Buy Explorer Yachts .comJohn S. DeCaro
EXPLORER YACHTS- NEW CONSTRUCTION/ BROKERAGE/ CHARTER
131 FOOT EXPLORER YACHT CRUISES TO YACATA ISLAND, FIJI
EXPLORER YACHT ROUNDS CAPE HORN ENROUTE PACIFIC
Hi Everybody and Happy New Year.
Sorry for the big attached photos, but we had a really interesting stop over yesterday that I wanted to share with our friends and family.
So our guides who took us up the mountain trail on Yacata island today were telling us they weren't quite sure when this happened but it was during the time of the impeding Tongans into Fiji (invasion began in 1847). The Chief of Yacata, who joined us for the hike, said that his great-great-grandfather told him the story of the Tongans who were captured within their lagoon.
They were planning for an obvious attack on the two islands. Yacata and Kaibu share the same reef system and there is a beautiful shallow lagoon between the two. The Fijians saw them approach from their high posted village in the islandís center. The Chief stated that this abandoned village is referred to as village #1 as it is the earliest history that he knows of.
Quickly the defending Fijians came down in force and seized the Tongans canoe who put up a fight, and lost. The Fijians loaded the Tongan bodies into their canoe that they had paddled so far across the seas and dragged it up to this cave that we visited today.
That evening they celebrated victory with a "Lovo" feast (in ground BBQ with stones and covered by leaves) and ate all the defeated Tongans. As a trophy of the event they stacked all the bones up in the cave with the Tongan canoe as well.
Today only three skulls remain along with many of the other primary bones found in the human body. The young Chief was saying how change was good and that a big part of the change was the arrival of the British Missionaries who taught the Fijians western religion.
Also there is NO ANCHORAGE! The reef drops straight down to 400 meters with only a slight shelf at a cut from the lagoon that has a wicked outbound current. Captain Carole, our routing agent and Fijian cruise expert with Fiji Yacht Partners, suggested dropping a hook on the ledge and says that the current keeps the ship off the ledge! She then also noted that she had never been to the caves as she was watching the current! A shame, we did the visit in two shifts and the boat drifted nicely at 0.6 knots to the north, away from the reef without anchoring. Anywhere we anchor within reef systems we never drop on live coral, something they donít worry too much about in Fiji but nevertheless it kills the coral and can take years to rejuvenate.
Our arrival was around 0600 and due to overcast skies, we stood off for an hour before launching the small tender. Our Dive Master friend hadnít been specific about a village being there. On our ownerís three week cruise we quickly learned the protocol of visiting a Fijian village or anchoring in their waters, diving their reefs, etc.
Before anything, a shore party must visit the village where they will meet the Head Man of the village. He is sort of the PR fellow and will speak to the chief on your behalf. He will ask the Chief, via a ceremonial presentation of Kava root with a sort of chant that describes the request, if we may visit their lands, waters and be their guests.
I also brought a second kilo of kava root for the Chief, as we were unannounced on arrival. He asked to give them notice if we brought guests there and later in conversation it was apparent that he was embarrassed by the path on the hike being over grown and that they would cut it back for us.
At first I thought we were impeding but he greeted the apology with 45 degree hand-grip-shake on friendship and said not to worry, he welcomes our visit. They kept referring to us a company boat and I carefully described the scene of the family boat where we change destinations and work for only one family. Once this was understood I tried to imply that they should be careful about the cave and that it is a special place to visit, which of course they know to a degree, but also how typical "tourist" would very quickly destroy such a unique historical place.
Those last two photos show how they, themselves, arenít helping the site conservation all too much. I touched on that too, saying that perhaps they should arrange what is left and only handle 1 or 2 if they feel they must exemplify on how big those Tongan boys really were. I said that this would help preserve the site so they can continue to share it with visitors and collect the $50 per trip to benefit the village. If the bones are no longer, then there is only one very interesting story to tell and maybe not as interesting a place as it is right now.
The village was very manicured and well looked after, as most villages we have seen in Fiji. Everyone we have met is incredibly kind and gracious and enjoy speaking with visitors, once the Chief has welcomed you with the Kava ceremony. This visit to Yacata, where the tourist cannot reach so easily and where they donít see too many visitors simply due to access, was very interesting. A fascinating place indeed.
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|Broker John DeCaro|
|Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA|