In my adolescence I had fantasies of going to exotic sounds place names, for adventure, names like Katmandu and Timbuctoo. A few years ago, I first saw Aneityum on a map of Vanuatu, and it was instantly added towards the top of my fantasy sailing destination list.
It the most southern habituated island of Vanuatu, due to the trade winds making it difficult to get south from Tanna, it is one of the lest visited islands of Vanuatu.
And there it was ahead of usa beautiful sunny day, with 10-15kt well forward of the beam, made for great sailing of the 50miles from Port Resolution on Tanna to Aneghowhat on Aneityum
getting us down there, with plenty of time before dusk, to drop the anchor in good lightand go ashore to find the church and ask what time service tomorrow (Sunday) was.
yes… the Presbyterian missionaries got here in 1848
and built a big stone church, which did not last the rigours of cyclones, and timeThen back to Logic for Sundowners It was Andrea’s birthday.
Daniel and Andrea came over to Logic for her birthday dinner
Daniel bought out a saved, bottle of champagneI cooked a dinner of corned beef, mashed potatoes, cauliflower and white sauce
And Tannis baked a cakein the morning we all put on our Sunday bests and went in for mass (Presbyterian)
Their religion is a very important part of the local’s life, by us attending mass, we are showing them our respect for them and their culture.
Their response to seeing us outside the church was very positive, the elders came over and introduced themselves.
On numerous occasions throughout the service our attendance was acknowledgedand the singing was of a high standard
We had numerous people offer us their bibles and hymn books
There are 100 local languages used throughout the islands of Vanuatu, in addition to the nation language Bislama (Pidgin English).
The Hymns were in Bislama my Bislama vocabulary is growing, “yumi” in the hymn above is pronounced “you-me”, which translates to we/us.
At the end of the service as the elders lead the congregation out, they stopped opposite where we were sitting and ushered us out, in front of them. To then arrange us VIP style, outside the church to shake the hands of the congregation as they left the church.
That morning a cruise ship anchored in the bayA first… sharing an anchorage with a very different type of cruising boat, to Logic and Rehab on the other side of bay was an island that had been renamed for cruise ship purposed “Mystery Island”through the day, shuttle boats transferred the 1,000 plus “cruisers” between the Liner and Mystery Island. The locals from villages all over Aneityum, were also going too and from the main island, feasting on the sudden influx of tourist dollars, hair braiding, native dancing etc. (the people watching on Logic‘s cruising life is never boring).
Sundowners was on Logic that evening. The adults from the two other boats in the anchorage Bear (from the US) and Aqualon (from Sydney), came over for some children free time. A great few hours, with some lovely people.
Early the next morning there was the final of the Soccer World Cup, on a 2AM, local time. It was the bottom of the tide, which made for an “interesting” dingy ride, as Daniel and I went ashore to watch the game, maneuvering the dingy through the coral patches in a moonless blackness. We had been hoping to watch it with 100s of soccer mad locals, but ended up watching with another 2 in the lounge of the weather monitoring personal’s accommodation. Great game, well worth the effort.
The next day we took Albert over too Mystery Island
there must be thousands of photos of people in this pot throughout the world, but we did not have to queue to get inA very different day on Mystery Island compared to the one beforethe snorkeling in the crystal clear waters around Mystery Island was very enjoyable, with plenty to see
there was a blow forecast to come in from the SSW, the following evening, so me moved around to Port Patrick on the northern side of the island the next morning
We dropped the anchor off Port Patrick and SUPed ashore, at the same time as the children were having their school lunch break
When I told the headmaster, Natu, that I had a soccer ball for the children, back on the boat, she was very pleased as she had dreamed the night before, that a yacht would arrive soon with a soccer ball, as the boys did not currently have one.
Before I could go back to the boat for the ball, we had to visit the village chief, to ask his permission to visit his village. Chief Louie gladly gave his consent when we were introduced to him.
Then it was back to boat for the ball(s). Natu, just held them under her arm for 10mins, while the boys looked on salivating, before tossing them the ball, telling them they could play for 10mins.
I also bought a softer ball, which the girls instantly started practising their netball withPort Patrick is a truly special place. There is no TV, no mobile phone reception, no internet, not even any electric power. After 8pm, you would not even know there was a village ashore, due to the total blackness on the shore.
a situation that we in the west could not contemplate, yet the people are exceptionally happy, with no jealousy of what we have, or want to live in a western lifestyle.
One of the young teachers, Nick, had been as far north a Tanna, and had no want to go any further. A very hansom young man with “designer dreadlock” who would have been a big hit with the girls back home That afternoon Tannis and I went looking for a spot to snorkel. The local young men, were out in their dugout canoes, snorkeling for seafood. I noticed that one was exciting holding up a big octopus he had caught. We dropped the anchor and jumped in, to see what was obviously a very big octopus pull into a hole in a coral bommie. I hailed one of the locals, to tell him of my find. It took him 10 minutes to get it out, using a big stick (he wasn’t putting his hand in until it was definitely dead). He was very proud of himself, but and this is why I love this country, the next thing he did was offer it to me as I had been the one to find it. I insisted he keep it.I am using his beard platting as my template, for my beard growingI was informed soaking big octopus in ground papaya leaf, tenderises it.
By now we were in a routine of alternating dinner cooking, between Logic and Rehab. Tannis and I would SUP over to Rehab for dinner as the sun was setting
for a very enjoyable meal
Then we would play Mexican Train until yachty bed time (8-8.30pm)The next day Tannis, Andrea and Daniel went off on a walk to the big waterfall inland (I was not happy with the engine vibration in the starboard drive train and wanted to check the alignment, and vacuum the bilges)Nick ended up being their guide
The journey to the waterfall ended up being an 8hr marathonwhen they got back we went ashore, for the dinner invite from the villagersthe fish was cooked by stuffing it, in a green length of bambooThe end was stuffed with leaves, then it was places close to the fireAfter it was cooked the bamboo was split for a delectable dish on it’s own serving platterThere was 2 laplaps, one of manioc and coconut milk and the other had pumpkin, water taro and they had killed a chicken for out feastThey had a bit of ceremony, were one of boys placed tiaras made from fern leaves on our headsand gave each boat a hand made bagThen it was time to go back to Logic for a sleep
The next day I took a photo of all the school children printed it on the printer, back on the boat, before giving it to the village in a frameThis was something very novel to the children, who would continually come up the photo We were invited up to the school to have the children sing for usNatu told us that we were the first white people to set foot in the school, and some of the pupils, from the back blocks had never seen a white person before.
They were making a communal ,covered meeting place, no building materials except what that could get from the locally growing junglewalls were made from woven coconut leaves
The guy doing the weaving, after this gave a lecture to the pupils on growing water taro
everywhere he went, his young daughter went with him. Including the practical demonstration
The way they prove their village ancestry is by how well they sing the village songs and dance we were getting peopled out, so went back to Logic for a snorkel on the nearby coral reefthe visibility was not as good as we were getting use to, but it was still great to be in the water
It would have been enjoyable to spend a few more days in Port Patrick, but we were on a tightish schedule, if Tannis was to fly out of Port Villa in 10 days time.
So 6 days after arriving in Aneityum, we were making our way north to Tanna and then Erramango
Goodbye Aneityum, I am sure I will be backthanks to Daniel and Tannis, for letting me use their photos
I still do not have crew from mid-September to mid-October