Dear F&F, July 25th-27th, 2011 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Dalconi Village Anchorage (Pronounced Dalthoni)
We arrived with s/v \”Kira\” at Dalconi Villages large anchorage. S/V \”Kira\” with Detlaff and Beata aboard have been coming to this island for three years. We also came upon Sam & Shaz on s/v Yani Paratzi out of Florida by way of New York. Shaz is a nickname for Sharon in Kiwi and OZ. Who knew? Apparently, one should be careful about saying the name of Sam\’s boat very fast in Hebrew as it means something nasty. I\’ll never tell!…:-)
We went ashore and were greeted by \”Samo\” and his lovely wife whose name I can\’t pronounce. We were taken to the home of the Assistant Village Chief. Here, we sat on the floor with \”Aroni\” and his Father by the same name. We presented our Yangona (Kava) and were officially accepted into the village. We now could ask for anything and of course they too could ask for anything. The ceremony was…\”ceremonial\”. A bunch of words in Fijian, a bunch of clapping and then we sort of interviewed each other. Lovely all in all. We went to Samo\’s friends house where the official visitors book was kept and \”Serelli\” gave us a detailed explanation of the Fijian politics surrounding the permit process to the Lau.
So here\’s the long version. Apparently, a \”chief\” who is related to the Tongan Royal Family, was taking all the cash for the permits and pocketing it. He ran off Tonga once he was discovered. Here he is being protected by the Royal Family. The Fijians want him back for stealing the money. The Tongan/Fijian guy is of course now denouncing the Fijian Military Government as a bunch of thugs. If he were to return to Fiji, we\’ve been told they\’d shoot him on sight. The Fijians and the Tongans are having a bunch of \”issues\” between the two nations but have no fear, the Kiwi\’s and the Aussie\’s won\’t let any of this get out of hand. So this is more than just a bunch of \”jungle political stuff\”. The locals in the Lau of course were not seeing any of the \”economic redevelopment money\” and were upset. They told the Prime Minister of Fiji they wanted to raise the fees about 1000%. The PM told them no way, the tourists (almost all from yachts) won\’t come at all and that will defeat your purpose. AND, the PM is right. They only get 10-20 boats per year here. The permit process has apparently been abandoned even though they issued us one. No fees were charged, but our permit said the local villages could impose a fee which would be negotiable. Apparently, Dalconi is the only village that has ever directly charged a fee. It was about 75 USD for the entire season. We paid it. Another boat refused to pay it. He left. So, the village wants tourism, but will have to walk a bit of a tight rope to benefit from it. They would like the permit process to be abandoned in favor of a local fee. They also want a Customs office on Vanua Balavu and make it a port of entry which makes incredible sense if you see the sailing logistics of Fiji. It would bring at least 100-150 boats here a year if that were to happen.
So, stay tuned. Who knows what the outcome will be. In the meanwhile, it\’s a beautiful island with lovely people. We hope to do some diving with the local \”Fisheries Man\” named \”Ba\” tomorrow or the next day. We will move the boat to the \”Bay of Islands\” which we saw when we arrived. It is simply stunning to see. KIT, Scott with Sandrine and Anja