Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Log Entry #12 - Fijian Interlude

CHHHRRRUNNCH!!! had several of us instantly on deck at 0330 Wednesday morning. The stormy conditions generated by a tropical depression just north of Fiji resulted in a 180 degree wind shift, causing our rudder to graze a coral head.

Monday we decided to leave Suva even though strong wind warnings for 20-25 knots and rough seas throughout Fiji were forecast for the following 48 hours. The 50 mile passage south to Daku Bay on Kadavu island was rough and fast, winds of 25-33 knots, seas to 14'. With triple reefed main and headsail Mahina Tiare was well-balanced and easily maintained 7.5 to 8.5 knots on a wet and bumpy beam reach. We were surprised when the 85' megayacht Eclipse passed us, motoring into the seas, heading for a safe anchorage. Over the radio they reported winds over 50 knots and very rough seas. This had changed their minds about departing for New Zealand.

Leg 6 is our first-ever women's leg with Amanda doing most of the instruction and me spending more time ashore. The crew included:

Epi Ravono surrounded by 6-97 crew

Cheryl Rice, 39, a dentist from Bellevue WA, sailed from New Zealand with us on Leg 1-94 during which we encountered the Queen's Birthday storm in which 7 boats were lost. She and her husband Jim just put their Dana 24 on the market and take delivery of a new Hallberg-Rassy 39 this May.

Cindy Robinson, 44, an artist, sailor and mother from Bellevue, just put her Sabre 36 on the market. She and husband Gregg are looking forward to delivery of a brand new Hallberg-Rassy 42, due to arrive on the same ship from Sweden as Cheryl's HR 39.

Nina Deane, 54, a county prosecutor from northern California, is planning a future offshore voyage with husband George on their Norseman 447. We enjoyed George's great sense of humor and adventure on Leg 3-97.

Shelley Nitikman, 62, a judge from Vancouver Canada, is learning all she can about cruising.

Carolyn Mumper, 54, a counsellor from near Tacoma Wa. plans on exploring Fiji for the week between this leg and Leg 7 when her husband Dave joins us for the passage to New Zealand.

Ellie Turloff, 44, a financial planner from Auburn WA owns her own boat, a Tollycraft. Her husband Eric owns a Hans Christian and has cruising ambitions.

Daku, is one of the smallest (pop. 100) and friendliest villages in Fiji. I first sailed to this bay 9 years and 7 visits ago on Mahina Tiare I, a 31' sloop. I planned to stay three days and hoped to completely circumnavigate and explore the 10 by 50 mile island of Kadavu. One month later I was still at anchor off Daku, captivated by the friendly people and idyllic bay.

Minutes after the anchor was down late Tuesday afternoon I was in the dinghy, racing toward shore where I was greeted by old friends Epi and Kata Rovono. Epi said that we were only the 2nd boat this year to visit. Villagers hoped we could stay "at least one month."

Sevusevu is a ceremony where any visitor wishing to visit or anchor off a traditional village presents a wrapped bundle of kava roots to the village chief, who then in Fijian blesses the guests, extending permission and hospitality. Often the guests are then invited to share a bowl or more of "grog," a tasty mixture of the ground roots and water. This is a delightful way of getting to know the villagers who are universally eager to share insights into "the Fijian way" and learn as much as possible about their guests.

Epi suggested that it would be best if we presented our sevusevu to Sai, the chief that evening, so I agreed to bring our crew ashore to share in the ceremony right away before dark. Here are Cheryl's observations:

We all sat on the floor on beautifully woven mats in a circle at Epi and Kata's home. We waited for the chief who was surprised to see the "all lady crew." The ceremony itself was solemn, with Epi presenting us to the chief. During this time we were all quiet. Sai chanted a traditional prayer, finishing with a long "AHHHH." We were accepted! Sai and Epi were then first to drink the kava. The tone became more lighthearted as we were all offered this most unusual drink. When the coconut shell full of grog was offered to us, we would clap once, drink it in one gulp, then clap several times. We all agreed that it was muddy, acrid, and peppery, but not bad! Sai was very curious what we all did for a living and wanted to know where we left our husbands! He took a particular liking to Carolyn and Shelley. Kata and Epi's 3 beautiful children and other villagers filtered in and out during the sharing of the kava. After 3 rounds of grog we headed back to the boat and slept very soundly.

Epi removing roasted pig from the "lovo" or earth oven.

Fijian pig roast feast, after church Sunday morning. Daku, Kadavu.

On the recommendation of Rena at Dive Kadavu, a tiny dive resort 15 miles from 4 of the crew decided to take the "Kadavu Challenge." Here is their description of the hike:

We took a 15 minute skiff ride from the resort to the village where we met our guides Mere and Topaul. Four little boys from the village scampered up the trail ahead of us while Topaul used a machete to clear the trail. Even so, the hike was truly a challenge-just when we thought it couldn't get tougher, it did! We climbed UP 4 waterfalls hand over hand via vines, rocks and roots. All of us slipped and slid around in the Fiji red mud with Topaul literally saving each of us several times. Once he even placed his barefoot on the slippery edge of what they called the trail to provide purchase.

The pools were refreshing and fun. We splashed around in our shorts and joined the boys in jumping from high ledges. All in all, it was a wonderful adventure-and WE SURVIVED THE CHALLENGE!!

Dream anchorage off Dre Village, Kadavu 6-97.

Kata and Amanda's afternoon catch of reef fish. Kadavu, Fiji 6-97.

We all returned to Daku and were invited on a tour of the Vunisea Elementary school. The following is the crew's experience in their own words:

Epi, as school manager offered to take us to the school. We were thrilled as we had brought with us toothbrushes, pencils, and art supplies to give to the children. We met the headmaster and librarian first, who described how the school worked. There were 4 classrooms, a library and science room in two buildings. Students came from 4 villages, w/ children from 2 of the villages boarding during the week. Those children are fed and cared for by a different village every week. The older children were very well behaved, introducing themselves and telling us what they wanted to be when they grow up. One class was without a teacher because he was ill, so those students worked on their lessons independently. Imagine that in America!! What fun we had in the youngest class distributing the toothbrushes that Cheryl brought and art supplies and stickers from Cindy. The children crowded around and squealed with glee.

Cheryl Rice a dentist supplying an entire school in Fiji with toothbrushes.

We felt so privileged to be on this trip with Mahina Tiare. Cindy will forever be remembered as the "sticker lady." The experience made us realize that we throw away more "stuff" in our lives than these people ever have, yet they are so content and joyful. Food for thought.

Nov. 3, 1997 1500 19.03S, 178.00E Log 9,443 Water: 79.3F, Air: 81F
Cape Washington, Kadavu Is: 2 mi, winds SE @ 15, Brd Rch @ 7.5 kts

Amanda and Cheryl just landed a 5'7" long wahoo, weighing more than 60 lbs, taking bottle of rum and four of us to pull aboard. (The rum went down the gills, putting the fish instantly to sleep, or into ecstasy. We plan to anchor, barbecue the fish, then set sail on our overnight passage just at dusk.

To The Next Log Entry: Log #13 - 11/07/97

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