Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Bay of Islands info

We came into the reef by the Adavaci Passage on the west because we were coming from the SW and it worked out fine. Only one beacon on the SE part of pass. Our Raymarine Navionics Gold chart plotter was off by al most ½ mile at this island after being so close on the others.

Approach Pt from sea 17deg 13.616S 179deg 01.096W
Mid-pass WP 17deg 13.550S 179deg 00.805W
Pt on NW reef where other
Beacon should be 17deg 13.456S 179deg 01.035W
SW shoally side to avoid 17deg 13.621S 179deg 01.229W

We passed Vanuahaloa Island on starboard and went north to Bay of Islands. We heard a radio call but thought it was from Lomaloma on the other side of the main island. We couldn't see a village. It was from Daliconi to our East behind an island. They own Bay of Islands and we were supposed to have checked in there first and had sevusevu and got a permit, $25 Fiji each person for 30 days anchoring. It was still well worth it. This village is not named on the chart. We went back 4 days later after Bay of Islands visit to pay. I told them I would spread the word so they wouldn't have to send a boat out to each cruiser to tell them about the permit. The Lau Provisional Office where we got the permit should have told us.
DON'T LET THIS DETER YOU! Bay of Islands was one of our favorite places in all Pacific!!! It was a playground and we were all alone. We were the 3rd boat this year when they had 22 boats by this time last year.

Daliconi Village WP 17deg 13.140S 178deg 57.400W
Anc in 28-34' good
but rocky holding 17deg 13.175S 178deg 57.983W
WP S of Vanuahaloa Isl 17deg 13.243S 178deg 59.722W

Our first anchorage in BOI was the 10 meter deep cove on Calders we called Chuncky Rock Cove. We stayed 3 nights exploring all kinds of hidden nooks and coves in our kayak and snorking mostly on shelves due to the depths.

Anc in 22' close to steep S wall
in OK holding [we stayed
right in place due to current
running from hidden cove at S] 17deg 10.876S 179deg 01.334W

We made a safety circle around it to check depths and these cliffs are straight up and down. The rock formations all around were magnificent as well as the aqua blue coves.

For our 4th day we anchored in Ship Sound. The passage there was exactly as Calders says with good visibility. The best snorkeling was on a large head between Ship Sound and the larger bay north, right in the middle. Apparently mid pass has the most nutritious location for sealife with the water flow. We saw loads of huge fruit bats roosting and flying around.

Ship Sound anchorage in
25' good holding 17deg 10.049S 179deg 00.918W

Our 5th day we anchored at the village [as mentioned above] and had dinner with a family there, then on to the northern anchorages.
Lynn and Chuck on CYAN

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lekemba Island in Lau Group

Lekemba, Capital of Lau Group

Anchorage is in a "cove" in the reefs on the due west side of the island. There haven't been any markers in recent memory no matter what the guides say and we could barely see, through the trees, the roof of a house mentioned in Calder's that we were supposed to approach towards. We found it a challenge just finding this more shallow anchoring plane [50-75'] by going south along and outside the reefs. There were no references to locate it.

Approaching the open roadstead:
Soundings begin 18deg 12.621S 178deg 50.743W
Approach to spot 18deg 12.653S 178deg 50.607W
Exact spot of anchor 18deg 12.674S 178deg 50.500W
In 54' depth

An 85' sailboat from Savusavu said we were in his exact favorite spot when he comes to pick up charterers so he anchored behind us in about 65'. There is room for 2 boats to swing side by "close" side and the protection was remarkably good in up to 20 knots. We drove the boat in a 400' circle to check safe distance to the reefs and found the center was good in all directions for depth and put out 225 feet of chain.

A dinghy can be motored the 3+ miles to the village at higher than mid-tide and it took us 1 hour paddling over 3-4 spots. We returned and motored outside and it took ½ hour. Wear life vests! We were just outside the surfing type, swell waves…creepy!!!

