Thursday, August 10, 2017

Widow Maker

An iridescent green skirt over a red skirted lead headed lure seems to be the magic fish catcher on Astarte. It is our widow maker. The last eight fish we've hooked have been on this lure. We've even managed to land some! We call it the widow maker because two of the recent fish we've managed aboard have been mahi – and because they mate for life and we've landed the male bull mahi...there are a few mahi widows. That makes us sad.

On our trip yesterday around Udu Point on the northeast corner of Vanua Levu, we were told by some locals that we were guaranteed to catch a fish around the point. Boy, were they right!! We first hooked a medium sized mahi. Got it near the boat before it shook itself off. Then an hour or so later, we hooked what we thought was a tuna because it never came to the surface. Because we have no internet to confirm what it is, we think it is a rainbow runner. We got it to the boat, landed it and Michael cleaned it and we got several good sized fillets. It was redder meat. We had it for dinner last night and it was very tasty.

About an hour later, after we made the turn around the point, we hooked a HUGE mahi. It was a fighter and because we were sailing at that point it was harder to slow the boat down. We got the headsail in to slow it to 3.5 knots and Michael fought the fish for quite awhile as it kept running when it caught sight of the boat. We finally got it near, gaffed it and even managed to get it aboard. It barely fit through the space between the back stay and the railing. He was a very strong fish and it took both of us to hold it down to get a tail loop on it. It is probably the largest (not perhaps the longest) mahi or fish we have ever landed aboard Astarte. We hooked and released a larger marlin.

We think we are catching fish now because we were gifted a vacuum sealer from our friends Sandy and Rankin of SV Gypsea Heart. Since we have a good way to save the fish for future meals – we are now catching more!

Our travels since leaving Bula Bay have taken us to a few stops. We were first did a 25 mile trip to Taligica Island. It was just an overnight stop though we did have late afternoon visitors to the boat for a tour. As one said, "once in a lifetime experience."

We left the next day to head another 20 or so miles to Nubu. Nubu (pronounced Noom-Boo) means "deep" in Fijian. It was an interesting narrow cut into the reef and an "S" curve to get to the anchorage. We were looking for a home for a few days to wait out some predicted heavy winds. We got relatively close to the shore but still had to anchor in 50 feet of water. This was a very pretty anchorage and near a small river. Our friends on "Land Fall" had told us about this spot and said there was a small cascade/waterfall at the river end. We dinghied to find it and found an very interesting spot. It wasn't the easiest spot to get up but we found a side with lots of footholds to make our way to the river. There were many, many deep pools – very deep – in the river with small trickles over the edges. They went on and on. The river was sided by lots of trees, butterflies, birdsong and it was very pretty.

We came back the next day with a loaded dinghy. It was filled with dirty laundry, water filters from the water-maker to be cleaned and shower gear. Tide was lower and we had to walk the dinghy over the shallow mouth of the river – but once over that we could motor back to the stream. We got everything ashore and started our projects in a beautiful, shady spot. Most of the pools were too deep to even stand up in. They had steep sides. By the sides of the stream you could tell that during rainy season the river flows pretty mightily.

We repeated the routine the next day with more laundry (we hadn't done any for five weeks!) and Michael took a pretty good hike up the stream. It was a very nice spot.

We did put out a second anchor because of the predicted wind and because we were in such deep water with reefs around us. It gave us more peace of mind. We set the danforth anchor with the dinghy. During our stay here, we had three local boats stop by the boat to visit. They had nets that they were using to go out fishing. We invited two of the boats aboard and enjoyed meeting the people and learned about the area (including that it was called Nubu which means "deep.")

After five days in Nubu we made our way around Udu Point to leave the north side of Vanua Levu and start our way south again. We had a 37 mile trip to Rabi Island (pronounced Rahm-bee) and Albert Cove. This is one of our favorite spots – and one we took Kathryn and Mark to last year during their visit. Normally there is a family that lives on shore – but right now there is no other boat here nor anyone ashore. We have the place to ourselves. And Kathryn and Mark will be happy to know, the "guardian spade fish" are still here.
At 8/10/2017 7:02 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°26.68'S 179°56.24'W

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Thursday, August 3, 2017


FIRST – New photos on page.

