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Date: 30 Jun 2013 06:01:41
Title: We've arrived in FIJI

Lat 17:10.8S Long 177: 22.0E
Fiji arrived over the horizon as we expected, just after sunrise. Our first
landfall was Vanua Balavu a small island in the Lau group of Fiji. We were
lucky to be able to stop here, normally boats have to sail past and clear
customs and immigration at one of the 'official ports of entry' 3 days sail
further west, but a special arrangement had been made and the customs and
immigration had flown out to meet us instead. Can't imagine that happening
in Europe. As we approached the island, looking for the break in the reef it
became clear that our charts and what we saw before us didn't match up. We
were heading straight for the rocks but our GPS showed us well away from any
dangers. Then we realised that the whole island was charted half a mile out
of position so it was back to old fashioned navigation and some very tense
moments as we made our way through the reefs, looking for the posts and
markers which guided the way and ignoring the fact that our GPS display
showed us motoring through the middle of the island. Many of the islands
were originally surveyed 150 or even 200 years ago and in some cases the
ominous words on the chart say' unsurveyed', just blank white paper, so
rocks and reefs may lie just beneath the surface.
Villages in Fiji, particularly when so remote, still run on traditional
lines with a village chief and elders, and the requirement, even obligation,
for a formal welcome to the village, called 'sevusevu. In the whole of the
Lau group of islands there are no shops and no tourists so visitors are rare
and a great fuss was made of us, with the traditional 'kava' welcoming
ceremony. Sitting in a circle in the main hut, the kava drink is prepared by
pounding the kava roots and mixing with water in a large wooden bowl,
speeches of welcome are made and coconut shell full of kava passed around to
drink. Finally we are told that we may swim and fish in the waters, walk
anywhere in the village and we are no longer strangers. Dancing and singing
by the children and that evening a great feast was prepared all cooked in
the traditional underground oven
Photos include Sussanne at dawn on deck as we approached Fiji and then
standing on the boom looking out for rocks as we approach land. Village boys
getting ready for the welcome dance and preparing 'kava' for the welcome
ceremony

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