Friday, August 31, 2012

Namara Bay

We have enjoyed the last couple of days in this peaceful little bay, hanging with Ricky, Dave and Carolyn. Two days ago we snorkeled very late and even though we had cloud-cover, the clarity was unbelieveable. Ricky found a huge octopus to observe and I found a giant brilliant blue clam and a lobster hiding in his hole.  Yesterday, the weather began to clear and we had a wonderful beach barbecue cooking reef fish shot by Dave, baked yams given to us in Matuku, a quinoa salad I put together with the very last carrot, radish, green onions, bok choy, sprouts, and black olives using Debbie Meany's recipe. Yum! You can tell I am beginning to really miss my fresh veggies and so look forward to finding some, especially now!  It was a full moon on the water, as the clouds began to part, and the beach here is mosquito free, so we played music into the night and so enjoyed warm conversation with new friends. It was a magical night and pretty damn special having this little un-inhabited island all to ourselves. Hopefully the clouds this morning will clear, giving us good visibility over to the island of Bulia (Buliva?), where we hope to find mantas. Onward to new fun and food!   

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dravuni Island

Hi there. We are being hit by 30 kt gusts inside this little bay, so we are staying put, hoping they will subside today. We do need to move on, but will only do that when it is safe. I do look forward to a bit of civilization and internet, but it certainly has been a very special part of our cruising to be out here in the real world of the remote villages surviving well with the natural way of life.  Love to everyone there; glad Marc is feeling and able to be so productive.  Bye for now, L.,S :)

I just tried to send out and it wouldn't let me; when that happens, immediately I rethink.  How very awesome is it to be able to sit at the computer and immediately send out wishes and thoughts to someone you love. Even talking on the phone would be wonderful. There certainly is a lot to value about life in the developed world and of course, to have a bit of both would be the best. We definitely need to find a connection this week to be able to send a check to Daniel for the work being done on 8th Ave.  So........I pray to the winds and the universe........ these gusts are pretty scary!  Love S

The sailmail didn't propagate again yesterday afternoon, so now we have landed ourselves off the village of Dravuni Island, inside the reef which surrounds Kadavu and all the other little islands which are considered part of the Kadavu Group surrounded by the Astrolabe Reef. It is quite famous for its diving and waves so we look forward to a new area to explore. Guava Jelly and Riada II are with us and we all are almost out of all supplies, so that will certainly be one of our goals in the next few days. We are getting dinghy ready to take into the village for sevusevu, now that Ricky has arrived on Guava, and we will then go to another island with a more protected anchorage. We had a nice moon-lit sail from Matuku last night, although it was a bit lumpy and we were all thankful that the strong gusty winds had subsided for our journey. Time to go....... S:)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Still on Matuku

I'm not sure if we gave you the GPS location we are at right now. It''s 19 09.62 So  179 45.07 E and we are tucked inside a little bay with great protection from the 20-30 knt winds we have had since last night. WE had the crew over for dinner ( Riada 11 and Guava Jelly ) and then in the middle of the dinner we had to re-anchor,after hearing the anchor grunt and discovering we were in 12 ft. of water ?????? The wind had stretched out our anchor chain along with the snubber line and we had pulled back over a reef. Sooooo, with 3 additional crew to help, we relocated and dropped again but not once, no we don't do anything easy on Sidewinder, we needed to drop 2 times to get into the right location for all the conditions. Very exciting with 30 kt. winds blowing and no visibility to see the many surrounding reefs. You would of loved it Kris- right up your alley don't you think ?? I'll let Suzi take it from here, see ya and hope that gorgeous weather continues for you.

Hi there dear buddy. Hope all is well on the homefront; I always look forward to the sailmail from you which I find when I send out in the morning. A few days ago we had trouble sending out sailmails, so we are sorry for the silence. I do hope we can send out now, with this gusty weather. On Friday David and I took Jay, son of one of the head villagers, with us for a dive and I snorkeled while the guys looked for fish to shoot for the feast that evening. It is a beautiful reef and I can't even imagine shooting one of these incredible colorful fish. They did catch some fish and it was wonderful getting into the clear warm water once again. The Friday night community gathering of Lomita village was very special with great Fijian food, another kava ceremony and drinking, and lots of great music and dancing with the kids. Saturday, Ricky and I hiked over the hill to the next beautiful village with a little store on the beach where David and Luke (Chico's wonderful son who led us up the mountain on Thursday} met us with the dinghy unexpectedly so we cruised along the lovely coastline back to the bay. We intended to leave late Saturday, but with a change of plans, we ended up staying and going to church yesterday, followed by another, even more yummy feast with Chico (the original greeter and host), Penninee, his wife, and the rest of their extended family. We have been given lots of sweet, fresh drinking water for the boats, as well as a few precious veggies, and have, again, been overwhelmed by their gracious generosity and Bula spirit. It seems like each village gets even better as we find more of the remote S Lau islands, and spend enough time to get to know the people. Not many boats have visited Matuku and, unlike the head village in Fulanga, which charges cruisers a $50 fee, this village just wants us to feel welcomed. For the community fundraising feast on Friday evening, each household was charged $20, but it was left up to us, what we wanted to contribute. They do not like the concept of asking for anything, because it seems to interfere with their giving tradition, and I think this actually works in their favor; we do feel like giving more to them as a return gesture. I certainly hope this does not change; life seems so much more genuine and peaceful with everyone coming from the heart. Now that the weather has changed, with strong winds and rain, here we now are, secure, waiting for the next favorable weather window, so we can make the next passage over to Kandavu Island. We will probably have to wait it out today and, hopefully, leave late afternoon tomorrow. Hanging with Dave, Carolyn, and Ricky is pretty fun, so we certainly are not complaining, and, we have lots of boat stuff to do, as always.    Love you and miss you. S :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mountain Climbing

Howdy - Well we made it up to the top of the mountain and it was a thigh burner for sure. Straight up on a faint trail and thank God for the small trees that allowed for hand holds and places to place your feet. The last 100 ft. or so was along a rock ridge line that offered vertical drops on either side, sort of scary but the view at the top was worth it. We took some photos of course so the next time we can send things out on the internet (???) you'll see what it was like. I went diving for fish after that with a local and passed out after Suzi fed me. We didn't get as many fish as we had hoped but the reef we were at was killer for coral and caves. I'll take Suzi back out there this afternoon. Then it's back into the village for a dinner they are preparing for us all that will include more Kava I'm sure and this time we will take our musical instruments in with us to play along with the local crew. That's if we can convince them to tune there guitars, a practice they don't seem to see the need for. They just tune to each other and call it good. That's fine for them but I can't tune my harmonicas !!!  Will let you know how it all goes off, I'm sure it will be another night filled with laughter.   See ya,  David & Suzi

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Made it to Matuku

Hi there buddy. Hoping to be able to send this out as we sail past the island and before we go through the pass. It was a really nice sail over here last night and it will be fun adventuring and exploring another new place. This island is beautiful: high and very green. There is supposed to be a great hike up to the peak here, as well as surf, so we shall see. Hope all is well. Love you and miss you, S. Just off the s coast of Matuku   Pretty day and good visibility for the pass. Going out the Fulanga pass was an adventure with low tide going out and waves coming in...WAHOO!

We made it fine into the pass and are anchored here with Guava Jelly, Riada II, and a cat named Alexas from Italy. Just returned from a wonderful evening with the locals, doing our sevusevu and then drinking our kava with them and listening to them sing and play their melodic music. It was great and, once again, we are feeling lucky to still be here in the Lau islands. Tomorrow we hike to the peak and Friday David explores the surf breaks with one of the locals.  And the beat goes on.......Love you   Anchorage:19° 09.5S and 179° 45'E

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back at Sea

We are leaving Fulanga around noon catching the out going tide and hopefully getting there sometime tomorrow morning. Weather forecast is for 15 - 20 winds on our stern quarter and a small swell coming out of the same direction which should be ideal conditions. Wish us luck (that's from Cptn. Dave) and Here is Suzi.......
Hope all is well! Had a great day taking our boat over to the village with Riada II and inviting Soki's family aboard; it is a treat for them to see the boats we live on and to really know that we, too,are wanting to welcome them to our world as well. We also did some clamming which was great fun and then we motored back over and had our own little feast last night together. The weather is again beautiful and onward we go. Love, Suzi

