A Nordic Breeze

A Nordic Breeze

Breeze blogg

Vi har försökt att få till en kombination av ett liv i Stockholm och ett mer äventyrligt liv på båt. Vi kommer här att berätta om resans alla äventyr, i såväl med- som motvind.

We have tried to combine a life back home in Stockholm with a more adventorous life on a yacht. Here we will tell you about our adventures.

Vanuatu to Australia and, not the least, a short stop at another of this planets paradises

Vanuatu 2016Posted by Per Tue, November 22, 2016 19:46:05

Take off

So…now it was time again. Another longer passage. This time some 1060 nm from Port Vila in Vanuatu to Bundaberg in Australia, with a planned stop at Chesterfield Islands in the middle of the trip. Chico had already left us on a plane to Melbourne for his ten days at quarantine and Sabina and Ella would fly down to Bundaberg and pick him up there and wait for Breeze to come sailing in a few weeks later. Two Swedish friends came down to Vanuatu to sail with me; Torgny and Michael.
The wait for the weather window was over and it was time to leave early in the morning on the 8th of November. Michael had arrived only two days earlier but Sabina and I had done most of the stocking up before the boys arrived, and it was only the last shopping for veggies etc left to do before take off.

First leg is 587 nm and I was planning on landfall the 11th. Wind the first two days was 8-12 knots true from behind. Not much sea with that wind speed, but it made my initial calculations with an average of 200 nM a day crack within the first day of sailing. We also had some counter current and could only keep an average of 156 nM a day the first two days. We now had two options, since I don´t like going in at night to new places in remote areas - slow down and spend another night out at sea, or speed up and fire up the engine. When the wind died down to 4-5 knots the third day, it made the choice easy. I have always hated going slow and rolling around in old swell from the side, so we started motor sailing at 9-10 knots. We made landfall just before a beautiful sunset on the 11th of November and was greeted by chirping birds and the most beautiful turquoise water and white sand islets. Sundowner with Entice, Helios and Nimrod

We were not expecting any other boats, but found three others at anchor when we arrived – two Australian catamarans and one American monohull. Nothing wrong with sundowners but that had to wait for another day, because we were eager to go exploring the islands in the morning.

Exploring Chesterfield Islands

Chesterfield Islands, what is that??? Yes, it is not very well known, but it´s not hard to hit it if you are passing this area unknowingly. Many wrecks scattered around this reef is the proof of that. The reefs extend from 19˚ to 22˚S between 158160˚E in the southern Coral Sea halfway between Australia and New Caledonia. The outer reef itself stretches approximately 70 nm from the south to the north and comprises of reefs on the northern part and reefs with small low lying motus (islets) on the southern part.

It is an atoll, which is really an old sunken volcano, just like the ones in the Tuamotus. The area belongs to New Caledonia and is a protected marine and coral reef area. The best description of this paradise is a mix between Minerva Reef (for the few of you who have been there) and Galapagos (a bit more well known).

All animals are completely unaware of humans as being a threat, and you can walk right up to them. There is no other way to reach these islands than by your own boat, which makes it pristine and unique. The New Caledonian government is happy to grant you a chance to stop on your way to Australia, without having to go all the way to Noumea to check in, if you agree to send them a report of what you have seen and done at Chesterfield. Not many boats do get off the beaten track to get here though. They only get 15-20 visits of boats a year.
The islands are inhabited by thousands and thousands of birds, with visits by the big sea turtles coming up to lay their eggs certain times of the year and we arrived right in the middle of the turtle season.
Waters outside are amazing with one of the clearest waters you can find in the world with 30+ meters visibility. Reefs are healthy and fish are plentiful and huge (AND willing to be speared by your spear gun whenever you get hungry.There are lots of sharks (a good sign of a healthy reef) in the water, but they are only curious and wont bother you if you don´t shoot a fish too close to them. At the turtle breeding season and bird hatching season, Chesterfield is also a nursery for Tiger Sharks since it is so easy for them to find food at this time of year.

One calm day we took the dinghy through a small pass to the outer reef on the east side to go spear fishing. Huge Snappers and Parrot fish, but decided to shoot the not too big ones since I was not 100% sure if there was any Ciguatera (fish poisoning) there or not. We knew that some friends of us had been here a month ago and eaten fish they caught in this area without getting sick, so we felt pretty confident after all.

After cleaning the fish and throwing the carcasses in the water we had a new friend at the boat – a small Tiger shark. Small, when we are talking about Tigers, is 3 meters. All other types of sharks are easy to chase away, as long as you act as a predator and not a prey, but Tigers are the sharks responsible for the most attacks and accidents on humans in the tropics (and second on fatalities in the world, behind the Great White). No serious diver/spear fisher feels safe when having a Tiger shark in the water. Every time we threw something in the water our friend was there again, so that was the end of my crews daily swims from the boat at that anchorage.

The small islands stretch kilometer after kilometer at low tide and consists of the whitest coral sand you can think of…and birds. Birds, nesting in the small trees; birds, nesting in the bush; birds, nesting in the sand. Brown Gunnets, Masked Boobies, Frigate Birds, Crested Terns, Black Noddys and many others I don´t know the names of. It was fun to read in our bird book written by Neville Coleman that they don´t know where the Masked Boobies have their main breeding grounds. Now we know. There were hundreds and hundreds of them on the different islets of Chesterfield. The Masked Boobie always lay two eggs, but only one nestling survives.

Super moon and turtle watch

Every morning we went to the islets we could see new tracks from the turtles that had been up during the night to lay their eggs. Of course we had to go in one night to see them. This was the time of the super moon and in the dark, with nearest light pollution some 1000 km away, it was almost like moving around in broad daylight. One night we saw a big Green Turtle that had just laid her eggs and we could only feel happiness. Not many of her hatchlings will survive to come back and lay their eggs, but we were happy that this is one of the sanctuaries in the world where the turtles still can breed in peace.

Snakes in paradise

Unfortunately, there were some snakes even in this paradise. We had been there for three days when we saw two Chinese fishing vessels entering the lagoon. They immediately started fishing. We think they were diving for Sea Cucumbers and fishing for shark fins. We emailed the New Caledonian government to warn them, but they have no resources to send ships or planes for ID. We were asked to observe and take photos but not to interfere, since they can be dangerous if they feel threatened. We did not need to hear that twice, since we were alone out in nowhere and would be an easy target. Nevertheless, we felt extremely sad to see this piece of paradise being damaged and we really hope that they will be able to stop this fish pouching.

Time to leave

Leaving this paradise was hard to do, but as always weather decides. A low developing in the north threatening to bring 35-40 knots to the islands, and potentially worse, made us want to leave after the next front that was due on the 15th. We left the islands at first light 5:30 on the 16th in a nice 15-20 knots breeze from ESE and a benign 1,5 m swell. Winds kept increasing during the next day and so did the swell. We ended up sailing along in a howling 25-35 knots of wind from forward of the beam and a 3-meter short choppy swell just aft of the beam. It was fast, I give you that, but we reefed hard to slow down the boat to make it a bit more comfortable. Still, making more than 9 knots on average on the two days of our last leg to Bundaberg made it a short and overcoming pain. And as always, it makes the getting there so much nicer :)

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Vanuatu – what else than beaches and fishes? Well…

Vanuatu 2016Posted by Sabina Mon, October 31, 2016 09:09:44

Vanuatu is 83 islands on top of the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is on the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate. The islands are beautiful; dramatic lush green and black rocks, white beaches or maybe golden or black. Vanuatu is being pushed up on the Indo-Australian plate with frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Some islands are still rising and others are sinking. The volcanoes that helped building up the islands can be seen almost everywhere. Many are still active. All is surrounded by the bluest ocean with fish, turtles and dugongs. The ocean is really deep between the islands, so finally no reefs to worry about when sailing.

