11 June 2014 | Port Havannah, Efate, Vanuatu
Barbara/ post thunderstorm
We enjoyed 6 days in Port Vila, and although the routine of going ashore, strolling to the market, wandering around the city, eating fresh baguettes and making the most of on-shore facilities, we were looking forward to some peace and quiet. There was one cruise ship in nearly every day we were there, disgorging up to 2 000 passengers for a range of activities. We were on a mooring between them and the shore, so there were small boats zooming back and forth all day!
On Friday 6th, we dropped the mooring early to avoid the notorious winds and tides of the aptly named ‘Devils Point’ on our way around to Port Havannah. A short, but splendid sail round saw us cruising a seven knots in flat seas….it was bliss! We also caught a small tuna, our first fish since leaving NZ!
Port Havannah is a very sheltered coastal area not far from Port Villa and we anchored alongside “Reflection’ owned by Anne and Eric, also from Nelson. They have been working for the Vanuatu Tourist Board, compiling a cruising guide, and Eric has been here 16 times, so we were keen to pick their brains of places to go. We had dinner on their catamaran, did some planning and were taught how to play Mexican Trains…which I was spectacularly bad at! It was a fun evening. We went ashore to the Havannah Eco Lodge and had a very ordinary burger in a great venue! We looked at the accommodation, which is basic and cheap. They have nearly completed 2 new cabins which look much nicer!
The following day Anne and Eric took us to an amazing dive spot on Lelepa Island. An old plane was sunk there as a dive site by a local chief. We snorkeled and Anne went for a dive (they are dive instructors as well). It was amazing. The water was crystal clear and it was like being in an aquarium, with millions of fish and amazing corals. Later in the day, we moved anchorage to Esema Bay, which has mangroves on one side and a large number of very big turtles swimming around. Anne and Eric came over and we taught them ‘Perudo” – Mexican liar dice (what is it with the Mexicans and their games), which I also lost.
The following day we left Anne and Eric and headed up to Nguna Island. This little visited island was a lovely 10nm sail and we were actually sailing upwind, which Tuarangi loved! The anchorage was a bit scary as we had been told it was full of ‘bommies – large coral heads…and it certainly was! We anchored, then swam on the anchor (the visibility was amazing) and decided to re-anchor. We found some sand and dropped anchor again. Going ashore, we met the chiefs of the village and spent time watching the local Kindy celebrate Children’s Day with their sponsors ‘World Vision’. We had a walk around, guided by Shem, one of the chiefs, who invited us for ‘lunch’ the next day. We offered to bring some food and on enquiring as to the time for lunch, were told 6pm.
The next day we went for a walk half way across the island, to a view point, where clearings for new gardens meant that the bush was clear enough for us to see all the neighbouring islands. It was incredibly humid, so humid in fact, that even peeling a mandarin led to sweating! Fortunately, we had been given loads of mandarins and red pamplemousse, so could easily keep our fluids up! Going back to the boat, we did lots of snorkeling to cool off as there was loads to see.
We cleaned up, made some flatbread and hummus and rowed ashore for our late ‘lunch’. Shem and his family laid on an amazing spread. We were given flowers behind our ears by Shem’s daughter, Pauline, and his wife, Lesley, had laid a beautiful table, all decorated with leaves and flowers. I was invited to say grace and good old Rabbie Burns ‘Selkirk Grace’ reached a new audience. The food was delicious, freshly caught fish, manioc, yams, banana laplap, all coated in a coconut cream and spring onion sauce, washed down with green coconut juice. After lunch, the local string band came to entertain us. They were fantastic..really lively.. with a variety of instruments – guitars, ukuleles, drums, a bass (from a box and a stick) and bongo drums. They sang in numerous different languages and all the songs had us clapping and tapping our feet. We were more than happy to give a few “small Vatu (the local currency) to help them buy more strings! We hope to return here when Katie and Angus join us, they would love it!
We hoped to stay another day, but strange wind shifts and fears of our anchor chain being wrapped around a large bommie, saw us leaving this morning, motoring back to Port Havannah in a huge thunderstorm. We used our rain catcher for the first time, and managed to catch 50 litres as we perfected the setup. It was so wet, we had a rain shower on deck – which was very refreshing! Now the rain has stopped and we are peacefully at anchor with turtles and lots of little fish that swim along with their mouths open on the surface! I have laundry soaking in our collected rain-water and hopefully will get it washed and dried tomorrow.
We are certainly eating healthily as everyone kindly gives us fruit and veg, and Simon’s fruit cocktails are getting better and better! Time to go and try tonight’s special – ‘Tropical Downpour’ - vodka, pamplemousse and coconut surprise!