|My near neighbours off RSYC|
Ashore, I visited the shops and went to a movie. I spent an entire day trying to find some methylated spirits for my cooker - eventually I got some from a Chemist. It was not available at any hardware store or Petrol station, or at a liquor shop as was suggested by someone in the Hardware store. Everyone seems quite scared of the stuff, mentioning its hard to get because people sniff it.
Finally I lifted the anchor and sailed for a nearby island called "mbenga" - thug its written Beqa. Remarkably the wind was from the northeast, light at first and slow but it gradually intensified to the predicted 15 - 20 knots, so it was a pleasant 20 mile downwind sail with just the main up. I entered the reef protected waters around Beqa at about 3pm through Sulfur Pass then motored into a long narrow harbour, running north and south, and anchored in 12m well up past the village of Lalati on the western shore.
|Suva to Beqa through Sulfur Pass|
In the morning it was overcast but still, so after my usual breakfast of cereal and coffee I inflated the dinghy and went ashore to make "sevu sevu" at Lalati. "Sevu sevu" is a more or less formal ritual in which the visitors bring gifts to the traditional owners in return for permission to remain and enjoy their communities lands and waters. Lalati is a tiny village of about 20 worn out houses grouped on a grassy clearing around a large christian church. I walked through and was directed to where the village Chief was - he was in a meeting at the school with ten or twelve men sitting on the floor at his house. A young man came and welcomed me, accepted the Kava that I had brought, and apologised that the chief could not come to greet me. I was free to go.
So I continued further out towards the lagoon to a Resort that had looked deserted when I went past the day before. It was not, but there wasn't a lot happening there. I booked to go on a snorkelling tour with them the next day, had a smoothie at their Bar and read my book, then eventually returned to the boat.