The Lau islands of Fiji

Bill and Caroline
Sun 6 Oct 2013 21:11
16:47.69S 179:19.72E
Preparations to travel, this time from east to west, to the Lau group of islands for a week or so. A relatively good weather forecast, although the winds didn't drop as early as predicted so three quarters of the journey was underway before light winds plagued us. It did however provide perfect whale watching conditions approaching the Nggilanngila passage on Vanuabalavu with 12 or so pilot whales surfacing near to the reef.    
Pilotage around the island highlights the difference between the GPS position and the electronic charts as the chart shows we are travelling across the land…. Check out the yellow track…So obviously a keen eye is needed to find the few remaining posts and markers, take bearings and find transits to work out where we are.

One of the anchorages here is reported to be one of the best in the South Pacific, very protected, no rolling (usually), beautiful clear water, very steep sides and so quiet and peaceful. Walking up a rough track brings you to the rolling hills of the island, coconut palms for copra, cattle, sheep and pigs roaming freely and 276 steps back down to the anchorage. Friends met leaving Panama turned up unexpectedly providing great company and more ideas for cruising around the Lau islands.

The village at Sousi, a small island further south, was our first real experience of small village life in Fiji. Sevusevu had to be 'done', presenting the Kava root to the village chief and asking for permission to anchor, visit the village, swim, burn garbage - and anything else you might want to do. The kava gift was accepted and invites to church the following day were given followed by lunch with the villagers. The village has around 40 inhabitants, mainly the young and the not so young. Teenagers attend school in Suva on the main island of Viti Levu, and many of them never return home to live - as has been the case across much of the Pacific. The villagers live a subsistence lifestyle, very poor in material terms but largely self sufficient from the sea and land. Church with amazing singing and donations from all the congregation followed by a feast cooked in an underground pit by the women of the village - served to men and visitors (privileged women), then once they have eaten - women and girls of the village eat. Tarrow, breadfruit, plantain, fish, land crabs in coconut cream all wrapped in banana leaves and cooked/steamed to perfection.
Two of the cooks …