Vanuatu is a country with 240 000 inhabitants, 98% of them are ni-Vans and 2% have a background from another country. And the way of living in Vanuatu is like living in two very different countries, with different cultures and economies. There are the two main islands Efate and Santo with roads, electricity and infrastructure; with supermarkets, restaurants and shops with everything from the cool surf clothes to designed solar lights. They also have with big local markets for fruit, vegetables, flowers or handicraft.

And then there are 65 other inhabited islands with still a very traditional life; with farming, hunting and fishing; with trading and sharing. Where the forests are a major resource that supplies food and medicine, and gives material for building houses and boats.

The sea and the boats are still the main way of transporting when not being in one of the two towns. The canoes are used the whole time; for sailing to school, for fishing, for transporting anything or everything. They are paddled for heading to meetings or church service, for going to the road and wait for the bus. They are the way of transport to one’s plantations elsewhere than the own island, or sailing out to friends in another village. They are used as a platform for playing after school, or paddling to us sailors.

Almost every time we dropped the anchor we got a visit from a canoe or two. The polite questions where then followed by a quiet question or two if we would like some fruit, and if we maybe had a rope for the cow that had run away, or some medicine. And then they all lead to the question of help with electricity in the house. Electricity needed for lights at night, and for watching films. Almost everywhere we went Per went in, with tools and spares, and helped them with their electricity.

Vanuatu is also the country of languages. They have three official languages; English, French and Bislama (pronounced more like Bishlama), and then 105(!) indigenous ones. That makes Vanuatu the country with the world’s highest density of languages per capita.

When we were on the east coast of the island Malekula, in a small village by Banam Bay, the people explained to us that they have five different languages, besides the three official, in the same bay and peninsula, all within sight or walking distance. They always spoke their own in the village and could only understand two of the others, so usually Bislama with the others. And when we were anchored by little Awai Island where two brothers live with families, Sofram told us that his island used to have its own language, but it disappeared when his grandfather died. It really can’t be easy to keep a language when it´s only spoken in the family. Just think about it: When getting married, the women always move to the husband’s village, with what probably for her has a new language. She needs to learn her husband’s language or they share a third one, she only speaks her own old language with their children. So the children grow up with at least two languages, via mother and father, and maybe an extra via grandmother. Then when starting preschool and school they need to learn Bislama and English, French… Bislama is the main common language, but is quite new in the country, it was developed as a traders’ tongue in the 19:th century and got its name from what the early traders took from the country; the beche-de-mere, or the sea cucumber.

The history of Vanuatu begins with the Lapita people. They sailed to the islands, about 3500 years ago in longboats, and are famous for their pottery. They brought pigs and chicken on their boats, and yams and tarot-root.

They lived in small autonomous clans, separated by ravines, jungles and sea. And they lived in the shadow of their ancestors who could be controlled by magic. It was important to get the ghosts to the good (your) side or they could be hostile and ready to haunt with disasters, famines and military defeat. Even today many ni-Vans believe their ancestral spirits and demons populate the world. The ghosts of the recently dead are especially potent, and can also be potentially malicious even to their own family. Practice of magic can help and most adult men (magic is generally taboo for women) in the traditional parts of Vanuatu know some useful spells. These can be used for getting the ghosts to your side, or to produce good crops. Or maybe for future love affairs. For more special missions, like calming storms, healing the sick or controlling the volcanoes, a true magician is needed.

Vanuatu is also a country where the old believes still live by the side of the Christian church. Wherever we were and whoever we asked the ni-Vans always answered that the spirits still live by them. When we were on Wala we were invited to a walk to the old, inner part of the island, where the ni-Vans lived before the missionaries influenced and changed their believes. This is where the spirits of the old powerful chiefs still are. Here are areas where you are not allowed to walk, the sacred planted Namele palm shows where the taboo is. And this is where Loren introduced us to his grandfather’s grandfather.

Loren’s grandfather´s grandfather was once the chief of the village. When he reigned the island was known for their fierce fighters. Other chiefs could sometimes ask for help from the men in Wala, it was politics that decided if and what side they would support. If they got in to fights they always showed how many they had killed by bringing their penises back. Some of their victims, fighting victims were only men, were eaten by the men who had killed them. Women could be taken from the conquered and be given to men who wanted them as their wives, or really as slaves, as Loren said.

When Lorens ancestor died he was buried by a Namele palm since he was the chief. Body down in a deep hole and his head above the ground. After seven days his head was taken off and taken to the sacred place where other chiefs in the family were buried before him. This is where Loren took us.

At a sacred place you must be quiet, Loren prayed and talked to him entirely quiet, he told him we would support with a pig and made a dance around the burial ground. His great great-grandfather gave permission for us to walk and being told the history, but he also said that we must not talk to anyone on the island or in Vanuatu about it. Then we were introduced to the skull of his ancestor. After that Loren could show us around on the taboo area.

We walked by some Nakamal trees. Loren told us this is where the spirits stay. The spirits are the same size as us, or they can be small as dwarfs. When there are people on the island the spirits climb up the trees where they can keep an eye on what is happening, they only walk the ground if the island is empty or at night. Loren had met two of them one night, one lady spirit with long hair all the way down to her waist and one small spirit, walking on the trail across the island back to their Nakamal tree.

We also walked by the old place where the chiefs used to be crowned, and where men who want to earn statues through grade-taking ceremonies could, and still can, bring and slaughter pigs. If this is happening they need a thousand pigs. Five hundred tied on one side of the trail and five hundred on the other. One side is for the men, the other for the women. The men and the women may not be together, or talk to each other, during the ten days of ceremony. They must kill and cook the pigs on different sides of the trail. This is the only time men do any cooking, otherwise that is always a woman´s job. Once the boys get into puberty they are on the men’s side.

It was a long time since this was used for ceremony, almost a hundred years, in his grandfather’s time. But Loren was hoping it would be once again in not a too far away future so that he would experience it.

The men in the early history earned their statues through grade-taking ceremonies, each grade closer to becoming a chief. The more grades a man had earned the more powerful his defence of black magic would be, and the more potent his spirit would be after death. One way to show a man’s wealth in life was the number of his pigs. The tusks from the pigs provided currency (now they are a symbol on the flag), and the pigs were the second most important in the family. But who was then responsible for the pigs well-being and the man’s statues? Their wives…who came as number three. Loren told, with a smile on his face, that thanks to Christ and church women have upgraded and are nowadays considered more important than the pigs.

To come to Vanuatu and visit the islands and villages gives you a perspective of how to live. Life here is very close to nature and, at least for us visitors, seems to be very easy, happy and relaxed. No one has very much, materialistic, if you look at it from a European perspective. It is a life when the days follow the sun, and what you have mostly comes from the nature. In Ambrym we were shown how to find and dig for the eggs from the Meya bird. The Meya bird, an endemic Megapode, lives in hill forests where it nests in volcanically heated areas where it buries its eggs deep in the ground. We were shown where to find them and how to dig for them.

We read that egg collecting is now restricted by a local system of taboos, but we also saw all the exhumed big nests. Digging for the eggs is only one threat to this endemic bird. The bird itself is also hunted by rural communities and is killed by feral dogs. Its nesting areas are logged and cleared for agriculture. Then comes mother nature’s answer with fires and cyclones degrading nesting grounds and shortage of feedstuff. No one really knows how many birds there still are, somewhere between 2500 and 10 000. For us it is easy to wonder; is it worth it? Digging a whole day for a handful of eggs when there are fowls and chicken walking everywhere? Aren’t their eggs easier to collect for a lesser environmental cost? But it is easy for us to wonder and wish. The ni-Vans told us these eggs are so much better with its extra big yolk…

Vanuatu is beautiful. One thing we really wanted to experience in Vanuatu was the volcanoes. One of the reasons we went to Ambrym was hiking up on one in the middle of the island. We hiked up to Mt Marum.

