Friday, June 29, 2007


A simply calm and boring 3 day passage from Fiji to Vanuatu found us happily in the anchorage of Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu. We did end up motoring a bit due to the lack of wind toward the end but we'll take that trip over something breaking this time. It is amazing the difference four hundred miles can make. As far as introductions go to the Vanuatu islands, this southern island is absolutely pristine and fascinating. I will start it by saying that up to this point we had prided
ourselves on trying to learn the local language and get to know everyone by name, where ever we go. Vanuatu called us out and won. As a nation they speak over 100 languages. The island of Tanna itself speaks over 40, beyond English, French and Bislama. Thank goodness they are so kind and patient with us.

Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
coordinates 19.31.506S,169.29.788E
When we arrived we were greeted by kids in outriggers anxiously awaiting for the local supply ship to unload it's goods. The weather here is amazingly humid and of most interest to us, you can see the perpetual venting of steam around the edges of the bay from the hot springs that well up at the base of Mt. Yasur, their very active volcano. It too has it's own weather system of sorts with the continual release of large steam clouds and winds at the top of the mountain.
The four days we spent here were each an adventure in it's own right and each worth a page of writing so I will try to summarize. Walking the roads, tire tracks cut into lush grass, to find each village, a smaller community of families living together in woven huts was great fun. 20 to 30 people would live in each community, all family, surrounded by all the mango, papaya, banana, produce, etc. they need.

A local named Olsen rowed out to our boat and befriended us, trading produce for clothing and fish hooks. He even spent an entire day aboard our boat and answered every question we could come up with regarding their culture and ceremonies including their languages, he knows 27, the kastom (custom or ceremony) of Kava, the children chew the root up and spit it out, only the men are aloud to drink it, and they do, every night, magic rocks and potions, much preferred over western medicine and cannibalism
that supposedly stopped in 1969!
We were invited to a birthday party for a one year old in one of the villages and had a great afternoon sharing lap lap (a doughy substance made from bananas, yams or manioc, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked under ground with hot rocks), and snake beans, which taste much like thin strips of broccoli. We shared our stash of balloons and marbles with all the other children in the community and had a wonderful time being included in Leah's family.

Best of all was our trip up the Mt. Yasur volcano. You are only allowed to travel up the with guides when it is a level I or II and we were in luck with a level one. Truly I don't know if we would have wanted to stick around for a level II as the amount of lava we could see being spurt into the air, and the roaring sound that accompanied it was plenty exciting. Though it is plenty far away and much below the ridge we were standing on, there were moments where we would all look up and wonder if
that was the belch that may send the globs of glowing red stuff high above our heads. They actually have the only volcano post office box in the world up there as well.

Though the missionaries made their mark here long ago, and of course were then promptly eaten, Christianity is very strong here with an amazing mix of their own beliefs still held intact. The rituals for the coming of age for both boys and girls, weddings, circumcisions and funerals are alive and well. Luckily the wives are no longer strangled and placed in the grave with the chief when he dies, and for a woman it is no longer an honor to have your front 2 teeth knocked out by your husband. From
what we can tell though, each village let alone island is slightly different from the next and all the more fun to explore!

until next time,
your crew on Ohana Kai

Erromango, Vanuatu

June 24, 2006
Dillon's Bay, Erromango, Vanuatu

A good day sail away from Port Resolution, Tanna Island and we were in Dillon's Bay on the east side of the island of Erromango. Named for the plenitude of mango's that grow on the island but darn it is they aren't in season. That's OK because everything else is and true with many of the islands, the locals are eager to trade for clothing, fuel and even DVD's or CD's for produce. We are even getting back into to world of grapefruits much to our delight.
We were greeted by David and Oliver in a vibrant red dugout(outrigger canoe). We would soon learn about David's friendly and entrepreneurial spirit. In many of these towns it is best to get permission before walking about the land because they do own everything are you are literally walking in their yards. David gave us the go ahead and even offered to give us the grand tour the next day. We sent them over to the Kelly's who were anchored next to us and much to David and Oliver's delight they
were soon invited aboard for their very first taste of pizza.

The village of Dillon's Bay sits along side the beautiful fresh water William River, aptly named for the missionary, John Williams who of course met the same fate as most other missionaries. Upon being killed they took his body to a rock at the edge of the river and chipped an outline of his body before they cooked and ate him. On our last day there we hunted for the rock. We think that perhaps the plaque we found now sits where the outline once stood.
David and his sons gave us a lovely tour of the town, following all the way up the river to where they grow their food and draw fresh drinking water from the river. Each family owns a plot of land that is theirs to maintain all the papaya, mango, grapefruit, coconut, bananas, manioc, yams, cassava and sandalwood they can grow. To the unknowing eye it all looked like luscious jungle to us. No fences, no marks, we asked how they know where their is. They just know of course. Down river is a peaceful
looking swimming hole and just below that is a shallowed area of river rocks where at any one time you could find villagers doing laundry together or bathing babies. Just up the hill overlooking it all was an impressive piece of property fenced off for the school grounds. The children on lunch break were eager to show us their classroom and teacher Marianne had to come and see why her students were so eager to be in their classroom on their break. They learn English in school and are soon to learn
French there as well. They are not allowed to speak Erromango or Bislama within the classroom. As always we were impressed with the material they are covering and the quality of their work. Despite this education, most Erromangans stay within the island. Few even venture up to Port Vila because they have found the cost of living there is barely outweighed by what money they may be able to make if they can find a job, especially when nearly everything they need is right there on their island.