We continue to enjoy our time on the north coast of Vanua Levu. After we left Kia island and Michael recovered from his hike with Save to the top of the split rock, we made our way to Malau and Labasa for a reprovisioning run. On our way here, we caught a small fish of unknown variety, but it was tasty for dinner.

We anchored off the lumber mill and took the dinghy to shore where the guards at the mill would watch the dinghy which you tie up right behind their guard shack. Tuni, Daniel and Simi, the guards were all on hand and we had a nice visit while we waited for the bus.

We caught the 0830 bus to town and did a shopping run for meat, produce, diesel, bread and ice cream. We caught the 1300 back loaded down with watermelon,a jerry jug and many bags. We picked up sweet treats for the guards as well. The next morning, Michael took the propane tank in to the fill station on shore (we paid for the fill in town the previous day). The timing was good because just as he was returning, the cooking gas ship came in to moor, to put in 50 tons of cooking gas to the station and they don't do fills when the ship is in!

From this quick stop we made our way to Tivi Island about 10 miles away and slowly sailed most of the way. Like last year, we were met with a "mirror" greeting. Someone on shore flashes a very large mirror at you as you enter the bay. Once anchored in this quite protected anchorage, fixing the dinghy is the high priority. It is taking on lots and lots of water because the port side tube is separating from the floor and leaves quite a gap to let in the water. Michael managed to do a temporary repair to hopefully cover us until we return to NZ for a more major warranty repair.

We also sat out some bad weather in Tivi – a morning of 35 knot winds – and a bit of rain (the first we've seen since we left Savusavu).

Once the weather was past, we made our way another short jump to Bula Bay (that's what the locals call it – most boaters call it Blackjack Bay from an old guide). It is near the Wainikoro River and a pretty anchorage. We made our way up the river to get more diesel – it was easier to do it here than by bus – so we would get two more jugs. It was a fun trip up the river, several fiberglass open boats passed us. They are so kind here. One boat filled with a giant barrel of fuel and six men (all smoking) on board slowed down as the passed us. That's better than they do in the Intercoastal Waterway!

We stopped and chatted with some folks on shore near their garden. They told us there was also a boat in Tivi Island ...we told them that was us the other day! One evening a boat with three fishermen, stopped by the boat in Bula Bay. We usually don't like it when boats come after dark. They were heading out to the reef to fish for the night and wanted to see the yacht. We invited to come back the next day in daylight. They did return around 4 pm the next afternoon and gifted us a beautiful fish. They called it a salmon cod – it was a pretty red fish with blue speckles on the skin. It was nicely chilled and a good size. That's one way to catch a fish – invite fishermen aboard to take a look at the boat. It was a very tasty treat as well – very firm white fish. Lighty sauteed it was a very tasty meal.

The next morning, two of the three returned to the boat this time with a large casava in hand along with the "how to" on cooking it. Aleki and John had become "friends" and liked knowing the people on the yacht. We had half the casava that night for dinner. We did a snorkel near what we called "Kiss" island – the shape was like a Hershey's Chocolate Kiss. It wasn't great coral – quite algae covered and pretty beat up – but there were some pretty fish to be seen.

We left Bula Bay and went out Sau Sau Passage through the reef. It is a pretty wide opening in the Great Sea Reef. Once outside the reef we would head east along the outside of the reef for about 20 miles. The wind was right on the nose – so we motored. The goal was to catch a fish – this time on a line and not getting one tossed into the boat from a friendly fisherman. Optimism was the keyword of the day for fishing. We had a spoon off the handline, and the fish catching "green and red" squid on the pole. We were barely making 5 knots against the wind and swell. We had the main up as well to try to steady the ride. Just as we were getting towards the end of the trip with the next reef entrance about 2.5 miles away, the rod's reel started to spin off at a high speed. "Fish On!"

