We left Aneityum with a 10kt following breeze
to overnight at Port Resolution on Tanna (44miles) then Erromango the following day (62 miles) the volcano did a smoke and ash show for us, as we left Port Resolution, in the morningas we approached Erromango, the stunning topography had mobile phone towers on the mountain topsThe economics of an island with a population of 2,000 subsistence farmers, having 2 telco, giving it mobile coverage, is an interesting question, but probably has a lot too do with the vast forests of unlogged tropical timbers. Luckily the villagers are well aware of the destruction logging will do to their island.
We dropped anchor off Port Nervin, with it’s black sand beach, well before sunsetthe anchorage was a bit rolley, especially at high tide, when the protection from the reef to the east was reducedThen a quick SUP ashore to visit the chief, Chief Jo, and find the church and the time for mass, the following morning.The local boys came out in a dugout canoe, hoping to trade for a soccer ball. The canoe was full of firewood, which they were thinking we would be very grateful for, how else do you cook food?
There is a book, titled “Religion for Atheists”, onboard, that goes into the importance of religion in giving meaning to peoples lives and holding societies together. What it says is very pertinent to these small island villagers. 95% of whom speak their own native language (Erromangan) at home . Everywhere you go there is the sound of laughter, these people don’t need anti-depressants and psychiatrist, and police to keep them law abiding.
Presbyterian service has free time in the middle, when anyone can get up and sing or talk, so I used the opportunity to go up to the front, to speak off how lucky they are, to be living as they are and how much better, we in the west would be learning from them, rather than the other way round.
the others now refer to me as “Father Francis”
One of the elders, Paul, adopted me
He came over and sat beside me, sharing his bible and hymn book with methe hymns were in Erromangan, and had been translated by a Canadian Presbyterian missionary in the 1860s, the church was named after him
Paul gave me a running translation of the sermons
after church, Paul took us back to his home, to try some of the local food, then he took us on a guided tour of the village, ending with an introduction to his father-in-law, the paramount chief, Chief Andrehis wife Vivien is seated under the tree
We have these in-built misconceptions on what a subsistence farming villages would look like. Especially one’s with no government subsidies, invalid pensions, old age pensions etc.
Port Nervin had lots of in-eatable ornamental plants beautifying the village
the communal areas are raked of fallen leavesit was lovely to wander around, saying hello to the villagers, who responded with full faced smiles, with our boats anchored, just off the beachback to the boats, for a snorkel on the nearby reef. Cyclone Pam came through here 3 years ago, destroying the corals (in additions to the some buildings). It was nice to see the corals growing back in profusion.
Next morning we went ashore to visit the waterfall, the guidebook talked of.
Normally the chief delegates to one of the adolescences, the task of guiding the visiting yachties, but with my new “bestie”, being the paramount chiefs son-in-law, it raised us up the “respect ladder” so Chief Andre, lead us himself. the waterfall was a disappointment due to the locals diverting most of the flow, to a holding tank, that then fed “mains pressure” running water to the villageThen Chief Andre gave us a full tour of the village
accompanying us, were his granddaughters and a few of their friends
we went past the pre-school, were I took the photo for the picture frame somehow they had got hold of a portable timber saw miller, which they had used to produce their own lumber for building houses with raised floors scattered everywhere were big banana bunches, hanging down and profuse papayaknives are a big part of the locals lives, so they educate their children young, on knife safety. This boy would not have been 2 years oldwe visited the health clinic, were Andrew, the on-call nurse, gave us a guided tourit had a delivery room, a consultation room, a solar powered freezer to keep the vaccinations cold, and a surgery, were he was currently treating a bush knife wound.
prices are very reasonable (100vt to a US$)one of the aid organisations had set up a fresh water, fish farming operations for them
we walked down to the fish farm, through the gardens, were the villagers had their individual gardensand back via the beachwere the young girls had a great time, interacting with us
the beach was great to walk along, it was a fine aggregate of small volcanic rock We returned to the boats, via Chief Andree’s home, were he gave us each, a big bag of bananas and papaya I printed the photo, back on the boat and returned with it, in it’s frame Tannis’ approaching flight from Port Vila, had us on the go the next morning, to the northern side of Erromango
it is hard to get one’s head around there being only 2,000 people living on this island, of such high fertility.
There was a major earth lifting here, which turned the then coral surrounding the island into limestone cliffs, that are easily eroded, making for spectacular scenery, as we cruised by.
on route we pulled in this big barracuda unfortunately the ciguatera risk is too high to eat barracoota, so back he went.
something big and toothy, destroyed the skirt of this lure, but did not hook up it was only 8 miles to the bay, we were going to anchor in it was a lot tighter than we were expecting, especially when the heat of the day, warming the land, turned what should have been an off-shore breeze into an on-shore one. A coral reef, 50mts behind the back of the boat is not ideal, especially when it had taken me 4 goes to get the anchor to dig in and Daniel had snorkeled Rehab’s anchor to see it sitting on top of coral rubble.
but the topography was stunning
as was the snorkeling
in keeping with the stunning theme, check out this sunset as was Tannis’ cooking off too Efate (Port Vila), at first light tomorrow (80 miles)