We've been a bit delinquent with the blog posts this last 10 days; Matt and Jane have been visiting so we seem to have had a run of days where you get to evening and find the day has just vapourised before you. They flew in to Bauerfield Airport last Monday and we picked them up in a people-mover taxi owned by Lemara's brother Graham. For a few days we showed them the sights of Port vila - the Museum and Cultural Centre, the markets, and the Digicel store where Matt bought a local phone - so cheap compared to home and especially to Noumea: a new, basic phone with pre-loaded credit for $23 AUD!!! And the calls are very cheap also, even to Australia.
Wednesday we loaded up fruit and veg from the Central Market and sailed up to Havannah Harbour. We anchored in absolute calm at Esema Bay. We had some clothes, foodstuffs and other items for a few families there. This included some goods we were carrying for Jim, Linda and family from David and Helen on "Obelia". We had stuff for families from Moso, Tessariki and Meten Villages and were received well there.
The best salesman in the world, Carlo from Moso Island, paddled his dugout up to "Destiny" one evening on his way home across the bay. Shauna heard him coming and soto voce
stated her firm intention not to buy or trade anything from him - he is a notorious silver-tongue. Well, up he paddled, cheerily greeted us, and remembered us and our names, as well as "Destiny" from last time. Ten minutes later he left - he with some of Shauna's cash and we with significantly huge bunches of eating and cooking bananas. Shauna was putty in his hands!
We were pleased to see that the church at Meten has been started - the footings and main supports are in place, and they will put the metal roofing on shortly - they wil brick it in piecemeal as and when they can afford to buy in the bricks. They are so proud of it, especially the chief Ken. We are organising a couple of solar panels for them so they can have some LED lighting in the evenings inside.
"Sea Fever" sailed around to join us and in company with them we sailed over to the NW side of Lelepa Island. The anchorage there is a tight entry about two boat lengths wide with a large coral head just inside the entry. With John up on the spreaders scouting ahead, and the two-way radios in use, we entered safely but managed to anchor with the keel right over an isolated shoal bommie - we touched as the tide started to drop so we slid quickly away away under motor and without incident re-anchored on a small bare sand patch, in about 3.5 - 4 metres. We generally find the keel to be a very consistent and accurate depth-sounder in coral-strewn waters.......
Ashore we climbed to the North side of the island - high sheer cliffs facing the Coral Sea, with straggly vines and small jungle trees clinging to the face. Just inside the edge, in dense jungle, is a wrecked WW2 fighter plane. We are told the pilot was making for an American airfield on North Efate, and he ran low on fuel and crashed into the island. It must have been a very high-speed impact as the tail assembly has driven right through the body to the nose and engine block. Ernest, the WW2 museum guy, tells us that he believes the pilot ejected before the crash. We hope so - it was eerie and sad to stand there looking at the crumpled wreckage, thinking of an 18 or 19 year old kid involved in a savage war in such beautiful surroundings - terrible things being done in the midst of tropical beauty, all over the Pacific and many, many kids meeting similar fates or worse.
On the same island we explored a long cave in the rock near the coral beach - gradually getting narrower and lower to the point you have to stoop and bend just to proceed - not for the faint-hearted, especially when bats keep flying out of the dark passing within centimetres of your face in the dim torchlight.
Yesterday afternoon we got back to Vila, after what can only be described as a boisterous sail into 28 - 30 knots of SE breeze. Matt and Jane were not feeling entirely chirpy in the rough, bouncy conditions, and they were pleased indeed to come under the lee of Pango Point into relatively calm conditions. We took a mooring next to our American friends Brandy and Mark on the beautiful Seattle-registered sloop "Restless". We rewarded Matt and Jane with a cold Tusker or three, a roast pork loin (from John's favourite butcher back home, Craig Cook!!), watched a Jason Bourne movie and went to bed still rolling in our minds and inner ears from the strong swell today.
We have put up a bunch of new photos in the gallery. Click here.
Cheers from us!