Michael fought the battle with a very nice bull mahi. We actually got it to the boat and after several attempts to gaff it – the line broke! But Michael had his hand on the leader so he wrapped his hand around it (not a good idea) – but we got the mighty fish aboard and tail looped. It was a strong fish still even after a gaff and a long fight. It was a beauty.

After filleting it – it was a six meal (for two people) fish. We enjoyed the first helping that evening in our new anchorage near Tiligica Island. Within an hour of anchoring, we've already had three guys on board to see the boat and take pictures. We are an unusual sight on this side of the island.

Fishing has been better aboard Astarte – two on the line, one as a gift – three different varieties and we'll enjoy the mahi for several meals.
At 8/3/2017 8:23 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°11.30'S 179°46.26'E

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Village Life

We talk a lot about our visits to various villages here in Fiji. You've seen some photos on our photo page of villages. But here are some descriptions of a few different types of villages we've got to know.

Most are a lot larger than your first impression. You see a few homes from the water and usually one larger roofed building which is almost always in the best location on the hill, and it's the church. Once you enter the village, you see many, many more homes than you first thought – they are tucked way back, often tiered along a hillside. Some are settled more in the brush. Because we are always visiting water-sided villages, they often have at least one fiberglass open launch with a Yamaha outboard (15 to 40 horse depending on the purpose). Some villages, like Ligau here in Kia, have many boats because the village income is based on the sea – fishing in this case. The boats are tied to wooden poles (branches) stuck in the mud or they use a homemade re-bar grapple style anchor.

Once in the village, all the homes are open. The windows seldom have glass in them – though a few are the old-fashioned slatted "jealousy" windows. Breeze is critical in these tropical climates – so they do what they can to get some air through their homes. Some homes have some basic furniture – but most have very little in terms of conventional furnishings. The floors have beautifully woven mats made from the pandanus leaves. We often see women weaving together in the community rooms or in the shade and often see the pandanus drying in yards. They even have mats that they roll out for company – which we often get when we go in to do sevusevu or are invited for tea. The family gathers on the mats for all meals – they have better knees than we do! Sometimes, there are chairs, tables and sofas in the homes – but that is usually the exception. Many now have beds – though some still use the woven mats as their place to sleep. Because the homes are so open to the elements, it does make sense not to have too much "stuffed" furniture that would collect dampness, mold and critters.

Some villages have no general electricity – not on city power! There are lots of solar panels popping up and they are getting bigger and bigger and more refined with large installations. When we first visited villages, you'd simply see these little panels or flashlight/lanterns that had solar outside sitting in the sun during daytime hours. Now days, places like Kia where we are now, have just had solar panels put near each persons house on large poles connected to large batteries with 300 watt inverters. Some villages also use a village generator – this often runs for a set amount of hours each day – often only two hours each night. If a village has a major clinic or school, it often has its own generator.

Kids go to school from "kindy" to grade eight. Many villages that are large enough have their own schools and sometimes a few villages have to combine. If the villages are close enough the students walk to school or as in Kia, get school "boated" to the central village. If the villages are too far, sometimes the students are housed at the school like a boarding school from Sunday night until Friday afternoon. We were told in Navidamu that it costs $250 Fijian dollars per student per year for the housing which the government pays. They are certainly doing it on the cheap (that's about $125 US). The government pays for the schooling including transportation, meals, teachers, classrooms and some supplies. The parents must provide school uniforms and some school supplies and backpacks. The country used to charge school fees – but that has recently been eliminated with the government picking up that tab. It has put a large importance on education and the school fees made it difficult for some families to send multiple children to school. Most classes are taught in English, though Fijian is still the language you hear spoken most by the children and they are very shy about speaking English. We are pretty sure they understand more than they speak.

