05 July 2008 | Espiritu Santo
30/6 Changeover day today. Chris departed and Mel took over as skipper for the trip back to Efate.
29/6 Sunday was a fairly easy day for us. We did a lot of overdue boat and person cleaning and were joined by Brian (an experienced sailor and diver) from Australia who is helping out for the Santo to Efate trip
28/6 Arrived at midday and went to town in the afternoon to do a bit of shopping and catch up with emails.
27/6 Today we went back to Leone and managed to get a full ReefCheck transect done as the rain had eased off and visibility improved. We did a shallow transect with the help of 4 men from the local village. This survey went very well with the local's spotting for us whilst we filled out the data sheets. In 2003 this village had been given some Trochus (Tectus niloticus) by Vanuatu Fisheries with the aim of the community protecting them in order to develop a sustainable harvest in the future. The Trochus is used for button making as well as being collected for the Curio trade. We were very encouraged to learn that the community had imposed a tabu on Trochus collecting that was still in force and we found many Trochus on our survey. In Vanuatu we are using a modified ReefCheck system that monitors additional species that are important in this economy including the Trochus. After completing the survey we quickly entered the data into the ReefCheck templates, which produce some nice graphs. Kate Thomson made up a PowerPoint presentation for the village that included information about ReefCheck, OceansWatch and what we had found on their survey. We were invited to the village Nakamal (meeting house) by chief Nathaniel to speak to the community. We brought along petrol and oil for the generator which after a couple of hours trying eventually wheezed into life. Whilst waiting James and I joined the men in grinding Kava root which has the reputation of being the strongest in the Pacific. It's expected that male visitors to the Nakamal join the community members for a shell or two on special occasions such as our visit. Luckily it has little effect on me apart from numb lips for 10 minutes or so. I found this visit very interesting. The Nakamal is the centre of the community and the village all meet there often, houses general do not have a lounge area as such so people visit the Nakamal for socialising. The women do all the cooking inside on open fires or in earth ovens. Unfortunately every meal seems to consist of Taro, Manioc or plantain but for a special treat we were given some canned Mackerel! Katie's presentation was well received and one or two questions were asked. We were asked to come back next year to do more detailed surveys as well as to train some of the community to do their own surveying. We left the Nakamal at about 9 pm and had an overnight sail to Santo.