I’m sure this has happened to you too. You’re in a good place, happy, content, at peace with life, with plenty of fun things to do should you feel like doing something. For us I suppose being treated like honored guests would be a mitigating factor. Suddenly, way back, deep in the subconscious, a feeling of disquiet. Not yet a formed thought, but still, a rising threat to contentment. Anchored just fifty meters off of Sau Bay Fiji Retreat, Carol and Nigel have created the perfect velvet-lined trap for the weary traveler.
Say yes to one
O hear me, Dear Escapees, the temptation to just stay put, in the friendly lap of luxury, is overpowering. But Fiji covers a lot of ocean and we fought so hard just to get here.
And let the other one ride
I’m going out on a limb and blaming the Toucans for breaking the spell first. This morning’s French press coffee on the veranda would be our last; they were headed back to Savusavu to welcome good friends on Rehua just in from a rough passage out of New Zealand.
It’s not often easy
We Escapees reluctantly winched in our chain and anchor from the depths of Sau Bay and were off to discover Fiji. We find the combination of terrible charts, reefs, bommies, and numerous uncharted areas in Fiji tend to keep us on our guard, producing stress even out in the middle of a deep channel. We chose a nice open bay on Kioa Island for an overnighter but found reefs and bommies as soon as the water was shallow enough for our anchor to find the bottom. The chart had no name or sign of a settlement for this pretty bay. It was a sunny but airless morning anchor lift. We followed another yacht out of No Name Bay to wend our way up the reef-strewn passage to stunning Albert Bay on Rabi Island. We even set Escape Velocity’s jib for a spot of sailing but Marce had an unlucky bloody pinch from the camber spar as we were taking it down and now our lovely new sail is baptized in blood. I did my best to wash it off.
It’s not often kind
Once again the reef protecting Albert Cove didn’t match the charts but by now we Escapees have become adept at reading the water and we slid into the peaceful bay with just a few bommies, anchoring in 65 feet of crystal clear water. We lug around 275ft. of 10mm chain but our usual comfort level of 5:1 anchor rode to depth ratio just isn’t practical in these waters. So our shiny pants fancy color fishfinder showed a flat sandy bottom surface on the screen and that’ll have to do.
As soon as we finished anchoring we heard a radio call from the same yacht that we shared last night’s anchorage with. They were wondering if we could help them do the sevusevu ceremony here because we could all see two thatched houses tucked back in the palms. Asking permission to anchor in their bay is the normal protocol. We knew that Rabi Island was repopulated by i-Kiribati whose government, in a bold stroke of magical thinking, long ago sold the phosphate mining rights on Banaba Island to the Brits. Turns out Banaba was mostly phosphate and when the phosphate was gone, so was most of the island. So the Brits bought Rabi Island from Fiji and relocated the population of Banaba here about 1945. That means chances are these folks are probably not Fijian but they probably still like kava. We grabbed our wrapped and beribboned kava roots, gathered crew from our harbor neighbors and picked our way through the reefs to the half moon shaped sandy white beach.
Welcome, welcome was the first thing we heard. Soon we were sitting on a beautiful woven pandanus mat sharing stories with Maria and Joe with cute little naked babies running around, chickens, pigs, and coconut hounds. The grandmother was sitting in the middle of a stack of palm fronds weaving eighty new roof panels to replace the damage cyclone Winston had done. They talked about their lives and agreed to do sevusevu after dinner. We brought super glue to fix Joe’s rubber flippers and some plastic containers and empty jars for food storage and they gave us a few very scarce bananas, which we knew, after cyclone Winston, was a real sacrifice.
Not as formal as Fijian ceremonies but Joe pounds a good kava and I’m not sure but I think Yours Truly is now the chief of Albert Cove!