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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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. 🙂