After sailing from Tonga we spent five days in Savusavu to provision and visit with cruisers in town. With light easterly winds, we motor-sailed to the Vanua Balavu, in the northern part of the Lau Group. We had some company on the 110 mile passage. Roundabout II, another Canadian boat, and Sequoia were within sight the entire passage. Mango Moon, a much faster catamaran, sailed away at 10 knots, giving them time to sleep for a few hours before we all showed up in the morning to transit the pass, best done with good light as many of the navigation markers indicated on the charts are missing.
We anchored in Ship Sound on the eastern side of the Bay of Islands. It was stunning with mushroom shaped limestone columns surrounding the bay.
We spent 9 or 10 days there, cruising around with friends in our dinghies to see all the nooks and bays in the Bay of Islands, or as Monty liked to call it, the Island of Bays. Some rides reminded us of Miami Vice as we endeavoured to get our dinghies planing, with the goal of saving fuel. Yeah, sure, it was really about speed!
We also got out exploring on our paddle boards.
What would life be like on a boat without maintenance? One morning, our electronics switch on the helm panel would not turn on. Friends from Mango Moon, Roundabout and Sequoia leapt to help Monty. The boys diagnosed the problem and rigged up a replacement. It took several hours, using parts from Sequoia and Whistler, and tools from the various boats, but they got it done. A new crimper and more breakers are on order! Frank also helped Monty tighten up the shrouds and rigging. We are so grateful for all the assistance!
We were struck by the devastation from Winston. The hills were stripped of much of their foliage and many trees had fallen. We could see some leaves starting to come back on some trees. It will take time, but it is a jungle, so it will recover.
There were lots of reefs and walls to snorkel. One of the best places was the bommie in the little pass near our boat. Soft and hard corals, lots of colourful fish, a reef shark and a sea snake. We regularly saw turtles in our cove.
We had some fruit bats take over the skies in the evenings.
Lisa and Frank led the dinghy expedition, looking for good coral reefs and caves. We were rewarded with finding 3 cool caves, with high ceilings, light streaming through an opening somewhere, monstrous stalactites and stalagmites, clams a foot across and vibrantly coloured coral and fish. Monty and friends did a swim through in one cave.
Below, the cruisers discovering another cave.
Life below the surface in the cave.
After several days in the Bay of Islands, Frank and Lisa, on Mango Moon, kindly agreed to take everyone down to the village of Daliconi to do the required sevusevu. It was a lovely day for the 5 mile trip. The sevusevu was brief affair as the chief was not there.
We had some fun evenings with the other boats too.
Up next, the Plantation anchorage.