Blog 55. Vanua Balavu, Lau Islands, Fiji. 17.17.612S 178.59.056W

David Batten
Thu 16 Jun 2016 04:36
Tuesday, 14 June. After somewhat abrupt ending to the last blog, sent before it was really finished, we had reducing winds and great sailing in spite of the rain, until Friday evening, when the wind dropped and headed us. We then had some motor sailing until the wind got up again in the early hours of the morning and we had trouble keeping our speed down in order to be at the pass into the area known as Exploring Islands in daylight.
When this came, it was grey and rough and there was a moment when we thought we would not be able to see our way in, but the sky lightened and by 09.00 we were making our approach to the pass and by 11.00, we made the anchorage off Lomaloma. We had followed all the way points given in the skipper's briefing, we made it without seeing any reefs or depths of less than 18 meters. As we approached the anchorage, we could see an unchartered reef between us and the two anchored yachts, so we were glad of help from Jurgen on Take Off, who marked the reef at the entrance of the anchorage for us. Take Off and Mearra Nieida were the only two boats to have made it before us, as Spirit and Into The Blue had gone on after a very rough passage and squall on arrival, plus prop shaft problems on Spirit, making entry through the pass unsafe or impractical.

Customs, Immigration and Health came out not long after our arrival and were quite charming and laid back, so once we had filled in the usual file of paper work and discussed the contents of the deep freeze, we were free to go ashore.

Vanua Balavu was badly hit by Cyclone Winston in February earlier this year and although they have started to rebuild the village of Lomaloma, there were signs of cyclone damage everywhere. Up rooted trees, missing roofs and, in some cases, just a few walls, timber frames or even a bare site was all that was left of what had been homes. The villagers were incredibly friendly and hospitable and appeared to have come to terms with their experience, but we were told the children were quite traumatised and frightened by strong winds and many of the population had no homes and no belongings.

Sea Mercy is a charity who have organised a group of yachts delivering supplies and help with putting villages back on their feet. They recruited Take Off's children, Alex and Inis who were very much welcomed and visited at least two local schools. Sam and Ben from Wishanger and Mat from Paradise Found, helped with some crop planting and the rest of us looked out food supplies, medical supplies and clothing. You will be pleased to hear Jane, that we have found a good home for much of what you left on the boat.

Our visit to Lomaloma included Sunday lunch after Church with some locals for the Skipper's Wife, Ship's Boy and Mary Beth from Paradise Found followed by some litter picking, but there is so much to do.

We enjoyed the amazing relaxed and community lifestyle of "unspoilt" Fiji. There can be few places left in the world so untouched by the rat race and so called civilisation and we feel privileged to have been able to come here.


Sent from my iPad

Sent from my iPad