After fouling the main halyard while attempting to raise the sail, our rusty crew got away from the anchorage at Malolo Lailai without further drama. Four hours of motor-sailing into a northeast breeze brought us to our target destination - the twin uninhabited islands of Vanua Levu (a smaller Vanua Levu, and not the second-largest island of Fiji that goes by the same name) and Navadra.
The anchorage formed by these two islands - little more than islets, really - was everything we could want. White beaches, lava cliffs and forbidding headlands, coconut palms down low and thick forest up high, an expanse of coral reef to be explored, and, according to the book, a clean sand bottom, good holding, in 20 meters.
Alas, though, the anchorage is open to the north, and with the northeasterly that had been blowing all day the swell inside the anchorage looked too much for comfort. So after feeling our way in through reefs that we could barely see in the poor mid-afternoon light of a drizzly day, we turned around and felt our way right back out, towards our backup plan of Yalobi Bay on Waya Island, at the southern end of the Yasawa Group.
We made it just at the end of usable light, and dropped the pick a few hundred meters off the village of Namara.
And therein began our tangle with local etiquette. It was soon dark, I had stayed up past midnight the night before to get a science paper submitted to a journal, and had just spent eight hours sailing Galactic from hither to yon, standing watch at the mast most of the time, straining to see reefs in the poor visibility. I was knackered, and frankly not game for the visit to a strange village in the dark that would be required to present sevusevu right then.
But the next day, we were well aware, would be Sunday. Generations of missionaries have done, and continue to do, their job well in Fiji, and we had been warned not present sevusevu on a Sunday by a sailor who has years of experience here. So we couldn't present sevusevu in the morning, either. But we didn't want to hang around for the whole day to wait to present sevusevu on Monday...
So we did what is probably quite an ignoble thing, and simply picked the anchor in the morning and slinked away without having presented sevusevu and being granted permission to stay in the precincts of the village. I suppose in retrospect that I should have just sucked it up and gone in right away, in the dark.
On the bright side, we had a beautiful sail back to Vanua Levu/Navadra and found the anchorage in a more settled state. We were on one of the blinding-white beaches in time for a picnic lunch, came back to Galactic with two coconuts, and Elias and I had an afternoon snorkel besides. And we've the place to ourselves, with neither locals nor other yachties in sight. We've managed to eke one more tropical delight out of the season.
Sent via our ham radio...
..we have no internet access...
..and glad for it, too!