ende

2022
16
Nov

Guests at the village

Like everywhere on the islands of Fiji it’s obligatory here in Fulanga to visit the village to introduce yourself and to bring a sevusevu (kava bundle as a gift), so we wandered across the island to the main village (that sounds serious, but it’s just a twenty minute walk on a well-cleared path) to ask for the Turanga ni Koro (headman) who then introduced us to the chief. We gave him our present and were welcomed to the village, had to pay a fee of 50 FJD (flat rate for every small boat) and given a host family. Fulanga’s a very popular place and the chief showed us the entries of the other yachts in his visitor’s book–120 were here this year!
They are also more interested in paperwork than other islands, so we showed them our clearance and cruising permit. Apparently another yachtie who arrived in May had neither of those and was picked up by a Navy boat and his yacht is still tied up in the lagoon–weird story, we’ll try to find out more. Pebbles, a German registered boat apparently with a Bulgarian singlehander on board…
Despite the many visitors the people in the village are really friendly and we bought some nicely done carvings from the three carvers here we were casually introduced to ;-)
We had lunch with our host family, Christian promised to look into a cable issue at another house -the dwellings are very basic here, just corrugated iron, but the little houses still look neat and the gardens are lovingly decorated. There are some solar panels, but usually just for a few LEDs, not many have a fridge or TV. Apparently some sort of internet will be installed this week (maybe a wifi router, we’ll find out), so maybe smartphones, facebook and Co. will soon arrive…

2022
14
Nov

Strange wonderland Fulanga

Fulanga is a strange geological phenomenon. Imagine an atoll with a line of outer motu, numerous coralheads and reefs which was then lifted 20 m or so by tectonic movements. That’s what happened here.
The lagoon is now shallow and gleams in light turquoise and scattered all across are mushroom-shaped limestone islets–former coralheads that were eroded by the high tides here in Fiji. Thanks to their overhangs and spiky rocks they are completely unaccessible which makes them perfect nesting places for seabirds (we see raucous groups of bridled terns and white-tailed tropic birds) and great destinations for kayers!
We’ll post pics as soon as we have internet again…

2022
13
Nov

Musket Cove Regatta Week

Our article about the regatta is now online on Cruising World:

https://www.cruisingworld.com/people/2022-musket-cove-fiji-regatta-week/

2022
10
Nov

Sailing to Fulanga

We explored all around the islands of Yagasa, anchored in a few extremely scenic spots that looked perfectly protected on sat images, even brought out landlines to be as snug as possible, but it was always the same: calm at low tide, seriously bouncy at high tide. The outer reef is just too low to keep out the swell.
With stronger NE winds predicted we gave up and sailed down to the next island, Fulanga. 10 nm as the sooty tern flies, but about 20 miles around barrier reefs from pass to pass–a quick sail with Pitufa doing around 6 knots in NE wind between 16 and 20 knots.

The strong breeze guaranteed a fast ride, but made the arrival a bit scary: the 55 m wide pass of Fulanga faces NE and we had to surf down the waves into the entrance. Pitufa was swerving down the steep crests alarmingly, but I kept her under control and once we were in the pass, the water turned completely calm. We had our timing right at slack water. An ingoing tide (together with the wind), would have been okay as well, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying this pass (or any tricky pass) with wind against current.
We finally got to spend a quiet night in the perfect shelter of the almost closed lagoon.

2022
09
Nov

Turtle hunters

Yesterday we took the kayak to a beach, found a camp fisherman had recently left (Yagasa is uninhabited, but people from neighbouring islands come here) and followed a horrible stench to the carcass of a turtle. We collected a bag of plastic rubbish around the camp site and burned it on one of the many fire sites the raiders had left.
It’s really sad to see how ruthlessly the islanders exploit Yagasa. We had high hopes finding lots of wildlife on an uninhabited island group, but we see just a few birds, hardly any fish and the reefs are mainly dead. Everything is overgrown with algae…
This lifeless desert may have some natural reason, but it seems more likely that overfishing (maybe with poison or even dynamite–both still used around here we heard) are to be blamed.

2022
07
Nov

Advanced Elements Island Voyage two-seater Kayak

We brought a new kayak back to Pitufa from the US, but until now we didn’t have the opportunity to use it. Now, among the mushroom-shaped limestone islets of Yagasa we unpacked it, inflated it for the first time (quickly done), admired the bright-yellow, sleek vessel and took it out for a first round. The ancient kayak we used to have, had its own mind, always tried to turn its bow into wind and waves and regularly made us go in circles. Cursing the damn thing (and occasionally each other) we’d have to constantly correct course, go for miles paddling on one side–we thought that was part of kayaking.
The new Advanced Elements Island Voyage kayak holds its course, is wonderfully easy to handle and we effortlessly took it around the bay and to some adjacent beaches. Who knew kayaking could be so easy!!

