Rabi Island…..

Dear F&F, August 11th to 13th…

We left Will and Yancua Island and decided to head to Rabi (Rambi) Island, a short 20 miles away. No wind, so we motored and went through the reef at Yanuca where we almost stopped for an adventure dive, but didn\’t. It was getting late and we weren\’t sure about the charts as we approached rarely visited Rabi. No, there are no Rabbi\’s at Rabi Island!

The trip was interesting through the Florida Passages and past Cape Texas! A little Yankee influence from the WW2 era we suspect? As we went by Cape Texas, we found the charts to be completely inaccurate. Where there was said to be 60 plus feet of water (18meters), there was maybe 5 feet of water! We had to take up valuable day light and find a way through the reef system. There was exactly one place we could get through, it was 100 feet wide. It took an hour and a half detour and made me glad we had not stopped for that dive!

We got the WW2 feeling and had read a great deal of history about the people of Rabi Island. In the early part of the 20th century, they were bamboozled out of their islands riches….GUANO! That\’s right, fertilizer quality phosphate from centuries of bird deposits. Their island was called Banaba (aka: Ocean Island), located just off the equator in southern Micronesia, part of the Gilbert Islands.

During the war, the Japanese enslaved them into forced labor camps. After the war, they were decimated and the British Govt. bought Rabi (Rambi) island from the Lever Brothers company and with the permission (and money and arm twisting) the Fijians allowed the move.

The Banaban people speak Gilbertese. Here it\’s \”maori\” instead of \”bula\”. They have a common religion and most of the locals speak Fijian, less English.

We anchored in Albert Cove (Albert was the guy who bamboozled the Banaban\’s so we\’re not sure how he got a cove named after him?). But, it could be that it was just a common British name? There is also Elizbeth Cove and Kathryn\’s Bay. Maybe British Royalty was the inspiration?

We\’d heard there was a good dive site here, which we didn\’t do, but the gals had a lovely snorkel. The people were very nice and they too drink Kava so they\’ve adopted the \”sevusevu\” ceremony from the Fijians.

From our night and day at Albert\’s, we went past the main town of Nuku which had a huge Church and headed into Kathryn\’s Bay.

The charts were way off here too. According to our chart, we were anchored about 200 feet \”on land\”! We decided against going ashore here where we heard disco music on Friday night and where there was another GIGANTIC Church. We were anxious to get moving to the West as we were starting to feel the cruising season ending with Vanuatu and New Caledonia yet to go and only two and half months to cover all that territory.

We enjoyed our Banaban experience, were glad we came and sorry we didn\’t have more time.

We upped anchor and sailed for \”The White Wall\” at Viani Bay!… Scott with Anja and Sandrine