Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fire-dance show

When we were in Savusavu, some other yachties strongly recommended that we leave Nimrod in Denarau rather than Vuda Marina, and also that we attend the fire-dance show at the Robinson Crusoe Resort on Likuri Island, just south of Nadi.

So after arriving at Denarau, and getting most of our jobs done, we rented a car to explore.

We loved a botanical garden called The Garden of the Sleeping Giant.

The fire-dance show involved being picked up from a jetty and taken by boat to Likuri Island. Yachties could anchor there themselves, but we had run out of time when we were in the area.

The show was indeed spectacular, and to be recommended. 

There were moments when it became a bit 'cruise-shippy', and we heard the chant 'Bula' more times than we needed, but the main effect was that the locals were making a good effort to monetise their culture in a world with limited need for the things that Fiji produces, while still keeping some level of authenticity. A very difficult balancing act!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Two worlds collide

There are various challenges involved in the cruising life.

Navigation, especially where the charts are dodgy
Stuff breaking and needing to be fixed
Provisioning and cooking

They all cause their moments, but by and large we get better at dealing with them.

The one I find most difficult, when cruising in the Third World, is poverty and inequality.

After Waya Island, we continued south down the Yasawa Chain to Musket Cove, which is a sophisticated port on the cruising circuit in the Mamanuca Islands, not far from the main Fiji Island of Viti Levu. Fiji is a country which has a GPD per capita of US$4,375. The equivalent figure for Australia is US$67,458. There is a lot of obvious poverty in the villages that we visited. Mere, the wife of our guide up the mountain on Waya Island, worked at a local resort for FJ$2.20 per hour. That is AU$1.40. She serves glasses of wine at $20 a glass.

But Fiji is also a favoured cruising ground for superyachts. Musket Cove is one of their stops.

'Encore'. 144 feet. Approx $50 million. The owners are Australian philanthropists.

I've got more balls than you!

A Sunreef 60 catamaran

Likuliku Lagoon resort. Overwater bures for FJ$22,000 per week

'Atlantic' a three masted schooner 227 feet long. Available for charter.

Opulent, yes. But she sure does look pretty under sail. Here posing for a cameraman under the umbrella on the beach of a cay. 

A handsome Kiwi ketch in Musket Cove

Sheraton Denarau

Friday, August 26, 2016

Yasawa Chain

We made the jump from Yadua Island, just off the western end of Vanua Levu, the northern of the two main islands of Fiji, to the Yasawa chain of islands that stretch down the western side of Fiji to the Mamanucas.

It was a brisk sail, in about 25 knots of wind. We used the No 2 genoa alone, without mainsail, and surged along at 7-8 knots. We caught a nice Spanish mackerel of about 10 kg. Fifty nautical miles to Sawa I Lau island. We left early, at 6.30 am, because we always like to arrive at new destination when the sun is still high, which makes it easier to see any reefs.

Nimrod under the cliffs of Sawa I Lau

The Yasawas are on the tourist circuit; cruise ships and resorts mix with relatively poor traditional villages.

Some of the limestone formations were similar to The Pinnacles in WA.

We went ashore to present sevusevu, and were guided by Moses

Tui, Amelia and Barbara.

The chief was not available, so we presented it to a senior woman Tui, who took it for him. 

Tui's grand-daughter Barbara

Amelia plaiting a pandanus mat

Moses cooked us some crabs

Kids watching from the door

George and local boys

The island of Sawa I Lau contains some amazing limestone caves, some of which require that you swim through a tunnel underwater. We were taken through by a guide called Esther.

Esther at the first cave.

Esther and George in the inner cave

From Sawa I Lau we went round to Nanuya Resort in Blue Lagoon. It looks to us as if it is being over-capitalised by a wealthy bored Australian truckie from the Gold Coast. Lots of earth-moving noise in the night.

Next to Somosomo Bay, which was quiet and peaceful.

Then further south to Drawaqa Island, famous for the option of snorkelling with Manta Rays. They tend to feed in the mornings around the time of high tide. So we set off in the RIB at daybreak, and spotted some tell-tale wing-tips breaking the water. George drove the RIB upstream of them and I jumped in with my wetsuit and snorkel gear.

Now this is not actually my photo, though this is very similar to what I saw. But in the excitement of a 5 metre wing-span monster coming right at me with a huge mouth wide open, I was so distracted by thoughts such as: 'What is the evidence that they are gentle vegans?' that I managed to press the wrong button on the underwater video camera. So when I got back to our boat excited that I was sure to get a contract from David Attenborough, it was something of a let-down to find that there was nothing on the camera! Bummer!

The staff of the Barefoot Resort were friendly. They had a staff volley-ball match at sunset. It was of an impressively high standard. Fiji just won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, and ball-sports are a source of much national pride.

Sunset through trees broken by Cyclone Winston

Waya Island

Kids welcoming us to Nalauwaki village

We presented sevusevu to Tamatai, chief of Nalauwaki village

Nimrod under Mount Nakaukau

See that peak up there? Way too high to think of climbing, right? Well pressure appeared, and offers of a guide. Comments designed to make one feel a wimp if one didn't; you know the score?

So off we set, with Ame the guide.

Walking through the village on the way to the mountain, we saw this young couple with their baby having breakfast on their deck by the beach.

George and Ame tackle the summit

Sir George Hillary and Sherpa Ame

View from the summit

Nimrod in Nalauwaki Bay

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Presenting sevusevu

There is a curious requirement in certain islands and villages in Fiji. Visiting yachts must 'present sevusevu'.

This is a ritual in which one essentially makes a gift to the local chief and asks his permission to utilize his anchorage, bay, island, or village. We just went through this process on Yadua Island, just off the west coast of Vanua Levu, the northern of the two main islands of Fiji. 

We anchored in a bay on the west side of Yadua (pronounced Yandua). Pretty soon a boat loaded with people on a fishing trip arrived and came aboard. Very friendly. We showed them over the boat. George gave them some chocolate slices to eat. Nobody ate them. Then the senior man, fourth from left, said 'Grace' in Fijian, and then everybody got stuck in.

They then explained that 'sevusevu' was required. We needed to be taken by one of them to meet the chief in the village at the far side of the island. They nominated Labby, a thirteen-year-old girl, who would accompany us and arrange the formal introduction.


The options were a four hour trek overland or a two hour dinghy ride, in choppy conditions. We chose the dinghy.

Ratu Jone Cakau, chief of Yadua Island. See the bundles of kava roots we have given him. He and Labby's uncle Jerry went through a ritual involving speeches in Fijian, and clapping. At the end of it we were told we were welcome. We gave the chief and Jerry some reading glasses, which went over very well.


One of the fishing party.

Fishing party depart. French boat 'Ganesh' behind.

Sevusevu for Dummies.  A good overview.

Although our initial reaction was that it was all a bit weird to be required to hand over drugs as a price for anchoring, on reflection, we have come to see the process as having a real value. It formalizes the relationship between local inhabitants and visitors, and initiates a period of hospitality and cordial relations with the hosts. There is clarity about the roles, rights, and obligations of visitors.

When serious misunderstandings are apparent about these things, especially with migrants and host populations around the world, there might be something we could learn from the Fijians.