Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Underway for Fulaga. Hikes,catching fish, Ono Island, Coconuts and much more.

July 23, 2013 (time 1400 local and 0200UTC)
Position: 18°45' S 178°54' E
Speed: 7 knot on a beamish reach.
Course: 094T

Underway for Fulaga, Lau Group, Fiji, South Pacific

We stayed just two nights at Ono island and really only spent one full day ashore. Kathy and I were excited to visit Ono again as we were carrying photos aboard from our last visit in 2007 and looked forward to catching up with our old friends in the village. Our first stop was the required visit to the chief to present the sevusevu. We all dressed the part with me, Bruce and Tim all wearing sulus over our board shorts and presenting the chief with a 500gram bundle of Kava root. Honestly, the chief didn't seem as enthused as before and the ceremony was brief.

Back in 2007 Ono was one of our most memorable stops due to the uniqueness of the sevusevu ceremony, drinking kava with the chief and even a meal at the chiefs home. As can be expected times change, tradition dies in the face of tourism and disappointingly every last one of the young people we met in 2007 had moved either to Suva or Lautoka. However, the younger sister of one of our guides from the 2007 visit was our guide on this visit. Sofa was our naturalist guide whom was happy to take us anywhere on the island utilizing her expert knowledge of the maze of trails that crisscross the island. Sharing the photographs around the village and catching up with one family in particular whom had hosted us in 2007 was a treat. Again, the family welcomed us warmly and shared generously by inviting us to afternoon tea with freshly prepared kasava/coconut treats and boiled plantains accompanied with freshly brewed lemon tree leaf tea.

 Tim keeping a sharp lookout at the inside of his eyelids as we navigate the inner reef of Totoya Island.
 Fresh Wahoo sushi rolls from the nice Wahoo that Bruce caught earlier in the day.
 Tim's Fish was promptly BBQ'd for dinner and was delicious
 Tea on Ono island.
 Our hosts from 2007 were happy to see us again in 2013

Flashback!  This is a photo from our 2007 visit.
 Tim with a nice stock of bannanas
 Bruce, Tim, Kathy enjoy some tea and boiled plantaines.
 A real bush hike

 Tim on a gorgeous stretch of Fiji coastline.  Ono Island, Fiji.
 Walking the beach at low tide.
 No tourists here.
 Bruce and Tim
 Bread fruit
 High on the ridge is a plantation of pine trees.  For a few miles it seems like you left Fiji and are hiking in Idaho.
 Coconut break
 Huge coconut to fuel us up for our hike across and around Ono island.
 Dalo (taro) patch
 Tradition still lives on.
All smiles after we shared a huge stack of photos from 2007

Flash Back:  This is one is from 2007.

With heavy rain and strong SE winds since my nephews Bruce and Tim arrived last week we were all very pleased to see the sun yesterday and the timing was perfect for our hike across Ono island. The trail was super muddy from all the rain, so on the return trip our guide Sofa gave us the option to return via the coast. The tide was rising, so we knew we couldn't linger too long as we hiked across a beautiful deserted beach. Even so, the tide snuck in quicker than we thought requiring plenty of wading around some cliff lined rocky shores. At one point Sofa's dog, Stryker, who joined us for the days excursion started to whine and convinced Tim it would be best if Tim gave him a lift through some of the deeper water that would have required Stryker to swim.

                                           It again proves that puppy dog eyes are pretty powerful.

We got underway around 8AM this morning for Fulaga about 180 miles distant from Ono Island near Kandavu. The first 12 miles of the trip we motored north along the edge of the Astrolabe reef before heading east into the open ocean for the overnight run to Fulaga. Looking at the weather GRIB files it seems we've caught a lucky break in the predominant SE trade winds that will allow us to sail on a easterly course toward Fulaga. Fulaga located in the SE corner of the most remote islands in the Fijian archipelago is a long sail, but we're all sure it will be well worth the effort. Our 2013 edition of 'A mariners Guide to Fiji' offers key hints about the island stating ...'that with no airport and infrequent visits by ships this is a very isolated world rarely visited by yachts'. Based on the reports from s/v Blue Rodeo who recently visited the island, we're pretty sure this could be one of the last unspoiled gems of the South Pacific.

A low pressure system to the southeast is blocking the normally strong SE tradewinds, so the winds are fairly light in the 8-15 knot range and from the unlikely direction of SSW. So wind wise we are set. The swell is not so nice with a 3.1 meter bump that is making for a bumpy ride and everyone but me is feeling either a little or a lot sick. Bruce has been doing great with the motion and spent most of the day assisting with the navigation and trimming sails, Kathy heated up some spaghetti for lunch then disappeared to her bunk, Tim was going strong for the first few hours until we hit the open ocean swell then he hit his bunk skipping lunch and has yet to reappear as of 3PM. Tim must be feeling bad as he didn't even take his iphone below to his bunk! Around 1PM the ocean caught up with Bruce and so it looks like I'll be sailing solo into the evening. Kathy claims she's making chocolate chip cookies for the midnight watch, but I'm not sure that's too likely at this point as the ocean is getting even bumpier. Even our cat Shell is nowhere to be seen.

 Bruce Bonich lands a beautiful and very tasty Wahoo near Ono Island, Fiji 2013.
Kathy coaches on proper handling and cleaning of the Wahoo to ensure the highest quality and minimal waste.

Lots of adventures the last few days, hikes, swimming with dolphins, catching a nice wahoo, sevusevu with a village chief drinking Kava and more.

That's it for now.