September 17, 2014 Skull Caves and missing Coconut Crabs

September 17, 2014
19 05′ S
178 41′ W
SOG: 5.8 kts

We are under sail with jib alone, making way for Matuku Island, 100 miles distant.  It should be a quick overnight sail, and the Monitor is easily steering us along, with 15 knots of wind at our backs.  It was hard to say goodbye to Fulunga today!  Last night we celebrated with music, Fijian dancing, and kava in the village.  This morning our friend Teii hiked us up to a cave in the jungle behind the village.  We crawled through a small hole in the volcanic rocks.  Inside, the cave opened up into a chamber about the size of the Apollo 13–and it was stuffed with skulls and bones!  I counted at least 40 skulls in the central heap, and many more stared down at us from the walls of the cave.  Many were bashed in, like they had been clubbed.  Interestingly, no one in the village knows who put the heads in the cave, or who they were.  Some of the femur bones were pretty good size, and my guess is they were Tongans.  The skulls still had their teeth, and can’t have been that old… Teii says that Fiji is full of caves like this one–real remnants of the cannibal past!!

The other night our friends Michael and Sophie on the “Wanderlust” and I hunted for coconut crabs after it got dark.  We found 5 or 6 under the palms, and took them back to the boats before they ripped eachother to pieces in the sack.  We took two back to Privateer and Wanderlust took 3, and we put them into separate buckets.  We were planning to eat them the following day.  After dinner on Wanderlust, however, we found the coconut crabs had escaped Wanderlust’s “chilly bin” (what Kiwis call a cooler) and had crawled up into the rigging!  Kelsey and I returned to Privateer and one of our crabs had escaped too!  It moved a whole pile of lead dive weights and pushed the lid back just enough to get out!  We still can’t find the crab and suspect it may be in some corner of the boat, lurking for us when we least suspect it.  We didn’t sleep very well, listening for any rustling sounds in the cabin.  The villagers told us the crabs can swim, so it might have slipped overboard and made a break for it.  They also tie a string to their bodies and hang them from the trees to prevent escape–something we learned the hard way…  We decided that they were working pretty hard for their freedom, and so we returned them to their beach the following day–all except the one that is still at large…

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