Budd Reef and the Village People

Village of Yanuca in Fiji

Village of Yanuca in Fiji

We had heard good things about the islands and people at Budd Reef from s/v Jackster and s/v Stray Kitty. They were only there a couple of days and had a wonderful time. Budd Reef was already next on our list, so we left Namata Bay on Sunday morning and slowly sailed up wind to the north and entered through the large outer reef around the islands there.

We arrived mid-afternoon. As we were making our final turn into the village bay, a pod of dolphin jumped off our bows. We knew we were in for a special time here. Again, there were quite a few boats here. This time we had: s/v Dreamtime, s/v Boree, s/v True Companions, s/v Geramar, and s/v Summer Sky. Three of us had just arrived in the afternoon, the other three checked in with the village the day before. We had to wait until almost dark for the tide to rise so we could dinghy to the village. There we were shown to the village chief’s house and offered sevusevu.

Sevusevu is where you offer a gift to the chief of a village. When the chief accepts your gift, he welcomes you to your community and you essentially become a part of the village and are offered their assistance and protection while visiting their land. The chief’s son, named William or Willie, explained what was going on in English. Since it was near dark, the chief didn’t offer the longer version of the ceremony where we would be offered to drink Kava. We all had brought ceremonially wrapped Kava roots as our gifts. It is the most common gift for sevusevu here. The Fiji people drink a lot of Kava since it is easier to make than alcohol. Kava is more of a relaxing narcotic than alcohol.

The next day, we were all invited by the chief’s son to go to the big volcanic island on the north side of inside of the outer reef. The island is called Cobia (pronounced “Thombia”). The plan was to hike the crater, do some snorkeling and spearfishing, and do some evening lobstering. It was a very full day. The crater walk treated us to some specatcular views. I took some 360 photos from the top. We didn’t get any fish during our afternoon spearfishing, but it was still fun. We had motored over to Cobia and anchored on the western side. We took Tahina and True Companions – the two catamarans to hold the most people.

In the evening, just Bert from Boree, Willie, and I went out at night to fish and lobster. It turns out I was one of the best at spotting things to shoot. I found the biggest lobster, and spotted a huge crab. I also spotted the biggest fish. But, Willie was very quick to do the shooting. After over an hour in the water, we had filled up two medium sized buckets with fish, lobster and crab. During the hunting, I saw lots of interesting marine life. Including sea snake, eels, shark, lots of fish and many lobster too small to take. We also saw lots of caves under the reef. It was a lot of fun, but tiring.

We got back to the boats and immediately pulled up anchor and returned to the village anchorage. On the way, Willie cleaned the fish, and they cooked up the crab and lobster. Karen meanwhile prepared some foods and prepared to host all the boats on Tahina for the dinner. I grilled up some of the fish as we prepared all the dishes. Everyone was complaining how late it was – nearly 10 PM by the time we sat down to eat. It was a LONG day! But, the food was excellent.

When we returned to the village anchorage, I realized there was something wrong with the port engine’s throttle. The, engine wouldn’t work right. So, I used just the starboard engine to anchor. The next day, I finally determined that our port engine gear-shift cable was broken. Bert from Boree came over and helped me devise a temporary solution. The break was near the end closest to the sail drive. We cut off the specially made sleeve that holds the end in place for the cable to operate, and made a functioning temporary solution. It works, but I need to arrange to get a new cable. Yet another example of repairing your boat in exotic places!

That night, we were invited by the village to participate in a feast and dance in our honor. Karen wasn’t feeling well so, she didn’t go. We had a wonderful time as the guests of honor – we were first treated to drink some Kava, then we ate. The entire village had to wait until we finished eating before they ate (the normal custom here). They had a band of musicians who played guitars and ukeleles while we ate. Then there was singing, and dancing. The best part was watching all the little kids. I showed them some of the pictures and video clips I had been taking and the little kids were all crowded around me to look, point and laugh.

We may stay here a few more days. Even though there is no Internet here. This is really a special place!

Finally got Internet and uploaded photos. You can see the photos in the following album – which is extra large. There are many photos from th last few posts. The Budd Reef/Yanuca/Cobia shots start at about number 40 in the slideshow:

View full-sized slideshow

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