|Kids from Cicia visiting Perry. Not many cruising boats get to this island.|
Our nearly month long (so far) visit to the Lau Group has been very different from our visit last year. Our work with Sea Mercy has kept us busy doing assessments of the needs of hard-to-reach villages after the destruction Cyclone Winston and delivering donated and purchased aid. We've also done a number of projects within the villages including clearing and cutting logs, building fences, wiring generators, installing water makers, and anything else that the villages need help with.
Other Sea Mercy vessels have provided education to the villagers in gardening and provided drinking water. Volunteering has given us a way to connect with villagers, as well as to spend time getting to know the talented and fun group of cruisers that are also part of this Sea Mercy fleet. There are about six to eight boats in the group at any given time, with a boat leaving and joining every now and then.
|The remains of this building are being used as a make-shift church.|
Despite the destruction to homes, sources of food and water, and income-producing copra (that's coconut to you and me), the people continue to be friendly and gracious. Mark and Conrad have been able to witness first-hand the damage that a cyclone can bring, as well as to help out. Conrad helped Matt and others build a fence around the garden in Boitaci to keep pigs out. The kids are also getting adept at riding around in the back of pick-up trucks and sometimes sharing the space with the odd pig or goat.
|The finished 'pig' fence in Boitaci|
|Some of the food donated by local Fijians to the Lau villages.|
We and other boats stored it aboard and then helped distribute it.
We will spend another week or so with the Sea Mercy group. Matt and Mark from Amelie IV are building a wooden skiff that one of the villages can use for fishing. All of the boats from this particular village were destroyed during the cyclone and fish is their main source of protein, so getting them a means of being back on the water is a priority.
|Matt and Mark from Amelie IV fixing school desks in Cicia.|
Speaking of fish, we are back to catching fish on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we lost our gaff to a 100-plus pound yellow-fin tuna. Being stabbed (inadvertently) too near its tail energized the tuna and Matt was only holding on with one hand and at an awkward angle. So we lost the fish and the gaff, and the bit of innocence that was left in our children's vocabulary.
|One of the ones that didn't get away.|
|We have been flush with yellow fin for sushi.|
We'll add the gaff to the growing list of items needed for the boat, including parts for the traveler and an AIS antenna. Matt is currently getting our water maker up and running after a long sabbatical. As with most things on a boat (the boys included), it doesn't like sitting idle for long periods of time.
|We saw albatross feeding on a shark carcass on our way from NZ to Fiji.|
According to Conrad, our resident zoologist, they are waved albatross.
|We met this cutie in Mualevu during our needs assessment.|
|Matt played volleyball with this group in Malaka. He was very|
impressed with their bump-set-spike skills
|The school in Mualevu|
|Riding in style|
|Having fun in Avea|
|The kids in Susui aren't sure what Mark's doing.|
|One of the kids at the school in Susui.|
|Pounding kava for a feast in Susui.|
|Men and women don't drink kava together.|
|Women and children feeding first. Works for me!|