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two Special Days

Yesterday I was honored to be invited to go out fishing with a few of the locals from a village that is near where we are anchored. I had done a little work there getting a generator running for them that powers the lights in the houses as well as re-wiring a plug for the other generator that they use to power the lights in the church. They had been the dark for a few weeks but are back to seeing at night again. It took me the better part of a day to do the work but it was no big deal, my schedule is pretty open these days. The worst part of it was the one generator that needed the new plug was in a tin shed that was like a sweat box and I spend more time cleaning the sweat off my glasses so I could see what I was doing than fixing the damn plug. But back to the fishing trip -  I didn't know what we were going for but brought all my toys including my dive stuff and spear gun as well as my fishing pole and a few lures. I never used the pole but spent most the day ( about 4 hours ) in the water looking for lobsters and shooting fish. The lobsters had moved out or were on vacation because even with local knowledge we only found one of those suckers but we shot about 20 fish that were needed for the weekly Sunday feast. They have to collect and prepare all the food the day before because the Methodist religion they practice doesn't allow for any work or play on Sunday. Sort of a day of rest and time spent with the families and friends. But they sure worked hard on Saturday!!! I had a full wetsuit on but neither of the other divers had anything but shorts and t-shorts and they spent more time in the water than I did. They are animals in the water and it's real obvious that they do this on a regular basis. Their spear guns are home made and everything is pretty crude to our standards but it all works for them. As they shoot the fish which range in size from 8 - 24 inches in length and are mostly reef fish, they attach them to a line they tow behind them. I saw a couple of 6 - 8 ft. sharks cruising the area and just knew one of those guys in the grey suits was going to have me for lunch. But they ended up just slowly swimming away into the darker and deeper water as if they didn't like "White" meat and were afraid of my Fijian dive buddies. I also got to experience how they set their fish nets as we came onto a school of mullet while heading home in the swallows. How they let the net out slowly circling far around the school using push poles to move the boat as the motor would spook the mullet. Then when the net is in place they start the motor and close the net off scaring the fish into the other end. But sometimes, like this time, the fish spook early and find their way out of the trap and all the work is for nothing. But no worry, there will be another day when the mullet will be the losers, besides, we were on Fiji time. They gave me a few of the fish and the one lobster we got and that was dinner for Suzi and I last night.
Today we were invited to the village for church and lunch afterwards. It was great, there were 10 of us cruisers that came and they split all of us so that each local family had a few cruisers and they fed us in separate homes. I went to the home of one of the guys I had dove with yesterday and Suzi ended up at the home of one of the teachers she had met while visiting the school. For Suzi it was only George and his wife and young son but for me it was about 10 of Soki's in-laws. The food was great, prepared in the local fashion and I was treated like a king. A very special meal for sure. After we all had ate we met in the meeting house where I was presented with a handmade Kava bowl as a show of appreciation for the work I had done for the village. It was quite humbling getting such a special gift of such fine workmanship and I will treasure that Kava bowl till the day I die!!!!  It has definitely been a couple of special days and leaving this beautiful paradise will be hard for a lot of reasons. But I think we will come back here and I'll look forward to seeing our new found friends again with Sidewinder loaded up with much needed goodies the villagers need but can't get on these outer islands. Like carburetor rebuild kits for the Yamaha outboards they use and maybe a new prop. and books for the school. Or flour, rice and sugar & ect. ect. ect......the list is endless and we will do our best.
Glad to hear Marc is back in the water, nothing like a good surf session to give a guy a new look on life. Not sure if we are leaving tomorrow or the next day. Depends on how the wind and swells treat us. It wasn't pretty out there today and I was glad I did my fishing trip yesterday. It is suppose to lay down a bit tomorrow but we'll see ..... See ya,  David

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Getting Ready to Depart Fulanga

