We paid our host family a final visit, for the last time, FINALLY! It was about 11am, but Ma, whose full name is Manaini, insisted we have a couple roti filled with pumpkin, chinese noodles with chicken flavouring and curry spices. As she had made a big batch of the roti for the bake sale, we insisted on paying her a couple dollars to contribute to the fund raising efforts.
George was in the next village where a cricket match was being held so we walked up to meet him. The men were gathered around the sidelines watching the match and drinking kava. Kat was there with her new friend, Lisa.
The women and children were watching from the porch of a nearby house. We watched for half an hour or so, with George trying to explain the rules of the game. We recognized some of the players.
Then George walked back to his house with us. On the way we met a group of women walking with a wheel-barrel full of baking to sell it to the people gathered for the cricket match.
The wheel-barrel is how things get from A to B on Fulaga. No cars, no trucks, just wheel-barrels. Bless their hearts!
The bake sale was put on by the ladies of the village. This week’s cause was choir uniforms, or something church related, I was never very clear. Many of ladies, familiar faces to us now, sat in the covered area, with plates and bowls of hot food and tins of baking set out on display. One was selling locally grown passionfruit, which caught my eye. $1 each, but it would be nice to have on our fruit salads. We had just eaten our last passionfruit from Savusavu, where we paid $1 for 4 or 5 passionfruit, but it was the end of the season and we were surprised to see any at all. We bought a few more roti with pumpkin curry, like the ones Ma made. After eating half of one, with my hands covered in grease, I passed the remaining roti on to Monty, who always seems to lack an appetite.
Ma and George invited us in for tea, made with real lemon leaves. Ma then presented us with chocolate cake and coconut custard cake! We ate a few pieces of each cake, trying to imagine working off the calories!
Ma gave us two more beautiful papayas and some more chocolate cake in a to-go container. She also gave me a fly swatter and a pretty two-tone weaved bag she had just finished.
I had heard her compliment my sarong a few times, so I offered it to her. She seemed pleased. We hugged Ma and George for one last time, said good bye to the kids and headed back to the boat.
The focus moved to “hitting the road, Jack”. Monty set up the Freediver, which provides air while under the surface, and vigorously cleaned the props and shafts. A couple inches of thick growth that had stuck to them. The ocean is a rich environment in this part of the world! It makes a huge difference in speed to have the hull and props clean.
Later in the day, we dinghied over to the spit later.
We tried to do some snorkeling later in the day but the current from the rising tide was very strong. We had to cling to the rocky islets or be carried away. Monty experimented with Christian’s spear gun. I stayed away!
Monty pointed to a moray eel nested in a hole in the craggy limestone rock. He had just been hanging onto that rock just inches from the eel, with no gloves. You have to take such care with what you touch in this environment! It later popped its head out and looked at Monty. Sorry, I missed taking a shot! Despite the strong current, it was good to get in the water.
That evening, we were invited over to Windstar, owned by Margie and Rob from N.Z. Marg and Bruce from Summer Soul, also from N.Z., joined in. So, three Margs! I have never been with so many Margs at one table since Mexico (Monty’s line)! The two boats have been cruising for a while together, and enjoy the odd game of euchre.
It was very windy that night and getting in and out of the dinghy from the boats was a challenge. Our anchorage was very safe and fairly calm, but we could hear the wind whistling around “Whistler”.
I was working late on my computer and heard a series of bangs as a large plastic tote box decided it was going to leave its resting spot on the front deck and go for a summer-salt along the deck, down the back steps and out into the sea. Monty jumped out of bed, raced out the back and dove in. He had to swim quickly, because it was being carried off at high speed. He got it back to the boat and had a fresh water rinse before hitting the sack again. Quick action saved the day!
The next day, we joined Chara for a snorkel, but with slightly less current. Monty and Bob went ahead swimming to the other side of the little pass. I started my crossing, and half way, Joyce plowed into me! It was “one-sided rockem sockem robots”. My instincts told me to swim up stream, WRONG! Apparently, Monty told me later, you are supposed to swim across the current. Who would have thought? Not me! I was just swimming, aiming directly into the current and not making much progress! She met me head on, plowing, with her head down! It was funny! We all had a good laugh. We drifted with the current down what had to be half a mile, to where we could exit easily and walk back to our dinghies across the sand spit. It was pretty cool.
We were invited for another sundowner, this time on Summer Soul. All the cruisers from the four boats in the spit anchorage attended. It was a pleasant evening of conversation. We learn lots every time we talk to other cruisers. One discussion was about cruising to Australia as opposed to New Zealand for the cyclone season. It is tempting to go to Brisbane, as it is so close to the same latitude as Fiji and New Caledonia, and the passage is supposed to be easier than to New Zealand at this time of year. The New Zealanders related that it is relatively, very expensive and cruisers have to deal with a lot more bureaucracy upon entering the country. You have to discard a lot of food in your larder and pay fees for entering as well as for the boat, dinghies and even engines on dinghies, etc. More research is required but New Zealand is still our goal for the cyclone season.
It had often been blowing about 20 knots in our anchorage for a while but it appeared to blow harder at night. We were glad to be still at anchor and not out on passage. All the other boats had left the sand spit for other anchorages. Most were in the lagoon closest to the village where it is a bit more sheltered and convenient for going to church and lunch with their hosts on upcoming Sunday.
Monty was digging for some chicken in the bottom of our deep freezer one morning and discovered some packages of meat were not frozen. The freezer cools from the top down, and we had it chock a block full of fish we had caught. We will have to watch how much we load it in future and not use the bottom level, under the grate. He took all the packages out and opened them and smelled if any meat had gone off. We were lucky, but did lose some chicken breasts, pork chops and steaks. We went on a cooking frenzy to cook the thawed meat that did not smell off, making chicken soup, beef curry and beef chilli. We ate the chicken soup, but lost interest in eating the rest and threw it all away. There was a brief feeding frenzy around the boat! Who needs to take a chance when we still had the freezer almost full?
My brothers will recall trying to teach me to swim and how I hated putting my face in the water! Growing up in Nova Scotia meant swimming in lakes or the ocean which was always cold. I doned a lifejacket all the time as a kid. This season, with learning to scuba-dive and doing a lot of snorkelling, I have become a much more confident swimmer. I admit it is a lot easier in warm tropical waters and wearing a wetsuit, snorkel and mask! Monty recently remarked that I was swimming faster than him, but it was likely just the current effect. I still have great respect for the ocean and the creatures in it, but, thankfully, I am not afraid like I had been!
Tomorrow we will be leaving Fulaga early. We are looking forward to some helping winds and a full moon to light our way on our overnight passage! Next destination: Kadavu, Suva or Musket Cove, wherever the wind takes us!