Our farewell to our Fulagan friends yesterday afternoon was pretty emotional but lovely. The video of the canoe was extremely well received and we learnt that the project has become a main topic of conversation amongst the men in their kava sessions; there's talk of each village building two or three canoes so that they can race them in the lagoon (the last race was back in 2000). Lutu was in tears when he talked about how much it had meant to him that we'd come back to help this year and admitted that he'd begun to think that Meli's canoe would never sail until we arrived. Wow. Such great news that the tradition looks as though it will be kept alive. Thankfully the shortage of kava in the village meant that we avoided an all-night session so we had a wonderful supper, some lovely Fijian songs (including the Goodbye Song) and, finally, hugs from all when the party wound up at about 8.00pm
We've postponed our departure, by a day, until tomorrow. It was partly to give us more time to get the dinghy packed away, the hull cleaned (we still aren't sure if the four Remora fish stuck to the keel are coming with us, they certainly stayed for the 2 mile passage from the other anchorage a few days ago) and some motivational choc chip cookies baked. It also gave us chance to have Carl and Linda over for coffee to share experiences of other Fijian anchorages and time to pack away the various beautiful carvings that we were given as we left the village. The wind looks a little more favourable for tomorrow as well, so we hope for a good broad reach, in around 15 knots of wind, for the 175 mile, 27 hour passage north to Taveuni; we've elected to go for the 06.30 slack water in the pass here so, even though it will be light by then, the visibility into the water will be very poor; it'll be an 'instruments departure', following our GPS arrival track. The iPad and Bad Elf GPS will be on as backup for the main chart plotter just in case of a critical-moment malfunction.