Well, all good things have to come to an end. Two days until the end of November and the ships are all heading for home. Ratbag left a couple of days ago, sounds like Chris and Ina had a fantastic jump from Suva – 240 miles in their first 36 hours and a fat mahi mahi off Cape Washington. Hibiscus will clear tomorrow night with Ali in command and me, Sammy, Jack and Spike as crew.
November was a busy month. It started with Peter Horsley leaving the village after a short but memorable stay. We finished the women’s sailing dory – Chris and Ina doing the hard yards on her at the end. Fantastic little ship, 15’6’” overall, capable of carrying 5 or 6 for a days fishing, three rowing positions with throll pins (I think that’s how you spell it) instead of rollocks. Hans and Ina built a crab claw rig with leeboard and steering oar. Captain Nolan (Big Kemo) has got sailing her down to a fine art – she can outrun our dingy with 2.2hp outboard easily. The village decided to call her “Alina” (from Ali and Ina). The Women’s Committee is hiring her out at $2 a time with the money going to pay for maintenance and a fund for another boat in time. The launch was fantastic, the minister blessed her, Charles mixed a special tanoa of yogona instead of champagne, the chief and the elders all tuned up dressed to the nines to put her in the water and there was the obligatory feast to finish. Kameli reckons it’s the first time they’ve seen a crab claw rig sailing in Tavuki Bay since the Camakau fleet sailed up from Lau in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation festivities. Hopefully she isn’t the last. The temporary workshop we set up next to Dan's shop proved a hive of industry. As a pilot for a bigger boat everyone now has a fair idea of what is involved in putting a boat together from scratch to launching.
Lia Fal is tied up to a stout coral bombie and her rig is down and ashore to make her the smallest target for the summer storms. Hopefully she escapes the cyclone season intact. She will act as a bunk house for the crews that come up next year and then we will apply to FISMA for permission to sink her next to the MPA as a diva attraction and artificial reef. The chief called the entire village together before we left for one lat workshop. The business plan was adopted as a final – subject to a few changes. I’ll get that up on the website as soon as we get back to NZ. The village youth made a commitment to provide the labour necessary for dropping and milling the timber and building the new ship as soon as we can confirm funding. Russi emailed form Lautoka that the Western Division had met in Lautoka and fully support the project. They have decided they can best support the project by fund raising to buy the food supplies to support the construction team next year. Vinaka Russi and your gang. So now it all comes down to finding the right donors. We have plenty of feelers out – Kesia at WWF has been working overtime for us and all we can do now is keep filling in the applications and wait. We have a couple of leads to follow up with Bob from IHRDP before we leave tomorrow. Captain Tevita from FIT Maritime Studies came and spent an evening in the village explaining the courses and qualifications available. We’ll work with him over summer by email to organize an initial course in boatbuilding, deck watch rating and navigation is enough of the youth put their hands up to attend.
Lars had to fly back to a German winter in the middle of the month – bula Lars – it s was an outstanding effort form my German son = hopefully he’ll email soon so we can stay in touch. Of course they put on yet another feast for home when he left and then another two weeks later when we all sailed away. We sat up late in the meetinghouse while the youth and Big Ben has one last shot at killing Sammy at the tanoa. Fantastic night. Huge feast with enormous prawns, the boys drove the bowl hard all night, the string band played, our women all got new beautifully woven baskets for Christmas and everyone cried when the time came to leave.
We got into Suva to see the arrival of the Fijian Voyaging Societies new waka being assembled after its delivery by ship from NZ. I think it’s an important milestone in the revitalization of Fijian sailing culture. They will have their work cut out to train up a crew for their historic voyage to Hawaii next year ad we wish them all the best – that’s another inspirational project. I’m sure when the fleet from the seven Pacific Island countries comes together in Raiatea next year it will be the beginning of a new dawn for Pacific sailing.
Our friends from Moca have two more Camakau just arrived in Suva from Falanga. They reckon they will be having a Camakau regatta in January next year. It would great to see that.
We had a last lunch with Aunty Eva and Nana and Pate and Vicki at Kalabu yesterday. It will be Aliferiti’s 100 nights at the end of this week in Navitilevu. It’s hard to believe the time has gone so quickly. Moca Ali II.
I’ll do a formal progress report on the trip home and put on the website. In the meantime – a huge vinaka vakalevu to all that made it another amazing season in Solodamu. We counted 19 visitors from six countries on 7 ships that passed through Solodamu this year. Solodamu has built is first boat in 15 years, there are crab claw rigs back in Tavuki Bay for the first time in half a century. Tomorrow night we should be heading south for the last time this year – this time to pass Kadavu on our way back to Aotearoa. Moca Solodamu, Moca Suva, Moca Fiji – until next year.