We went to the village Ranvetlam for asking for permission and hire a guide and a carrier. The weather turned out good in a couple of days and we could start the hike on a Sunday. We had been told to dress with variety, covering both for hot and cold, to have good strong shoes and lots of water, and food to cover two days. By eight in the morning we left the village and started walking up, up.

The first hours we walked the green rainforest, with good sun cover from the dense vegetation and well-walked trails leading to someone’s plantation up in the forest. Halfway up, the trail got into a trickier one. Steeper, narrower, densely green. The whole time we were surrounded by the sound of the crickets, almost ear-splitting, and birds.

After a couple of breaks with water, bananas and bars we finally came up to the ash plain. Before entering we were cut a spear each from the wild bamboo. Since this was our first time walking up to the volcano we should throw the spear out on the ash plain and our guide asked the spirit of the volcano for a good walk up and a for calm volcano.

A completely different walk started. All open for the sun, all on flat black lava that is a river bead when the rain is truly rich, surrounded by the green, wild bamboo and orchids. We could see footprints from the wild cows but the only animal we saw was the little birds. By midday we reached our camp. This would be our house for the night, our outdoor dining room for dinner and breakfast, our shared bedroom. (You could say the hut had its own way of air-conditioning, via walls, floor and door opening. When night came and we should sleep it was freezing cold.) After a rest and some extra lunch, we started walking further up.

Mt Marum is 1270 m high, and has a sister, Benbow, only a kilometre away. They are both two very active vents from the same volcano. It is not only one of the most active volcanoes of Vanuatu, but also in the world. Eruptions occur almost yearly. Up! Ash plain, moonlike landscape. We walked to the leeward side, where it was easier to breathe.

The lava boiling, changing shape and structure every second, sending up smoke covering the view, spreading heat to your frozen fingers, making your throat dry and your eyes filled with tears It gave you dizziness, almost pulled you down. It was hypnotizing.

We started the hike with a wish to stay up on the volcanic ridge till sunset. We had a wish to stay close to the crater and the coloured smoke clouds in the dark and gave it a try for a couple of hours. But it was too cold. Fingers felt like when walking outside in a snowy winter without gloves. We hiked back to our base camp for heating up both dinner and ourselves by the fire. And listening to the crickets and looking at the star covered sky and red clouds coming up from inner of the world.

Marum and Benbow spread their light at night and ashes and smoke the whole time.

After a long night in the hut, trying to get some warmth from blankets and Chico, listening to the wind, always wondering if the light coming in through the gaps in the wall was the sun rising; but no only the light from Marum and Benbow. Then finally sunrise and time to go up. Time for breakfast and then to start walking down to our homes in village or boat.

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Breeze, beautiful beaches and blues (and a little ablout bleaching and beche-de-mer)

Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Sabina Tue, June 28, 2016 20:30:32

We had a very nice time in the small town Savusavu. It´s great coming back to a place you´ve been to before and catch up with people again, it feels like coming home. After a couple of weeks with small town life, hikes up the green, visits to the market and dinners with friends, we left. We headed further west, to some new anchorages and island before going “back home” to Vuda. We were looking forward to the dry islands and blue water life. We were heading to the Yasawas.
First stop was Yadua and a visit to the village for sevusevu. In the village they had three houses of traditional style, the best for this climate said the Turaga who took us to the chief with the kava and then on a walk around. Almost everyone in Yadua has moved to the more modern houses a bit further from the ocean, the houses that the government helped them build after the cyclone Evan a few years ago.

The teacher with the youngest children started the school day by the beach, practicing writing letters in the sand. It gives the cruising phrase “It is written in the sand” another meaning.
At least ten boats from the village went out diving for sea cucumbers. Almost every day they go out to dive for them. No one here eats them, but they are a good income, sold further to China.
Whenever we see the harvesting of sea cucumbers in the ocean we wonder how it will affect the marine life. The sea cucumbers are not really our favourite objects in the water, neither very beautiful nor interesting to look at, but when you start to think about this form of life they are fascinating and also they are really necessary for the ecosystem in the ocean.

They are a type of animal despite the name, living worldwide, with more than 1700 different species. Some of them can get 10 years old in the wild, and they can have the size of anything between half a centimetre up to three metres. They communicate by sending hormone signals through the water to reproduce. The deepest down one is found is at more than 10 000 metres depth. Some of them have a defence with discharging snares to ensnare their enemies. Though they are mostly left in peace from the other ones living in the ocean because of the toxins they contain. The biggest predator for them is man.
Fishing for sea cucumbers is a pretty easy and practical way of making ones living for the Fijians. It is just to pick them, boil them and then let them dry for three, four days out in the sun. No fridge, well no electricity at all, is needed. The fishing for sea cucumbers have helped the villages with income for school, housing, community development and other obligations for the villages and for the church.

But everything good has also got a downside, and with the fishing for sea cucumbers it is overfishing. If the population of sea cucumbers gets too low, and they will be too far apart, fertilization is unlikely. For some of the species the fertilization success will fall to zero when the animals are spaced only 20 – 40 meters apart. Some numbers say they are so overfished there are less than one of them per hectare in the Lau Province. And since they are more and more difficult to find, the Fijians need to dive deeper and deeper to find them, and risk their lives. Two young men died when diving for them a couple of years ago.

What are those cousins of the sea star and sand dollar good for then? The sea cucumbers eat sand and mud and filter it, they recycle nutrients and break down organics so that the microbes can fulfil the ecological cycle. They help the bacterial abundance to increase, to decompose organic material more quickly and redistribute it into the water. They recycle algae, tiny aquatic animals and waste material back into the ocean ecosystem and help with life for the coral, the ocean and the whole sea.

So, if ever, you will find the beche-de-mer on the menu… think again. Where do they come from, and how are they caught? They might be tasty when cooked right, but they really don´t work as some believe as an aphrodisiac, nor are they the only option for arthritis or tendon. Order something else and be glad when you think of all the other marine lives and creatures you help by that ;)

We went to the other side of Yadua and dove in. The water was warm, no wet suit needed. The small fishes were colourful, they were quick to turn when they thought we got a little too close, but always swam back to their backyard when they noticed we were not chasing them.

Wonderful coral. Even though the coral represents less than 0,1 % of the worlds ocean floor, it helps support 25 % of all marine species. It is always good to dive in and see what is to be found there, and also tempting to look for something that we haven’t seen before; any little fish or a new kind of coral is great.

Though it was a very nosy white tip reef shark who thought that we looked a little too close on his backyard by the reef. It did not at all want to leave us alone when we intruded on its territory, or to go on its own swim somewhere else because of us. On the contrary, it really showed us who was the master of this reef. We picked another coral head with less bossy fishes.
We had been told that the coral reefs had been affected by this last el nino and so we could see. El Nino 2014 – 2016 is by far the longest in recorded history and is announced as the third global bleaching event on the coral reefs. The corals are unable to cope with todays prolonged peaks in ocean temperature, and since they can’t adapt to the too high temperature they bleach and die. The bleaching occurs when the corals expel the algae that live in their tissues. Without algae the coral loses an important source of food and gets more vulnerable to diseases. In a severe bleaching event, large swaths of reef-building corals die. This makes the reefs erode, destroys the fish habitat and exposes shorelines to destructive ocean waves.

A coral should not be white (unless it is the special white one outside Taveuni), white coral is a dead coral. We saw quite many of them... especially this type, the stony acropora subulata

When we left Yadua our next stop was Yasawa-I-Rara, the island furthest north in the Yasawa group. Beautiful!

