Karl and I left Port Stanley, for the second time, with a light westerly, coming off Malekula
(No white caps this time)
26 miles down the coast to Banam Baya lovely sunset, then a moonless evening, ideal for hanging a light off the back of the boat, to attracting bait fish, then catching the bigger bait fish eating fish.
The forecast for tomorrow was a 15kt headwind for our passage to Paama, so we set the alarm for 4am, to get the miles covered before the wind picks up at around 9am.
I could keep the sails drawing, running along the bottom the Ambyn, were we got a good view of it’s active volcanowe cover the 30miles to Paama, by 10am, just as the wind started to pick up. Plus in time to catch the market, under a big mango treeKarl cooked some of our catch from last night, for our dinner Karl’s uncle-in-law Keith lives on Paama, so we got a lunch invite for the next day.
They were expecting us, and had prepared an entry arch of freshly cut ginger leaves, with heliconia flowers at the topmy back pack could not go on the dirt, they had to bring out a coconut leaf mat for it to go onThere was something in my gut, that it did like. After I has spend the night scouring, I was not feeling the best, so they made me a bed under a tree for a lie-down. A few bamboo leaf mats, then a pandanus mat, then a mattress, then a sheet and pillow
after an hour and half, I felt like Samson, with his hair gown back
there was one less chicken under our feet, as one of them was on the menu for lunch We had bough a few of the Banam Bay fish with us (a lot easier to eat, than free range chicken)Keith’s grandson Bill, enjoyed his gifted soccer ballKeith, Sarah and Bill, walked with us back to Albert We decided to use the afternoon breeze for a quick 10mile sail down to Leman Bay on Epi.
It was a nice balmy afternoon, ideal for a walk around the village, and along the wharf that Cyclone Pam had destroyedThe next day was Sunday, so Karl and I went to the Presbyterian Church for massIt was a big occasion as they were celebrating the handing out of hymn books, translated into their local language
they made a big fuss of Karl and I being there, putting lays of fresh frangipani flowers around our necksas I have become use to, I was ushered out first to shake hands with all the congregation as they left. Including the deacon, who had done the translatingthen it was an invite back to lunch, and a chat with Donald a great morning filled with the scent of the frangipani flowers around my neckThe next morning was perfect for going for a snorkel with the turtles feeding on the sea grass meadow, under the boat
And then, just as we were getting Logic ready to leave, the resident dugong swam in for his breakfast
we overnighted in Revolieu Bay, 10 miles down the coast, for a 4am start to cover the 31 miles to Tongoa
after taking Albert ashore, we met up with some of the locals, who were very keen to know the story behind Karl sailing with meon our walk through the village, we met Eddie, who befriended ushe loved his ornamental plants, including there curcuma (which had made it here, from Thailand)then it was time for a chat, under the banyan treeEddie and I, gave Karl, a bowline tying demonstrations, using the rope over their well then the walk back to the banyan tree, going past an example of Australian Aid, in action
Night fishing that night was very productive
in the morning we went for a walk around the island
Past a group of men, out gathering timber to build a houseKarl, would have liked to take 20kgs of these perfect laplap stones home with himeveryone from this village had come down to carry their stores from the unloading cargo boatKarl gave me a mild eye-roll, when I wanted to buy some kamala (sweet potato) from a small market we passed, especially when he had to carry them. He changes his mind when I oven baked them as chipswe stopped off at Eddie’s on the way back, to give his son a soccer ballWe left just as the sun was rising to do out last leg, 63miles to Port Vila
by 8am with the breeze at 15kts from just forward of the beam, we were doing 10kts, when Karl notices a fish on one of the fishing lures I had out. By the time we had a 14kg Yellow Fin Tuna onboard, there was a 12kg Wahoo on the other line
As Karl was gutting the Wahoo, he found a big hook in its stomach (reinforcing the need to have metal traces, if there are Wahoo around)We now had a crazy amount of high grade fish on board (including the 12kg of fish we caught off Tongoa). So I agreed with Karl, that he could sell the Tuna to a restaurant in Port Vila.
The Wahoo, was cut into 3, to fit in fridge, to fillet when it was not so roughwhile the Tuna, was stored in a 20lt bucket in the shadewhile Karl, worked the phone, to his contacts in Vila looking for a buyerafter we dropped the anchor, he was off ashore with the tuna, that by now I had lovingly washed and mentally tasted as sashimi (one last photos before I waved it goodbye).Karl got 12,000 Vatu ($150AUD) for it, more money than he would see in a year, back in Malekula. That evening we went to dinner with his parent-in-laws, giving them all the fish we had caught at Tongoa.
Karl though I was absolutely crazy, thinking of throwing away the head after I had filleted the Wahoo, so I baked it in the oven for him, and he and his brother enjoyed eating it for lunch then we moved Logic around to the marinawhich was now, close to deserted, as the cruising season is coming to an endit was novel having Karl on the controls of the “granny trolley” on the provisioningthen it was time to run Karl over to the ferry for his ride back to Malekula, with one last beer at the barit had been over 3 weeks since we left Port Stanley the first time, and 350miles. It was an experience we will both cherish in our memories.
Tomorrow Mena and Steve fly into Vila for a month of “Logic time”, as we meander out of the South Pacific before the cyclone season starts on the 1st of December