When we got to the dock on the south side of Nadawa Passage at Tubou village, we were met by 2 soldiers who were adamant that "You cannot come here, go back to Suva!". We just said "Give us a minute to tie to the rocks and we will show you our permit" but they still almost threw us off. When they read the permit and made a radiophone call to someone more official, they turned into all smiles and welcomes, drove us to the barracks, gave us fruit and coffee and assigned a young, "uninteresting" soldier to guide us around town. We had to pry info from other residents because even though he had grown up there he knew nothing of what a visitor would want to see.

We presented our kava gift and had sevusevu with the asst chief but he didn't make the grog, just took the package and our bags of gifts. That was fine with us.

The walk from the dinghy landing was through a little used copra factory guarded by a bull tied on the road blocking our way. We found a place beyond him to carefully creep through the barbed wire fence. The village has a store that opens at 4pm but we weren't around at that time. No other shops were found but fuel and premix is available.

We met some school teachers who told us that the vocational school had wood carving classes and sold their work. The next day we left the dinghy on the beach at the mouth of the spring there, where we thought the dinghy channel was, and walked in towards the village. The school was sold-out of woodwork due to a craft show recently but meeting the head master and seeing his plans for making opportunities for new students was interesting. We got a ride to the grammar school where the teachers had invited us to visit, had a delightful time with kids and walked back for 1 ½ hours in the heat and flies…whew! Then we found the full moon tide had gone waaaay out leaving the dinghy ¼ mile away from water on mud. We killed time waiting 2 ½ hours before we could get to a much enjoyed happy hour. We only stayed 3 nights and 2 days, then left at 5 am in an easy "getout" to sea.

Chuck and Lynn on CYAN

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lau Group Info, CYAN Fulanga, June 08

All waypoints were noted as the boat was actually at that location except where I noted "approximately by sight" when I put in a waypoint at what looked like the right place as we went by it. Disclaimer...this is the best we have and numbers were double checked on the plotter but there are no guarantees!!!

Approach to pass from NE

We approached island from the west and followed the NE side of surrounding reef to the obvious pass which heads SW into lagoon. We stayed to the port [SE] of the pass due to current drifting us NW to starboard, on a slight incoming tide, [1 hour before high tide in Lakemba, the only tide info we had]. Current was only moderate and wouldn't bother anyone but Lynn!! Depth was 14' to 20' in the pass but might be a bit deeper in very center of the 100'+ wide pass. We passed closer to the big rock just inside the pass, than expected and the coral head we saw might have been the eastern of the 2 shown in the "South Pacific Anchorages" book by Clay, our main guide in these islands.

Our Pass Waypoints:

Line up outside pass WP 19deg 07.310S 178deg 32.404W

Middle of pass WP 19deg 07.554S 178deg 32.542W

Big pointed rock close at port [approx location by sight from boat] WP 19deg 07.667S 178deg 32.539W

Just past rock WP 19deg 07.684S 178deg 32.626W

Coral head on SB [by sight] WP 19deg 07.781S 178deg 32.707W

Beside the coralhead WP 19deg 07.807S 178deg 32.688W

Safe inside WP 19deg 07.850S 178deg 32.750W

I know this is more WP's than anyone needs but if I'd had had them on our Raymarine Plotter I would have felt better just looking at them all lined up. Navionics Gold chart was brief on this island but amazingly accurate, being just a bit off east to west.

