Ambrym and Pentecost Islands. Vanuatu


Due to our limited available time in Vanuatu, it was time to move on from the Maskelynes.

The narrow entry into the anchorage necessitated good light, to make visually sure we did not hit the coral, so we could not leave before 9am. Next stop was Ranon Bay on Ambrym Island (37NM)Ambrym Island has 2 active volcano, that allow viewing of the lava in the caldera via a big day of walking.

The volcano on Ambae Island to the north is at the highest level prior to an eruption, forcing the evacuation of the 10,000 people that live on Ambae. The increased volcanic activity in the area has the volcano on Ambrym at too high a risk level to be safe to walk to the top.

While dodging big volcanic rocks falling from the sky, would make for a good story at the bar, I would prefer not to be the teller of the story.   I could not find any statistics on boats capsizing in Vanuatu, due to overloading Ambrym has black sand beaches due to the  volcanic activity (there was a strong smell of coconut ,where I took this photo, due to bags of copra in the foreground).I had the same childhood joy throwing “helicopter” seeds into the air to watch them spin as they fell  The 15+5kt  SEly trade winds are great for getting around Vanuatu, under sailWe left Ambrym for Pentecost Island, where we had 3 overnight anchorages

Wali Bay was 12nm from Ronon Bay Swapping black sand beaches for polished stonesWe arranged with the local chief for his daughter Eline, to take us up to their food garden, in the hills behind the villagestopping for a chat with this lady, who was on her way to collect palm leaves for roof making. Part of the experience of cruising in Vanuatu, is talking to the friendly natives, who love to interact with us the climb was steepthe higher rainfall on Pentecost, is ideal for growing kava, which is an exportable  cash crop for the villagersEline’s son Willie joined us, he and his bush knife are inseparable Island cabbage and cassava (manyok)Eline digging cassava and yams, with her multipurpose bush knife

Eline loaded up for the trip downWillie’s effortless tree climbing was joyous to seebefore we went down, we went up to see this stone, that was semi-lost in the jungle, with the promise of it’s story when we got back to the villagethis photos give you a good idea of the trip the villagers have to do daily to grow and collect their foodback in village with chief Luke who told us the story attached to the rock.

According to legend the yams stopped producing, to get them producing again they killed a young man and then divided up his body parts amongst the different villages on the island for eating. The yams then started producing again, with the different shaped yams coming from different parts of the body, the round ones from his head, the stubby ones from his torso, and the numerous long slim types from his limbs. According to legend, the rock we saw is half his penis (cannibalism was a big part of their pre-Christian way of life) 

Eline showed us where they get the fiber from to make the fine rope for the handles for their woven hand bags (the 4WD in the background was part of the foreign aid programme that was underway housing the evacuees from Ambae)As we left, Eline gave us all this food (friendly cruiser don’t go hungry in Vanuatu)

Next anchorage was Waterfall (10nm), named after the waterfall visible as we approached the anchorage. I was busy making sure we anchored in the right spot, and forget to take the photo, so had to make do with the one of the lush fertile Pentecost coast, taken on the sail up.after the big morning climbing up to garden with Eline, the Logic girls where villaged out, so I paddled ashore to meet the chief and arrange a guide to take us to the waterfall in the morningthe village was billeting some of the evacuee from Ambae, which was probably the reason  it did not have the usual friendly Vanuatuan vibe.the next morning we met up with our guide, Phillip

and went up to waterfallfor  a swim

Next anchorage was Loltong (17nm)

going past a catholic mission, along the way up the coast

It was Saturday, no school,  so the village was alive with the sounds of children playing. Except when they where posing for photos

The next day was Sunday, so I starting asking questions about going to mass

Loltong is Anglican but the next village, 15mins walk to the south, Latano, is French speaking Catholic. As Marisela and I are both lapsed Catholics, Catholic is was to be.

It was a lovely service, in the native pidgin English, called Bislama.

Usually boys sit on left and girls on the right, but I was made an honorary girl and sat with the Logic girls on the righttry to visualise this picture with us in the middle pew, school girls in front, adult woman behind, all singing at the top of their lungs, in French.

 We where invited to come back at 3pm for a village social gathering.

when we got back, there was nothing going on, so we sat down with the girls who where doing a flower arrangement to decorate the statue of the Virgin Mary in the churchwhen they where finished they decided too use the left over frangipani flowers to decorate us

They loved to photo bomb our photos.

The Loltong girls, put on an impromptu dance for us

after mass we went to lunch at the “Yacht Club” on the shore of the anchorage

We had to give the proprietors, Matthew and Mary, a days notice before eating ($17USD a head). To give them the time to source all the ingredients, kill a chicken and do the cooking.

Mary cooked us a gastronomical delight of 9 courses, using all local ingredients from their garden, all cooked in her home kitchenalso servicing us was Nelisaas you can see her smile, has a “light up the room”ness

Unfortunately she has a very sad story

She is the daughter of Mathew’s sister, who unfortunately died of cancer in the Port Vila hospital , 2 years ago. When we asked about her father, our question was never answered (read into that what you will).

I could feel her pain, in her withdrawn demeanor

I got her address to write to her (no internet in Loltong), but living the vagabond life, having a pen-pal is a harder than those of you with a fixed address, so if anyone reading this still enjoys writing letters, her address is,-

Miss Nelisa Amdeng, Loltong Village, North Pentecost, Sara Airport, Penamia Province, Vanuatu

You can easily identify her smile in this photo

I have another blog post worth of photos, from the next week of our time in Vanuatu, but I need a break from blog posts, so it will be done at a later date.

Again I have two options for the closing photo, for you to choose from