The “Uto ni Yalo” (Heart of Souls or Heart of the Spirit), a hand-crafted traditional ocean voyaging canoe, night-sailed to Dravuni from Suva, arriving at its destination on Saturday, 30 January 2010, at about 5pm. The oceanic visitor and its crew were greeted with traditional ‘cere’. It meant that the crew members, men and women, had to swim to the shore and run on the sandy beach to win their spoils in the forms of a ‘tabua’ (whale’s tooth), masi (tapa) and coconut oil.
The beautiful craft was launched and blessed by H.E. Mr. Mac McLachlan, British High Commissioner, on 22 November 2009 at the National Canoe Centre, Laucala Bay, near Suva. The Centre is the brainchild of the recently formed Fiji Islands Voyaging Society, which is linked to the Pacific Voyages Foundation whose membership comprises American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, NZ, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga.
The night sail to Dravuni was a golden opportunity “for the new sailors on the crew to get a taste of night sailing under a full moon and clear skies”, according to the release following the short voyage.
The crew members thoroughly enjoyed their short visit to Dravuni. In return, the villagers were regaled beyond their wildest dreams by Manoa Rasigatale’s repertoire of Fijian stories and jokes.
One thing is certain: when the “Uto ni Yalo” sets sail for Hawaii later in June, it will sail with Dravuni’s blessings.
Thanks to Colin Philp of the Fiji Islands Voyaging Society for the sharing of photos and information.