A Fijian Welcome06 October 2017 Go back
“I asked Eric before flying out to Tonga if he would be able to accommodate me on his Oyster 575 Lisanne to sail from Neiafu to Vanua Balavu and much to my delight, he said that I am most welcome to join them for the passage from Vava’u to Fiji as there would only be four on board and he had plenty of space.
“We cleared out of Neiafu and left the anchorage at around 16:00 hours. It was beautiful to see some of the islands as I had not been anywhere else apart from the town of Neiafu so far.
“After two nights and one day of sailing, chatting, eating, relaxing and playing cards with Eric, his wife Ann and crew member Micheal, during which I did one ‘shadow’ watch and one single we arrived in the Lau Group in Fiji. During my single watch, I monitored the speedometer and was getting a slightly higher heart rate myself – Lisanne started surfing between 12 to 13.5 knots. It felt exhilarating though and I think I can safely say that I passed my initiation sailing an Oyster 575 – even though I had been a little sick over the side! When Eric joined me at the end of the watch I talked him through my new experience and he agreed that a little rest would be appropriate and I didn’t disagree with him, who said that keeping watch was easy!
“About 16 of the participating Oyster yachts in the World Rally fleet had arrived at Daliconi anchorage and the authorities together with ‘Yacht Help Fiji’ flew into Vanua Balavu – so the clearance formalities commenced. Every yacht was visited by the Health and Biosecurity Officers and after that by Immigration – as I was still to arrive on location, James and Robert of Miss Tiggy and Tianelle took over coordinating the order of clearance and did an extremely efficient job together with Yacht Help Fiji and the local authorities.
“At around 18:00, the authorities and myself were picked up in a plush and very shiny blue 4×4 pick-up truck, driven by the owner of the Moana Guest House, Tevita Fotofili and after a journey time of around 30 minutes we arrived at our home for the next week in Lomaloma. My traditional Fijian ‘bure’ was built by Tevita and consisted of one room, with four beds and a bathroom. Tevita showed me round and explained that the air-conditioning is the South-easterly and apologised for the tiling not having quite been finished in the bathroom. I instantly fell in love with my new albeit temporary house and could have easily stayed there for months – the view onto the beach and the lagoon was just breath-taking and the best of all, there was no electricity and NO INTERNET! My kind of paradise.
“We received a very warm welcome from the two local ladies who had prepared an amazing supper and we indulged in local, delicious, truly organic Fijian curries with homemade Rotis. After dinner, we followed on with our conversations for a short time but I was keen to get some rest so headed back to my idyllic bure to sleep literally in paradise and tucked myself under the net and safe from the mosquitos!
“The next morning came rather quickly after a deep and peaceful sleep and I was wide awake at 05:00. Intrigue and excitement made me venture outside to watch one of many stunning sun rises and I sat with Tevita and talked about life in Lomaloma and the devastation which cyclone Winston caused only a short while ago. I then ventured off into the village by foot accompanied by Moana’s resident dog. I could go on forever about the new sounds, smells and sights…
“Further groups of Oyster yachts arrived over the next two days and the clearing formalities were completed without any complications and on the day of the scheduled welcome party all 27 yachts had arrived in Fiji.
“We were joined by journalist Brittany Cooper from the luxury yachting title Ocean Media and professional photographer Stu Johnson for their editorial coverage of the Fijian stopover of the Oyster World Rally and they ventured out to the Bay of Islands for a photoshoot with Calliope, Lisanne, Shanties and ShaLen – I was able to see some of the unedited footage and the unbelievably beautiful shades of turquoise, green and blues against the backdrop of the islands – Stu’s photography simply took my breath away.
“Nearly all the Oyster owners and crew attended the festivities at Daliconi village a few meters off the shoreline and we witnessed a native Fiji experience – a Sevu Sevu ceremony presented by Tevita to the chief of Daliconi, a blessing by the Daliconi Priest, followed by a Kava Ceremony which everyone was invited to partake in. We were graced with simply the best home cooked feast and creative entertainment, courtesy of the village’s musicians as well as traditional dancing performed by the beautiful women of Daliconi. Although obvious to anyone who has ever been to an Oyster event, the fun and laughter didn’t stop there and for me personally it was definitely an experience to remember.”
Words by Regine Watts, Oyster World Rally Event Coordinator.