We have been having some problems with the sailmail lately and just want to give you a little update, in case we can't reach out to you tomorrow. The weather is beautiful today, but maybe too windy for snorkeling one more time in the pass. I was on Chesapeake, visiting the village most of yesterday, while David did try out his spear-gun with Riada Dave; it was kind of a fiasco, but he learned a lot about his gun so that he left here this morning in the longboat with some local divers and some confidence. It's pretty tricky out here trying to shoot fish so I do hope he has fun today. Tomorrow we will all go to the village for church and lunch, and then we will have a farewell evening with Chesapeake and the Soggy Paws group who are now with us. Our plan is to leave sometime on Monday for the small island of Matuku, which is supposed to have surf and maybe just stay a day or two. Then we will head for Kandavu, which is supposed to be another fabulous adventure of diving, surfing, hiking, and meeting some more wonderful villagers. I am also looking for fresh veggies, which, I have heard, they have. That would be fun!:) Yesterday, Tai, the local host did give me some fresh greens they call cabbage, and I will test them out this evening. That's it for the news and I pray I can send this out to you.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Day in Fulanga

We rode over to the village entrance bay with Ricky, on Guava Jelly, and took Worm with us so we could dinghy back. The mosquitoes are huge on the land and they are everywhere! YIKES!! Good thing others had warned us and we covered our bodies with Repel and clothes. The walk into the village was beautiful and took us about 30 minutes. We were welcomed wholeheartedly with the Bula spirit, did our sevusevu with the headman, since the chief is in Suva at a huge meeting of the Lau islands, and then we visited the carving area, the school, the basket/mat weaving area, etc. These people are very productive and are known for their wood carvings, especially the making of the kava bowls out of one piece of wood. Ricky was visiting to learn how to make his own bowl with the head expert, Niko, and it was very cool sitting around watching this labor of love. David helped the mechanics try to fix their generator with very limited tools, so he is now in there again this morning with tools from the boat and hopefully they will realize success. We will visit them again on Friday and do some trading for some carvings and woven goods, along with visiting the classrooms one more time (the students are so cool), and they plan to make us lunch. Again we are amazed by the warmth of the people and we feel so privileged to be here. Tourism has not reached the Lau Group yet, so they are helping us enjoy our time, just because they want to show us what they have. David made a date with Soki to go spear-gun fishing and hunting for lobsters on Saturday, which is when the men catch lots of fish for their Sunday afternoon feast in the village; they all set aside Sundays as their family/community time.  Looks like we will be here for at least this whole week and that is just fine by me. Linda and I are going kayaking in a short while and I hope to snorkel the pass later today. Not too shabby living the dream right now!!!!! Love to all.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


LOCATION: S 19 degrees 09.26' W 178  32.48'   What an incredible sail we had from Susui Bay to Fulanga; we left yesterday afternoon at 1:30, motor sailing out the pass at 3:30, with whales breeching in the far distance, both inside the pass and out. There were a whole group of them outside, diving and playing as we left Vanua Balavu with clear blue skies and warm sunshine. Gentle wind and waves greeted us as we headed down to Fulanga Island in the southern Lau group, about 105 NM from the pass. We killed the engine and began a wonderful beam reach down through the scattered islands averaging 6 kts and as the sun set, it felt like we were gliding to our destination. Billions of stars filled the clear skies and as one of us slept easily, the other seemed to thoroughly enjoy just being in the comfort of the warm evening breezes. Sidewinder smiled all through the night and I was delighted to find a sliver of the moon lighting the way when I woke up for my early morning watch at 3. A beautiful sunrise with the island of Fulanga in the distance was a wonderful way to meet the new day and in the distance, we saw our friends on Chesapeake getting ready to go through the pass. Riada and Guava Jelly greeted us on the VHF and we entered the narrow, somewhat shallow, but clear pass at about 10:30. This is the most incredible island we have ever experienced so far. It was surreal slithering through the aqua-blue turquoise water dotted with many little mushroom shaped islands, heading over to where the other boats were anchored, in front of amazing sand beaches ladened with palm trees. The water color is so unbelieveable because of so much sand; it is like one of those calendar covers showing an exotic Pacific Island. WOW. As we dropped anchor in about 15 feet of water, Dave and Carolyn from Riada and Ricky, from Guava Jelly were leaving to go snorkel the pass and we all quickly grabbed our stuff and went along with them. What an amazing dive through the same pass we had just entered! Such clarity and colors and varieties of coral and fish!.......and big fish!!!!!! Saw 6 large reef sharks, along with HUGE groupers, parrot fish, and Wahoo. On the way in, I drifted and swam back to the boat and was lucky enough to find a big turtle who did not see me for the longest time, so I was able to float above him just observing. What a treat! We are both very tired tonight and it is time to stop. All I can say is.....I am sooo glad we have taken the time to explore the Lau further; this is by far the prettiest, most extraordinary place we have found so far in all of our travels. We are so fortunate.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Setting Sail