Church is the central part of village life and the villages pretty much shut down on Sundays and every puts on their best clothes and heads to the church. Drums often beat a countdown to the service (every fifteen minutes) to make sure nobody is late.

Sports are still favored in many villages – the kids certainly play rugby and netball. Some soccer and volleyball is also around. There are some adult teams as well, that challenge nearby villages during special events and holidays. Rugby is THE sport in Fiji thanks to the gold medalists "Fiji Seven" Rugby team from the Rio Olympics. Kids still run around and are typical of kids everywhere.

Over the few years we have noticed that some villages are changing – as is everything in the world. Fewer people are gardening now because if they have a way to make money (like fishing) they can just buy stuff. Rice is now eaten more than the root vegetables that were grown in the gardens like cassava, taro or yams. That is leading to more diabetes as well amongst the populations. Because there is more and more solar power, there are more and more televisions in the homes and satellite dishes on the roofs. When we were having tea the other day at Save's home, a group of women were sitting in front of a very large television watching Chinese soap operas – glued to the screen. More cell phones are popping up and when the teachers from Koroinosola visited the boat – they couldn't take enough "selfies."

You can't stop "progress" and everyone deserves a chance to upgrade their lifestyle. But it is still really special to get to some of these villages where community is central. People working together for the betterment of their village and their futures. We still like not seeing a television in sight and seeing people gardening together, weaving together and laughing while sitting in the shade of the large mango trees.

In some places we are still like a spaceship that has landed in their bay. People still want to come out and see the boat. There are still great and funny differences – we were showing one of our fish identification books to someone aboard and when we look at it we comment on how pretty or unusual the fish are. Our guest was commenting – "Oh that's a really tasty one. That one's good. That one is bony....etc." Food gathering is still a high priority.

We are still privileged and honored to get invited to the warmth, kindness and generosity of these villagers. Glad we are experiencing this now and not in ten years!
At 7/24/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.05'S 179°05.21'E

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Palmlea Farms and Kia Island

The wind finally settled enough to make the 18 mile run along the northern coast of Vanua Levu to a mangrove surrounded anchorage in front of Palmlea Farms. We came here last year and got to know the owners Julie and Joe – former cruisers. The "farm" is a small resort with a few rooms, a nice restaurant with great view and hundreds of goats. They raise the largest meat producing goat and have quite an operation. We enjoyed two evening visits and nice meal with Joe and Julie. They had several guests the second night so we scooted out of that anchorage and came to Kia Island.

Kia Island is located in a large horseshoe bend in the Great Sea Reef. So it is surrounded on three sides reef and the water is crystal clear. There are three villages on this island – Daku in the northwest corner, Ligua in the southwest corner and Yudu on the southeast east side. We came to the middle village Ligua that has the school for the entire island. The children arrive in the morning from the other two villages by a "school boat" - an open fiberglass 22 foot boat with a 60 horse Yamaha. There are 56 children in the school.

Upon arrival we had to re-anchor several times to avoid the many "bommies" in the bay – and Michael had to keep diving in to check that we were clear of them. Where's anchor boy? A boat did come up as we were anchoring to see if we needed any help – it was two guys with about nine giant lobsters on the floor! Once settled in about 30 feet, we went to shore for sevusevu.

Because we had been here last year as well, we did know a few folks and Save (prononced sah-vay), the torongo ni koro, was on shore to meet us. It was great seeing him again. Last year we did some nice family pictures for him but had to leave because of weather prior to delivering them. Luckily our friends, Lance and Michelle from "Sweetwaters" made the delivery for us! Save thought that was pretty cool. We did sevusevu with Save and Varesi, the village elder.

After a nice visit we went to the school to see if they wanted school photos and then to Save's house for tea and pancakes. (this is a traditional treat with tea of fried dough – very tasty).

