Fiji, local traditions and seaman chores

Category: Ships Log
  LulusKava 00 IntroPics 150x Fiji Vuda Point  

September 22nd - September 29th

Kava drinking, meeting Lulu's family, climbing the mast, Oktoberfest and "Bula, Bula, Bula," in Vuda Point on the island Viti Levu, Fiji.


“First you have to say 'Bula',” explains Lulu and he hands me a cup made out of a coconut shell half and filled with a muddy liquid. “Bula!” I shout and put the cup to my lips and down it all at once. Everybody in the circle claps three times, while the cup goes back to Lulu. He dumps it into the big kava bowl, refills it and hands it in a circular movement to Alena. After a “Bula” she bravely faces the muddy liquid and empties the cup in one go. The three claps follow and the ceremony is repeated for the other two guests and Lulu’s family members in the room.

We are sitting on thick mats woven out of coconut fronds on the floor of a tiny house in a little village about 2 miles from Vuda Point Marina, where Green Panther is safely tied up. The only furniture in the room is a little table for the TV and a small cabinet mounted at the wall. Opposite of the TV are a tall refrigerator and a large propane bottle hooked up to a modern stove. This is the main room of the house (about 5x5 meters square) which serves as a gathering place, living room and kitchen all in one. Separated by a plywood wall and a doorframe with a curtain is the bedroom, which completes the small house of Lulu, his wife Salema, and their three-year-old son, Aquila. He is one of the cutest kids we have ever seen and poses with a wide smile when we take a picture of him munching the cake (Mamorkuchen) which Alena baked for this occasion.

It all started when I talked to Lulu, who works at Vuda Point Marina. He is one of the guys who understands the cobweb of mooring lines running in the marina and helps boats to get into their “slip”. He drives a small outboard dinghy around and usually pulls and pushes the sailboats so they don ’t damage other boats while beeing squeezed in the tight marina spaces. Lulu invited us, along with Bas (short for Sebastian) and Alan from the sailboat Europa Star, to his home for kava drinking and dinner. Lulu’s kava drinking is a very relaxed version of the traditional Fijian kava ceremonies. Originally the dried kava roots were cut into pieces and chewed to soften them before being added to water in the kava bowl. Luckily, today the roots just get grinded to a powder and Lulu then pours this powder into a fine cloth and soaks it in the kava bowl like a teabag. Talking about the bowl, this is usually a traditional handcrafted bowl made from indigenous hardwood, a pricy item to obtain. Lulu, working at the marina, got hold of a large orange plastic mooring buoy, cut it in half, welded a stand for it out of some rebar and voila! There is a real marine kava bowl. After finishing two bowls of kava, Salema laid out a feast for us. She had made fried fish on a bed of green salad, roast potatoes, chicken curry, and cassava root boiled in coconut milk. It was delicious and amazing she could cook so much in her small kitchen.


LulusKava 01 LulusFamily 700xLulu's family: From the right, his father in law Mo, his wife Salema, and one of his friends.


LulusKava 02 Everybody 700x
We are all chatting and Lulu is serving kava out of his selfmade orange bowl in their living room.


LulusKava 03 ChrisDrinking 700x
Downing it all at once is how they do it. Here I try my best.


LulusKava 04 Everybody is Full Cake 700x
Everybody is full and content after a great meal and lots of kava. Alena is cutting her dessert.


LulusKava 05 Lulus and son 700x
Lulu and his son Aquila, one of the cutest kids in town.


Besides enjoying time with Lulu's family, we also had to take care of several issues on our boat work list. This involved getting to the top of the mast and installing a new wind indicator since birds took out the old one. We also re-embedded some of our leaking stanchions (poles that hold the life lines) and the leaking jib rail. Additionally, I started figuring out how to mount our new tiller pilot to our existing wind vane system, fixed our loose swim ladder, plus got a good number of smaller projects done. Finally I spend some time solving science problems back in the US via telecommuting contract work.


VudaMarina BoatWork Chris masttop
While working at 16m (48ft) is not always easy, the view from the mast top is great.


VudaMarina HowToGetOnBoat GreenPanther
Green Panther in Vuda Point Marina. The small plattforms are all there is to get off and on the boat.


But we didn’t work all the time, as there were too many distractions going on around us. One of them was Oktoberfest. Yes, they actually celebrate Oktoberfest in Fiji! Vuda Point Marina hosted their first Oktoberfest in the Boatshed restaurant next to the marina, which was great fun. We were impressed that they even sewed Fijian versions of Dirdnl and Lederhose just for this event. The Fijian beer on draft was also very good.


VudaMarina oktoberfest Alena waiter dirndl
Alena posing with the waiters dressed in a Fijian version of Dirndl and Lederhosen.


VudaMarina oktoberfest us w beer
Enjoying our 1L steins of beer - “Prost!" We were among the first people to show up for the festival which lasted long into the night.


VudaMarina oktoberfest guy w wig
He made sure that the beer flowed freely


After a total of two weeks at Vuda Point it was time for us to move on and explore the Mamanucas and Yasawa islands to the west of Viti Levu before leaving Fiji.



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