Matuku Island

Even though we had hoped to be in Fulaga by now, we are doing just fine in Matuku.

Fulaga is only about 90 miles east, but we would be beating into the wind and waves (again). So we are being patient. Doug checks the weather daily looking for a two-day window, but the weather is very unsettled. We have even seen gusts up to 39 knots in the anchorage. Good thing we have a Big Anchor.

And, it has been cloudy and cold - in the 70's. Picture me bundled up in my hoodie and socks. Doug is running the generator and making water right now, so we will have hot showers tonight. Yahoo!

We have visited the Lomati village twice - it is a short dinghy ride from Moondance - just have to wait for high tide.

First time we went ashore, Doug asked for the Turaga ni Koro (village headman). We were taken to his home where we delivered our Kava and had a very brief sevusevu, which is the welcoming ceremony which allows us to visit the island and villages. We found out later that the Chief was in Suva. Oh well.

Plus, we met the local ladies club. They spend their days in the main building weaving these big beautiful mats out of pandanus leaf. The mats are used for floor coverings and sleeping mats, plus ceremonial wear. They harvest the leaves, boil them, dry them, scrape them, and then split the leaves into strips - size depending on what you are weaving. Also, to add color and designs to the mat, they bury some of the leaves in mud for days. The mats are a lot of work! I want one, but I am going to have to buy it. There is no way I can sit on the floor for days - I would never walk again - hah!

Second time we went to shore, we brought goodies. We knew the children would be back from their week-long boarding school, so we brought chocolate cake, toys, and some household goodies for the ladies. We were a hit and everyone was very interested in what else was in the bag...

The children took us on a walk and entertained us with their rock-throwing skills for getting fruit out of the trees. It looked and tasted like a very green apple and they called it "wei" and ate lots of them, plus put some in our bag. We are waiting to see if they will ripen.

We also got to meet the rest of the village. This village is small, but appears to be very prosperous and everyone so friendly - especially after the chocolate cake and toys!

Our neighbors in the anchorage, Jeff and Penny on Paws Time, invited us over for Happy Hour last night. It was fun listening to everyone tell their stories and adventures, plus Penny made yummy nachos. We haven't had those for a long time.

So, we are doing fine. Enjoying Sunday Funday, which will probably include a dinghy ride around the reefs - if the weather cooperates.

And we will continue to wait for our weather window... Wish us luck!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Totoya to Matuku

Well, after a rather exciting windy night at Totoya Island, we decided to sail over to Matuku Island - just 25 miles.

Moondance actually sailed! That's the good part. Unfortunately we had a little too much wind (15 - 30 knots) most of the time and some big rolly seas. But, we did just fine and managed to navigate our way thru the reefs into the Matuku Harbor.

We are anchored in 50 feet of water inside the crater of the old volcano surrounded by steep wooded peaks - so lush - along with 2 other boats.

No beaches inside the harbor, but it is supposed to be one of the best anchorages in Fiji. We hope so, because the wind is supposed to howl for a few more days. We are protected, but the wind still funnels over the ridges right thru the anchorage. We saw 29 knots - that's too many!

Tomorrow we will put the dinghy in the water and go visit the Lomati village and deliver our bundle of Kava. Several of the locals have been by the boat today waving with big smiles. I think we will like it here.

We would also like to do some exploring. The biggest village is on the other side of the island. Maybe we can figure out how to get over there to check it out. Due to the weather, we will be here for several days - might as well do some exploring.

For now, we are settled in and comfortable. Doug is cooking up some steaks and making a Greek salad. My job is to pour the wine. I think I can handle that.

Hope all is well where ever you are!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Made it to the Lau Group

Not exactly the island we were shooting for, but we are happy to be here after 24 hours of motoring!

The weather predictions changed over night - something happening south of here we think. So, we decided to play it safe.

We are anchored in Naivaku Bay on the island of Totoya, which is part of the Western Lau Group. And it is beautiful - just like the pictures in the magazine - white sandy beaches, palm trees swaying, and a very lush jungle.

Totoya is a volcanic island about 5 miles wide, made up of a rim of a ruptured volcano. The crater is exposed to the sea on the west side and is now a huge lagoon - too deep to anchor Moondance.