The anchorage is interesting here – the wind funnels around the high island around the north and south points. Where we anchored, we would get gusts from either side of the boat at different times, which meant that Astarte would go around in circles. With all the bommies around this makes for interesting noises aboard and hopes that we don't get tangled or do damage to the reef. It gets a little rolly when the tide is at its highest point as the waves come over the protecting reef structure and we get some swell. But it doesn't last but a few hours a few times a day.

We did school pictures the next morning and had intended to have Save and his grandchildren out to the boat later in the afternoon. But we got some sort of stomach bug – no surprise with all the hand shaking and kids around! So we asked to postpone the visit when Michael delivered the printed photos to the school. Perhaps tomorrow.

We are the first boat to come to shore at Kia this season. That makes it interesting with lots of boats stopping by to visit Astarte on their to or from fishing expeditions. The island is renowned for fishing prowess. They provide much of the fish for all of Fiji. They work hard at it though. One boat of four young men stopped by after they had been out for two days on the reef – this is an open 22-foot fiberglass boat – no bimini or protection from the sun and certainly no facilities for comfort! They were out there in this for 48 hours.

The next entry will be some observations on the changing village life in Kia.
At 7/20/2017 9:43 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.04'S 179°05.22'E

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Windy Fiji

It is blowing 20 plus and has been now for a few days. It is predicted to last until NEXT Thursday and then only lighten a bit before more fronts, troughs etc. hit the area. We are settled in an okay place in Vunisinu Bay – a pretty large cut in the reef that goes quite away back. But the wind is still hooting through here, but luckily we don't have too much fetch. The noise of the wind though gets old and we are only into day two of the solid bluster. We have 175 feet of chain out in 4 meters of water (14 feet) so we should hopefully hold well. The gusts make us heel over though so you have to hold on below. Feels like being offshore.

We enjoyed our visit to Navidamu Village. It was like visiting family – many people remembered us from last year. We had Tomasi and his wife to the boat for coffee and cake. He is the "toronga ni koro" and we learned a lot about how village life works and why this particular village seems more industrious than many we visited. They have lots of village projects that are initiated – a new one is for the women, who will collect seaweed, dry it on racks that have been built on the beach and sell it. Plus, there is lots of weaving of mats and baskets going on in the community building. This is also the village where every family has planted sandlewood trees. Sandlewood when mature (20-30 years) sells for $150 (Fijian) per kilogram of the wood to the grower. That means each tree is worth a small fortune to a family. Many villages plant and grow the trees, but this one has a mandatory tree growing plan, as ordered by the chief.

On Thursday afternoon, we went to visit the school. It is a relatively large district school of 110 kids or so. About half live at the school because their village is too far for a daily commute. They come late Sunday and leave Friday afternoon. It was a really special visit as the teachers got the entire school out in the field, neatly lined up and seated and we talked to them and they asked some questions (how old are you? What do you eat? And things like that!) Then the children sang us some songs. One was particularly funny (though we couldn't understand the Fijian words, one of the teachers explained it). The youngest children sang and danced about the villagers fishing, gardening and then how the white men came and stole the people and stuffed them on bags! No wonder we get strange looks from some of the youngest children! We were invited for some juice and snacks and then watched the kids play some sports – the young girls were playing net ball and the boys "flag rugby." On our way from the school, a young boy ran up and gave us a big bag filled with "white bone" (or bokchoy cabbage). We later traded with another boat that showed up in the anchorage – a stock of cabbage for two papayas. It was the first boat we'd seen in a few weeks.

We also found one day (Wednesday) where the wind was a bit lighter and we took the dinghy up the Draketi River. The Dreketi is the deepest river in all of Fiji. We left bright and early when the tide was high so we could make a direct route from Astarte to the mouth of the river. It gets very shallow and has sticky mud banks. We made it into the river (getting a tad damp on the way) and then worked our way up the river several miles to the village of Dreketi. It is more like a very large bus stop as large buses stop here on their way to Labasa or the ferries in Nabawalu. There is a small vegetable market, a few small groceries and a place to buy fuel. We needed some gasoline to re-load the tank for the trip back. We were able to buy fresh bread, some fresh fruit and vegetables and had a roti lunch out. The people were very friendly and we got lots of invites for tea or dinner – but had to pass so we could make it back to the boat. We picked the only calm day to do this. The wind has been more consistently strong this season. And though on the north coast (which should be the lee of the island) it seems to really come roaring over the hills in big gusts. It is disquieting and we don't remember it as much from last year. Maybe our memories are going.

