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Wallis Video

One of the wonders of Wallis is the Tongan Fort, The fortified village and residence of the high chief was built from basalt stones in the 16th century. It is extensive. Only the corner filmed has been cleared. It features elevated stone walkways least the chiefs feet touch the ground. His residence was on the elevated grassed platform near the center.

Another wonder is lake Lalolao which is surrounded with cliffs. The intention was to film from the center of the lake but the wind was strong causing first the drone and then the pilot to get the wobbles.

Back in the main town we stumbled this elaborate welcoming for a new Catholic priest which went on for most of Sunday. – a frocking perhaps?

 

Starting in 1845 the catholic missionaries did as good a job as any in converting the people of Wallis to Christianity. The island is ringed with grand churches, all facing the sea. They are made from local basalt and styled on the churches and cathedrals of Europe with many local flourishes. A huge effort and expression of faith for such a small population. Here are a few examples.

 

Original mission church ceiling panels

Original Mission Church stained glass

Carved Lectern

Interior decorations for priest’s “frocking”

The “Cake Church”

 

 

Land Ho! (again)

After a night full of squalls and liquid lumps the sun has come out and the weather settled back to pleasant tradewind conditions. Apparently we have seen two tropic birds and one hundred and fourteen flying fish!

Our route takes us through the islands and reefs east of Vanua Levu. A few moments ago we raised the first of these, Qelelevu or Naqelelevu Island. It’s nice to make landfall during daylight. From here it’s another 110 miles via the Somosomo Strait to Savusavu, our port of entry. By six tomorrow evening we should be cleared, cleaned and well on the way to being fed and watered.

Dinah s feeling much better with the help of Paihia Bombs and crackers.

D & B

All about Wallis

Wallis or Uvea has turned out to be a gem. A gem hidden away in the South Pacific and protected by an indulgent France from the harsh economic realities of a small island. Without tourists to bother them the 10,000 Wallisians go about life much as always but with cash in their pockets and with most modern conveniences close to hand.

For us it didn’t give up its secrets easily. The town of Matu Utu is spread along unsignposted roads with businesses scattered between the houses and often hidden by verdant vegetation and there is barely a sign between them. Despite our stumbling French and nonexistent Wallisian the locals are universally friendly and helpful and several go out of their way to give us a lift to our next destination including Adrianna, an Australian married to a local. Alas the BWF, their one GAB (ATM) included, can’t give us cash on our cards. Trekking back to Margarita we return with our motley collection of cash. We try $US. They won’t exchange our $US100’s. We finally hit the jackpot with our stray $NZ. Mobile roaming doesn’t seem to work so we investigate a local sim at La Poste. Its too expensive for a short stay and we decide to slum it with the satellite phone.

Basics covered we rent a car and go exploring. Out of town the trend continues. Is it a house or a that restaurant? The turnoff to the Tongan Fort or the 4WD track to someone’s garden? We take the nautical chart in the rental car – BA 896 “Islands and reefs between Fiji, Samoa and Tonga”. It seems more reliable than the rental agency map. BA 896 details Wallis, Futuna, Niuatoputapu, Niua Fo’Ou and the Minerva Reefs. A collection of left over and nearly left out bits of the South Pacific. After many u-turns we reach the Tongan Fort a huge stone fortress built by the Tongans in the 16th century … To be continued.

This morning we set sail for Savusavu in Fiji 350 miles away. For now it’s a bit squally and a bit lumpy and Dinah isn’t enjoying it much. However we make good progress and look forward to the pleasures of Savusavu on Thursday.

D & B

Wallia / Uvea Island

Slowly revealed its self, a series of rolling hills, volcanic in origin, as we motored towards the pass. There we meet several tinnies their occupants fishing or diving at slack water. Even with the calmest sea, the crystal blue waves were curling along the reef then smashing into shards of crystal. If you painted it people would think it was overdone.

An hour on across a very pretty lagoon we anchored off the main wharf and main town – Mata’utu, the centre of everything Wallisian. First the Gendarmerie, smiles all round and another stamp in the passports. Next the cathedral, tres magnifique, Next Douane (Customs), ferme. Next La Poste, ferme. Next the corner store to enquire about a rental car. The obliging assistant called her Fijian boyfriend who came and translated. Maybe there is a car available on Friday. He and his Fijian mate had the afternoon off for a rugby meeting. There is a mini cup for Sevens in the Pacific in December. These Fijians are leading the charge for Wallis.

Enough for a mellow puff we reckoned so back onboard for a swim, a sundowner and dinner.
And the fishermen who had been walking on the reef up to their necks in water were still there. As we settled in to watch the sunset they finally swam to shore, towing their laundry baskets of catch behind them.

A speck of France in the middle of the Pacific. Who would have thought.

Land Ho!

Wallis is a high Island but not particularly so. A few moments ago we spotted it on a cloudy horizon dead ahead. We still h ave some 20 miles to go. Yesterday and for most of last night we had good tradewind sailing but resorted to engine power around dawn as the breeze faded away and headed us. It’s hot here, sea and air are both about about 30 deg. Wallis will be our northern most destination this year. When we go on to Fiji we will slip south a few degrees of latitude and temperature. Yesterday also yielded a fish. A fine Spanish Mackerel or Waloo. Fresh fish for dinner for the first time this trip. Wahoo!

