Provisioning for Paradise
|Fresh pineapples for $2FJ ($1US)|
“Bring more food and provisions than you think you’ll need,” people told us, “because you won’t want to leave the Lau Group once you arrive.”
Many of our cruising friends had traveled to the remote islands of Lau earlier in the season. All of them seemed so moved by their experiences there, but they found it hard to put into words. What was it about this place that left so many speechless and enticed them into extending their stay?
|Dinghy-full of the necessities!|
I have to admit, I was skeptically intrigued as I carted oversized bags of rice, flour, and sugar down the docks and loaded them into the dinghy and onto the boat. I also purchased additional assorted items to donate. Some that might be useful, such as batteries, rope, sewing supplies, school notebooks and clothespins; plus other novelty items like cake frosting, perfumed oils, nail polish, chocolate and popcorn. Since we had just changed our batteries to lithium, we kept a few of our old batteries on board to provide electricity to the villages.
|Heaps of fresh goodness at the outdoor market|
Our plan was to travel around the many islands of the Lau Group for as long as we could before having to catch a flight to New Zealand on November 12th. We wouldn’t be like the others who had just stayed at one of the islands for the majority of the time, right? Best laid plans…
This trip would be the longest amount of time we’d go without any reprovisioning - even longer than any passage we’d taken across the Pacific Ocean. So, I also made an epic trip to the fresh market in Nadi to stock up on produce. There are no produce markets in the Lau Islands - only the papaya, breadfruit, banana and cassava root that are grown. I carefully made a list of produce, taking into account how much we use each week and how long each fresh item would last. Mark scoffed at the copious amounts of produce that I brought onboard: 40 carrots, 20 cucumbers, 30 apples and oranges, 30 tomatoes (many still green), 40 onions, 2 pumpkins, 1 large bundle of chives, 3 heads of lettuce, 2 bundles of asian cabbage, 3 heads of regular cabbage, 6 pineapples, 8 dozen eggs, and more.
|I quickly became the day's best customer!|
|My preferred spice and egg stand - ah, the mingling |
smells of curry and cinnamon!
The real trick was trying to find ideal places to store each item in order to preserve its freshness. I was determined to make it last. As we ate up the refrigerated produce, space became available to chill anything that was beginning to wilt. My Boat Galley Cookbook came to the rescue again, with hints and tips on food storage, and we only ended up having to toss out a few things. I felt like I was the Fresh Food Nanny - rotating eggs, wrapping zucchini snuggly in paper towel and cling wrap, checking tomatoes for any seeping, and peeking in on the potatoes I’d stored in a cool, dark cabinet. But, it all paid off! After 6 weeks, we were still enjoying crunchy cucumber salads and eggs. Mark happily ate his words!
|Our traveling guest, Alforeti Lutu, and his own set of provisions to bring aboard!|
We arrived to the island of Fulaga after two nights out at sea. This passage can be quite a doozy, given that the prevailing winds blow in the opposing direction. But we left when the winds were light, and ended up motoring in calm weather for half of the trip. The second half of the trip we had wind and building swell forward of the beam, which left us all feeling a bit sluggish and gave Michael a mild case of seasickness.
|Mark giving a quick offshore safety briefing before setting off.|
The bumpy ride was soon forgotten, though, when we finally entered the dog-legging pass into the lagoon. Field Trip was surrounded by turquoise waters and mushroom-shaped outcroppings like none we’d ever seen before - an awe-inspiring introduction to one of the most beautiful places and people groups we have ever encountered.
|Mushroom-shaped islands topped with greenery and tall palm trees|
|View from the mast of this remote paradise|
“Did I bring enough provisions?” I silently wondered. I wanted to stay forever.
In the following few blog posts, I'll attempt to bring you along with us to the friendly and fascinating island of Fulaga.