We left Navidamu yesterday (Friday) and left internet behind (bummer) and made a short trip to what we had hoped would be a more protected anchorage and bay. The trip was long for less than ten miles. We had very strong head winds and big wind chop. At times we could only motor about 2 knots against the conditions. We made our way into the deep bay – as far back as we felt safe to go and dropped the hook. Unfortunately the wind is still howling through the rigging but we certainly have less fetch here than we would in Navidamu.

Based on the weather forecast, we may be stuck here for some time. This looks like the best bay on the charts within a 20 mile radius. Our next stop we hope is at Palmlea Farms to visit Joe and Julie. Don't know when we'll make it there. Don't want to bash into 20-30 knot winds for 20 miles.
At 7/14/2017 9:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°28.69'S 178°57.45'E

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Naviqiri Grapevine

Many cruising yachts think that they can sneak into an anchorage and nobody will know they are there. They are so wrong.

After our adventures in Koroinasolo, it was time to turn the northwest corner of Vanua Levu and get on the north coast. This meant that we would sail around "monkey face"" " mountain and through some narrow cuts in the reefs. It was a relatively calm day and the seas were flat, so certainly a good day for this trip. We put the headsail out and had a pleasant sail around the point and through the reefs until the wind was on the nose and then we motored. We worked hard at spotting the "monkey's face" but still aren't certain we saw it. Even with great directions from the teachers we had aboard! Maybe we just don't have good enough imaginations.

Our destination was the village of Naviqiri where we spent almost a week the previous year. We arrived early afternoon and went into the village that afternoon for sevusevu. Sera and Freddy were our hosts last year and Freddy is also the "toronga ni koro" so we sought them out. As soon as we landed the dinghy, several women from the village recognized us and we were welcomed back as family. Sera came up to us and one of her first questions was, "you lost something in Koroinasola?" The grapevine had worked fast – that anchor and chain event had happened the previous day – and already it was news in this village. Others also asked about it. So if you think they don't know what's happening in their own anchorages and even in surrounding are very mistaken. The grapevine is alive and working overtime in Fiji.

We did our sevusevu and found out that the chief had been one of the men in the meeting Michael attended in Koroinasolo. So he heard the story first hand and brought it back to his village. We enjoyed a visit with folks and went back to the boat with a few fresh lemons (for lemon cake!) We had Sera and Freddy to Astarte the previous year and served them tea and lemon cake and since then we know Sera has asked other visiting yachtie friends of ours for "lemon cake".

The next morning we returned with lemon cake in hand and had a nice tea. That was followed by a long trek up the hills for a promised great view. Our guides on the walk were three young children (it was Saturday so no school). We had Rosie (grade five), Charlie (grade seven) and little Charlie (kindergarten). The were very polite children – "Man Charlie" (that's what we ended up calling the older Charlie) carrying Michael's backpack the entire trip which he accomplished without shoes. The other two did the hike in flip flops! Little Charlie got the nickname "Speedy" (or Speeti in Fijian) because he probably climbed the hill three times running up and down and talking non-stop in Fijian. Rosie would politely walk near us and pull away tall grasses from our pathway or pull sticky nettles off Barbara's skirt!

The walk was steep on back roads and paths and over a burned out area. The views from the top were worth the effort. We could see the entire bay and even the other side to Rukuruka Bay. The island of Kia could even be seen in the far distance.

