Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Loving the Lau Group

LOCATION: Malaka Bay, Vanua Balavu, Lau
POSITION: 17 14.2'S 178 58.1'W
NEXT DEST: Staying put



Vanua Balavu and the Bay of Islands (Lau Group, Fiji) is everything we
had hoped for and we are extremely pleased that all the cruising rumors
about the "must see" Lau Group held true.

As expected the wind was right on our nose as we tacked back and forth
making our way towards Vanua Balavu - sailing over 100 miles to cover
the 50 mile distance! Luckily the seas hadn't had time to build up,
allowing us to actually make a somewhat decent heading. Even with all
the tacking, it was a beautiful night with a brilliant full moon guiding
us along!

Arriving on Wednesday, June 22nd, we made our way through the pass
(relieved that Calder's Fiji Navigator's Notebook was spot on) -
especially since clouds and rain were rolling in, somewhat skewing our
view and making it difficult to easily spot reefs. Our first order of
business was to get in touch with Ratu Joe and Helene of Nawanawa Estate
(they are our sponsors for visiting the Lau group). We spotted two
other boats anchored in Malaka Bay and they informed us that the holding
there was a bit better than around the corner near Nawanawa Estate. It
was pure mud, which Billabong doesn't seem to like so it took a few
attempts before we held. Exhausted from actually having to work at
sailing (all that tacking) we called it day, opting to check in with Joe
& Helene the following morning.

Thursday Joe and Helene greeted us with huge smiles and lots of chatter.
As it turns out Joe's daughter, granddaughter and daughter's boyfriend
were all arriving that morning on the weekly flight. Since they too
would be doing a Sevusevu at the Daliconi Village, it was decided that
we'd all go together later that afternoon. Joe and Helene are terrific
'hosts', providing a number of services and full of information. Helene
was instrumental in helping us arrange a flight for Flipper the
following Thursday. Daliconi Village was spotless, clean, serene and
full of smiling faces. Set right next to the water and surrounded by
green cliffs and palm trees - who would ever move away? The Sevusevu
was short since we didn't actually have to drink any "grog".

Friday we explored one of the nearby islands - easily accessible by
dinghy. By now there were four other boats in the bay, having gathered
for the Friday potluck hosted by Helene. It was quite the feast with
roasted pig, garlic fish, and Kokoda (raw fish marinated in lime juice
w/ coconut cream).

Saturday we moved over to the Bay of Islands … WOW! This is true
cruising perfection. Turquoise waters, limestone rocks, mushroom
islands, palm trees, mangroves, chattering birds, and jumping fish (all
within protected bays with sand bottoms for anchoring!). Numerous
little hidey holes to lose yourself in! We spent three nights there;
swimming, kayaking, exploring caves, snorkeling and star gazing. While
we were enjoying hanging out with new friends, we are somewhat excited
that three of the four boats have departed, and the fourth is somewhere
unseen … it is as if we have the Lau Group to ourselves!

On Tuesday afternoon we motored into some pretty strong winds back to
Malaka Bay in order to get Flipper set for his departing flight on
Thursday. With the way things work in Fiji we are keeping our fingers
crossed that the everything goes off without a hitch, otherwise we'll be
making our way back to Taveuni - something we aren't quite ready to do!
We can't wait to get back out to the Bay of Islands, which we'll have
almost to ourselves (yes, we're a little greedy, wanting to hog the
entire place!)!!!

2 comments:

  1. if only we could all be so lucky..rod and i can't even get the bathroom to ourselves let alone a group of beautiful tropical islands!! we miss you!!

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