We were so lucky we went to the village Votua with the sevusevu. Votua used to be the main village until it was a cyclone that hit it badly. The new main village was then rebuilt further north on the long beach. But here in Votua we met Ima, Lucy, Moses and Moses, they were really great young people to visit. They invited us for a walk around their land and a good lunch. They are in the dive clan and had many different small fish cooked. Chico got spoiled, he did not want any dog food at all after the lunch.

The sevusevu is a very good fijian tradition. When you come to a village you shall bring a bundle of kava, or yagqona, the dried root of a pepper plant. You buy it the market and can keep it on your boat for a long time, just keep it dry. Just think about that you probably would bring a bottle of wine or some flowers when you are invited to a friend for dinner. But here you come, quite often unexpected and uninvited, and want to anchor in their water, enjoy their beach and maybe walk their land. A sevusevu is the only thing you need.

When you arrive at the village (properly dressed) someone will greet you at the beach and take you to the turaga-ni-koro, or the chief. The turaga will ask you to sit down on the woven mat and take your kava, he will put his hands on it and start to speak in Fijian about who you are, that you are welcomed and now a part of the village. You should sit cross-legged and face the turaga, women often behind the men. Some other from the village will also sit on the mat and they will clap their hands when the turaga has had his speech. You don´t do anything but wait until the quick and easy ceremony is over, then it´s conversation and you will probably start to answer their questions about who you are, where you come from and what you think about Fiji. After that they will ask you if you want to have a walk around their village and land, and someone will take you and show you. The kava is most often not grinded the same time, they might ask you if you want to come in some other time, a weekend evening maybe, for a kava-session.

We love the sevusevu. It is a very good way to be a welcomed unexpected guest, and a part of their culture and life. Let´s hope this good tradition will last.

We wish we could help more... Our young hosts had a very small size solar panel that worked, but an inverter that had gone bad and batteries that were dead. What they needed it to work for is only for lights at night and charging their phones.

One of the Moses brought two of his horses so that Ella could have a ride on the beach. She loved it.

Moses took the young stallion and Ella got the mare Tolu. Her name means three. She was foal number three of her mum, and Moses third horse.

The day after, a Sunday, so a not-to-do-anything-but-church-and-relax-day for the Fijians, we got a good hike up on the ridge of Yasawa-I-Rara with the crew of Spirit. It was hot.

And we also got a beautiful view over the bay.

Heading further south to the Blue Lagoon, Ella and Chico under the spray-and-sun-hood.
We had heard and read about the limestone caves where you can go snorkelling. Of course we wanted to try them since the Fiji-book ranks it as one the things to absolutely do here. We hired a ride by a local man and his boat. The typical Fijian boat sure cuts the waves like an arrow.

Like a cathedral…

We had met Mose and his wife Ranadi (means queen, she happily told us) on the beach when we went for q walk with Chico. They were then fishing by the beach and told us where we could go for a good walk, and that if we would meet someone we should always say it was Mose who told us to go there. The day after he came by with pawpaw for us. This is one of the very highlights of this country; the people. Wherever we go and whoever we meet they are always so genuinely friendly and helpful and so happy. It does give a perspective of what to look for, of what´s important, and it gives a hint of what it is that makes you happy. It is a different perspective and way of living than the one we have back home.

Next stop was Manta Ray Resort, or Drawaqa Island as it is called in Fijian. We had heard that the mantas had gotten back for the season so of course we wanted to swim with them again. First try, no mantas but plenty of fish.

And a very BIG Bumphead Parrotfish. The very biggest one we´ve ever seen. Must be as big, 130 cm, as they can get, almost as long as Ella is tall. Hmm, did we write anything about how great it is to find any little new fish on the coral…? This is greater.

The day after, at outgoing current, the mantas were there. Wow, they are majestic, they hardly move their fins at all but just swim at good dinghy-speed through the current to filter the day’s breakfast. They really don’t seem to bother at all about us snorkelers. And we could never keep up their speed, just wait for them to come back or catch up with them with the help of the dinghy. They got so close sometimes that we could touch their backs, felt like sandpaper.

Bula! Vinaka! A couple paddling home at the very calm bay at Malolo lailai. They use the SUP-board for the boxes with supplies for the week to come. The paddle boards are great!We took the dinghy to a small island somewhat prepared to get stranded on. Not the one for Castaway or Survivor or Robinson Crusoe or the Blue Lagoon, but in the same island chain, the Yasawas, as all four of them were, or as Survivior now are, recorded.
The well-worn rocks by the beach looks like fossilized dinosaur skin, but no, it´s just the old volcanic rocks.

Oh, look what we found stranded on the beach. Made us long for Daim chocolate...

And the no-treasures stranded on the beach. On this side of Fiji it is much more floating around than it is on the east side, mostly plastic. Which five are the ones to take away? Only one of the stranded floaties is more or less meant to be here. Can you see it? Right, the jelly-fish belongs here, though it is the end of its life.

Highlight for Chico at Musket was catching up with friend Koli.

We took them to the long beach on the other side of the island, the side where it is more ok to bring a dog. Really good for them. They were happy, getting playtime and long walk.Breeze at sunset by Musket. Us at the bar, meeting other sailors and catching up what has happened since we met the last time.

Then back to Vuda. Some work and preparations are waiting. Getting ready for new waters. Felt really good. :)

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A short video from Breeze visit in beautiful Fulaga

VideosPosted by Per Mon, June 20, 2016 19:00:11

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Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Sabina Fri, May 27, 2016 16:16:05
In the very earliest morning, even before sunrise, we left Robinson Crusoe Island on the southwest side of Viti Levu. The weather forecast had promised calm weather with no wind, and we looked forward to run the engine the whole trip. Calm sea makes the trip so much more comfortable.
About thirty hours later we reached our target, Fulaga. Felt good.
Inside the lagoon, rocket mushrooms covered with palms and other greens. How can it grow on just the rock?
We went to the "wrong" village, Naividamu the smallest one, with sevusevu when we arrived. But it turned out really good, almost everyone from the island was there on a meeting. We were invited for food and kava.
The non-working day, Saturday, we got guided by Sai across the ridge of the island to the outside. Though there is almost no soil at all, just rocks, it is amazingly green and lush. We would not have found the trail without him. On the way over we met some men lumbering with their heavy working Huskvarna-machine. They were really impressed that we were citizens of the country that makes these good machines ;)
Beautiful green and blue view from the ridge. Breeze anchored, she looks small.
The hike to the other side done, now a break with biscuits and water. Looking for the shade. Dogs have almost perfect camouflage colour. There are three of them somewhere...
Lovely beach.
"Look Chico! Such a tiny little crab!" "Hmmm", said Chico, "I would like to try it, may I?"
Per challenged by Sai to carry the coconuts back to the village. The coconuts were heavy, and the trail up steep, Per had the days workout with the eight coconuts. On top of the ridge we took a break and Sai told us that the stones on side of the trail are a memories of the woman that one day carried one hundred coconuts from the plantation, heading back to her house. She was really strong and wanted no help from anyone. But on the ridge she fell down, she died. The people in the village carried up the stones as a memory of the lady.
Sai and his wife Rosaline had invited us for lunch after the church service. They had cooked fish, chicken and kasava in the lovo.
Rosaline is setting the table in their pretty house. The day before she had picked a really good big-size crab. She told us she always picks on her secret spot. Any time she takes one, there is another one in there the day after. It was really delicious.
We re-anchored and went to the main village, Muanaicake. This is where the school is on the island. This year there are 55 children between five and 14 divided in four classes and pre-school. The children from the furthest away village Naividamu stay at school from Monday to Friday with one parent from their village staying with them and doing the cooking for them.
We passed on the suncaps given from another boat; China Grove, to the schoolchildren and for the teachers.
Last lesson on Fridays is sports, everyone re-dressed from school uniform and full speed outside.
Almost all of the older pupils played rugby, boys and girls together. We brought a couple of new rugby balls from our friend-boat. The school was really happy for them. Rugby is the sport in Fiji.
Heading back to Breeze, the trolley was empty going back so Ella hitched a ride.
Our hosts in the Muanaicake; Sikeli, house builder and Sera, nurse of the island. We were invited to them for lunch, good lunch.

