Graham had an wonderful sailing experience yesterday when Meli took him out on his dugout canoe. It's the last surviving sailing canoe in the village (and there is only one other left in the village across the lagoon) and so it was a very special half-hour sail. Meli really knows his vessel (he built it, after all) and once he hoisted the slightly ragged tarpaulin sail it creamed across the lagoon at an impressive rate of knots. Almost-continual bailing is a integral part of sailing these canoes as the joint between deck and hollowed-out hull leaks quite badly but the boat was remarkable stable and changing tack involves shifting the mast to the other end and swapping the steering oar as well. Some video to follow.
This morning we will witness an event which doesn't happen much nowadays. Meli has found a suitably sized tree in the forest and for the past few month has been working on it to make a new hull for the canoe; today the men of the village will help him haul it out and down to the beach. This afternoon we will go to present out Tatau to the chief which is the formal goodbye ceremony, the opposite of the sevusevu, and then we have our goodbye party with our hosts. We'll move Maunie to an anchorage close to the pass into the lagoon tomorrow morning then spend the day preparing for sea; as long as the weather forecast remains favourable, we'll leave on Friday. We'll be terribly sad to go.