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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