We took the long boat over to Lomaloma in the rain and wind yesterday to get last minute supplies; they had no eggs nor any veggies, except onions and potatoes, so I will ration out the last of my cucumbers and bok choy as we go south. Today we woke up to beautiful blue skies and sunshine and very light winds. We are doing a snorkel and picnic on the beach with Jacob and Save (Sabe), who are the two locals from Susui showing us a great time; David and the boys are going to dive for clams and then bake them on the beach with mangrove roots for our lunch. We are still planning on leaving tomorrow for Fulanga (Fulaga), which is about 130 miles south. The s/v Pincoya arrived yesterday after doing lots of dentistry in the southern Lau; they said Fulanga was absolutely beautiful with great snorkeling in the pass, so we look forward to exploring that area.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Engine Woes in Tota Bay

Hi there! The strong winds and heavy rains never came and even though it is over-cast it is lovely here on this little bay. This morning Capt David is trouble-shooting why the engine will not accelerate over 1800 RPM while underload and so far we have discovered nothing. Let's hope by changing the fuel filter, the problem will be solved. It has been a long time since we have had engine issues, thank goodness! Linda and I are going kayak/tide-pooling in a short while and hopefully will be able to walk around the corner to Rueben's estate to check out the veggie situation and maybe catch a short horse ride. Our tentative plan is to leave tomorrow for the southern area of this island to a little separate island called Susui, close to where there is supposed to be surf; we also hope to be able to make our way down to the southern Lau island of Fulagi by mid-next week, given a good weather window.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Suzi (from the same spot)

We are half-way down the eastern side of Vanuabalvu and are surrounded by cliffs, jungle trees and way up high, some pine trees. Here in Little Bay, the water is greenish, due to the mangroves which also grow along the sides. In order to enter this bay, we had to motor through a fairly small cut, between high cliffs and reefs which extend out, not something one should do in poor light. Further in, there is another, more narrow cut through some high walls and then it opens up and extends quite a ways back. The story is that seaplanes landed back there during WWII, trying to protect the Fijians from being taken over by the Japanese. I will find out more info and let you know. We ventured back there in our dinghies and kayaks, but it was a bit shallow to really go all the way back. As I did some stand-up paddling back, against the current and the wind, I truly felt like I was in a different world. It was like a huge lake, surrounded by mangroves and then, as I got closer to the passage back to the boats, I felt like I was somewhere in the Sierra mountains, going up a river valley, surrounded by huge cliffs with pine trees at the top of the jungle canopy. It was splendid and tough going through the most narrow part, fighting the current and wind; such a great workout! There is a beautiful little beach right off of our starboard side, with palm trees and white sand. The care-taker, Ruben, from the estate around the corner, came to greet us and showed us how to shuck the coconuts properly; he also climbed a coconut tree and brought down some sweet green coconuts for the delicious natural juice. We will go visit him on the estate when the weather gets better tomorrow, we hope; he has a horse I am welcomed to ride. YIPPEE !  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mavana (17°11'S 178°57'W)

We made it down to the pretty village of Mavana with Chesapeake to check in with the chief, yesterday, late morning, and then we were taken to the farm where we were able to get some bok choy; it was great to be able to pick up some fresh veggies! The trip was a bit stressful just because we haven't been here and there are "bommies" (coral heads) everywhere, but our charts are pretty right on and the visibility was pretty good so we did fine. We worked our way back up to a small bay that is well protected, but a bit tricky entering with a small pass between high cliff walls. It is really beautiful here and we look forward to winding our way up the river valley in our kayaks (Linda and Jim have kayaks as well). Rain and wind are supposed to hit us tonight and carry on over the weekend, so we will hunker down here until the weather settles again. The snorkeling is supposed to be beautiful here so we do hope to explore that as well, before moving.