On Erromango they only speak 4 languages and they rarely partake of the Kava. It was noticeable as many of the older men in the village looked much more bright eyed and bushy tailed. Long term Kava use must wreak some serious havoc on the liver. We met up with Chief William who welcomed us with open arms and wished us well. It was here that we began to learn again of David's hard working nature. He had been the first out to our boat and invited us to his home for a traditional dinner with his
family. First come first serve when approaching sailors it seems but you have to be careful not to step on local toes. You see, he wanted to charge us for our dining experience, fair by us since it is his food and time, but the village chief often likes to see the wealth the village brings in spread throughout the village. We seemed to make it through this one without causing too much strife, but you can see the importance on making sure you have all the information before you start committing.

We did meet back at David's home and that evening and shared a wonderful meal with his wife Rhoda and quite a few local children. Matthew and Tristan kept them giggling the entire time with silly charade games and some good ole' wrestling. The meal was delicious and we can easily say Rhoda's lap lap was the best we've tasted yet. They had even killed a pig fresh for us that day. What made the evening extra special was the importance David placed on the sharing of stories of our lives, home and
own cultures. They truly love opening their doors to meet folks like us. At the end of the evening we handed out our share of balloons again and I am afraid they may never ask us back again. Even as we rode our dinghy back to our boat, late in the evening in the dark, with the Kelly's, you could hear the never ending 6 balloon salute as the squeaky air continually leaked out of each in long wailing tunes. There are some tricks that kids just inherently know, no matter what part of the globe your
standing on.
your Ohana Kai crew

Friday, June 15, 2007

Done in Fiji

Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands
coordinates 17.36.029S,177.26.535E

We are all done in Fiji. We have a lovely last week. Rather relaxing time all together here which was just what we wanted. We filled our mornings with some great school work. The boys have been really motivated lately! We tried to keep the afternoons as fun as possible with swimming and wake boarding and of course, projects of one sort of another. We received our new water maker membrane and new fuel uptake valve. We even received a new hand held mic for the outside radio so we are back in
business. Unclogged a clogged head, cleaned the bottom of the boat a bit, changed the alternator again,
the list goes on.

A final field trip to the local school on Malolo Island was a fun treat. The island itself it connected to Malolo'lailai Island by reef at low tide so we had a choice. Either walk across the reef and around the island to the villages or time it just right with the dinghy to arrive around high tide. We opted, successfully, for high tide, with Kelly girl from s/v Moorea watching for depth and Laura from s/v New Dawn at the helm of her dinghy, and Lisa raising and lowering the outboard as needed
to avoid hitting the prop on coral. We didn't realize that when we met up with the head school master one day and asked if we could come for a visit we would end up being the "guests of honor" along with the villages minister. The whole school was celebrating their version of "Earth Day/Arbor Day" with oratory competitions between students, singing and a flag ceremony. All their art work and recent writing projects were hanging about on display for all to view just like at home. The theme of
the day was their environment and the protection of the resources. They are doing great work there, and head master Philipo runs a wonderfully fun and tight ship. We had the opportunity for view our first Kava ceremony.

Kava or yanoqa (aka grog), is a drink made from a local pepper plant. Although we haven't tasted it personally, we've heard it tastes like dirty water and makes your lips and tongues go numb. It is non alcoholic but we've heard different stories claiming it's tranquilizing capabilities. It is an integral part of their culture and daily lives and is passed around between the head men of the village with a bit of ceremony and lots of clapping. When entering any new village we were to brings gifts
of the kava, specially wrapped as an offering or sevu sevu the village's chief. Though we were never able to give any away either, it was still fun to witness the ceremony.

Officially checked out of the country, we are on our way to our next destination of the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Keeping ourselves busy

We are keeping ourselves busy this week with projects. Still hunkered down in Malolo'lailai Island, one after another we are checking off items that aren't even on the list. The water pump began to act up, so that took a few days to diagnose and solve. The back head had sucked up a piece of pumice and refused to do it's job anymore. Thank goodness it was only that. We managed to break the shower nozzle on the swim step in the back. McGyver is alive and well on our boat. Next came the toys.
The wind has picked up around here so Bruce got a lot of kitesurf time in, which leads to wear and tear on equipment. Two holes in one bladder and a baton broke in two places. We are masters of tape and fiberglass.
The Kelly's on Moorea had a fun project as well. This time the master tool was a plunger. They needed a new through hole put in for their head. When you place a plunger on the underside of the boat in the water, you can actually drill new holes or in this case larger holes in your boat. We had done it a time or two before with Lawur in Mexico, so now we initiated the Kelly's into the club.
PE this week consisted of some great snorkeling and more wake boarding. We are looking forward to exploring the island of Malolo'lailai by bike today. Try out some new muscle groups and see some new sights. Last but not least we had a little visitor this morning on the swim ladder. While outside chatting we noticed a veritable aquarium developing in our backyard. We had left the plug out of the dinghy and it was half full of water. A little fish had jumped in and made it home for the evening.
Second, a beautiful black and light blue stripped sea snake coiled around the steps to rest before going on his way.
until next time
Lisa and the boys