Day 54, Year 2: Happy Father’s Day–On Our Way to the Lau Group
Date: Sunday, June 17, 2007, 1745 Fiji Time
Weather: Beautiful Morning, Party Sunny Afternoon; 10 knots ESE
Latitude: 18 degrees 59 minutes
Longitude: 178 degrees 43 minutes
Location: Overnight Passage to Moala Island, Lau Group, Fiji

Last year, June 17 was a Saturday and we were in Cook’s Bay, Moorea, in French Polynesia. Our son Justin was visiting with our daughter Heather, so we called them on the SAT phone to say hello. This is when we found out that we were going to be grandparents, but we were sworn to secrecy for six weeks. Heather and Jed didn’t want people to know until after the first trimester, so hard as it was, we kept the secret. That was quite the Father’s Day present–one we will never forget. Hard to beat
that one. Things this year aren’t quite as exciting. Mark’s Father Day present is an overnight passage to Moala Island. He also got a box of Lindt chocolate truffles that I have been hiding since New Zealand and he says that is what he is eating for dinner tonight.

We left Korolevu Bay at noon and will arrive at Moala in early afternoon tomorrow. The weather did cooperate and we have light winds from the ESE. We are basically traveling from the east, and even though we are having to motor sail, if the normal trades were blowing 20 from the east, it could have taken us much longer to get there. The seas are also fairly calm, so waiting for the weather sometimes pays off. At 10 AM this morning, Safina and Scot Free II pulled up anchor and headed one bay south
to Galoa. At 11 AM, Moet did the same. Franz had come over with three year-old Dillon this morning to tell us they were moving on. We talked about where we might meet again, and it sounds like we will see them around the end of July when we are in the Mamanuca or Yasawa Groups. Dillon informed me that he saw absolutely no fish on his first snorkeling excursion. Maybe that’s because he didn’t open his eyes! When we left Waya Island yesterday, Sylvia was doing everything in her power to convince
him to put on a snorkel and mask and get into the water, but he was just replying with, “No, no, no, no.” Evidently she got him in, but he must not have opened his eyes if he didn’t see any fish there! We hope to see Safina and Scot Free II in Savusavu. They are going back to Suva before heading north to reprovision. We will have been out here over a month without going to a store when we arrive in Savusavu, and it will definitely be time for us to reprovision at that point. As we pulled out
of the bay, Ranger was the only boat left in the anchorage. It looked so lonesome. But they can’t move on until Cindy’s luggage is recovered. They are hoping it will arrive today and they will then move back north to the Astrolabe Reef tomorrow before returning to Suva. We will miss seeing our friends, and look forward to a reunion in Savusavu.

Moala is not actually part of the Lau Group, but it is administered by them and therefore you have to have the special Lau permit to go there. There is absolutely no infrastructure for tourism, so it is going to be an interesting stop. It is close enough to Suva that the people there send their bananas and coconuts on overnight boats to Suva for sale. I don’t know if that means that they travel there themselves, or if it is some sort of transport boat that takes what they have to sell to market.
We have absolutely no idea what to expect, and I’m certain we will be the only sailboat as I don’t think anyone else has been granted a Lau Group permit through the Suva office this year, and that is the only place you can get a permit to allow you to visit Moala. So this will be an interesting stop. It is halfway to our final destination in the Lau Group, the island of Vanua Balavu, and that is its draw for us. From here to there is open water with no islands and no reefs, so it was a convenient
stopping place. We also heard from Ernst and Anna Maria on Galatea that it is a good place to visit. They were there last year and enjoyed the time on the island. We will stay a few days and then we hope to move on to Tuvuca in the Northern Lau Group. That will be another overnight sail, and from there we go to Vanua Balav–just a day hop.

Thinking back to where we were last year, this year of cruising is very different. The people of the Marquesas and the Society Islands in French Polynesia are subsidized by the French Government, so people there have a much higher standard of living than the people in this part of the Pacific. It is hard to label what we see here as poverty. The people don’t have much, but they don’t seem to want or need much. They seem very happy, but we have not had discussions with them about their standard
of living. It is very simple, but almost every village we have visited has had a generator that works off and on, and when it is working, the villagers gather in the evening to watch television. That must have an impact on them. It will be interesting to see if there is television in the Lau Group. The Fijian government has worked hard to keep those islands isolated and more traditional. We shall see if they have been successful.

070617 Day 54 Kadavu Island, Fiji–Passage from Korolevu Bay to Moala Island