Skip to content

Cruising Gau Island in Fiji

June 6, 2014

After a long week in noisy Suva doing boat projects and provisioning we headed out to the outer islands thinking we might end up in the Lau Group. But after a long day of beating to weather and fighting a strong current we arrived at Gau just after sunset. There are no markers or breakers on the reef to identify the pass so we decided to skip Gau and continue on overnight to Savusavu. But then we saw a German yacht approaching the pass and we hurried to catch up with them thinking we might follow them in; if they didn’t hit anything then we shouldn’t. It was tense until we finally made it into the protected anchorage.

The German boat left the next morning after we thanked them greatly for leading us through the pass; they had been scared to death! That afternoon we went into the village of Somosomo to do the sevusevu offering of kava to the village chief. On the beach we met Noa who invited us into his home while we waited for the Sunday afternoon church business to conclude. There we met his wonderful wife Miri and we instantly became fast friends.

During the sevusevu ceremony we were accepted into the village and told we could fish and dive in their waters and take meals at any of the houses. This was not an idle jester as we soon found ourselves “adopted” villagers. After a couple of days we decided to postpone the Lau Group and spend our time at Somosomo.

Over our twelve day stay we dove the pinnacles just off the village where we saw the best hard and soft corals of our trip so far. We made one drift dive along the “wall” outside the reef while Elia from the village tracked our bubbles from his fishing boat and was waiting for us when we surfaced. Many of the young men are scuba divers that collect sea cucumbers for a man in Suva that provides the village with equipment and a compressor. One cucumber can fetch as much as $70 USD or triple that if it is cooked!

Technology has arrived in Somosomo in the form of solar electricity, TVs, and cell phones. The village installed subsidized solar cells, batteries, and inverters in each house and many of the houses have flat panel televisions. We brought in our hard drive with our movie collection and there was a movie marathon each day until the batteries went dead and they had to wait for solar recharge.

We alternated between lunches in the village and inviting guests to Persephone where we had American bar-b-cue and cold beer; always a hit. The menu ashore has greatly improved from our last trip 25 years ago. Miri made fried seaweed fritters seasoned with garlic and onions. We were served fish with a sauce and baked rolls with homemade raspberry jam. And the meals always included hot chili peppers. This sure beat the constant boiled fish, boiled yams, and boiled taro leaves that we experienced on our last trip.

We had a special day when Miri took us on a two mile trek across the mountain where Noa met us and showed us his farm. During the hike Miri received a cell call from her daughter-in-law Ala who was aghast when she learned our ages and warned Miri that we could drop dead any minute on that mountain trail. Miri broke into laughter and assured Ala that we were fit. Noa’s farm has a small “farm house” where they live while tending the farm. Miri quickly started a fire and prepared a wonderful lunch after which we took a nap before the two mile return trip to the village.

On Thursday the village women hosted four other villages in a church fund raiser and Sandie volunteered a baked cake and fruit punch with ICE! There is no refrigeration in the village and the women enjoyed a cool drink while the men sat by the beach and drank Kava all afternoon. Brian started off with small helpings of the grog referred to as “low tides”, but soon was anointed with full-to-the-brim “tsunamis”. The fundraiser netted an impressive $4,300 Fijian that was going toward ministry scholarships. Afterwards everyone went to the meeting hall for a Fijian feast and more kava.

The kids attend boarding school in the next village leaving Monday morning and returning on Friday. This leaves only pre-school children in the village during the week and Sandie would delight them by bringing in bubbles that they would chase across the rugby practice field. On the weekend we brought a load of kids out to the boat for popcorn and brownies which was a very big hit.

Last Wednesday we went in to say our good byes. Sandie handed out costume jewelry to her new friends and Miri made a large lunch which we ate until we were “maumau”. We were approached by William who asked if he could hitch a ride to Suva which we agreed to. Noa and Miri rowed William out to the boat early the next morning and there was a tearful goodbye before raising anchor. The sail to Suva was in mild conditions and we flew the spinnaker for most of the trip. William proved to be an able-bodied seaman quickly learning the various sheets and halyards. We celebrated our arrival in Suva with dinner at the yacht club before William headed off.

The island of Gau was everything we hope for in a cruising experience; beauty, friendship, diving, and immersion into the local culture. We hope to return before we leave Fiji. Our next adventure begins next week with the arrival of Justin, Joann, and our grandchild Caeden.

Kids going to school on Monday

Kids going to school on Monday

The women prepare to go fishing

The women prepare to go fishing

Lunch with Noa, Miri, and friends

Lunch with Noa, Miri, and friends

Approaching the village as the tides is going out

Approaching the village as the tides is going out

Children chasing bubbles

Children chasing bubbles

Preparing the fund raiser meal

Preparing the fund raiser meal

Men drink kava while the women do the work!

Men drink kava while the women do the work!

Collecting money for the fundraiser.

Collecting money for the fundraiser.

Low tide at the village

Low tide at the village

The village's whale tooth

The village’s whale tooth

Fund raiser meal in the meeting house

Fund raiser meal in the meeting house

Trek to the farm

Trek to the farm

Old men with their walking sticks

Old men with their walking sticks

Miri prepares lunch at the farm house

Miri prepares lunch at the farm house

After lunch nap at the farm house

After lunch nap at the farm house

Returning from diving the "wall"

Returning from diving the “wall”

Children enjoy popcorn and brownies

Children enjoy popcorn and brownies

Showing off their new jewelry

Showing off their new jewelry

Miri and Noa in Lion's Club shirts

Miri and Noa in Lion’s Club shirts

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

?????????????

William helping out on the trip to Suva

William helping out on the trip to Suva

Celebrating at the Yacht Club

Celebrating at the Yacht Club

From → Travel

4 Comments
  1. moses permalink

    I am jealous. Enjoy your time cos life is for the living

  2. Yvonne Miller permalink

    What an adventure. Really enjoying your post!!

  3. Patrick & Lisa McCabe (Always & Forever) permalink

    Just wonderful, you two
    Wish we could have been with you 🙂
    Love the photos.

  4. Dave Wong permalink

    Nice!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: