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Mischief - Up to Mischief Log 47 Further adventures of S/Y Mischief through the eyes and ears of Chas Baynes

Saturday, 9th June 2018 - Arrival Lomaloma, Vavua Balavu Lau Group, Fiji

The seas remained uncomfortable throughout the night moderating early morning, despite the wind dropping slightly. It had also moved around to the NE requiring a gybe on change of watch, but it put us onto a decent angle for Vavua Balavu at least. Also, Shepherd Moon had caught right up with us as were under reduced sail and passed us so close that should I have had a long enough run up I could have jumped and landed on her deck. Nothing quite like cruising in close company at night!

At first light Land Ahoy! I was below so not sure who won the Blue Peter Badge, but we need to make a new one anyway as the old one has been stolen no doubt for auction somewhere. We arrived at the entrance to the lagoon surrounded by reefs at 11 am and motored for an hour and a half across in deep water to the anchorage off Lomaloma. We have been told by Rally Control to stay aboard until tomorrow when Customs eventually arrive, already a day late. I had to find something to do whilst motoring so I made a rice salad whilst Trevor and Gary stood on the bow looking out for bommies, despite the deep water.

We dropped anchor at 1300 in 9 meters water just off the beach. The scenery here is different yet again. The islands are made up of many low, steep hills covered in brass essentially, some tree covered but not of the tropical rain forest nature we have seen in previous islands. There are no hills over 200 feet and palm trees along the sandy coastline. Very pleasant to look at.

After a nap and despite the official advice we went ashore for a stroll around the township, to see if there was somewhere to have dinner and to buy some bread. The township of Lomaloma is very poor and most houses here are small prefabricated affairs, most showing signs of repair due to storm damage. There are two small shops, one of which advertises cash dispensing services with a Visa logo yet would not take a Visa card nor Mastercard so no cash for us. There was nothing to buy anyway as the flour supplies on the island has run out and therefore there is no bread to be had. The people are very friendly though and were aware of the fact that they were to be invaded by 30 ARC boats over the next few days.

But there was nowhere at all to eat ashore, only an aid sponsored health centre advising islanders to "eat well, sleep well, breathe well…and to reproduce well(!)"; and an aid sponsored school that looked like a barracks. So, back to Mischief for tea of steak on the barbeque and rice salad - good job I made two! And we were all in bed by 7.30 pm would you believe, to sleep and await the Arc flotilla who most seem to plan to arrive at 0800 local time in the morning.

Sunday, 10th June 2018 - Lomaloma, Vavau Balava

It was perfectly calm this morning after an initial downpour. The air was heavy with wood smoke from the many fires ashore - breakfasts cooking no doubt along the shore leaving a mist over the water.

Quote of the day already and it's only 7.30 am. Gary joined me on deck just as Dave put the generator on to boil a kettle. We were having a discussion about the generator and how quiet it was when Gary, who is slightly deaf, came out with, "I thought it was quiet, I haven't got my hearing aids in"! A quick snorkel with Gary and saw a number of brightly coloured fish but the reef was not too special. Both Gary and I found interesting shells but turned out to be occupied so had to go back in.

The rest of the morning was spent drying and re-packing the spinnaker and washing whilst awaiting the arrival of the delayed Customs officials, who eventually turned up at 11 am en masse - there were 7 or 8 of them all told, most wanting some papers filled in and signed leaving the police lady standing guard (or sitting guard as the case may be). What a palaver! It took the best part of an hour during which they all went below for a nose around, mostly out of curiosity - and were very taken by the fact we have a washing machine on board! But they did look inside every cupboard and carried tools in case they wanted to remove panels should they be suspicious. We all bit our lip when Dave was trying to engage with the officials and made mention of the fact that the shop ashore didn't take Visa although advertised: how would we know if we hadn't yet been ashore? He wiggled his way out of it somehow but it was a squirmy moment!

It is etiquette not to wear sunglasses nor a hat, and to wear longish trousers covering the knees and a T shirt covering the shoulders. As they made their way to the boat I was wearing sunglasses and a hat and a pair of underpants so Dave suggested I may wish to change………

We eventually upped anchor at 1315 together with Shepherd Moon and motored north towards the Bay of Islands around the north end of Vavua Balava. We left about six Arc boats in the anchorage and by the look of it they will still be checking them in tomorrow morning, so slow are they. But, anyway narrowly avoiding a couple of submerged rocks on our course, we arrived in the most amazing anchorage about two hours later spoilt only by the fact there were several other boats here albeit they were hidden behind some of the many small islets that give the Bay of Islands its name. It is simply stunning here our anchor sitting in 9 meters of clear water in sand. Gary and I immediately donned snorkels and fins and jumped in, Gary still wearing his hearing aids so eager was he to get in! We headed off to the nearest islet and swam around it for an hour spying our very own beautiful 'coral garden', some large vertical saucer shaped fish, various brightly coloured corals and a turtle.

The crew from Shepherd Moon came over to share dinner with us. Trevor made a very nice Bolognese and we chatted the evening away whilst the bimini light attracted all the mozzies away from us which allowed Dave to spray them with insecticide en masse, really effective as no-one was bitten at all! The girls were trying to work out which of the abundant stars was Venus and decided on the brightest one low down towards the west - unfortunately it transpired to be the mast head light of Shepherd Moon! Oh well, they need a star gazer app maybe?

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