Other waypoints we noticed inside:

Coral head on port in mid lagoon[By sight from boat on our route NW thru lagoon]WP 19deg 07.818S 178deg 33.605W

Center Lagoon Rock WP [stands out in mid lagoon] Go straight on to village or turn port to "Cove" anc WP 19deg 07.597S 178deg 33.943W

Village anchorage NW of "Onepalm" Isle [ancorage is between it and big black Rocky patch N of anchorage] WP 19deg 07.306S 178deg 36.628W

Coralhead on way to cove from village [approx by sight] WP 19deg 07.967S 178deg 35.118W

"Protected Cove" [Comfy in 32+ knots]WP 19deg 08.325S 178deg 34.844W

Village info

We first anchored at the village in 15-20' for 2 nights for sevusevu, check-in with Chief and permission to fish, swim, explore, etc. There is a big, wide shallow reef [1-3']all along in front of Navindamu village. Take dinghy around to the south towards "Onepalm" Isle [obvious name I gave it!] Go towards a stake at beach. There is a lot of dark grass close in to beach.

Village personality was not as warm as we expected. We'd read that some remote villages just want to know when you are leaving. We wanted carvings and had to pry info out of them. They are just not outgoing but, more private folks. The assistant chief who presented our kava to the chief of this village wouldn't even give his name and was not helpful with info on how to find other villages by track or water. "No way for you to go there!" and we weren't gonna press it.

They did say James Taylor has bought land for an elite hotel here and expects to seaplane in tourists. They asked us to ferry 8-20 church goers back to neighboring island,Ogea Driki [just a few miles away], but we just couldn't do it in 30 knot winds, 15' seas and with no chart of the island. We did give them extra food to feed the folks until 3 days later when they have a break in the weather.

Cove Anchorage

On the way to Cove, as we came from the village anchorage, we crossed 2 slightly more shallow bars at 20' [low tide] depth in what was usually 40-60' depths in main sailing areas. It's really not a cove but feels like one for protection, just off the straight south side of the main island and in a large space between big muffin rocks east and west. There are some little sandy beaches in sight. There are villages on the chartlet and we saw open boats carrying folks but don't know where the village tracks are. In the "South Pacific Anchorages" chartlet, the "cove" was just SE of the "12" meter depth at the anchor. The muffin islets are more spaced out than he shows there and we could get close to shore by 200 meters or so. We didn't see any rocks or heads at all in 16-22' depth anchorage area and we had 150' of scope out for a frontal passage.

Cruisers can help!

They don't have any weather info. We can tell them what we have found from our SSB reports. At the future more remote islands I think we will bring printer copies of weather for a "PR gift". They seemed amazed we knew the weather for several days.

We brought to share:
Teeshirts, reading glasses [bargained for $4 ea in Suva], chisels, sharpening stones, fish hooks and line, hair ornaments, colored pencils [$1 in Suva], drawing [unlined, $.69] stack of notebooks [Lynn hopes to give art and cartooning lessons]

We wish we had brought:
Personals like combs, nail clippers [big and small], fabric wraps [cheap in fabric store in Suva], first aid spray or cream, insect and rash treatment cream, Q-tips, fly strips, pieces of cheap carpet [samples to wipe feet at doorways, cheap in Suva], hair clips and elastic bands for girls, small towels and wash cloths, plastic tubs of all sizes [they made kava is worn out tubs], kava straining cloths [where you get the kava], small gardening tools, cheap cooking tools and containers. They sleep on really worn out foam….any amount, 1-10, of compressed [for space] foam pads would be great, even small ones for kids.

More info coming on other Lau Group islands we visit.
Please comment below if you are a cruiser and this blog helped you. We just want an idea of who stops by!

Lynn and Chuck on CYAN

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Monday, June 9, 2008

CYAN Cruising the Lau Group, Fiji

Visiting the Lau Group of islands is a special privilege because we needed a specific government cruising permit and they only give a few to those who really want to was like a job interview. They don't want folks corrupting the traditional, tight-knit villages there. They are very religious, {mostly Methodist} emphasize education {many of the leaders and officials come from there}, and, what we like; the Fiji handicrafts are made on these islands and there is no tourism. Also, of course, there are few charts and no navigation aids like reef markers either. This is gonna be another step up in navigation having only to come inside the reef that surrounds most of the islands by sight alone with good overhead sunshine. The islands are hills in a circular shape made by the remains of a volcanic rim with coral reefs near the green hills and another circle reef outside.

