Thursday, September 19, 2013

Denimanu Village, Yadua - Our New Family

We sailed from from Savusavu in the early morning rain with ELFRUN and the sun was out by the time we had to pass in to the reef surrounding the south shore of Vanua Levu.  We anchored at Coconut Point ( Nabouwalu) where John and Cyndi on CYNERGY had been anchored from the day prior.  We had nice Sundowners onboard TORTUGUITA and had a nice peaceful night.

Denimanu Village

Main Street Yadua

Mike Kelly's House
The next morning, ELFRUN stayed to wait for good winds to cross to Viti Levu and we went with CYNERGY to Yadua.  We anchored behind Motuba Island and dinghyed to the village of Denimanu and presented Sevusevu to Chief Johnny.  The island has a Kava drinking the first 15 days of the month so we did not have a proper Sevusevu but Johnny welcomed us as members of the village for the duration of our stay.  The tide had gone out while we were there and the dinghy was about 40 yards to the water.  It was going to be a long hard, scraping pull until about 15 guys and kids showed up, everyone lifted the dinghy and carried it to the water.  This has NEVER happened to us anywhere.

Yadua was pretty much destroyed by Cyclone Evan last December so many of the houses are just pieced together temporarily.  The government is building 19 new houses for the displaced families.

Katea cooking fish
The wind was strong and some chop was getting in to the anchorage at high tide so on Sunday we moved the boat to Watering Bay.  CYNERGY went on to Cukova Bay for an early morning departure. 

Dave and 'Mike Kelly'
Lunch at Pita's
We met the village headman during our first visit to town.  We thought his name was Mike Kelly but it was probably more like Michaeli.  He had a stroke 6 years ago and wasn’t able to walk so well, otherwise he would have been our representative for Sevusevu.  He invited us to come to lunch and then church on Sunday. 
Another Lunch at Pita's
So, on Sunday, we dinghied about 20 minutes from Watering Bay to town and left the dinghy on the beach.  We had a nice lunch, then tea and talked for a long time with the family.  We also met with Pita the Ranger before and after church.  He works for the Fiji National Trust and cares for the National Park on Yadua Taba, a small protected island on the southwest coast of Yadua.  He had just arrived back from Suva asked me to help replace his engine cables and throttle control.
The Dive Guys
On the mooring in Watering Bay
The 3PM church service was entirely in Fijian except about 10 words in English.  The singing was incredible and the preacher was boring.  It was now getting late so we headed back to Watering Bay.  There is a diving operation that that leases this bay.  They dive for Sea Cucumbers that are sent to Aisa for making sushi or whatever.  They invited us to use their mooring which we gladly accepted since our chain was getting wrapped around a coral head.

Katea on Tortuguita for tea
Working on Pita's boat
The next morning we decided to try the overland route to town.  Katea, who is married to Michaeli’s nephew, met us on the beach.  We had tea and biscuits on TORTUGUITA and then headed out.  We left the dinghy anchored in front of the dive compound.   The hike was an hour, up and over the hill, through lava flows, forests, and fields.   Booker and blew out our flip flops on that trek.

I started out working with Pita on his engine and when we finished, had a late lunch.  The church warden asked me to look at the church’s solar panels.  The panels were washed away by Cyclone Evan last December but found under the sand.  They were in surprisingly good condition except for the sand in the connection boxes.  A testimony to Kyocera.  However, all they have is the panels.  For a proper system they need batteries, a controller, and inverter.  Cost, about $2000 US which they don’t have.

Sisters - Pita's wife and aunt
By now, we had so many invitations to lunch and teas that we would have to stay a week but had to start thinking about leaving.  One more day should do it or we will never leave.  We got lost on our walk back to Watering Bay.  The dive guys had moved the dinghy to the beach when the tide came in.  Tides here are about 8 feet and the anchor would probably have pulled out.

I was invited to a grog (Kava) drinking party at the compound.  They came out in their boat to pick me up but I knew better to have control of my own transportation.  I went with them to a hut where about 15  guys were doing the grog thing.  They had a steel pot that the Kava was crushed in by a big steel bar.  The Kava is then put in a cloth strainer, in a big bowl, and mixed.  The cup is filled and passed.  You make one clap before drinking and 3 after you are done.  The claps should be deep, loud claps or you kind of get laughed at.  We went round and round like this, talking, etc for over 2 hours.  Quite fun, and Fijian.

The next day, we took the dinghy to town. Chief Johnny wanted me to look at his generator which was beyond repair.  We had tea and lunch with Pita and the family.

Fixing the town generator
The village has a diesel generator that runs from 6:00PM to 8:30PM that runs the well pump to fill the smaller house tanks and powers the town.  The guy in charge of starting it had been hearing a strange noise for the past month so I was asked to take a look at it.  After over an hour of listening, disassembly, and head scratching, I concluded that since the generator was sitting on it’s little wheels, they had dug in to the dirt and it wasn’t sitting level and the oil dipstick was on the downhill side of the engine, that the oil was in reality low and the crankshaft bushing was running dry and making the noise.  When I tilted it maybe 45 degrees toward that side, the noise went away.  So I told the guy that he needs to get some wood or a pallet and shovel and make a perfectly level pad and fill the oil full full full.
Drinking grog at Pita's
Went back to Pita’s for tea, said our good byes to everyone and headed back to Watering Bay.  We found out that Zak, Suzie, and Ronan are arriving the next day but we will be gone.  We are leaving at 3AM from the bay in full moonlight for the 11 hour sail to the Yasawa Group. 


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