Upon our return to the village, we took our three young guides to Astarte. Only Man Charlie was at a yacht once previously. They were excited about the ride in the dinghy (they called it "speedboat" though it doesn't go very fast with five people). We served them some cookies and soft drinks and gave them the tour. They became "celebrities" on shore because they got to see the yacht. We were served a nice local lunch by Sera and Feddy of freshly cooked yams, chopped dalo leaves in coconut milk and fresh papaya. Yum.

We headed back to Astarte as we were quite worn out from the heat and long trek up the hill. Of course we had the huge following of children to help us launch the dinghy.

We decided to take off on Sunday for the twenty plus mile trip to the next stop. When we went to start the engine though – it wouldn't start. Michael knew exactly what it was because he had commented a few days prior about the battery switch seemed to not be a solid connection. Luckily we kept the old one when we replaced it with this one a few years back. It was located, still worked and then installed. The engine started and off we went.

We arrived in Navidamu Village around 3 pm but because it was Sunday, we opted to not go into the village to do sevusevu. We would do it the next morning.
At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chiefs, Teachers and Koroinasolo Justice

We stayed a few days near Koroinasolo Village. We took a walk to the primary school which has four teachers and 52 students Grades 1-8 (they combine 1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, and 7th and 8th.) We met the head teacher, Mr. Tom and agreed to come back the next morning to take "class photos" at 10:30. The next day came – but the head teacher and another teacher weren't there as they made a trip into Labasa (the largest town in the area – about a two hour drive away). So we agreed to come back the next morning.

Michael decided to take a walk that afternoon up the road. He met road workers and learned about the area. Upon his return to the dinghy, he found that our anchor and chain had been taken and someone tied the dinghy to a nearby float. Not a good thing! He went back to the town and looking for Milly, whom we had met earlier in the day (and taken a picture of her baby which we had printed and given her). Milly spoke very good english, so Michael asked her the proper etiquette of getting to see the village chief and explained why. She told him he really needed the "toronga ni koro" to introduce him to the chief – but Philip was also gone to Labasa. Michael told her he would be back first thing in the morning to see Philip and the chief. She asked if he wanted to see the police that were in town, but Michael declined at this point.

Thursday morning came and Michael was well prepped on how he was going to deal with the chief regarding the missing anchor and chain. He dressed in his sulu and made his way to the village. He found Philip, who happened to be in a meeting with the chief and several elders. He explained exactly what had transpired and how disappointed he was that a village that depended on the sea for its livelihood would steal, boat equipment from another boater. He also told them he would prefer to deal with it locally through the chief first rather than dealing with the police – which got him lots of positive nods and approvals. He was invited to sit in a place of honor next to the chief and one of the members at the meeting left. The chief and elders continued their meeting for a short time in Fijian, and after a while, the man who had left returned, and the chief turned to Michael and told him his anchor and chain were back in his dinghy.

Sure enough, next to the dinghy there was our anchor and chain. With this happy outcome, we decided to continue with the planned picture taking at the school. When we arrived at the school, everyone already knew about the stolen anchor and chain. In fact, the entire village knew!

We took class pictures and returned to the boat to print them. As we left town, we saw Milly again and thanked her for her help and she was pleased that we got the anchor back and was so sorry something like that had happened in her village. We had arranged for the four teachers and spouses to come to the boat that afternoon at 3:30 to see the boat (none had ever been aboard a "yacht") and pick up the photos. At 3:15 Michael went ashore to pick them up. He waited and waited and finally at 4:15 returned to the boat. At 4:30 they showed up – I guess that's Fijian time! We had a great visit with them and they took more pictures aboard – posing selfies in every part of the boat!

After a few hours they departed with one of the teachers taking off her skirt as she was leaving to give to Barbara. (She did have shorts on underneath!). They were a hoot.

Friday morning was calmer than the previous week and it was time to move on so we went around "Monkey Face" Mountain and sailed to our next destination. At the next stop we learn that the Fijian Village grapevine is very effective.
At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E

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