Day 59, Year 2: Overnight Passage, Reflections, and Sam–5 Months Old Today!
Date: Friday, June 22, 2007 at 1730
Weather: Sunny Day; ENE Winds 10 Knots
Latitude: 18 degrees 11 minutes S
Longitude: 179 degrees 51 minutes W
Location: Passage from Moala to Vanua Balavu, Lau Group

It is late afternoon and we are sailing along peacefully on calm seas headed northeast to Vanua Balavu. This is indisputably the most beautiful of the Lau Group islands, so we are anxious to get there tomorrow. Today has been a beautiful day. We waited until about 11 AM to leave Moala, but we didn’t wait long enough. Because it is winter here, the sun is never right overhead. It is a little to the north. And since that is the direction we were headed, we couldn’t see the shallow areas as clearly as we would have liked. I was at the helm and following the track of our trip in as closely as possible. We know the computer charts for this area are off, but we weren’t sure how much. We were taking every precaution, but we still we found ourselves with coral under us. It was beautiful, but not beautiful to be on top of it. Thank goodness, it was far enough under us not to cause a problem, but it sure gave us a scare. We now know the charts are about three-quarters of a mile off. We came out from behind the reef and entered calm waters. The wind is coming around to the east but is only blowing 7 to 9 knots. That moves us along at about 4 knots. I know we are going to have to start the engine in order to arrive at Vanua Balavu around noon tomorrow, but right now we are just enjoying a wonderful, calm sail.

Anytime we leave an island, my mind reels with all of the memories of that place. Here are some of my reflections on Moala.
–Meeting young men on shore when we first arrived and watching them jockey to see who would take the kaitanis to present sevusevu to the chief. These young men look and dress like any group of young men in the United States, but they really do live in two worlds–the ancient and the modern.
–Walking through a village where every home has a solar panel.
–Meeting a chief and a wife who were so welcoming. It took only a short time to see how the chief’s wife, Litia, truly is a partner with her husband. She takes care of everyone in the village and she made sure we knew the right things to do.
–Watching young women in a high school Home Economics class having to open cans with a long-bladed knife because there are no can openers.
–Meeting a man on the airport road who was cutting the grass with a bush knife and looking at the camera around my neck saying, “You have plenty money.” I tried to convince him otherwise, but compared to him, I probably do have plenty of money.
–Wading through shallow water and walking over coral to get to land at low-tide. Basically, the villagers have to live their lives according to the tides.

There are many other pictures that I carry with me as we travel on, but I wanted to share just a few with you. Tonight while I am on watch I will read what little information we have on Vanua Balavu. It is visited by a few tourists, and there is some information in the Lonely Planet guide. Tomorrow we will share with you what we find.

We have been away from grocery stores and markets for twenty-three days now. We used the last of the fresh veggies last night to make a curry. It was a head of broccoli that I found in a grocery story in Suva. What a treat! We are still eating the coleslaw made from a New Zealand head of cabbage. This coleslaw has no mayonnaise and is kept out of the refrigerator, and I find it amazing that I’m still eating New Zealand cabbage that was never stored in a refrigerator! We do have celery that Marie was able to buy for us in Vunisea when the Ranger crew went there to try and locate Paul’s daughter’s luggage. That will be our only fresh vegetable until we reach Savusavu. By the way, when we talked to Marie on the radio yesterday she said that Cindy’s luggage finally arrived in Suva on Wednesday. Of course, I think Cindy left for the US today, so I guess she will arrive home with a bag full of clean clothes.

And now for the story of the day . . . our grand baby Sam is 5 months old today!!! We received one of Heather’s weekly updates to the grandmothers this morning and she reported that they have had quite a week leading up to this milestone. “On Monday evening, Sam rolled over for the first time! He was playing on the living room floor, trying to get his toes into is mouth (as usual) and gently rolling side to side (again, as usual). Then, suddenly, he was on his tummy. He was as surprised as I was and not entirely happy as he had pinned both hands under his body and all his attempts to rectify this resulted in digging his face into the floor.” Heather writes to us with enough detail that I can actually see Sam doing these things. She went on to say that on Tuesday of this week, he had his first non-bathtub water experience in a pond, but he quickly found that too cold. But the big break-through was yesterday when Sam took his first drink of milk from a sippy cup. He has refused any kind of bottle, so this is good news for his mom. Heather also found out yesterday that she can delay going back to work until just after Labor Day, which made her very happy. This will give Sam two more months to learn to use that sippy cup so he won’t starve when she goes back to work. So it was a big week for Heather, Jed, and Sam.

It is getting close to sundown and while I have been writing this log the wind has picked up to 11 knots. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to sail through the night. Right now, there are no clouds in the sky. If that condition continues, we will have an almost half-moon to provide some light to guide us until midnight when it sets. It could be an incredibly nice sailing night. We just crossed the 180th parallel and are back in the Western Hemisphere. But since the dateline has been moved for political purposes, our date and time does not change.

070622 Day 59 Moala Island, Fiji–Leaving Moala