we talked about going to Budd Reef (in north eastern Fiji) I didn't see
how we would get there. Mainly because it isn't really a day hop from
anywhere. In the photo to the left, my finger is pointing to Albert Bay
and Budd Reef is across the water to the east of there. We had to travel
north around those blue bits at the top of the map. Budd Reef is south
and east of that northern point. (You can see it on the right side of
the map, just above the middle.) Sooo...Here
we are (right) trying to figure out how we're going to get through the
reef and to the only good anchorage in south east winds before dark. The
recommended entrance is at least fifty miles away, and with a head wind
we're not going to make it. If we don't figure it out soon we'll be
sailing at night through reefs and islands - not good. We see a
break in the reef on the chart right next to an obstruction. If we can
find the obstruction we can pass to the north of it in deep water.
Conditions are NOT helpful. We have high tide and a cloudy sky. Scott
puts me on the bow and we motor forward slowly. Finally we see the green
patch we're looking for straight ahead. We cut just to the north of it
and stay in deep water. We make it to the anchorage and a local guy
shows us exactly where to drop our anchor. We hold tight that night and
are ready for a look-see around the island the next day.
guide is none other than the chief's son who goes by the nom de plume of
brought us around to a beautiful beach between two of the three islands
within the reef. Here the water ran fast and cool and the fish and
corals thrived. Willie procured some liquid refreshment for us. Before
leaving our boat he asked if we had a machete on board. I was surprised
by the question, but glad that my son Drew had seen to it that we had
one right inside our front door - just what every cruising yacht needs!
If you plan to spend the day living off of coconuts.
was ready for a little snack of coconut meat.
And Lidia was ready for a nice cool drink after a
complete aquatic tour of the nearby reef.
You might be interested to note that Willie tied his
boat just in the lee of the fringing reef to keep it safe from coral
attacks. Also notice that we're not keen on taking our inflatable dinghy
any real distance or across sharp coral which would certainly damage
both our aluminum hull and PVC tubes.
WE still hadn't visited the local school, nor had we
visited the local chief. With Willie's help we were able to do that with
is how one meets the chief: You come in wearing modest dress, remove
your shoes and sit cross-legged on mats usually out on the front porch
(which serves a a living room in the tropics).
little insert of a child's teddy bear (right) is a shot I couldn't
resist. Children the world over love their teddy bears!!
kava gift is seen behind Willie's father (left) He is sitting with his
grand child to his left and the Bible we gave to him in front of him.
Every village we visit has expressed great enthusiasm for our Bibles.
This place is quite remote. Willie told us hat the only other place he
has EVER visited is Taveuni - an island about 15 or 20 miles away. Mind
you, there is NO interisland ferry. And, in order for Willie to take us
around the island we needed to provide gasoline for his outboard.
charming village is the only habitation inside of Budd Reef. It's
positioned on the center island, Vanuca in the most protected area. Even
so, a cyclone whipped through the island three years ago destroying more
than half of the homes and the Church - the foundation of which you see
to the right. The village was well kept with trimmed grass, flowering
shrubs and very little litter. Most of the houses lost in the cyclone
have been rebuilt. Plans are being made for the rebuilding of the
The Quest is anchored on the other side of the island in
front of the school.
children have to hike over a pretty big hill to go to school each
morning. You can see how attractive they look in their school uniforms.
young man on our bow came with us from the village. It turns out that
he's 15 years old (looks 10 or 12). He's finished with whatever
schooling is available on the island. Further education is NOT in the
picture and his future is uncertain. I'm pretty sure he'd never been on
a boat like ours. Visitors to the island are few. Basically, he has
nothing to do until he is old enough and big enough to safely freedive
for lobster, fish the surrounding reefs (which have already been
overfished), or cut copra for 25¢/hr.
Life in the villages is very limited.
When they left us,
again we experienced an amazing sadness. Willie had been very kind to us
- sharing whatever he had.