“The seeds will be divided for the four families in the village” said Sera when we brought the different seeds from Sea Mercy for plantations.

“Four families?” we wondered quietly. “Are there really only four families in this pretty big village?”

The four families, or clans that might explain it a bit better, are much more than nuclear families. Everyone in every village belongs to one clan, being born in to who you are when it comes to clan. If someone stays out of the village for years, might be because of studies or work somewhere else, that person is still in the same clan, has the same role, when it comes to who you are in your village. Clans are in all villages in Fiji. In the island Fulaga there are three villages and four clans; two turaga clans (the headman and the spokesperson), the vadravadra (the fishermen) and the vaka (the caretakers or warriors).

This is how Sikeli explained it to us:

It is only when it comes to some decisions or responsibilities the clan makes a difference. The fishermen might decide, with the turaga ni-koro (spokesman), if it would be any restrictions regarding fishing, but the fishing for family needs is done by the man in the family, no matter clan. And if there are some commercial fishing for the village (when we were in Fulaga they were picking sea cucumbers that would be prepared and sold to China) everyone is asked to join the mission.

To become a spokesman of the village you must be born in the turaga clan. Though it is not necessarily the oldest one who takes over, it is just the clans best man for the job. And who is best is decided by all men of the village.

Being a member of one of the clans does not restrain from doing all duties for the family or in the village. The fishermen have their own plantations and they would help to protect the village if it would be attacked. But when a fisher catches a big fish, about arm´s length, he needs to give the fish to the headman who will then share it with his family. Smaller fish, half arm´s-length, is for the fisherman’s own need or wishes.

The warriors take care of the village, make sure everything is run smoothly and everyone is happy. They are also the men who blow the shell when the spokesperson or headman dies. They take turn and blow the shell day and night, from death till funeral, a way of restraining the widow from crying, and they might need to keep on blowing the shell for days and days. The warriors are also the ones deciding and planning the cooking when a new turaga ni-koro will take over, though the women are the ones doing all. When a new turaga ni-koro is crowned there is another clan, the vaka, who will blow the big shell as announcement. That clan only lives in the village Naividomu.

When a woman marries she will presumably change clan. A marriage does not at all need to be with someone from the same clan-background but when a woman gets married she moves with her husband and is taken up in his clan. That clan is the one they, and their children, belong to. If the husband would pass away the woman might move back to her old village or island and then she would move back to the clan she was born in to. Their children would also be part of her clan background in her village.

When someone moves in to a village, without any family connections, that person and his family is taken in to one of the clans, decided by the villagers at a meeting. And as long as that person stays, he and his family, belongs to the same clan. The teachers in the village all come from other islands or towns and are divided up between the clans.

And for us, just visitors for a short time, we were part of the vaka, the warriors/caretakers, since we were adopted by Sikeli and Sera. But everyone we met took just as good care of us and shared their time, no matter the clan.
Ladies from Muanaicake well-dressed for one of the three days a year when they walk around for a village-, garden- and house-check competion. Everyone in the three villages are so well prepared with the cleaning both inside and outside, both their own houses and the village. We saw almost everyone the last week being busy with preparations.
Lets go and see how it looks in the village by the ocean."
"And how does it look in this house? Good, very tidy and nice."

Men do not join the competion, in Muanaicaki they were busy with wood carvings and Marley.

And in the next village, Monera, they played cricket since it was a Thursday.
Getting to the last village, Naividamu, by boat. Everyone in the same boat.
The villages take turn beeing the last one, and the ladies in the last one are the ones preparing all the food for the late lunch early dinner.
But only the guest ladies sit down and enjoy the good food, the host village prepare and take care of everything.
Then a competition in dresses, different dresses every year. Some of the participants really gave us a god show and laughter.
And the men of Naividamu were happy to sit down and drink kava.
When the competion was done and the prizewinners had gotten their prizes for dress, garden, village and woven carpet it was a meeting about contribution to another island that belongs to Fulaga. And a big discussion about the next day in November.

Day is over, time to go home
Soft sand! One of the beaches on one of the small islands on the western side. Almost everyone in the village told us we must go there.
Alifereti paddled by Breeze and gave us a really good sized crab, the second one he gave us. Nothing tastes better, beats any lobster.
Wakeboarding by the Sandspit.
Heja Ella!
Not ready yet, the next time the ferry comes in these sea cucumbers will be ready and sent to Suva for further delivery to China. "Have you tried them?" we asked. "No! I would never eat those, everyone answered". But they are really good to sell to China. The price is between 20 and 100 FJD per kilo, depends on what kind of seacucumber it is.
A way to wait for the delivery ship to come in. Fishing. The ship with supplies comes once a month, but when is always a question. Some people carried down their goods early morning and sat waiting for a whole day but with no ship coming in. Some of the ladies went picking shells and mussels instead.
And finally, same time as we left, the ship came in. Everyone in Fulaga had waited, for the ferry with supplies, they were all prepared to pick things up and re-load with deliveries for the main island. Some of them would also go on board to get to Suva, catching up with family, doing business, church matters or maybe medical questions. Them, who left, would all try to get the next ferry back, next month.

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April - back on Breeze

Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Sabina Fri, April 29, 2016 15:13:00

The first of April we were back on Breeze after a little more than thirty hours of flying and waiting at airports. Travelling by air is different than by boat. When being used to travel by boat, and the time it takes to get somewhere and always checking the weather and waiting for the good window before departing it is really another thing flying. You more or less just sit down, watch movies, eat food, try to sleep, and no matter of the weather; you are still travelling, getting closer to your destination. Some hours up in the air is nothing compared to weeks, months, or years by boat. So, the thirty hours of travelling by plane took us twice as long as the three years with Breeze in the Pacific.

Anyway, we landed at seven o´clock in the morning and were greeted with hot and humid air as soon as we stepped out of the plane. It felt wonderful! And we were just as happy as we are when arriving from a passage by boat.

Första april kom vi tillbaka till Breeze efter trettio timmar av väntan på flygplatser och uppe i luften. Att resa med flyg är så annorlunda mot att resa med båt. Seglingen är tid, tiden för avresa som måste anpassas efter väder, tiden det tar att komma fram, avstånden blir så mycket längre med båt, och vad du fyller tiden med under resans gång. I luften sitter du bara still. Du ser på film, äter mat, försöker sova. Och oavsett väder så kommer du fram när din resplan säger att du ska vara framme. Några timmar uppe i luften är ingenting jämfört med veckor, månader eller år till sjöss. Så trettionånting timmar tog oss dubbelt så långt som de tre år vi seglat Breeze i Stilla havet.

Hursomhelt, vi landade klockan sju på morgonen och möttes av het luftfuktighet så fort som vi klev ur planet. Det kändes underbart! Och vi var lika lyckliga som när vi kommer fram efter en passage.

We had our friend, doctor Jan, joining us for a month. We all wanted to get Breeze ready as soon as possible to go out with help for them in need after Winston that hit Fiji February this year. We knew there were people, villages, settlements and islands in need for almost any help. Winston is the strongest tropical cyclone ever hitting Fiji and the South Pacific Basin in recorded history. Via the SeaMercy, a benevolent program for disaster and critical care needs for remote islanders, we would get things and food to bring. One thing that we wanted to focus on was health care since we had Dr Jan with us and we actually could even bring a blood pressure monitor. But first, we had to wait Zena out, the next tropical cyclone hitting Fiji.

Med oss till Fiji flög vår vän JanÅke som är läkare och mycket lämpligt hade en månad ledig. Vi ville alla få Breeze färdig så fort som möjligt för att kunna ta oss ut till öar, byar, bosättningar med hjälp till dem som hårdast drabbades av Winston. Winston är den starkaste cyklon som någonsin träffat Fiji och den kraftigaste någonsin på södra halvklotet. Via SeaMercy, en ideell organisation, skulle vi kunna ta med oss saker och mat. Vi ville gärna fokusera på medicin och hälsa eftersom vi hade JanÅke med oss och kunde t o m få med en blodtrycksmätare. Men först måste vi vänta ut Zena, en till tropisk cyklon som siktade på Fiji.

Zena strengthened to a cat 3 cyclone. We had done all the preparations, tied up as much as we could, felt as ready as we possibly could get and just waited. Good thing for us was that Zena didn´t bring much wind to where we were, but rain, lots of rain.
Zena was a storm full of warm water. She sure added some more to the working list, and showed us if we have any leaks. But as long as she visited we stayed indoors and waited. Everyone was busy with more or less important things to do.

When the weather was good to leave with supplies we took a two-day trip to Navuniivi, a village on the north-eastern corner of Viti Levu. The first nights anchorage gave us a beautiful sunset at Nananu-i-Cake, tomorrow Navuniivi.

När vädret blev bra nog att lämna tog vi en tvådagarstur över till Navuniivi, en by på nordöstra hörnet av Viti Levu. Det var hit vi ville gå med varor och hjälp till dem som inte har någon väg till sin by. Den första natten ankrade vi i Nananu-i-Cake och fick en underbar solnedgång. Dagen efter: Navuniivi.
We were in Navuniivi last year, and in January this year, and every time we have been so taken of this village and the people living here. It is the absolutely prettiest village, well organised, well taken care of with plans for generations to come. This time it looked like we had gotten somewhere else. All the trees were gone, even the palms had fallen in three different directions.

Vi har varit I Navuniivi förut, ett par gånger förra året och i januari i år, det är vår absoluta favoritby och varje gång blir vi lika imponerade över dem som bor här. Det här är en by där dagens generation försöker bygga upp både ett bra liv nu och en ekologiskt hållbar plats för kommande generationer. Den här gången när vi kom fram såg det ut som att vi kommit någon annanstans. Alla träd var borta, t o m palmerna hade fallit i tre olika riktningar
When we here in January they worked on the roof of the church, renailed it and painted it. Winston took half of it, everything inside is packed up where there still is roof. This is now, compared to January below.
In the village Navuniivi we brought all the things we had gotten via SeaMercy. We had food, sanitary articles, buckets, school material and reading glasses. The ladies were the ones helping us carrying everything up from the beach.
When we had everyting up by the turaga Joes house all the women and children were called on to come and ask the doctor questions about health and wounds. Trying out reading glasses.
"Yes! Now I can read again! And see what I´m cooking, or sewing." Happy ladies.
The ladies, all dressed up, in line for checking blood pressure and maybe asking Jan a medical question or two.
Lai checking blood pressure. "Yes, you´re all good." And she was also really fit, she was the strongest woman helping us carry all the big bags with supplies. Her family now lives in the pre-school house in the village, theirs were taken by Winston.One of the few houses still standing, repaired after Winston. The pre-school in the village is closed after Winston, so the young ones still have time off from school. They greeted us, and would happily have followed us when we walked to the settlement, had it not been for one of their moms telling them "no, too far".We walked over to Joe and his wife in the settlement Namonamo. When Winston came only Joes father was here. He opened all doors and windows in the house to let the wind run through. Maybe that is why there house is the only one still standing in the settlement, all the other houses and sheds are gone. Joes father also desperately tried to run and hide from the wind, he tried under the house, in the little bathroom strongly built and finally ended up trying to hide from the wind on the leeward side of the big watertank. But the wind kept on changing direction so he spent hours moving moving. Joe said his father, an ex-military with services almost everywhere, never had been so afraid in his life. After Winston they had to walk far in the valley to search for things blown away from their house. Now we wish them the very best so they can start building everything up again. And since they are so good and really hard-working they will hopefully succeed with their plans.
Nothing, but a chair and clothes line, left of this house.One of the empty houses, the dog still belongs here and watches over it.
Look at the size of this huge uprooted tree. Can you see me?

Some days later it was another Tropical Depression giving us more rain, and wind. The last night in Viti Levu Bay we had 40 knots of wind, we dragged and had to re-anchor in blackest night with rain pouring down. The day after we took off, started sailing back to the west side of Viti Levu. The second day back was all clear and the ocean the very most pacific, both the sea and the sky was all blue.
The day after we got a truly pacific ocean on the way to Malolo...
... that finished with perfect wind by the sunset.Since we were at Musket we wanted to be a bit more like tourists and we took the dinghy out to Cloud 9, the very most touristic barge with young bon vivants. We got truly wet both getting there and getting back, but only by the sea water.

Snorkelling, yes, sometimes you mustn´t expect too much but take your time and look close. Even the little things are great. But we did also notice more bleaching on the reefs after the hot summer. Hopefully they can recover when the water temperature gets cooler in the winter.

Snorkling, ibland får du inte förvänta dig för mycket utan ta tid och titta nära. Även de små sakerna är vackra. Men vi märkte också en hel del blekning på reven. Förhoppningsvis kan de åtminstone till en del återhämta sig när vattentemperaturen snart sjunker under vintern.
When Jan had left us the weather changed, and the next tropical depression went further northeast. We sailed down to Robinson Crusoe Island with Outsider. Another wet ride.

När JanÅke lämnat oss så ändrades vädret, nästa tropiska depression höll sig nordost om Fiji. Vi fick fint väder och seglade ner till Robinson Crusoe Island tillsammans med Outsider. Men vi fick en blöt färd.

Outsider outside the reef on their way to Robinson Crusoe.

Robinson Crusoe Island is a very good spot to go to for a sailor. It is a good anchorage with some breeze and long beaches to walk at low tide. There is a small resort with bar and restaurant, nice crew and atmosphere. We enjoyed both the food and the dance and fire show.

Robinson Crusoe är ett riktigt bra ställe för seglare. Det är bra ankring med uppfriskande bris och långa stränder att utforska vid lågvatten. Det finns en liten resort med bar och restaurang, trevlig personal och skön atmosfär. Vi fick en bra lördag med både god mat och dansshow.Playing with fire.

Before we went back to the main island we went to Mana, another lovely anchorage. Had it not been because they are filming a reality-show, Survivor, and most of the island was completely closed, we would probably have stayed a little longer… Or not, we had to go in to Denarau to re-stock food and supplies for our next trip, and start some of the work that needs to be done thanks to Winston.

Innan vi åkte tillbaka till huvudön tog vi också en tur till Mana, ännu en vacker ankringsplats och en härlig liten ö. Om det inte hade varit så att de håller på med inspelning av Survivor, en reality-show typ Robinson, hade vi nog stannat längre… Eller inte, vi var nog nästan tvungna att gå in till Denarau för att förbereda de jobb som måste göras tack vare Winston, och även planera inför nästa tur ut med hjälp till dem som drabbades hårdare.

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Diving at the amazing Rainbow Reef in Fiji November 2015

Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Per Mon, November 16, 2015 15:28:39

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Viti Levu, the main island in Fiji

Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Sabina Sun, November 15, 2015 18:10:51

The two days of sailing from Minerva Reefs to Fiji were two days with strong wind, 25 – 40 knots, and rough sea. It was a fast passage, it took us less than two days, and we had to reef as much as possible to not arrive in the night, but it was not the most comfortable one. It felt really good to arrive in the grey capital of Fiji.

De två dagarnas segling från Minerva till Fiji blev två dagar med hård vind, 25 – 45 knop, och stora vågor. Det blev en snabb passage, knappt två dagar, trots att vi revade så mycket som möjligt, men det var inte den mest bekväma. Det kändes skönt att komma fram till Fijis grå huvudstad.

Fiji is a country of 322 islands, and more than 500 smaller islets, that range from large volcanic ones with high mountains and lush forests to sandy dry ones with limestone cliffs. Some say that you can get the same variety in landforms and seascapes in a couple of days travelling around Fiji that would take you months in the whole continent of Africa. So whatever you are looking for, if not snow and ice, you will probably find it here in the middle of the Pacific.

Fiji är ett land som består av 322 öar och mer än 500 holmar. Här kan du stiga iland och utforska höga gröna berg med frodiga gröna skogar eller sandiga torra öar med kalkstensklippor. En del säger att du kan få samma variation på landskap om du reser runt ett par dagar i Fiji som skulle ta dig månader om du reste runt hela kontinenten Afrika. Så vad du än söker, så länge det inte är snö och is, kan du säkert hitta det här i mitten av Stilla Havet.

The capital Suva was our first stop in Fiji. The British decided, 1877, to build up a new town on the largest island in Fiji and make it the capital of Fiji instead of keeping the old one on the small island Ovalau. Who else but the British would choose the rainiest side of the island and start building the capital where only a few settlements were? Nowadays however, it´s the largest city in the Pacific with a third of the population in Fiji.

Huvudstaden Suva blev vårt första stop i Fiji. Britterna bestämde 1877 att bygga en ny stad på den största ön i landet och göra den till den nya huvudstaden istället för att behålla den gamla på den lilla ön Ovalau. Vilka andra än britterna skulle välja den regnigaste sidan av ön och börja bygga upp en huvudstad där det bara fanns ett par bosättningar? Nu, hursomhelst, är Suva den största staden i Stilla Havet och har en tredjedel av Fijis befolkning.

The reason for us to check in at Suva was Chico. Chico, our dog who has travelled halfway round the world, who is filled up with vaccinations and treatments and who also got a couple of exceptions from Biosecurity regarding sailing to Fiji, was brought to the only place for quarantine. He spent a week at the quarantine as the only dog, which meant he spent his days at their office or in the big garden. Only sleeping time in the cage. He got spoiled. And we had a great time in Suva, stocking up with fruit and veggies and getting spoiled taking the taxi every day.

Anledningen till att vi checkade in i Suva var Chico. Chico, vår hund, som har rest halvvägs runt jorden, som är fylld med vaccinationer och behandlingar och som fått ett par undantag från Biosecuritys regler om att segla till Fiji, skulle sättas i karantän. Han fick en vecka i karantän som enda hund, vilket gjorde att han spenderade dagarna på kontoret eller i den stora trädgården. Buren användes bara för att sova i. Och vi hade en bra vecka i Suva, vi handlade upp oss på frukt och grönt och blev bortskämda med att ta taxi varje dag.

When Chico was released from quarantine and we had stocked up with everything we wanted or needed (found a great book shop by the Unversity of Fiji, the best book shop so far in the Pacific), we took off to the dry islands in the Yasawas and touristic Denarau. After some great time with friend boats we went to the marina Vuda Point. Vuda will be our base in the cyclone season but this time the reason was a new gearbox. Does the boatwork never comes to an end?

När Chico blev frisläppt från karantän och vi hade handlat upp oss på allt vi önskade eller behövde (hittade den bästa bokhandeln vid universitet i Suva, den bästa hittills i hela Stilla Havet) så seglade vi västerut till de torra öarna i Yasawas och till turistiga Denarau (kändes som en turistort i Medelhavet) Efter en del tid med gamla båtvänner blev vårt mål marinan Vuda Point. Den kommer att vara vår bas under cyklonsäsongen men den här gången var det för att byta till ny växellåda. Tar båtjobb aldrig slut?

We travelled around the island by car when we were stranded on the hard, and got a good look at the inland, the dry west side and the lush east side. The differences in the eco-systems and the differences in cultures are clear; maybe the comparison to experience the African continent in a couple of hours is correct. When it comes to the wildlife though, you don’t see much, well the birds, the butterflies, the frogs and the introduced mongoose are everywhere. The mongoose was introduced to control rats at sugar fields. But they are agile predators which choose their meals and that made them implicated in the extinction, or decline, of several bird species, some endemic, in the islands. Since the 1950s control of mongoose has been under investigation, but at least at Viti Levu we saw them happily crossing the roads everywhere.

Vi körde runt Viti Levu med bil när vi ändå var strandade på land, och fick uppleva såväl berg och floder, den torra västsidan och den frodiga östsidan. Skillnaderna i både natur och kultur är tydliga, så kanske stämmer det där med att uppleva Afrikas kontinent på ett par timmar. Men när det kommer till det vilda djurlivet fick vi inte se mycket, jo det är fåglar, fjärilar och grodor överallt, och den introducerade mungon överallt. Mungon togs hit för att fånga råttor på sockerfälten, men de är snabba rovdjur som väljer sin egen mat och har därför bidragit till att utrota, eller i vissa fall drastiskt minska, många fågelarter, vissa endemiska för Fiji. Sedan 1950-talet har man försökt utrota eller kraftigt minska antalet med mungos, men vi såg dem nästan överallt lyckligt obekymrade springa över vägen.

The animal that Ella kept looking for was not any of the wild ones but the horses. Horses are everywhere. They are a good way of transportation in a country where a car is really expensive compared to the salary. They carry men and they carry tools, they earn their own living. They walk more or less free in between the jobs and the mares foal almost every year. What else could be better?

Det djur som Ella höll utkik efter var inte något vilt, det var hästar. Och hästar finns nästan överallt. De är ett bra transportmedel i ett land där bilar är mycket dyra jämfört med löner. De fraktar och förflyttar både män och deras verktyg. Mellan jobben går de mer eller mindre fria och sköter sig själva, och stona fölar nästan varje år. Vad kunde vara bättre?

Fiji is a country with shops within walking distance almost anywhere. We drove a very remote dirt road between the sugarfields and found the smallest shopping centre. Perfect! What a great chance to get an ice cream or a cold drink. Per knocked and tried to call them, but no one heard him. The only other soul was their dog sleeping outside the entrance. We probably came the wrong time when they didn’t expect anyone to stop by, we had to drive on with nothing cold or refreshing.

Fiji är ett land med små affärer inom gångavstånd nästan överallt. Vi körde den mest avlägsna grusvägen bland sockerfälten och hittade det allra minsta shoppingcentret. Perfekt! En glass eller något kallt att dricka skulle sitta fint. Per knackade och ropade, men inte en själ kom fram. Den enda, förutom vi, var deras sovande vakthund utanför dörren. Vi kom nog dit fel tid, mitt på dagen när det aldrig brukar komma förbi någon kund. Vi fick vi köra vidare utan något kallt och uppfriskande.

In the old days, 500 BC to late 19th century cannibalism was considered the ultimate revenge. Bodies of enemies were either consumed on the battlefield or brought back to the village spirit house where they were offered to the local war god before butchered, baked and eaten on the gods’ behalf. We drove by the tomb of Fiji’s most notorious cannibal outside Rakiraki, the northern part of Viti Levu. Udreudre, who lived in the early 19th century, was probably one of the most notorious cannibals ever. In his grave every stone represents a victim eaten by the chief, which adds up to 872. Udreudre had an enormous appetite and consumed every piece of his victims, he ate little else and didn’t share any parts of the bodies.

