Friday, June 7, 2013

Hello all from the northern Lau group.

We are finally able to connect after having been without communications over the past 4 days. The local cellular tower has been out of service for a week, and we were (inexplicably) unable to connect through our satellite phone. After several days of trouble shooting, and finding no problems on this end, we had multiple back-and-forth conversations with tech support and engineers at Globe Wireless who kept insisting that it was not their problem, but was a vessel issue. Finally, after a change of settings on their end, we successfully connected to the satellites and are back in communications.

We are anchored at Ship Sound in Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu Island. The "bay" is small, located inside the fringing reef, and entry is a bit tricky. We found 13.5 feet of water at mid-tide as we passed through Shoal Passage into the small Ship Sound anchorage. We are surrounded by many small and one large volcanic island amid turquoise blue water. I see a photo-op from mast head in my future.

We will be here for several days before heading back to Dalconi Village on Monday with plans to attend a lovo (traditional Fijian earth pit cooking) and Fijian dancing and singing.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Remote Fijian Adventures

Hello from the Shoreside Support team (i.e. Gram).  Bill sent this message along this morning from a neighbor boat along with a request for support getting the satellite phone internet working again.  Phone is working fine, but data is not.  Have contacted customer support and hopefully will solve the problem soon.  In the meantime, if there is an emergency, please contact me at and I can fwd news along.  Otherwise stay tuned here.  -- Gram

Hello everyone: We are in the eastern group of islands called the Lau. We arrived 2 days ago when a NE wind provided good sailing here. With 63 miles to cover, we left just after first light - 6:30 A.M. We had a great wind and made good time, clearing through the western Adavici Pass about 3 in the afternoon with the sun behind us. We caught a Mahi-Mahi along the way and the sun appeared. Quite perfect.

Yesterday we did sevusevu with the elders of Dalconi Village, and the village has been most welcoming.  The village requests a donation for the privilege of anchoring in their waters but has formed a tourism committee and tries to offer services for the donation/fee. They provide a village tour and will accept trash, which is quite important to yachties. Sam, head of tourism committee, took us on a guided snorkel to their marine park. We saw some nice bommies and a giant clam hatchery (the hatchery was not too big, but they were growing giant clams) and we will visit the school this morning where Zak and Dani will talk about North America and their part of the world. We will also talk a bit about about our trip across the Pacific.

Yesterday was also a day that the Health Ministry staff visited Dalconi to give a medical workshop to the villagers. I attended the first section which discussed behavioral and mental health issues. Subsequent subjects included substance abuse and age appropriate sex education strategies. Clearly basic social health issues are the same all over the world. One very neat thing was that when we did our sevusevu at the village, we gave the Mahi we caught to them as a gift. We found out that it was cooked that morning and served to the Health Ministry staff for their lunch. Very cool.

The Lau are an outlying group of Fijian  islands and are certainly remote. The monthly cargo roll on/roll off ship no longer calls here, and their goods and staples now come irregularly on a small ship. Apparently, very irregularly. It seems that they are frequently in need of sugar, flour, and similar basics. These donations are also appreciated and we donated sugar we bought in Taveuni for this purpose.

Over time, they have also purposefully tried to retain the culture and lifestyles of the Fijian peoples and we enjoyed these insights too. We attended an afternoon  rehearsal performance of Fijian dance, and later Zak tasted his first Grog (Kava Ceremony). We all had a blast sitting for a few hours around the Kava bowl sharing Kava, stories, (and I have learned from Dani that this last was  a British comma)  and learning about the village and Fiji. Johanna and the girls, led by one of the two elementary school teachers, danced Fijian style and we stayed until Jules keeled over and Zak's gastric alarm brought us back to the boat and our dinner. We videoed much of this and will see if our tech consultants can get some clips up to be viewed - when Internet service is available..

It is important to note that we do not have any cell phone or wireless internet service here - there is one Vodaphone tower, but it is not functioning and may not be repaired until next week. Hence, we will not be able to respond to mails or post easily, and please do not worry. We are fine. It is just that we are out swimming/snorkeling/diving/hiking or eating, or maybe we have simply enjoyed too much Grog. Either way, we will be in better contact around June 11th.

Best wishes to all from the crew of Visions of Johanna