17/06/2012, Espirito Santo
Exercise was the order of the day yesterday so we hired a tandem kayak, packed a picnic and took off up the river to Espirito Santo's largest 'blue hole' along with fellow cruisers from boats, Freezin' Rain (US), Blue Glass (Oz) and Rotomanu (NZ). To save any reader having to Google 'blue hole', we've searched it on your behalf ...
A blue hole is an inland vertical cave. They are roughly circular, steep-walled depressions, and so named for the dramatic contrast between the dark blue, deep waters of their depths and the lighter blue of the shallows around them. The deep blue color is caused by the high transparency of water and bright white carbonate sand. Blue light is the most enduring part of the spectrum; where other parts of the spectrum--red, yellow, and finally green--are absorbed during their path through water, blue light manages to reach the white sand and return back upon reflection.
So, there we have it! And here are a handful of pictures from our trip ...
Cows on the beach overlooking the anchorage
The Crew of OD in our tandem kayak
Reflections on route. We discovered oyster shells lying on the river bed.
The 'Blue hole'. Jackie climbed half-way up the banyan tree (not requiring much encouragement from the other cruisers) and swung from the rope into the water ... pulling every muscle in her body and gaining a rope burn in the meantime ... maybe not quite as young as she thinks anymore!
13/06/2012, Oyster Island, Espirito Santo
The Captain giving a talk to school children in Homo Bay, Pentecost Island.
Schoolgirls on the beach, Ranon
Children in their school garden where they grow and sell their on fruit and vegetables
Chief Luke, Homo Bay, Pentecost
The wooden tower to the left is used for the traditional activity of land-diving ... the original bungee jumping. It's 30ft high and guys jump from the top with vines tied around their ankles in the hope just their hair brushes the ground. Land-diving only happens on Pentecost island. Queen Elizabeth II came to the bay in 1974 on the Royal Yacht to watch it - some say one of the divers lost his life jumping that day.
Giving a helping hand with some bamboo in Loltong, Pentecost.
11 year old Sadrina with her machete
Danny, our 3 year old Tour Guide in Asanvari, Maewo island. Note the machete scar above the left eyebrow. All the kids have knives.
Chief Nelsons daughter Mary, with nephews Martin and Danny enjoying their first ever gingernut.
Smile for the camera!
Freddy Solomon carving a Tam-Tam for export to New Caledonia
Jimmy the lorikeet with his owner who plans to keep him until he's bigger and will then sell him for 'much money'.
04/06/2012, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Ambrym is famous for it's wood carvings and in particular, the 'tam-tam'. This is a large 10-12ft high carved figure-head with a slot cut in the base. A villager told us they were used to send messages between villages by drumming on the trunk - three years ago, Digicel and Nokia took over the role!
04/06/2012, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Man blong magic are feared here on the island of Ambryn as they practice 'black magic'. Hard to believe from the tranquility of our anchorage in Ranon Bay. What it is to be alone!
02/06/2012, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Seven hours ago we left the island of Epi and it's wonderful villagers and made our way to Ambrym, some 42 miles north. Epi has been the highlight of our time in Vanuatu so far. The anchorage at Lamen Bay had been sold to us as the place to see dugongs. We didn't see any however, there were many turtles and dolphin. In fact, on going ashore, one of the familys' had a 'pet' turtle in a tin bath. Hmmmm ... we didn't dare ask. Along with a secondary boarding school, a primary school, a clinic, three churches, one co-op store (selling canned foods) and a baker - this village was pretty well catered for. 'Mum' would sometimes disappear off to tend her garden during the day (up to a couple of hours walk away), returning with any ripe produce towards the evening. 'Dad' would farm his coconut plantation producing copra in time for the arrival of the weekly boat - he gets 2,000 vatu (£14) per sack . A sheet of corragated iron (used in the drying of the coconut flesh) costs £28 plus shipping from Efate. Whilst in conversation with Timothy, the Chief of Lamen Bay, it was confirmed to us how the land lies with regards to the ni-Vans (Vanutans) attitude to work. Many Ni-Vans visit New Zealand to pick fruit in the orchards on north and south island. The company pays for the return flight and then gradually claws-back the cost from their salary. These trips are generally made when a child is off to boarding school and substantial fees are required. Otherwise, Timothy said what they see in New Zealand and on the yachts that arrive in the anchorage might be something of 'millionaires' to them but it's not a life they want. They like working in their gardens as and when necessary, Their food choice may be limited, but it is free. The same with living. Their homes may be basic but they don't have to be concerned with rent or a mortgage each month. They certainly seem content to us, they don't ask for anything (unless encouraged) and have not once complained about life. We met just three families in Epi and have come away laden down with pamplemousse, bananas, coconuts, oranges, papayas and island cabbage (pak choy). In return we gave marine glue, towels, exercise books, colouring pencils, clothes, cordial and balloons. Next update will be from the land-diving island of Pentecost.
For six days we have been tied to a mooring buoy off the town of Port Vila on the island of Efate. Being the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila buzzes with activity. Admittedly, it's a bit dusty and going by the state of the pavements, the Heatlh and Safety laws aren't too stringent here however PV has a certain charm and with a tropical feel about it, we've loved every minute of our stay here. There are three cruise ships a week, private island resorts, supermarkets equal to those at home, basically, PV is the tourists soft option, there's no hard-core adventuring or anything too remote here. Tomorrow, we shall slip the lines and begin our journey north through the more remote islands of Vanuatu. We doubt very much if we'll pick up a weblink between here and Australia so all photos will have to wait until then. In the meantime, here are a selection of some taken over the last couple of weeks...
The view from Mystery Island, Aneitym looking back to the anchorage
The Captain playing silly buggers at the Welcome celebrations on Mystery Island.
Western Pacific Rally participants - 14 boats.
Towing locals: Tom Thompson and his sons Alan and Ken in Port Resolution, island of Tanna
The Chief and his family on the island of Tanna
Food in the local market - generally something fishy and starchy
An impressive aubergine stall in the market at Port Vila
Ni-Van (Vanuatan) ladies turn up every day at the market to sell their fruit and veg.
Port Vila on the island of Efate is reknowned for the numerous shops selling fakes ... Gucci handbags, Oakley sunglasses, Billabong and Quiksilver tshirts ... the list goes on
Marie and toddler on island of Tanna. The balloon went down a treat. In return, Jackie was given a gift of a hand-weaved bag made from pandanus leaves.