Saturday, 13th June, 2015
W. Eric Faber
Sat 13 Jun 2015 03:40
Run since arrival in Vanua Balavu: 29 miles
The association our World ARC fleet formed with the Island Cruising Association proved very beneficial. Its commodore (John of a yacht called Windflower) had planned two yacht trips for the ICA fleet together with the World ARC fleet around Vanua Balavu, where we finished the clearing-in process early Friday morning. By 10.30am the combined fleet of some 40 yachts followed Windflower weaving its way out of the anchorage and around the many reefs towards the Mbavatu Harbour in the North of the island. Mbavatu Harbour sported a single dinghy jetty and a single building in the shape of a small sailing club against a backdrop of steep, impenetrable and virginal walls of forest that would have been there since time immemorial. That building carried the grand name of The Royal Exploring Island Yacht Squadron. There was no evidence, however, of any harbour or any vessel or any road or track other than a roughly-cut footpath that led very steeply through the thick forest towards a single villa at the top of the island’s ridge. It was a hazardous climb with stones, broken twigs and leaves rolling from under your shoes. The descent was just as hazardous, especially as darkness was setting in. The locals had laid on a cava ceremony to welcome the yachties to their island and we imagined that they had all come down that very path for the occasion. However, we found out that they had all come by an outboard driven boat!
Saturday morning John led the fleet round the top of the island (all under engine) back down the western side of it to an anchorage off a settlement, where the locals have laid on local food for us yachties to partake of this evening. The trip was most scenic as the entire fleet in single file motored through a plethora of tiny forested islands with reefs popping up everywhere in the light blue waters. The yacht in front of us hit a bommy and came to a sudden stop, giving us hardly enough time to put Luna Quest in reverse to avoid collision. All the boats behind us were suddenly thrown into confusion, but, luckily, there were no accidents. Julia captured the incident on her Gopro. Tomorrow we shall go to their church and on Monday there is talk of visiting various caves by longboat. Of course, not everybody participates.