Two villages are suppose to be located on the lagoon and one along the beach side, but so far, we haven't seen any people or lights anywhere. Moondance island? Maybe!

We would love to explore this island, meet the villagers, and check out the crater, but we need to find a more protected anchorage. The weather is just too unsettled.

So tomorrow morning, weather permitting, we are going to head over to Matuku, which is about 25 miles. It is supposed to have an excellent sheltered anchorage. We hope so!

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Off to the Lau Group

Looks like we have a short weather window to head south, so we are going to take it!

Government Building
Our goal, head straight for Fulaga - the southern end of the Lau Group.

That is about 190 miles, which equals two overnighters for us.

If weather changes, we will tuck into Moala or Totoya.

If you would like to read about the Lau Group:

Sounds like a pretty amazing place, doesn't it?  We will let you know!

Loved this place

Suva, the capital of Fiji, is a great big place with lots of people and we had a wonderful time exploring.
Damodar Movie Theatre

We went to the movies, bar hopping, shopping, and so much more.
Fiji Club

Our favorite place to eat and hang out - Tandoori Heights inside the Fiji Club. Just doesn't get any better.

We also enjoyed the happy hours and the live Jazz at the Bad Dog Cafe.
Fruit and Veggies - lots of them

And amazing woven mats, baskets, fans, etc. at the Handicraft Market - all made in Fiji.

Handicraft Market - cool stuff

Hope to find the source in the Lau Group.
All fueled up and ready to go

We don't anticipate having internet for a couple of months, but I will still be able to update the blog.

Pictures will have to wait until we get internet coverage again.
Kava anyone

Enjoy your summer.

I think we are really going to enjoy our winter!
So cute

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bashing our way to Suva!

Bashing - motoring into the wind and waves.  Something we try to avoid for sure.
Relaxing in Momi Bay

We left Port Denarau Marina and had a nice short trip to Momi Bay.

Momi is a pretty bay with good holding and easy access to the Navula Passage, which takes you outside of the Fiji reef system into the Big Ocean.

Inside the reef = no big waves.  I like that!

But, to get to Suva, you gotta be brave.  Outside the reef, plus you are heading into the prevailing winds and waves.
Close encounter with a cruise ships - yikes!

We attempted to leave Momi Bay at 6pm - after the winds were supposed to die - and headed out the passage. Nope, the ocean was still pretty shook up and the winds hadn't died as forecasted.

So, we headed back to Momi. Just in time to get up close and personal with the Pacific Pearl cruise ship.

The Captain was very nice and just ask us to move over so that he could have the middle of the channel - Yikes!
Early morning take off

So, we regrouped and enjoyed Happy Hour on Moondance, plus a good nights sleep.

We left again at 6am this time. The wind forecasts were supposed to be on our nose, but light and the waves should be down. Not!
Fish On!

Instead the winds jumped around from 12 - 24 knots and the waves increased.

Great for sailing, but not for motoring.

Picture waves crashing over our bow. That's just not nice!

But, Moondance and crew did well. Just hunkered down for a long, slow ride to Suva. Only 90 miles, but weren't able to average our usual 5+ knots.
Beqa Passage

Plus, we had to traverse the Beqa Passage at night - us and a big freighter and a fishing boat. Another Yikes!

We made it to the Suva Harbor channel around 2am - at the same time a Big Ass freighter was exiting.

The Captain politely blew his horn and we got out of his way!
Moondance moored at Tony's place

The harbor is very deep and very busy, but we were happy to find a place to drop our anchor with no more excitement involved.

Happy Hour started at 3:30am.  Oh my!

The next morning, our friends on Interlude dinghied out to show us the way to the moorings at Tony's place.  So nice to have good friends where ever you go!

Tony's place in Lami Bay, is a pretty bay with free mooring balls.  A little industrial, but we are very comfortable here.  Well except for the dinghy dock - it is dangerous!  But, surrounded by the Maritime Police, so we are safe.

We will be in Suva about a week - waiting for the next weather window.  We weren't ready for the first one - hah!

Suva is the capital of Fiji and a big city, so we are going to do some exploring.

Plus, hanging out with the Yachties at the Royal Suva Yacht Club, of course!