Friday, November 9, 2012

Vanua Balavu and Susui in northern Lau Group

We made it through the pass to Vanua Balavu and the Bay of Islands just as a rainshower dumped on us, obscuring our vision as we came through the winding, coral-sided pass.  Of course, this is just when our chartplotter also decided to stop working.  We definitely had Murphy aboard as we arrived in these outer islands!
The "church bells" (drums) at Susui.  They are carved from breadfruit tree trunks, as are the dugout canoes and catamarans that we see throughtout these islands.

Our guides Jacob and Soku.  Soku could climb any tree around and got us lots of coconuts and papayas as well as some land crabs. 

Jason in our new aluminum dink he designed and had made in NZ.

The land crabs the chief's son, Save, and Soku caught and cooked for us on our beach walk.  They are more trouble to eat than they are worth, but it was fun to try.

Karen with her perfect chambered nautilus shell she found on the beach walk.  Another complete shell was a little dirty and I gave it to Save to clean and perhaps sell.  These shells are amazingly beautiful!  And it's pretty unusual for one to show up in the shallows in such perfect condition.

Jason and Jacob in Somosomo, the big village on the main island of Vanua Balavu.

Jason swinging on a rope swing made from some ship's old mooring line.
 Save and Jason on the beach at Susui.  Save is the chief's son.
 The Chief of Susui with our gift of kava root tied in a bundle.  It is proper protocol for visitors to present the local chief a gift of kava as "sevusevu", a show of respect and request for permission to be in their lands and waters.  If accepted by the chief when presented by the local representative on our behalf, then we are welcomed into the village and have free roam of the village and use of the beach and lagoons and such.  Each village has their own chief, so we bought 5 bundles of kava before we left Savu Savu.  This was our first time to do sevusevu.  The chief didn't speak English and  barely had a tooth left in his mouth.
Beach in Bay of Islands

Limestone outcrops in Bay of Islands.  These remind me of pictures of Palau.

Clifftop view of some of the Bay of Islands

another view from the clifftop.

Looking down from clifftop.  We anchored just at the left edge here the next night.YOLO at anchor at mushroom rock.

Looking back up at the cliff that provided the previous views from our anchorage.

Another mushroom island in BOI

Karen in her bush hat at clifftop with Bay Of Islands view in background.

YOLO on the right from the plateau at the top of the island of Vanua Balavu in the Bay of Islands.
 We had to climb over 200 stairs like these to get to the plateau.  At the top was a plateau with coconut groves and cattle and sheep and a few buildings.  One side was the anchorage above and the other side was the Bay of Islands.  nice views.
 On one of the buildings at the top of the plateau.  They gather coconuts and press them to get coconut oil to sell.
 Tiny finger bananas that are soooo sweet!  Ladyfingers are usually just a bit bigger and these are so cute.

YOLO at anchor in the Bay of Islands by a mushroom island.
The locals catch the fish and string them and take them to the nearest town,Somosomo, to sell.  They fish all day and come back in late afternoon in the village boat, then have to navigate the reef-strewn lagoon in the dark to get to town and back to sell their fish so they can buy other foodstuffs.  Quite a feat of naviagation in these waters, believe me! 

Schoolboys ringing the bell (beating the drum) for recess to end.
 Several yachts took in pictures of their homelands to share with the schoolkids in Susui.  We had Swiss, Canadian and Americans showing pictures on a laptop.  Most involved snow and ice as these kids have never seen it.

Beachfront in Lau Group.

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