Logbook: Naqara Bay, Ono Island, Fiji
Ono is inside Astrolabe Reef – a big dive area. We anchored in Naqara Bay to present our kava root so we could snorkel at the nearby manta spot and perhaps do some diving. When we sailed into Ono, after having left Savusavu hoping to make it Fulaga, we saw a handful of lovely little islands, the kind that spark our imagination as cruisers and we foresaw ourselves staying for a while. It turns out we only stayed a handful of days, and didn’t do the diving we wanted because we saw what we thought (for the third time) was a good weather window to head to Fulaga.
This was our first experience giving the village kava in what is called a sevusevu ceremony. Historical information from cruisers waxes on about how to appropriately dress and behave in a sevusevu, and how to clap, and how to drink the kava.
Our sevusevu experience is very, very limited but even in moderately remote places like Ono and Fulaga the ceremony we experienced was low key, no one was uptight about how we dressed or whether we knew when to clap, and in neither ceremony did they prepare and drink the kava with us.
What made the experience odd in Naqara was not the sevusevu experience, but it was the very first time we had multiple villagers coming to us, ashore and on the boat, asking for things from our stores. Not asking to trade, just asking to have. This is something we had expected to happen before we sailed to the South Pacific, that really hasn’t happened until now. A difference from the Eastern and Western Pacific perhaps? Who knows- we don’t.
We were asked for snorkel masks, floating rope, super glue (twice, this is a hot item apparently), gasoline (they offered to pay for the gas but we couldn’t spare any because we were heading to an even more remote location), fishing hooks and whether we would trade our personal snorkel fins with a local (his were child’s fins).
The snorkel and mask was asked for by the village elder to support their pearl farming project and we had an old snorkel aboard that we happily donated. The rest we politely said no to except the fishing hooks which we had aboard as a good giveaway item because helping people feed themselves is always a warm fuzzy feeling. We also had planned to give away some old charts to the school (which we did) and some frisbees we’ve carried across the South Pacific without using.
TIP: We didn’t have much time to explore the area before we headed to Fulaga but we did swim with mantas again (approx S18°51'53.70" E178°30'50.19"). This is always amazing to me and even though we have swam with mantas a dozen or so times, every time is otherworldly. We showed up during a sun break in the middle of an otherwise cloudy day and immediately saw mantas including one huge, all black (even on the belly) giant. Then, we went for a surprisingly amazing snorkel (approx S18°51'53.99" E178°30'49.84") through scattered coral heads some not so great, but many loaded with soft and hard corals and swarming with fish. We were very surprised at the liveliness and even more bummed that we didn’t dive outside the lagoon. All thwarted by our desire to make it to Fulaga.