We have known of 3 boats, who were lost crashing into reefs in several locations....gotta be worth the risk. These 12+ islands are some of the best in the Pacific and have the nicest folks, from what we have read by other boats who have gone there in the last few years. In the last few months have they been a bit more lenient with permits.

Lynn got a haircut in a shop in Suva, owned by a nice lady, Tai, whose brother works up in the Government there and they are from the Lau Group. They got us a formal invitation to one of the islands...Thithia...where their relatives are expecting us....this makes our visit more special and helped us qualify for a permit.

Now...for the entry formalities...We have to wear long skirts and Chuck wears a "sulu" [pareau, in French Poly, Lavalava in Samoa, etc] a sarong wrap made for men...he got one in Tonga. Also, we have on board 4 bunches of wrapped Kava root...look like butt-ugly bouquets!!! We are required to greet the Chief of each island.

We have brought school supplies, 10 pairs of reading glasses [$4 ea at chinese shop], fish hooks, line, teeshirts for kids, craft activity, games and other stuff to share. Fiji has over 300 islands of all sizes and we have several weeks to wander around before on going to Vanuatu....even further into the third world, if possible.

The weather window was flat calm for the trip...which is good because we had to motor east 200 miles from Suva [2 days and nights] into what is usually 15+ knots of tradewinds from the SE. The sea looked like a mirror reflecting the stars!!

We arrived in Fulanga, at the south of the Lau chain, on Monday, Sunday in US. The pass through the reef was narrow and shallow with in incoming tide and it all went well but was touchy while we were there. Depth goes from 600' deep to 30' like a snap and was 14' deep in the channel. No info said that. We skirted a huge coral head right about 5' under water just inside the entry channel and right before the lagoon where the water becomes a deeper blue, cyan actually, and has more dept...35-60' throughout. It has many huge limestone rocks carved by the sea, scattered around that are easy to see. The aqua water allows easy sight of any shallow areas, coral reefs or rocks. We haven't been in aqua water for a long while...Bora Bora we think.

We saw a village directly across the 3 mile wide lagoon when we got out in the middle...Navindamu, and decided to anchor in 20' just outside the low, 100' wide coral and grass reef in front of the houses [at 19 07.3W, 178 35.6S for any followers]. Any other cruisers can write us for the record of GPS locations we are keeping.

On with the entry formalities to the village.

We came ashore with our Kava bouquet and were brought to the Chief and his assistant did the job of laying it at his feet and formally chanting our arrival and welcome, complete with responses from the gathering of he allows us stay in his anchorage, swim, fish and wander around. They read our permit letter in Fijian while we sat on hand woven matts with crossed legs.

Another fellow pounded our gift of Kava inside an old WW II artillery shell and then we had had a sevesevu [kava drinking] ceremony where we got to drink this funky stuff with all the group. We'd tried it in Tonga...looks and tastes like dishwater and makes your lips and mouth numb but makes you not care too much!!! [Like 2-3 glasses of wine]. After we drink the whole contents of each coconut half-shell cup we are to clap 3 times and they say something like bula bula [but not here...that's only for a high Chief] 3 cheers for the new guys!!! Apparently they really welcome us "Yachties" as we are called in these old British empire places like here.

We were given a village tour of the church [altar rail decorated with tools carved by the chief himself], gardens of cassava and kumara, and met a wood carver who carves dolphins very well [are buying 2]. They are having an island church conference today, Tuesday, so we are going fishing and we will give them some gifts and change anchorages tomorrow. There is a low pressure system passing us late in the week, so we won't leave the security here until Saturday.

Pictures coming in a few weeks when we get to Savusavu. They don't even have electricity here. The supply ship comes only every month or two. The store here is smaller than an average USA middle class pantry!! Wish we had brought more gifts now. We have about 5 more islands to cover.

Lynn and Chuck on CYAN.

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