2022
05
Nov

Mosquitoes!

Most outer reefs here in the Lau Group don’t give much protection and the anchorages are accordingly rolly, so we counted ourselves lucky yesterday to find a calm bay on Namuka. We were a bit disappointed about the lack of wildlife (no birds ashore, nothing to be seen in the water). At sunset the local wildlife got up: a cloud of mosquitoes descended on the boat–the worst invasion since the rivers of Suriname. We ran for shelter, put screens up, but many of the little suckers were already inside, so we spent an interrupted night with a few in-between raids.
At 6 in the morning we lifted the anchor and headed out to sea, bashing into the waves again for five hours to tack to the neighbouring Yagasa group. Here we found a scenic anchorage, not quite as protected and we’ll find out at dusk what the mosquito situation is like here ;-)

2022
04
Nov

Namuka

Instead of blowing from the North (we would have tacked to the NE) and then shifting to the SE (we would have tacked east) the wind kept shifting between slightly north and south of east–never enough to help us with proper tacks. End the end we arrived in Namuka. Even though we’ve only sailed a short distance it took us one and a half days, the boat’s covered in salt and we’re quite tired.

2022
03
Nov

Tacking and more tacking

The wind remains from the NE to E, so we keep tacking up and down… We had about 90 nm to go when we set out Wednesday morning, now we have 40 ;-)

2022
03
Nov

Up and down

Tacking in light fickle winds is annoying and Totoya is still in sight this afternoon, even though we left this morning… Distances are small in Fiji, so we’ll get somewhere, eventually. Hopefully ;-)

2022
02
Nov

Destination unknown

After a rolly night anchored off Totoya, we’re heading out again into an uncertain weather window. We’ll see where the wind lets us to ;-)

2022
02
Nov

Annoying forecasts

We set out this morning with a forecast predicting first SE winds for a few hours and then NE, so we thought we’d be sailing east with a tack. Well, an hour after we set out the wind already shifted NE with a squall, only to turn east later on. Hard to decide what to do, maybe we’ll just stop on the nearby island Totoya…

2022
29
Oct

No reef no fish, no fish no reef

When corals die, we generally think of pollution and global warming as the culprits. But overfishing is also an important factor as weakened reefs need herbivore fish to clean the dead bits, so the coral can recover and regrow.
The reefs in Fiji have mostly still beautiful coral, but overfishing is a big problem, especially near densely populated areas.
Here in Matuku the people are still subsistence farmers, relying on their gardens and of course the reef fish. Electricity has only just arrived and with it starts the exporting of fish to Suva.

We usually try to raise awareness for local environmental problems, so we started with the kids, watched some videos about parrotfish, explained and let them draw a poster and many colourful parrotfish while some adults were watching and listening. A start.
Next there was a first-aid course held by the red cross and not just nurses, but also some chiefs and headmen were there, so I seized the opportunity, told them about our experiences in other Pacific countries, showed them some shocking pictures of dead reefs and much to my surprise they were eager to hear more and learn about the causes to avoid the same happening to their island.
We were invited to do a presentation at another assembly and now Matuku will get several “tabu” areas (like the rahui in Polynesia) where fish will be protected to ensure a sustainable use of the resources (like islanders must have traditionally done for hundreds of years anyway, or they would have long starved to death).

2022
27
Oct

Project weeks

Remember when I wrote that we’d be out and playing with the fishies? Well, the weather didn’t agree with that plan. Ever since we’ve arrived in Matuku it has been windy, cool and rainy in between. So we’ve done a work-program instead of the fun-program we had hoped for.
Now there’s a new track for the pole on the mast, a new tap in the galley, the cockpit table got enforced hinges and today we tackled a project we’ve been postponing for many years, because we didn’t know how to approach it. The shower tap on the bathroom wall had been dripping for ages, but it’s completely impossible to reach the backside of that installation through the engine room. We contemplated all options, even cutting out a large portion of the wall in the bathroom to reach the spot. In the end we thought out of the box and installed the new tap on the opposite wall next to the bathroom sink, where it’s easy to reach.
The new solution looks better than the old one and is much more practical!
By the time we had removed now unnecessary pieces of plumbing from the engine room, cleaned up the mess in the bilge and the chaos in the boat it was 4 o’clock, but at least the sun had come out as a reward, the wind had dropped, so we could take a swim and wash off the bilge grime :-)

2022
22
Oct

Returning to places

We’ve been in Fiji now for a while, but we haven’t visited too many places, we enjoy lingering and getting to know the people and see all sides of an island. It’s also great to return to a place:
We already spent two weeks here in Matuku last July, so when we returned we were greeted by familiar faces like long-lost family, we brought some presents we had promised last time and the people generally appreciate the fact that we enjoyed their island enough to return!

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