LETTER from Eivind & Heidi _______FIJI, Pacific Ocean______ May - June 2008
Empire underway west of Mamanucas.
Lovely days at Fiji, Ian and Nathaniel.
Our "hostesses" on th eisland Ono, the faily O'Connor.
Testing the kava before the ceremony.
 
Ian, s/y Afriki.
 
 
 
 

We got enough wind on the voyage from New Zealand to Fiji. The first three days was as expected well above average. Even though, with three reefs in the mainsail and just a little piece of the genoa out, the comfort onboard Empire was not too bad. Our three crew-members from the States got into it after a while – when the wind finally calmed down…
Nathaniel, Sandra and Wally were originally crewing onboard the American Yacht Bahati. Because of illness in the owner-family back in the USA, Bahati didn’t leave Opua as planned, and we offered the guest-crew a “lift” with Empire.

When we arrived in Suva, the capital of Fiji on the island Vitu Levu, we measured 29°C in the sea. That is 10 degrees warmer than when we left New Zealand – it was lovely to be back in warm waters.
In Suva we couldn’t do anything but get into the Pacific rhythm again – “if it doesn’t happen today, it happens another day…” The authorities took their time before finally getting started clearing us in to Fiji. The Empire-crew couldn’t do anything but relax the long eight hours we waited for the authorities to get onboard.
After a few days in Suva, we set of for the Astrolabe Reef and the island Ono, just south of Suva. Sverre Erik in the Norwegian Yacht Vagabond Virgin visited Ono the previous season, and advised us to give Ono a visit. So why not? Only a few sailboats find their way to the small village Waisomo on the island Ono every year.
Etiquette is important in Fiji, and we were a bit excited when we drove the dinghy ashore. Some children were playing on the beach of Waisomo and we sighted some houses through the trees as we landed the dinghy. In the shadow of a big tree some of the village-people were taking a brake.
According to old tradition you have to ask the Chief of the village for permission to anchor, to fish, to take a bath or to go ashore on the village property. The children on the beach took us to the Chief, and Captain Eivind handed according to etiquette over the piece of kava that we carefully had brought with us. Luckily the Chief accepted our present. Then he told us that the village people would protect us – if necessary - during our stay. The following evening the hole Empire-crew was invited to Iso’s family’s house. Iso was the guy first welcoming us to the village, so his family became our host-family during our stay in Waisomo.

Kava is Fiji’s national beverage. There was a “tanua” in the middle of the floor in the living room. A tanua is a big Kava-bowl. The living room itself was divided from the bedroom with a mosquito-net. Little by little villagers gathered on the floor together with us and Iso’s family. Kava was mixed and the drinking cup was filled and passed around. How to serv and drink Kava is also ruled by etiquette. How the Kava is dried, how the powder is mixed with water, who does the mixing, who serves it and in what order it serves to whom is all important. For the person drinking the Kava it is also important to follow the rules. Everything that is in the cup, a half piece of a coconut shell, has to be drunk in one gulp, and you have to say “thank you” in a correct Fiji-way.
Kava gives a num feeling on the lips and on the thong. The Fijians can get drunk on cava, but we did not feel anything but a little numbness. None of us got very addicted to the light brown liquid. After four five rounds of Kava most of Empire crew was very satisfied. During the evening, which was one of more evenings to come with Kava-drinking, we learned many things about the Fijians and their way of living.
The Fijians and the villagers of Waisomo in particular, are very hospitable. One of the days on anchor outside Waisomo, we asked Iso to leave his boat alongside Empire. Nathaniel and the Captain thought it was time to give something back, and glassed together some of the damages in the bearing construction of Iso’s boat. Something Iso was very happy about.
The same evening as we got introduced to the secrets of Kava, Afriki anchored in the same bay as Empire. Ian is the Captain onboard the Canadian Yacht Afriki, and in the weeks to come we were going to know each other well.

When we were happy with the “city”-life in Waisomo, both yachts headed for the main lagoon of the Astrolabe Reef. The following days Ian and Eivind spent most of the days in the water. Ian is a capable skin-diver and very clever with his spear-gun. Eivind was not that experienced, and had a lot to learn from Ian. The boys stayed in the water from early morning to late evening. The result was many good fish-meals, either onboard Afriki or Empire or onshore around the fire on the beach.

One week later we finally hoisted our anchors, left Astrolabe Reef and headed for the Mamanuca- and Yasawa islands, on the western side of Vitu Levu. This is where most of the tourists not arriving by own boat travels. Hostels and hotels are in all classes, from “backpacker” and up to 2000 US a night. Luckily sailors are like the turtles – we have our house with us…
We didn’t have particularly good charts for the area, but experienced Yasawa-sailors gave us several tips and hint for good anchorages. Together with our friends Ian and Shawna onboard Afriki, we had great days around the Yasawa-islands. The days contained skin-diving, spear-fishing, kayaking, expeditions with the Zodiac looking for Manta Ray or turtles, and cooking of all the delicatessens of the sea

Our American crew had been sailing with us for five weeks, and for two of them time were about to run out. They had to head back home. Before this voyage with Empire their only experience was costal sailing around Maine and they had never done any sailing at night. Sandra and Wally discovered that long voyaging was something totally different from sailing in protected coastal waters.
Nathaniel, our third American crewmember, was going to sail with us to Vanuatu, where we also hoped to meet our friend Josh, the son of the owners of Bahati.

In Fiji we also met our Danish friends onboard Njord again. We met Njord with Hanne and Bo first time in Portugal in 2005. Bo had some troubles with the engine onboard Njord, so Bo and Eivind stuck their heads together – two heads think more (and hopefully better) than one – to find the problem and a solution to it. The problem had bothered them since they got their overhauled engine back onboard in New Zealand. The trouble was found – the mechanic in New Zealand had not tightened the oil drain screw inside the flywheel-housing during his maintenance-work. Meanwhile Hanne and Heidi enjoyed the opportunity to find out more about the city of Lautoka.

When the people in Fiji say “Bula”, it means “hello”. Almost half the population have their roots back to India. We found the India-related people to be a bit shyer than the Fijians. The people in Fiji are in general very friendly and are in no rush. They enjoyed to tell about their local traditions to curious Norwegians. If you manage to learn a few words of Fijian language you will always be welcomed. By the way “Vinaka vaka levu” means “thank you very much”.

Wally. Sandra. Nathaniel.
You can see more pictures at >>> PICTURES 2008 - FIJI
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