Sunday, 14th June, 2015
W. Eric Faber
Sun 14 Jun 2015 03:59
|Position: Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu|
Distrance run: 1 hour
Vanua Balavu forms part of the Exploring Islands (Fiji). They have been neglected as cruising grounds and have been outside the tourist routes until 2012. As the Exploring islands are on the way to the main islands from east to west, yachts have not been able to visit them as clearing-in facilities have not been available (they are available on the two main islands) and to sail back into the trade winds to visit them has never been an appealing idea. Since 2012, however, Immigration, Customs, Police, Health and Bio security, have made themselves available in Vanua Balavu to groups of yachties (such as the World ARC or the ICA) at specific times to clear them into the Fiji group of islands.
It is quite a delightful experience to visit a relatively untouched island. The islanders have shown themselves to be very pleased to welcome the yachties and our arrival was a revelation of warm heartedness. Last night they had laid on a sumptuous meal with much singing, dancing and hand-clapping, while today, having been to their little church for the 10 o’clock service (an especially long service in honour of us yachties accompanied by exquisite singing without instruments), we together with a few other yachties were invited to partake of a lunch laid on for the Methodist minister, his churchmen and the village elders. In the large church hall, a long hand-made matt was spread on the floor with dozens of dishes in the middle heaped up with smoked barracuda fish (smoked this morning over coconut husks), snapper cooked in coconut milk, boiled taro root, boiled taro leaf (like spinach), cassava (edible root of the tapioca plant) and much else that we could not reach from our cross-legged position around the matt. Knives and forks, however, were provided as was the crockery.
After that fantastic lunch we wandered back to the beach to dinghy back to the boat. Within half an hour we were on our way under engine to the Bay of Islands that we came through yesterday. Some of the fleet, however, cannot be with us as they have a schedule to meet in the main islands (boat repairs or family to meet). The fleet, now, is probably half the size of yesterday’s and we have all registered for cave exploration tomorrow by long boat.