D&B

Bye Vava’U

Yesterday morning, despite royal pleading – actually not, one did the usual loop through Neiafu, hoisted ones dinghy and headed north by nor’west towards Wallis or Ouvea Island. The weather has been more than kind and this morning sees one nearly halfway. One is looking forward to exploring the island particularly the huge stone fort built by the Tongans in the 15th century.

One another are well onboard. No fish but.

D & B

June Mostly

It is with some embarrassment that I realise that most of June has slipped past without a post. Shame on me! So here’s the delayed blogpost.

After a brief stay in Nuku’alofa, long enough to see Martin and Shaaron on the plane home and Dianne, some fuel and fresh provisions aboard, we set out on the overnight sail to Vava’U. But I get a little ahead of the story. During her Sojourn in Nuks Dinah overheard a NZ family talking about their caving adventure. Apparently the Anahulu Cave extends a km or so beyond the steps and hand rails. How could we ignore this? Armed with togs, torches and taxi we set out. Unsure how official our little adventure was we kept our plans to ourselves as we paid the admission. We needn’t have bothered, the ticket seller turned up at the end of the steps and hand rail and showed us the way forward by cellphone. Some distance in he turned back reluctant to swim with his phone. What followed was a delightful series of swimming pools, rockfall clambers, duck-throughs and some nice formations. It was wonderful to swim in a cave without freezing! So much easier to hold your breath.

Cave Guide

Dave

The overnight passage to Vavau was uneventful and the wind more or less cooperative. Arriving as we did on a Sunday, there was little point in proceeding directly to town so we stopped at the first convenient anchorage. Anchored amongst the usual suspects were our good friends Tony and Margaret Whiting and John and Jo Valentine. Much “catching up” was done. I decided to send Dave out on a snorkel of the adjacent “coral gardens”. Despite the on-reef wind with its tricky launch and landing he said he enjoyed it so all good. Monday morning found us trudging about the metropolis of Neiafu for the essentials, laundry, Customs, Immigration, market and lunch.

Keen to show Dave as much as possible in the short time available we headed for the famous Mariners Cave. A place which is still for us a poignant reminder of Richard Spencer who swam here with us all those years ago. Mariners Cave is a large air bubble cave with the entrance about a metre below the surface. Dave, superb free diver of yore, was first in. Dianne screwed up her courage and followed, only bumping her head a little on the ascent but she made it! The cave acts as a cloud chamber. Each ocean swell compresses then expands the air sealed in the cave causing it to fog and clear repeatedly. This along with the cave being lit only from the water makes it a unique other-worldy experience.

Dianne & Bruce

Sadly on Saturday Bruce Gulley called with the news that Fiona had passed away the previous evening, Friday 15 June 2017. Dinah negotiated freezer storage for our perishable goodies, payment one Maori All Blacks jersey, and we flew home via Nadi. Ian and Jo put us up and allowed us to use their place like a railway station hotel. The funeral was beautifully conducted and I hope as cathartic an experience for others as it was for us. Sixty is too young for someone with as much spirit a Fiona and she will be greatly missed.
A frantic round of meals with friends and family later and we were on our way back to Nadi but not before watching ETNZ go 6:1 up in The Match. We dined that night at Denarau with Kim and Iona but unfortunately our early check in meant we had to settle for listening to the final race in the taxi on the way to Nadi airport. Woohoo! Way to go ETNZ!

Margarita sat nicely on her mooring just as we had left her, the perishables where exchanged for one Maori All Blacks jersey, laundry was dumped and we quit a Neiafu, which had been overcrowded by the ICA cruising rally was now overcrowded by the King’s presence, and motored to the nearest nice anchorage for some peace and quiet. Our plan was to clear for Wallis Island on Friday and sail on Saturday. Unfortunately, along with the usual random collection of boating essentials we both returned with colds. Friday came and went as our colds flourished. We self-medicated, ate, slept and wondered if we should display a black cross on the transom. By Saturday we felt better and are now mostly recovered. Tomorrow, Monday, we will clear Customs and strike out for Wallis 340nm to the NNE. The King, whose birthday is to be celebrated on Tuesday, shall have to manage without us.

Wallis Island

Images from minerva

Thanks to Dave and Martin for many of these photos and Martin for the YouTube video.

Sunset

Reef

Wreck

Wreck anchor winch

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Clam chowder

Some yacht

Taveuni

I am looking for your help with an aid project. As of today I need two more volunteers.

From 24 July to 30 July we, are assisting with cyclone reconstruction on Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest Island and home to about 10,000. The project is run by the local Rotary Club and will likely be the construction of a teachers house at one of the schools on the island or some other community building. Under the Fiji system the state only pays teacher salaries and the community provides everything else including the site, buildings, equipment, even text books. Teachers almost always live on site and have some say on their assignments so nice housing attracts good teachers.

You will need to fly to the Island, Fiji Airlines and Fiji Link run thrice daily flights from the international airport at Nadi. The fare is about $NZ1000 return from Auckland. European style accommodation and most meals are provided by Geoffrey Amos of Rotary Taveuni and the champion of these projects. For those who are interested we can take you sailing before or after for a few days to a week.

Interested? Email or call me.

Bruce Idoine

+676 884 1481 or (+64) (0)21 289 5098