Daniel and I had a great sail from  Leman Bay, on Upi,  to The Maskelyne Islands off the south eastern corner of MalekulaHe pulled out his screecher, while I went more conservative, with a full mainsail and genoaI did a perfect job of following the way points, through a tight 50mt wide gap in the reefs, leading into the anchorage(the loop at the start of the track, was when I pulled into the wind, to drop the mainsail)

when I came in here last year, it was not too long before Stuart, the local guide was out to great us in his dugout canoe. The same happened on this visit.

then Daniel and I SUPed ashore to meet the rest of the villagersIt was important to roll the SUPs over, as invariably there was little pickaninny  footprints all over then when we returnour first task was to visit the chief (Alvin) to give him a gift, in appreciation for him letting us visit his villageI gave the boys a soccer ball, in return they gave us some drinking coconutsFresh coconut milk and rum, is a great sundowners refreshmentwhile we watched life go byand the sun setIt was my turn to cook, so Daniel SUPed overStuart joined us for dinnerThe next day we retuned to the village.

Since my visit last year Red Cross and US Aid had run drinking water too two taps in the village, saving the villagers a 20minute walk to get drinking waterthey were still getting all their water for cooking, washing and cleaning from “wells”, which is basically the water table under the villagesome of the faces from last year were easy to remember

Young Noel still has not grown into his ears

while others, like Stuart’s youngest, Millman and Yasmina, had gown so much they were unrecognisable

Stuart’s wife Anna was busy in her “kitchen”The villagers were very appreciative to receive our empty bottles, to use for holding liquids. I gave the girls a volleyball,which had them quickly getting a makeshift “net” up and in useStuart took Daniel and I for a walk around the Island

A few days before we had met Al and Phil, at Leman Bay. They were also bachelor sailing. It was a pleasant surprise, when they arrived in their boats. They are from Louisiana, if you say it in your head in a heavy Southern US accent, to will give  you a better feel for the conversation over dinner on Logic that night.I accompanied them, on their walk around the island with Stuart, the next day

the bag behind the new tap is an “honesty jar”, were one is expected to put in 20Vatu, for every bucket of water taken, to cover the cost of the petrol, to run the pump, that takes the water up to the header tankthe men were busy chopping up the kava roots for the nightly kava drinking while the woman were busy preparing dried pandanus leaves for rug making and weavingshortly after I took this photo, I wandered off to get a photo  of a group of young children, all sitting in a canoe, pulled up on the beach. 4 of them burst into tears of fear, upon seeing a scary white man. Which I am taking as my cue to start trimming my bushy beard after 3 months of growing (sorry daughters, there wont be a rat’s tail plait in my beard)

The island is very flat, so signs directing the locals to higher ground in case of a tsunami, are everywhere The soccer world cup had just finished, the boys must have been watching some of it, because they were playing soccer for their own trophy

after posing for the photo, it was back to the game (with a ball that no longer held air)We needed to keep moving north, so we left for South West Bay, once we had enough light to see the reefs on the way outThere was a lot of current and the wind was bending around the island which made for uncomfortable  sailingand a crazy swell as we went around the corner It was a relief to finally drop the anchor and go ashore to met Chief Tomwe arranged for him to meet us the next morning for a guided tour of the vast inland lagoon behind his villageThe sunset was very different, at first I thought it was the moon rising, before remembering it was currently  a new moonThere is a massive volcanic eruption on Ambae, to our north and the ash cloud is probably the reason for the haze, hanging on the horizon.

Chief Tom met us, wearing a Wallabies (the Australian rugby team) jerseythen we were off, up the canal into the lagoonthere were a lot of shallow areas, so Tom took the helmIt was very picturesque inside the lagoonThe villagers from Tom’s village commute in, in dugouts, to work their gardensthen it was back to the boatsthere was a westerly change forecast for a few day time, due to the lack of anchorages suitable for a westerly on the western side of Malekula, we had too keep moving north.

There was no wind in the lee of the island, so we had to motor most of the 30mile to Malua Bay Daniel beat me in and was immediately surrounded by dugoutsagain the sunset was very unusualDaniel is getting more confidence on the SUP, standing up now on his way over too dinner with a bottle of wine. I cooked a nice feed of fried Big Eye Tuna , green papaya salad and fried yams.The village is SDA (Seventh Day Adventist), so I went to service, as it was Saturday

After service I got an invite to lunch of lap lap, cooked in an earth pit, using hot rocks

Daniel skipped service, but still got the lunch invite!!!we needed a good walk after the big feed, so it was decided that Peter would guide us, up to the pool in the river, for a swim

When I was here last year, a lovely young lady, very shyly agreed to have her photo taken with me as she shares my mother’s name, Ruthbecause she was so nice about it, I gave her a volleyball. At 8pm that night, there was a knocking on the side of the boat, it was Ruth, who needed to give me something in return for my gift to her.

I’m not sure what I will do with it, but it has plenty of sentimental valueI am in need of a holiday from my current holiday, the above was 6 days of full on.

We tried to say hello in the local language, but it was different in each of our 3 stops in Malekula. e-voy in The Maskelynes, e-leii in SW Bay and e-non in Melua Bay. Definitely fighting off brain aging by keeping our brains very active.

The forecast is for a SEly tomorrow, then a light Northerly the day after, so we will use the SEly to go up to Luganville on Espiritu Santo

It took a number of email exchanges before we were informed that the cultural festival on Vanua Lava, was not going to be happening this year. But there is a 2 day one, on the western side of Gaua on the 26th and 27th. Andrea is flying into Sola, Vanua Lava on the 27th, which unfortunately will prevent either of them been able to go to the one on Gaua. I will be there, camera in hand.