Bula from Bua Bay on the west side of Vanua Levu! We sailed over here a week ago to check on the property we are buying and see if the little house/shack was still standing. We also needed to check on the locals who are dear friends of the woman who currently owns the land. We are happy to report that Bua Bay fared extremely well in the cyclone and all the locals around here are doing well. Some minimal damage to roofs and some of the older trees are down, but most of the foliage made it through unscathed. We brought food and supplies out here but the locals are farmers and have all they need. They were more grateful for the kava than for the dahl and flour! It’s great they are so self-sufficient out here.
We spent time walking -or rather bushwacking- our way around our
jungle, I mean property. It took the better part of an afternoon to walk the waterfront. There is a trail that runs along the water but it’s overgrown and the machete came in very handy. The trees are amazing with scenes straight out of Jungle Book. Some vines are twisted just like three-strand nylon boat lines. A few of the larger trees had fallen down at one point but then grew into huge canopy branches over many years. There are shaded groves, steep hills and spectacular views from the highest plateaus. Lyss even found some flowers that react to touch and turn from green to red when you touch them – she said it looked like a scene from the movie Fern Gully.
We land the dinghy on a rocky beach that is just below the little tin shack. It really is more of a shack than house as we know it. Only time and effort will decide if it’s livable. Right now between the hornets, mosquitos and family of roaches I don’t think there is room for us in there.
We met a few of the neighbors. All wonderful people and so happy and friendly. Two parcels away is an American family from Colorado – the only Americans around (most of the locals are Fijians of Indian-decent and native Fijians). They have been living it up out here for three years. They have a 20-acre farm on the hill above. We hung out on their deck and had a great chat. They lent us a machete and we returned to the peninsula for more exploration.
The next day we went to visit with Chota and his family. They live on the hill above the bay and have been the caretakers of the peninsula for many years. We spent the whole day with them. First was the obligatory kava session. Then lunch of fish curry sitting on the floor of their home and eating with our hands. Then we invited them back to the boat. They had never been aboard a yacht and they were enamoured by the gadgets and ingenuity of the boat. From the table that comes out of the wall, to the fridge (which they have never had) or the microwave. They thoroughly enjoyed the visit and it was fun for us as well. Chota has a large wonderful family. We look forward to getting to know them better.
Today was a long but fun and successful day. We took Chota and Ashoo sailing – their first time. They loved the windlass, were perplexed by the autopilot and thought the chartplotter was amazing. We all shared some great laughs and a good sail across the bay and back. Check out the video below. Then Alyssa and I sailed back across the bay, fired up the watermaker and filled our tanks. When we returned to our anchorage off the peninsula we tackled an ambitious but necessary project: replacing the upper swivel on our furler.
Replacing the swivel on the furler was no easy feat. Most of the time this is done by a professional rigger, in a calm marina, on a dock, with supplies nearby. Not usually done at anchor, in a remote bay, in Fiji. But I am proud to say Lyss and I pulled it off inside of four hours total. We slacked the back stay, ran halyards forward, supported the foil with another halyard, disassembled the furler drum, disconnected the swage from turnbuckle, slid the old swivel off, put the new one on, reassembled everything and took up the tension with the back stay. It was a huge success and we had the sail back on just after sunset. We then took some much needed showers in the dark. What a day.
The anchorage out here is extremely well protected from swell and the reef offers much protection from wind waves in all but very high tide. Despite being anchored 3/4 of a mile from our peninsula we are only in 10 feet of water. The only time the wind waves get Ellie moving is when it pipes up above 20 knots and then they are still less than a foot. There is a larger peninsula to the south that sticks out far enough to block the fetch from building. We are pleasantly surprised how great this anchorage is and we don’t want to leave. To any of our friends who want to come anchor here, just use the anchorage waypoint below. It’s just north of the reef on satellite image and Navionics charts.
Well that’s our update of the past week. We are still in communication with SeaMercy and will be helping them out any way we can. The good news is that the Fijians in most need are getting a lot of help from a plethora of disaster-response groups including the New Zealand and Australian Navy’s. The response has been so great that we just heard from John at SeaMercy that they are pulling back and they consider the initial response complete. They will now move into recovery mode over the next few months. They have asked us to report back if we visit any villages in need of recovery support; we most certainly will.
Here are some videos and pictures we shot over the past few days.
Lew n Lyss
March 8th, 2016
Bua Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Anchored: 16 49.700 S, 178 36.161 E