Vanuatu with Gav & Linda
05 October 2010 | Aore Island, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu
Gav & Linda
Our first time on Ghost and what a beauty she is. Arriving by air in Vanuatu's funny little capital city, Port Vila we met Brad at the Waterfront Bar & Grill. What a wild man he now is!! For those of you who haven't seen him in a while his standard garb is no shoes, a pair of boardies and a wife beater. His hair has gone wild, a bit like Hughey in the 70s and he drinks beer at every available opportunity. Brad constantly talks about this really posh salt some Frenchies gave him somewhere, he spreads butter over everything and eats Violet Crumbles regularly, all the while chiding Kat for her suggestion that Crunchies are better. BTW I'm with him there. Not surprisingly he doesn't want this little floating extravaganza to end.
Kat is the rock of Ghost. Kat hasn't regressed in the same way as her husband to the neolithic era. She is blessed with a tan to die for. They told Lyn and I not to worry with sunscreen as they had heaps of it. Yeah, that's because they don't need to wear it!
We spent a couple of days getting acclimatised to life on Ghost in the marina at Port Vila, Efate. The first thing we did was go ashore and get smashed at the aforementioned Waterfront Bar. Luckily we brought cameras with us. The next morning all four of us awoke to raging hangovers and total memory loss. Kat swapped clothes with an old bloke. Lyn sang to Lionel Ritchie songs with old blokes. Brad and Gav drank.
A couple of days later we motored out of the main port and around the corner to Mele Beach. It's quite a nice little spot in between the main island of Who Farted [Kat: Gav's invention for Efate] and a tiny little one called Hideaway. We anchored for a night and settled into a few beers on deck. Promptly we were rudely interrupted by a bogan on a jet ski who was so excited by the 'thrill' of the power between his legs that he let out these ridiculous yelps of joy. Clearly he thought that no-one around him could hear him. He spent the rest of the arvo using Ghost as his line up point and circled us all afternoon. Awesome.
We woke early and got the wake board out. Apparently the blades on the prop are a bit blunt and the little dinghy struggles to get us out of the water these days. Neo Brad has smashed it into a few too many precious coral reefs. After a few tries I managed to haul myself out of the big blue and circle around Ghost a couple of times letting out some retarded sounding yelps of excitement.
Lyn had her first go at Scuba on a little reef just off Hideaway. She took to it like a shark to water and swam around in awe of the beautiful coral sights about 5-10m down below. Kat then tried to get the scuba tanks filled at the resort but the dude said he couldn't for insurance reasons. What? What insurance? Air insurance? We couldn't understand what he was on about. About a week later we met another dive instructor who said the guy on Hideaway was a w*nker. Kat agrees.
From Mele we moved on up north and around the coast of Who Farted to a lovely little bay on the island of Lelepa. Entering the bay required some deft steerage of the yacht. There's coral everywhere and only a small opening to enter through. Once you're through though, there's another big bunch of coral right in a straight line between the coral heads and the beach. Wild Man was up for just pushing through and sailing Ghost in there. Kat was the voice of reason and suggested a reccie in the dinghy. Brad and Gav out of Ghost and into Dinghy with the depth sensor thingy. We buzzed around for a bit and found a way in for the mother ship. Once settled, we liked what we'd found. There was not another boat in sight and we had the run of a beautiful little sandy beach and coral bay playground to ourselves. Straight out of the brochure. Instead of the planned overnight stay here, we camped for another night to make the most of things. Gav broke his Scuba duck in this bay too. Fun though it was with a head full of snot. Yes, that's right. I'm the guy that got the holiday cold. Annoying.
In Lelepa we ran into a local who claimed to be from a village just over the hill. Where? Just up over that hill and those trees there. After he disappeared, we went for a walk to try to get eyes on his people. Nothing. He vanished into the scrub. Of course like all ni-Vans, he was carrying his machete. No worries then. He'll be cool.
Time to leave Leleps now. Up past Hat Island we sailed. Yep it looks like a hat from a distance. Up close it looks like an island. Hence Hat - Island. Bigger sail this time and a bit of fun to be had by all. We had the boat up on its 'heel' for a good portion of this leg. Gav at the helm loving it. Into Lamen bay on the island of Epi Pen [Epi] we sail in search of the elusive Dugong and Sea Turtles. Turtles. No problem. Saw one even before we anchored. He popped his head out of the water to check us out as we sailed into Lame Bay. Chuck the snorkel on, swim for five metres and you'll catch sight of turtles. As for that Bloody Dugong. The Cows of the sea they are. They hang on the bottom and eat grass. Lame bay is awesome for them because there's grass everywhere on a sandy base. Being Cows - big and slow - you'd think we'd be able to catch a view of one. No. Two days and one night we were in that place and didn't get a glimpse. Seems this was the case for most of the other cruisers in the area though. Any time anyone looked like they'd got a bead on him. They were all up on deck, snorkels at the ready for a look-see.
From Epi Pen we moved onwards and upwards to Courtney Ambrose [Ambrym]. We were headed for the tiny little village of Craig's Cove. Quite a nice spot but being at the base of a volcano it was covered in ash. The anchorage itself was a bit of sand on a coral/rock base so difficult to anchor with any confidence. Spent a morning with a local guide, Sam, who showed us all the sites and took us to his very own school that he'd set up. We dropped off some books and materials and said hi to the kids. We then took a crazy ride in the back of a 4WD up to a local village in the hills known for their carvings. Brad and Kat picked up a few specimens for their new backyard. Domestic Bliss. One of them looked like Elvis.
Time to leave Ambrose and take an overnight sail up to our final destination, Espiritu Santo. A pretty crazy night of no sleep for Gav & Lyn the sailing light weights. A bit like trying to sleep in a washing machine. Wild Man and Kat were at their best here. Taking in turns to sail us across our longest passage of this trip we arrived at a pretty little resort over the other side of a channel from the main town of Luganville called, Aore. Just say 'hour' and roll the rrrrrrr. I'm told that yachties love mooring buoys. This joint had a few of them, you could see them clearly. Red and firmly attached to about five other boats. Just at the last second before nearly deciding to give this little resort a miss, we saw a mankie yellow buoy. We sailed over and after a bit of farting around attached ourselves to it. No messing about now. Lack of sleep and empty stomachs means resort breakfast at Aore followed by a swim in the pool then some snorkelling. A minor heart murmur. The staff at Aore told us they weren't sure of the holding strength of our 'alternative' mooring. Wild Man and Kat get the scuba on and go down for a look. Seems ok so we push on.
The next day it was time to hire a car and get the land legs fired up again. We took it for a spin up the east coast of Santo. Stopped off at a blue hole for some freshwater swimming and rope jumps. Or in Man vs Wild's case, rope falling. Then it was off to Million Dollar point for a snorkel. After the war the yanks got impatient with the Vanutians. They'd asked them if they wanted some surplus army equipment. Vanutis didn't get back to them. Yanks pushed all the equipment into the sea. Now we can all go for a snorkel and check it all out. There's a sunken boat there. Cranes, jeeps, engines, tyres and lots of other stuff. It's a great thing to do if you're not a full-on scuba hoon.
Finished off the trip with a great piss up at a lovely resort atop a hill in Luganville called Deco Lodge. Had some great steaks and lots of cocktails and beers. A nice little swim in their amazing pool too.
A big thanks to Brad Grylls and Kat. We had a great time and are looking forward to your impending return to Oz.
For more pics see: