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S/V Blue Dawn of Sark: Circumnavigation I & II
Sea's Reflections
Malekula Festival: Initiation ceremony, after the circumcision
Deeper into the Anthropological Journey
08/04/2010, Lamap, Malakula, Vanuatu

The truck came and picked us up early in the morning, we all squeezed in the back enjoying the breeze, people jumped in and out. We bumped along the dusted road until we reached the village of Lamap. A chaotic party of running kids and screeching piglets welcomed us. A stagnant cloud of smoke enveloped the village, the women were already preparing our feast. An explosion of yellow and blue from the school uniform of the children appeared, they approached and quickly swarm around us. We were overwhelmed by so much attention. Their big curious eyes taking all in, some were caressing my hair, other touched our skins, all asked a hundred questions.
The master of ceremony arrived, everyone went silent, the air became charged with kastom and magic. A long and elaborate explanation started, we all drunk his words. This was going to be really special as even the local women and children had never been allowed on the Nasara, the sacred ground. Originally, when Tagaro created Vanuatu, his magic stones traveled between the islands and talked to each other in a nasara. When people arrived, they followed the stones and traded in these areas.
I was feeling uneasy and shy, the weigh of secrecy and unknown on my shoulders. Everything around us in the sacred ground was going to be alive with the spirit of the ancestors.
We followed the master of ceremony, alert and apprehensive, through a barb-wired fence, walking down a narrow path where the jungle was thick. The Initiation ceremony will start soon taking a child straight into adulthood. The three boys (around 10 and 12 years old) have been secluded in a special hut for weeks during which time the circumcision took place. They were not allowed to see anyone not even their family.
The nasara delimited by stones was in front of us, a barrier of branches blocked the rest of the way and at our feet: food, piglets and offerings. Behind, three gigantic tam tams stood, drum beats and vivang rattling could be heard. The branches were shaking, a group of men traditionally dressed were trying to break through. Using more and more power the barrier collapsed, they danced in circle leaving a track on the ground. The three boys came out, they were accompanied by their uncles bow in hands. They shoot arrows up in the air, words were said, each family member united around a huge branch breaking it in half. Parents were welcoming their boys back, mothers cried and with moist eyes presents were given. Holding their uncles hands the dance started again, they were covered with colorful pieces of fabric and people threw talcum powder on their heads. They were now "Men", their mothers could not chastised them anymore, they are allowed to wear the namba and buy pigs.

Pacific Islands
Malekula Festival: Cook's Landing
Living History
08/03/2010, Port Sandwich, Malakula, Vanuatu

Captain Cook landed in Port Sandwich and 236 years later the community organized a festival to commemorate this moment in a 4 days celebration of Culture, History and Art. What we saw and witnessed was incredible:

Under the shade of tall coconut trees we stood, the tension was palpable, the nature silent. A triton shell trumpet was blown, leaves stirred in the faraway jungle, rattling noise joined in. Deep cries followed, humming the nature back to life. It was getting closer and louder, putting us under its spell. Some type of incantation in an unknown language reached us. We could now see human shapes through the opening. They were proud, strong and half naked. Their body painted in black, white and ochre patterns were striking. A collection of feathers high on their heads made them look like birds of paradise. The rest of the costume consisted of "vivang" (ankle rattles), a belt holding the "nubang"or penis sheath and the warrior club made of dark wood. They advanced fiercely towards the ceremonial ground under the protective glance of the huge human faced drum. A smaller one stood between branches and they started to go around it in slow motion but something disturbed them. They looked towards the sea, a ship was sailing in under full sail. Closing onto the shore its power taunting the indigenous people, she dropped her sails and anchored. By now the apprehensive natives of Malakula had walked to the edge of the water. Women and children which wore grass skirts and were bare breasted were kept at a safe distance. The chief and its warriors paced the beach up and down displaying their strength and readiness to this incomprehensible apparition. Aiming impressive weapons at the long boat approaching they seemed very agitated. A man in a captain's full dress coat stood there and was holding a leaf or branch up in the air as a sign of peace. This is how Captain Cook was supposed to have landed on Malakula in July 1774. The reenactment seemed so real that it left a deep imprint on me.
A ceremony between the two high ranked men took place, they exchanged words and gifts. Dogs were also given to the Chief which neck was adorned by magnificent boar's tusks. They marched together to the ceremonial ground, a dance started and a pig was killed.

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Pacific Islands
Delivering School material through VEO Project
07/27/2010, Efate, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Today we delivered books to schools in Efate through the VEO Project, what an amazing experience!!!! We first drove to the lovely little school of Sorovanga in Black Sand village only 20 minutes from Port Vila. Everyone was rushing, running, pushing, giggling while most eyes were sparkling with excitement especially when the biggest dictionary they have ever seen came out of the box! Our bus took us to other schools but they were all deserted because of the Independence parade so we decided to join in and chase the Vila North school.
Thank you Rowena for giving your time and love to the children of Vanuatu with VEO Project! Please check out her effort in helping education in these far of islands. Pass it on if you know of anyone which would like to get involve or donate some materials: Click Here to go to the VEO Project website!

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Pacific Islands
Port Vila, Vanuatu

Eventually the weather became clement, the sky was blue and the anchor chain gave us a happy creaking sound as it came up on departure day. Blue Dawn was trembling like a happy puppy but after the eight days passage from New Zealand she was pleased to rest again in lovely Port Vila. A warm and friendly place where we were really lucky to arrived on Independence Week with fireworks and festivals all day long!

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Pacific Islands
Birdman Festival
07/11/2010, Russell, New Zealand

Russell Birdman all started over a couple of beers between a few locals. The idea was for them to have some fun in the winter time. Having planted the seed they threw the idea backwards and forwards between them, nurtured it over a week until it took hold and then, Pania and Phil got together at the end of the wharf and with a hum of excitement the idea well and truly blossomed. Within a day we had gone from convincing a few local characters to jump off the wharf to a week long winter festival!!! We witnessed the jumps from the dinghy and it was indeed really fun!

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Australia & NZ
Taking it in!
06/06/2010, Opua, New Zealand

We've made the best of it, enjoying our free time, taking walks and side trips around the Northland. We really liked the area around the Stone house in Keri Keri, the waterfalls and all of the crafty shops. By the way does anyone know what plant is on the picture, inside the balloon was a very silky white flower.

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Australia & NZ
Waiting for a weather window
05/01/2010, Paihia Russell Opua, New Zealand

Wow, it seems like we are taking roots here! We have been waiting for a favorable weather for quite sometimes, fronts keep coming and there are too close from each other to give us enough time to arrive safely in Vanuatu. We are experiencing some really strong squalls up to 45 knots and being now anchored by Opua Marina was not a good move!!! This is such a tight bay with too many boats and an uncertain holding... We had to move a few time being too close to other vessels and when we dragged. It was indeed a very long night, at least we are not out at sea! We are not sure yet when we will be leaving as for today Wednesday 26 of May but we will keep everyone posted on the development.

Australia & NZ
On the move again
04/29/2010, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

I am sure you will be all pleased to know that the sailing season has started and that we are back out towards the big blue ocean. Our feet started to itch after being moored for five months downtown in Auckland. What a fabulous time we had! Blue Dawn is looking sexy, she is ready for some more adventure into the unusual. Sea gypsy's life is pointing its nose on the horizon and what a route in front of us! Going back to one of my favorite little spot in the Pacific make me so excited, Vanuatu with its live volcanoes, indigenous people and magnificent underwater scenes... Talk to you when the first weather window will allow us to sail towards our destination.

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Australia & NZ



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