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