Basically all going well, had a few occasions of bashing into the SE trade winds but boat still handling it all well apart from some hobby horsing but it doesn’t seem to worry it, more us as passengers! Oh yes, our Lightwave survived an earthquake – another one you can add to the list of achievements? There was a 7.1 earthquake 30nmiles north of where we were anchored and were woken by the whole boat shuddering early in the morning only we couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on and thought we were dragging anchor. Found out later what it actually was!
We’re back in Port Vila after 3 weeks of cruising the north islands of Vanuatu up to Espirito Santos. Details are:
• The local people are wonderful, warm, friendly and curious. They visit us in their dug out canoes and most will want to try and trade with you. Some (not too many) just want to take off you! We’ve given away just about everything on board now from food to Russell’s shirts, sheets, fuel and lots of rope line to tie up the cow which every village seems to have one that keeps breaking the rope line. Not any more with their new double braided lines. They do pretty well but you have to put it in perspective, most villagers haven’t left their village. Some are small with only a couple of families, some have no running water and dig holes in the ground to capture it and some of the young kids don’t go to school so you really don’t mind giving what you have.
• The view to all the isands when you’re sailing are unreal. Island groups with volcanoes at the tip of many of them sending out plumes of smoke which blankets the air. You can smell the sulfur around some of them.
• We’ve met all the chiefs from each village who proudly show you their homes, the largest of which was at Southwest Bay in Malakula which had about 400 people. There were huts everywhere but god they must get bored (mind you, not the women who seem endlessly busy while the men go about in the dug out canoes meeting all the boaties). It floods up to 2 feet so is not really ideal but they’re happy there.
• Each village proudly boasts their Kava is the best and tastes good. This always surprised me as every boatie says it tastes like dishwasher. Then Chief Jolly from Southwest Bay just said it how it was – tastes like shit he said! We cracked up, an honest Chief he was.
• You very rarely see an older villager. Chief Jolly looked late 50’s but you’d never know. The other Chiefs were only mid 30’s so the average age is quite young.
• Sailing – oh yes, that’s what we’re doing. I forget sometimes. NOT. Someone told us the other day that cruising is actually fixing your boat in exotic locations. Quite close to the truth actually. There’s generally always something for El Capitaine to do which he does with gusto. Well, the swearing and cursing at least. Not happy Jan, but our problems have been minor fixable ones and everything (touch wood) is going smoothly at the moment.
• Luganville in Espirito Santos is not a place I’d return to. The towncentre is very rundown and nothing like Port Vila with very little to provision with. However, there’s a resort as such on the opposite side which we moored at and spent a couple of nights there for dinner finishing with a kustom night with local foods and dancers flown in from the Torres / Banks island groups which is at the top of Vanuatu. They were fantastic. We tried kava and it was truly disgusting. Not even alcoholic – but left your mouth tingling (well, numb really). We doubled up for a couple though.
• Santos however had fantastic turquoise beaches which we unfortunately didn’t get time to see enough of. We’d by then spend nearly 2 weeks getting up there and the weather was changing and we needed to take the weather window and get back to Vila before the strong winds kicked on. We’ve just spent two days periodically bashing into crappy SE 30 kt tradewinds, large swells and not too much fun. Reminded us we’ve got a 7-10 day return voyage to Aust. coming up in the next few weeks. Bugger.
Russell & Fiona