Från 500 f.Kr. till sena 1800-talet var kannibalism den fulländade hämnden på en besegrad motståndare. Den besegrade blev antingen uppäten på stridsfältet eller så togs kroppen hem till byn där den offrades till den lokala krigsguden innan den styckades, kokades i jordugn och sedan åts upp till gudarnas ära. Vi körde förbi graven där Fijis mest ökände kannibal ligger begravd. Udreudre levde på första halvan av 1800-talet i norra Viti Levu och hans grav ligger längs vägen i Rakiraki. Varje sten i Udreudres grav representerar en av de kroppar han åt upp, det blir 872. Han hade en enorm aptit och åt varje del av hans fienders kroppar, han åt nästan inget annat och delade aldrig med sig.

When the job on Breeze finally was ready and she was floating in the water again we set sail. We sailed along the north side of Viti Levu and dropped our anchor at Viti Levu Bay since the weather forecast said a cyclone was maybe building up. We took the dinghy to the little village Navuniivi for the sevusevu and were welcomed and blessed. Navuniivi is a little Methodist Fijian village with the friendliest calmest atmosphere and very well organised and also the cleanest little village we´ve seen. We really liked it and were happy that the weather gave us a reason to make an unplanned stop here.

När så arbetet på Breeze äntligen var klart och hon åter låg i vattnet hissade vi segel igen. Vi seglade längs Viti Levs norra kust till öns största bukt, Viti Levu Bay, väderprognosen sade att en cyklon kanske skulle byggas upp och här ankrade vi säkert och skönt. Vi åkte in till byn Navuniivi med vår sevusevu och fick vår välsignelse och vårt välkomnande. Navuniivi är den allra finaste renaste lilla by vi sett med de allra vänligaste fijier. Vi gillade verkligen vår tid här och var glada att vädret fått oss ankra här.

The people in the village told us about the road behind the village that led to their different fields and growings, and whenever there is a road or trail leading somewhere it is so tempting to see what is on the other side of the hill or behind the curve, just to see where it goes. So we decided to take a walk one of the days. And we walked to the other best side of the hill where we met Jakob.

Folket i byn berättade också om sina fältoch sina odlingar, och om vägen som leder till andra byar, och när det finns en väg eller stig är det så frestande att se vart den leder och vad som finns på andra sidan berget eller bakom krönet. Så vi bestämde oss föratt ge oss ut på utflykt och kom till ännu en bästa sida av bergsåsen där vi träffade Jakob.

Jakob invited us to his house where also his father, Joe Senior, lives. Joe senior was in the army when he was young and had been doing his duty in the Middle East and India. Now he was recovering from a stroke and went for a walk every day, checking up the fields and how everyone was doing. In the other houses in the settlement lived cousins, brothers, sisters and uncles. We met Jakobs siblings Joe Junior and Samu and his sister Mary who just moved back from Auckland. We were also invited for second breakfast by his uncle. We loved the atmosphere and decided to come back the day after and go for a walk to the waterfall with Jakob and his brother Samu.

Jakob bjöd in oss till sitt hus där hans far, Joe Senior, också bor nu. Joe Senior var i arméen när han var ung, han hade haft sina uppdrag i Mellanöstern och Indien, men aldrig under strid. Nu hade han flyttat ihop med sin son och försökte återhämta sig efter en stroke, varje dag gick han på promenad längs fälten och tittade till både odlingar och släktingar. I bosättningen bor Jakobs farbröder och kusiner, bröder och systrar. Vi träffade hans farbror som bjöd in oss på senfrukost, hans syster Mary som flyttat hem från Nya Zeeland, hans bröder Joe Junior och Samu. Vi hade gärna stannat hela dagen men bestämde att vi skulle koma tillbaka dagen efter för en tur upp till vattenfallet med Jakob och hans bror Samu.

When we arrived the day after Samu and Joe were ploughing, preparing for growing cassavas. They grow almost everything on their land; aubergine, bananas, beans, cacao, chilli, corn, cucumber, herbs, lemons, potatoes, tarot and tomatoes, well anything that grows would probably grow here; they also have their fishponds with fresh water fish for everyone in the settlement but mainly for selling to shops and restaurants.

När vi kom tillbaka dagen efter höll Samu och Joe på att plöja, de skulle plantera kassava. Här odlar de nästan vad som helst, de odlar aubergine, bananer, bönor, chili citroner, gurka, majs, potatis, tomater och örter; nästan vad som helst kan växa här. De har också sin egen fiskodling med färskvattenfisk, fisk för de som bor här men främst för att sälja på marknaden och till affärer.

When the fish for dinner was taken up and the plough was put aside we were all ready for the hike.

När dagens fisk var upplockad och plogen ställd åt sidan var vi redo att ge oss av mot vattenfallet.

Joe and Samu Jr, four years old, showing the way. Samu Jr sat on a horse before he was half a year old. And he really looked like he was born in the saddle (no he couldn’t be, they don’t have any saddles, they are all bareback riders who might have a jacket or a blanket to sit on). Samu´s brown horse however listened to everything little Samu did with the rope instead of snaffle and his very short legs.

Joe och Samu Jr, fyra år, visar oss vägen. Samu Jr satt på hästrygg innan han ens blivit ett halvår. Och han såg verkligen ut som att han var född i sadeln (men nej, det kunde han inte vara, här har de inga sadlar, kanske en filt eller jacka bara att sitta på). Samus fuxfärgade häst lyssnade och lydde sin lille ryttare hela tiden trots att han hade ett rep istället för ett träns och så korta ben att de knappt räckte att skänkla med.

In the pond under the waterfall we could see some fish and prawns, there are also eels living here. Jakob and Samu told us that they sometimes walk up here in the evening, they wait for the moon and then walk the little river back down to the settlement fishing the prawns. In the morning they have their buckets full.

I dammen under vattenfallet kunde vi se en del fiskar och små räkor, det finns också ål som bor här. Jakob och Samu berättade att de ibland vandrar upp till vattenfallet på kvällen, väntar tills månen gått upp och sedan vandrar ner i bäcken och fiskar räkor. På morgonen när de kommer tillbaka till husen har de hinken full med färskvattenräkor.

In the pond under the waterfall we could see some fish and prawns, there are also eels living here. Jakob and Samu told us that they sometimes walk up here in the evening, they wait for the moon and then walk the little river back down to the settlement fishing the prawns. In the morning they have their buckets full.

I dammen under vattenfallet kunde vi se en del fiskar och små räkor, det finns också ål som bor här. Jakob och Samu berättade att de ibland vandrar upp till vattenfallet på kvällen, väntar tills månen gått upp och sedan vandrar ner i bäcken och fiskar räkor. På morgonen när de kommer tillbaka till husen har de hinken full med färskvattenräkor.

We took another trail back from the waterfall. Joe picked us fresh cacao. It tastes quite good, like fresh toffee, the hard inside of the seed is what is dried and prepared for cocoa.

Vi tog en liten annan väg tillbaka. Joe plockade färska kakao till oss. Bönorna är goda att suga på, som en färsk karamell med hård kärna, den hårda kärnan är vad som torkas och görs till kakao.

When the cacao fruit is yellow, it´s ready for harvesting.

När kakaofrukten är gul är den klar att skördas.

It felt sad following the wind and leaving wonderful Navuniivi in Viti Levu Bay. It is absolutely a place that we want to return to, hopefully with our daughter Amanda, we wish that the weather will make it a place to go to when she arrives.

Det kändes nästan lite sorgset att segla ifrån guldkornet Navuniivi i Viti Levu Bay, men vi kommer att segla tillbaka, förhoppningsvis när vår dotter Amanda är med, så att hon också kan få ta del av vår absoluta favoritby på Viti Levu.

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