We have spent the last couple weeks in the Great Astrolabe Reef area, which didn't make the cut during last season's visit to Fiji. The land is much greener here than up north. There is no cyclone damage and plentiful water. The main island of Kadavu, owing to its moist, well draining soil, is the source of the best yaqona (kava) in Fiji. It's a major cash crop for the folks here and the well kempt villages reflect the added income it provides. As with most of the traditional villages in Fiji, visitors (including boats) are required to present an offering of yaqona to the village chief in a ceremony called sevusevu. Ironically, the yaqona we are bringing to our recent sevusevus may have been grown in Kadavu, shipped and sold to merchants in bigger towns, bought by us, only to be sailed back and returned to villages in Kadavu. It seems like cutting out the middleman could help both the producers and the cruisers, but it's tradition.
We also have some mangy looking yaqona that we picked up in the Lau group. We haven't used it here in Kandavu as Matt made the point that bring it as a gift would be akin to visiting a First Growth chateaux in Bordeaux and presenting a gift of a boxed Chilean red wine.
After the month in the Lau helping out with Sea Mercy, it's nice to get back to 'normal cruising', which means basically having no set schedule, and enjoying beaches and remote areas. Cell phone reception is no longer a given and we haven't seen a store for weeks.
Boat school and Perry keep us busy, as usual. The other day, our port engine sputtered to a stop as we weaved our way around coral heads. Matt bled some air out of the Racor filters and the engine fired up again. Later investigation revealed that the Racor bowl had somehow deformed itself into a pentagonal shape (it's usually round), despite being nowhere near a heat source. Near as we can figure it must have been a bad production run of plastic that never fully hardened.
We have done some snorkeling, including swimming with some good sized manta rays. Unfortunately, the weather has been of the shiver-producing variety: cool, cloudy and windy. It's more comfortable for sleeping and sitting around, but not so much for swimming.
|Meg at Women's Day on Ono|
|This sea snake wandered onto our transom.|
|Our new friend Va near Ucuna Naigoro|
|Perry and Amelie IV at the anchorage in Ucuna Naigoro|