Friday, August 31, 2012

Amazing Fulanga

I can't believe it has been almost two weeks since our 'arrival' blog post.

First off, Fulanga is correctly spelled Fulaga (no "n"), however it is pronounced with an "n". I will write it here the way it is pronounced, rather than the way it is correctly spelled in Fiji. Someday, when our cruising adventures slow down a little (during cyclone season), maybe I'll do a post on Fiji spelling vs pronunciation and why they are different.

Well, I hate to say so (because we don't want to encourage any fees), but Fulanga is worth the $50FJ fee that the village charges (about $30 U.S.). I've been pondering exactly why every cruiser who comes here says "WOW, it's really worth the fee.". Most who've just recently crossed the best of the South Pacific, say "This is the best place I've been so far.". OK, so why?

1. An amazing (SE Corner) anchorage, with a long long white sand beach, and an anchorage in 10 feet good holding sand, with good protection 360-degrees. For you guys in Florida with the Bahamas right there, you say "Yeah, so what?". Well, for the South Pacific, this is really special. So many of the anchorages in the South Pacific are deep, or corally, or exposed, or all three. Having a GORGEOUS anchorage where you sleep well even when the wind is blowing 25 knots is rare.

2. This gorgeous anchorage is well away from the villages, so we are not feeling like we are under the scrutiny of the locals. They don't visit the anchorage much (no fishing there) unless you invite them.

3. There are 20 or 30 possible anchorages here--the max depth in the whole lagoon is about 50 feet, and it is 90% sand, so you can toss your anchor pretty much anywhere you fancy. Just the one "Southeast Anchorage" could hold 30 boats. There are lots of nooks and crannyies with small private beaches.

4. The island/atoll/archipelago is unique in that it is a lagoon inside a crater (mostly surrounded by land) inside an atoll. The outer lagoon is about the size of Bora Bora (for you cruisers who have been there), but picture an inner lagoon INSIDE the land (ie instead of that awesome peak, an inner lagoon instead.) The significance of the inner lagoon surrounded (almost completely) by land, is that no matter what the state of the tide, the swell, or the wind, the inner lagoon is calm. After so many dicey exposed rolly corally anchorages, this one is a real pleasure.

Unlike the Caribbean with a 1-2' tidal range, in Fiji, the tidal range is 4-6 feet. So at high tide, any reef anchorages are pretty "sloshy" (rolly, etc). They look great on the charts but end up being uncomfortable in practice.

5. The reef and the waters are still fairly pristine. We have yet to see any debris or trash on the bottom. (A little floats up on the beach, but anything useful, the villagers collect and put to good use).

6. The villages out here in the nether regions of Fiji are pretty special. While being very primitive, they are very neat and clean. Most people speak passable English (everyone is taught English in schools). A good number of them have been "off island" for one reason or another (school, work, families) and have chosen to come back to their quiet village and very relaxed lifestyle.

The villagers are totally self-sufficient, food-wise. Every family has a "plantation" somewhere (usually in plots outside the village), where they grow crops. Plus, of course, a breadfruit tree outside their door. They all fish, and every meal we have had in the village, we have been served fish. Most also have a few chickens and pigs, which they reserve for special occasions.

The Fijians, like most Polynesians, are brought up in a very communal culture. All for one and one for all. It is a culture that is very different from my WASP American upbringing. We work hard and expect our neighbors to also work hard and do for themselves. We wouldn't be happy sharing the fruits of our labors with our neighbors (without some definite reciprocity). But in Fiji, it's not unusual for a neighbor to invite himself into your house and help himself to your food. It's just the way they are, culturally. We are enjoying the cultural exchanges.

We have been to ch-ch-church 3 times in the last last 3 weeks. Church is a central part of the village life. We have been going to church and then lunch afterward with our new friends from the village, Sera and Sikeli. Sikeli worked at an upscale resort on Viti Levu for a number of years, and then came back home to his village. Sera is the government nurse for the island. They both are intelligent, well read, and speak very good English. They have a very cute daughter, who at 5 years old, can already count to 100 in English as well as Fijian. She has been teaching me my numbers in Fijian.

We have been diving in the pass twice (and snorkeling a couple times as well). We think we've got the current figured out. Fulanga has a very narrow pass and the current runs 2-4 knots most of the time. The closest tide station is nearly 100 miles west of here, but that seems to be a good enough benchmark for us to figure out what the pass is doing. (Details in the Fiji Compendium). There is an amazing array of big fish swimming around at the outside of the pass on the tide change.

We took one day and motored Soggy Paws all the way around the inner rim of the lagoon. We were looking for the "cyclone hole" someone had reported was here, plus checking out anchorages that other boats had reported, and marking new ones. We now have a pretty accurate chart of Fulanga, with tracks criss-crossing in every direction. Navigation inside the lagoon is pretty easy--with a sand bottom, most of the "bommies" are easy to see.

The villagers invited some of the cruisers out spearfishing and lobstering. They tend to go out late in the week to get goodies for their big meal on Sunday. We were surprised to find that they actually find lobster inside the lagoon. We visited a few spots they had stopped at later, and found one good-sized lobster in a big coral head, but were unsuccessful in catching him. We ended up buying 2 lobster from some of the fishermen.

We are enjoying life here in Fulanga. We will post some pictures when we next have internet.
At 08/19/2012 7:15 PM (utc) our position was 19°09.18'S 178°32.43'W

No comments:

Post a Comment