Wednesday, July 25, 2007


July 7, 2007
coordinates 16.32.048S,167.46.181E

From Epi we head on towards the island of Malekula. Specifically we anchored in a small bay of the southern tip of Malekula at Awai island. We had read a story about magic rocks here that can be found by a particular tree, and if struck together at night in the dark, they create blue sparks, which in turn leads to sparks in the sky (lightning) and stormy weather. On our second day there we went in search of them and Matthew was the first to spot them. Gigantic quartz stones folded in the rocky
cliffs and mountain face. Many were just laying about on the ground. We collected our loot and were apparently bold enough to tempt fate that night, we struck them together in the dark. Low and behold, they do make sparks! Luckily for us though the winds and weather didn't turn on us, but I'd be lying if I said we didn't keep an extra ear out that night for the signs of change.

Our first encounter on the island though was a barrage of outriggers. We had grown accustom to the routine. As soon as you drop anchor they all row out to you in hopes of trading fresh fruits and veggies for clothing, smokes or whatever you may have to trade. And is custom in many of these islands, they grow their gardens on one island and row back across to live on another. So at sunset while we drop anchor they just happen to be finishing up their day tending their gardens. We weren't in need
of much so we exchanged smiles and photo ops of these creative outriggers outfitted with sails and carrying entire families. Then came our first true experience of someone trying to pull the wool over our eyes. In comes David. A local who kindly offered his goods. He had bananas, let me tell you, the only thing we never need. We politely declined, unless he had some yams or grapefruit to come back and trade later. He said he would be back at 5:30. He returned but brought only small reef fish,
dozens of them. The ones that you might find in a really nice fish tank in the doctors waiting room. Not wanting to be impolite we accepted 3 of them. He then tried to explain to us that his father was the chief of the island and it would cost us 1000 vatu's to anchor there for the night. He explained that is was not just us, but every yacht that stops here. We were instantly curious about this because we haven't heard of this anywhere before, we had already met a dozen of these locals including
David and no one made mention of it earlier. Why wait until dark and our 3rd meeting to give us this news. He said his father was the island chief and sent him to collect it. Slightly suspicious but wanting to do what it right we informed him that if this was true, we would meet with the chief personally in the morning and give him the money directly. He pitifully hung his head and said, "You don't trust me." Ahhhhh Admittedly, I (Lisa) am the biggest chump/sap/any other name you'd like to apply
there, and he was playing me like a fiddle. The Kelly's at this time were anchored a stones throw from us, so I sent him over there first to let them know of the news. Thank goodness for technology. We quickly hailed them on the radio to let them know he was coming and of his agenda. To make a long story a wee bit shorter, he gave them a slightly different story with a more demanding tone. He didn't know that you don't take those tones with Kelly girl. He even came back one more time in the
dark and brought the supposed "chief" with him. We said we would pay tomorrow in the light and that was the last we saw of them. They apparently didn't even live on this island.

Bruce and Kelly boy did make a trip to shore though to meet the real "chief" Marse. A delightful older gentleman who kept an immaculate village. He was happy to offer some fresh veggies for no trade and there was no fee for anchoring in the bay. We were free to stay as long as we liked. He even gave Bruce a beautiful nautilus shell. We couldn't accept it for free so Bruce gladly gave him the 1000 vatu's we had been holding onto for just such an occasion. In the morning as we were departing
the anchorage he rowed like a mad man to catch up to us and offered a large woven basket full of fruits and veggies. The kindness of strangers and the good in people will always prevail.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Efate to Epi

With so much to see and so little time, we are on an "island hopping crusade" as Matthew puts it. Only 30 days on our visas and a new group of villagers on each island with a little different variety of culture and traditions to share. We have managed to visit 7 anchorages, 5 islands and many different experiences into the last two weeks. It is hard to chose sometimes which way to go. Luckily the winds are some help in deciding that for us and have been very favorable all along the way.

June 30, 2007
Efate, Port Vila - Really just a quick pit stop and customs check in for us. A nicely protected anchorage with all the amenities of home, surrounded by nice water side resorts. The main excitement there was the Kelly's boat getting hit in the middle of the night by an unmanned local passenger ferry boat. No damage but Kelly boy had to board this other vessel to try to move it away only to find out that they ALWAYS leave the engine running.
We did have the opportunity to connect again with a great couple that we had met in Tanna en route to the Mt. Yasur volcano, Trevor and Rhiannon from Southern California. Very adventurous spirits, here enjoying Vanuatu as much as we were. The second big event was our "Kava" experience. That could be an entire journal entry in itself, but suffice it to say, it is terribly nasty tasting. This opinion is coming from a crew that doesn't drink coffee though. As always, it is the people that you meet
that make it wonderful. Our host for the evening was Kenzie. A kind man with a small snake on his arm that caught our attention. Again we were blessed with meeting such people that have no other agenda than to share some time with and introduce you to their world. As they told us, "We have met now, now we are friends". He took us to a local nakamal (bar) of sorts. It was dark, muddy outdoors and relatively quiet as you sit under blue tarps on picnic tables in muddy dirt and listen to the kava
speak to you. (we never did hear it say very much) They did have a great string band to listen to in case you couldn't hear your kava talking to you. We also met wonderful young guy named Edmund, who is a peer counselor down at the local health clinic. He was just as excited to sit with us for the night and learn about life at home as we were to learn from him. Don't think we will try kava any time soon again but are so glad we had the chance to share it with our two new friends.

We attempted to anchor at Hideaway Island resort where we were hoping to visit the Mele-Maat water falls and mail some underwater post cards but the weather didn't cooperate. So off we sailed with 35 knots of wind and confused seas to find a more pleasant place to sleep for the night.

July 4, 2007
On to Epi in search of dugongs. A dugong is a mammal that looks nearly exactly like manatee with the exception of the tail which looks like a whale tail. We kept an eye out for them for they were known to be seen in this bay. Occasionally we caught a glimpse or two of their noses or tails as they sounded, until the last day. A calm, quiet and overcast morning left the surface of the water very smooth which made it very easy to spot these creatures. We were just about to leave the anchorage that
morning so we had already put the outboard away for the dinghy. Instead we all hopped in the dinghy and rowed out to where we last spotted them. Relatively uninterested nor afraid of us, they continued to feed in the area. Bruce and the boys quickly put on some snorkel gear and jumped in the water. In no time Tristan spotted one swimming directly under them. They swam with the dugong for just a minute or two until he decided he didn't want company anymore and swam away. You could hear the excitement
squealing up out of their snorkels and when they surfaced there were eyeballs the size of dinner plates. Very cool!
Also on Epi we had the chance to go ashore and meet Kenneth, minister of the village. He graciously gave us a full tour of his village, church, school and airport (a simple runway strip with a nice building). So full of pride and information about his island he was a wonderful host. The most dramatic difference between this village and others was the division between the houses and pieces of property. I almost looked like home with set yards and fence lines marking out beautiful jungle style
yards. They also have a boarding school in the village with a library to rival any of ours at home. It was very impressive. The children live there at the school and the tuition can be up to 1000 vatu's (approx. $10 USD) a quarter for the higher grades. The pride they show for their surrounding and the work they have accomplished is heart warming especially when you see it standing next to the meager means by which they live.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys