July 3rd, 2011 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Dear F&F, \”Bligh Water\” is the area between the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu here in Fiji. If you look at a world map of the area, you\’ll see what looks like a nice passage between the two islands. It\’s actually extensively encrusted with coral reefs.
Captain William Bligh of HMS \”Bounty\” when cast adrift by Fletcher Christian and the mutineers, (sounds like a band from the 70\’s doesn\’t it?) sailed across this stretch of water.
He was cast adrift in an open 21 foot boat with half his crew, few provisions and virtually no idea of where to go to get to safety. Bligh (if you do some real historical research) wasn\’t the super bad guy portrayed in popular lore. Christian himself had some \”issues\” too. I\’ll let you and history be the judge.
In any event, Bligh sailed right through the middle of the Lau Group where cannibalism was in full force. They tried to land for supplies, but had to make sail and get away fast, lest they end up in some seriously large bellies of the Polynesian Lau. If I recall, Bligh lost one or two crew here to the cannibals. This of course made Bligh quite reluctant to stop anywhere else. He sailed 2400 nautical miles over weeks in completely uncharted waters and eventually ended up in what is today Jakarta, Indonesia. It was considered (and still is), one of the greatest sailing feats of all time.
We of course have modern charts, GPS, chart plotters and every advantage. Still, this is a bit of a \”keep on your toes\” voyage. Only 50 miles and as it turns out, extremely well marked, it\’s reef after reef after reef. At high tide, you can\’t see them. If the sun is from the East (which of course it was with our very early departure to get to Nasonisoni Pass anchorage before sunset), you can\’t see the reefs either! Overhead sun and clear skies are a plus.
After our \”bump\” as we left Viti Levu, it was actually an easy trip, but I could just imagine Bligh crossing our path with essentially no help, no water or supplies and cannibals to the left an right of him. Sandrine told me when she was in the Lau 18 years ago, they were still arguing about a land deal that was made in the early 1900\’s which was supposed to put an end to eating each other. However, they kept eating each other so the land deal is even today in dispute. Imagine fighting that out in a local court? \”Well, they said if I gave them this island, they wouldn\’t eat my family. I did, but they kept eating my family so I want my island back\”. Think I\’m kidding?…not so much!
We stopped at Nasonisoni anchorage for the 1 1/2 mile trip through it\’s pass and onto Savusavu tomorrow. Stay tuned! Scott with Sandrine