The prevailing wind in Vanuatu at this time of the year is from the South Eastwhich makes it easy to sail from the south to the north, going back to the south is a mater of exploiting any favorable weather window.
The weather forecast, was a couple of days of 10kt easterlies then a week of 15kt plus SElys. (Ureparapara, will have to wait for next year).
Vanua Lava looked postcard South Pacific Island as we sailed away
The first day was an easy 22miles, back to Lakona Bay on Gaua.
Chief John paddled out in a dugout with one of his young grandchildren, for a coffee and a chat.Father Levi was going past in one of the boats, that is the primary mode of transport hereafter the memorable time I had at the cultural festival here, a week ago, there was a feeling of being home here
I offered the boys the use of Albert, for another night time spear-fishing expedition, on the proviso, that I came with them, this time.
I was expecting them to arrive half an hour after dusk with 3 people in the dingy, instead it was 5 (luckily they were young and lean). So the 6 of us motored for a few miles to the hot spot, that they could not normally get too.
No lifejackets, no EPERB, no flares, no letting the Coast Guard know we were going out, basically we broke every rule that one is suppose to obey back in Oz. I would have had some reservations, but we were close to land, the sea was flat and it was a cloudless night, with enough starlight to read by. Conditions that made it a joy to be out there, with 5 of the local boys.
4 of the boys jumped in the water, with hand spears and torches. One stayed on board rowing to followed the boys torch light in the water, and I took the fish off the spears as they were passed up to me. Most of the take was one kilo plus parrot fish.
It took about an hour to full the 100lt container with fishmy share was the crayfish (the 3 smaller ones were not actually small, despite looking it, beside the 2 enormous ones)
we left at first light for the 55miles down to Espiritu Santo
We had not gone far, before Rehab slowed right down, while they landed a decent sized Yellow Fin TunaI also got a good size Wahoo(it was too rough to photograph the fish on the passage, and by time I got around to taking the photo, 60mm out of its middle had been consumed).
By the time we got to Port Olry, the breeze was up to 20kts, just off the nose, making me glad that we left when we did.
We spend the afternoon surrounded by locals net fishing from their dugouts
It was now blowing too much to comfortable get to the restaurants across from the anchorage, so the decision was made to go 8miles further south to Hog Harbour, which we had enjoyed on the way north.
Going past Dolphin Island
Once anchored at Hog Harbour, I loaded up the SUP with the 3 smaller crayfish, for Janet in the restaurant, to cook for our dinner and the rest of the Wahoo, to trade for fruit and veg.
I had to ask the naked boy, to please cover his privates for the photoJanet did a great job of cooking the crayfish for our dinner that nightfor lunch I had taken the legs and feelers off the 2 big Crayfishsashimi Yellow Fin Tuna and the cooked legs, had our stomachs feeling very content
One has to be very conscious of the potential of coconuts falling on our heads when walking aroundand troding on pig shitJanet and her husband Peter took us up to their garden, for the fruit and veg, we were trading the wahoo for
on the way back we stopped off at the baker to put in an order for some fresh bread. He was getting the wood fired oven heated before putting the bread in.I had to come back in a few hours to pick up our breadthere was a day of light to moderate head wind, in amongst the days of moderate wind, so we used it to motor 20 miles further south, down the east coast Espiritu Santo to Peterson Bay there were a heap of big oysters on the rocks ashore
which I beer batteredto serve with sundowners drinkiesthere was a great restaurant at the Turtle Bay Resort to the north of the anchorage (drinking coconuts were cheaper than drinking water)I put the crab pots out, in what looked to be ideal mud crab territory, but only caught a moray eel the local knowledge, gained over sundowners, was that up the creek opposite the anchorage was a fresh water Blue Holeso next morning we headed off, up the creek (with a paddle)
Which terminated in a gorgeous blue hole, were the water came out of the ground
with a rope swing over the middle of itmy life has a very “Benjamin Button” feel to it, doing stuff one usually does 40 years younger
a magical spot, and so typical of the amazing experiences Vanuatu has hidden away everywhereback down the creek, then back to the boatsone of the many enjoyable sides to a cruising yachties life is the beauty in the sunrises, to enjoy with a cup of tea in handthere was a day of light winds forecast, which we used for the 15miles south to Luganville.There is no fuel to the dock at Luganville, so I had to fill the jerry cans at the servothen trolley then 250mts too Albertplenty of passive exercise in the cruising yachty’s life
Then off to the market to fill the larder with fruit and vegthe lettuces are sold in bundles of 4, held together by a mid-rib from a coconut leaf frond, threaded through the stemsdrinking coconuts at 40-50cent are great buying
I have developed a love of eating soursopscooking bananas, if I leave them until the go black and fry them in coconut oil, dusted with cinnamon are a gastronomical delight (as are the sweet potatoes)
another calm day and we were off south to Wala Island, off the east side of Malekula Charley met me in his dugout and directed me too the spot to drop the anchor. Then insisted I come ashore, to the village kava bar. when the green light is lit, the kava is ready, after a considerable amount of labour preparation the root, by first cutting it up into small pieces with a bush knife, then through a hand mincer a few timesat $1 a shell, it is cheep, (just wish it did not look like the water in the bucket, after I soak my dirty cloths)I shouted Commie (one of the chiefs) a shelltwo shells and I was feeling very stoned. when I tried to do the field sobriety test, I was struggling to make more than a couple of heal to toe steps.
The next morning after the children had left for school, on the main island we met Charley ashore, for a tour of the historical sites on the island
In the middle of the island was a spot were all the villagers on the island would meetwith the coming of age of each eldest son (circumcision ceremony) an enormous flat stone was bought over from the mainland and places in front of his father’s stonethe place had a presence.
The boys play soccer here after school, which I was hoping to watch, but it rained both afternoon, so no soccer viewing
there was a lot of cannibalism in Malekula, will into the mid 1900s, this was the top of a skull, left over from those days Charley took us to the remains of the chief’s ceremonial hut,
I’m sitting were the chief would sit, under the seat would have been his father’s and the hereditary chiefs before him skulls (not sure that would work, for me to put your skull under the helm seat, dad) when the wind is down, we keep motoring south, 10miles to Port Stanleysoon after I dropped anchor, Steve and Carl arrived in a dugout, wanting my assistance to turn 2 broken spear-guns into one working onesuccess I arranged with Carl, to pick him up the next morning too go trolling in Albert. We caught a nice sized Mangrove JackCarl invited me to join him and his family for dinner his wife Nora, Elizabeth (7yo) Jenny (5yo) and Dorothy (2yo)
The toothy barracoota, had been taking a heavy toll on the lures that had worked, so Carl and I had to make some more lures up, this time with wire traceswe had success very quickly, hooking a nice sized fish with a big fight to itthe only problem was that it was a Red Bass, which are too risky to eat, due to their history of accumulating ciguatera poison, so back it went.
The next day was Saturday, no school, so I invited Carl and Nora and the girls too Logic to watch some videos (with popcorn)Elizabeth is a typical eldest child a quite deep thinker, Jenny is larger than life
Dorothy spent the first evening I had dinner with them, crying due to the scary white man being in her space. Now she is a boisterous 2 year old, around methey had a great day on the boatand I very much enjoyed sharing my space with bubbly happy kids
Carl is going to crew for me for the rest of the trip down to Port Vila, when the wind drops below 15-20kts on the nose.