New photos and new destinations

We have been in Port Vila for almost a week. We have visited with friends, old and new, and worked to get the boat ready for our next passage. We plan to leave tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday, 8 Sep) for New Caledonia. Our route takes us just east of Lifou Island in the Loyalties, and then into the lagoon of New Caledonia via the Passe Havannah. We expect to enter the pass early Thursday morning and then anchor to rest before proceeding to Noumea.

These are some photos from the past two weeks.

M.

Laura checks out woven bags in Asanvari, Maewo Island
Laura checks out woven bags in Asanvari, Maewo Island
Chopping kava root, Asanvari, Maevo Island
Chopping kava root, Asanvari, Maevo Island
Straining kava, Asanvari
Straining kava, Asanvari
Pouring kava, Asanavari
Pouring kava, Asanavari
Drinking kava, Asanvari
Drinking kava, Asanvari
Waterfall, Asanvari
Waterfall, Asanvari
Freshly killed pig, Asanvari
Freshly killed pig, Asanvari
Freshly cooked pig, Asanvari
Freshly cooked pig, Asanvari
Our hiking guide Meery, Asanvari
Our hiking guide Meery, Asanvari
Meery and Violet with Laura, Asanvari
Meery and Violet with Laura, Asanvari
Meery and Violet climb the root of a banyan tree, Asanvari
Meery and Violet climb the root of a banyan tree, Asanvari
Meery, Violet, and Mark, Asanvari
Meery, Violet, and Mark, Asanvari
View towards the anchorage, Asanvari
View towards the anchorage, Asanvari
Laura navigates a stream, Asanvari
Laura navigates a stream, Asanvari
Sailor in Vanuatu Navy on leave, Asanvari
Sailor in Vanuatu Navy on leave, Asanvari
Ken, Thomas,and Tom.  Brothers from Rivelieu Bay, Epi Island
Ken, Thomas,and Tom. Brothers from Rivelieu Bay, Epi Island
Church, Rivelieu Bay, Epi Island
Church, Rivelieu Bay, Epi Island
Port Vila mooring field (Sabbatical III is visible)
Port Vila mooring field (Sabbatical III is visible)

What we did in Asanvari

We had a great time in Asanvari Bay, Maewo. We arrived there on Monday, August 24, and had a fun time catching up with 3 very special boats – all people we like very much and have known for some time now. They all had to leave on Tuesday morning, but there were a dozen other boats in the anchorage that were part of the Island Cruising Association Rally of New Zealand. We got to know a lot of them over the next few days, and were included in all of the ICA rally events. There were a lot of really nice people there – a good mix of boats from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand for the most part. We know the leader of the ICA from last year, and he (John) and his wife Lynn are extremely friendly and outgoing people. They arranged for a lot of “events” between the yachties and the locals. Normally we enjoy doing this ourselves, but it was a nice change to be part of a group.

The village of Asanvari is well known among yachties because of its extroverted chief, Chief Nelson, and his very charmismatic son, Nixon. The whole village was in mourning, however, because of a terrible tragedy that had just occurred two weeks before we arrived – the death of one of Chief Nelson’s sons. It was apparently the third of his sons to have died. They say it is all due to “black magic”. It was so sad, and somewhat awkward, to be there as a tourist at such a time. Somehow, however, the village still wanted to continue with many of the planned festivities between the yachts and themselves. I think they count on this annual visit for a fair portion of their income and perhaps they could not afford to forgo it.

It sounds a bit corny, but the ICA arranged with Chief Nelson to have a little ceremony on Wednesday where each boat was officially adopted by a village family. The families came dressed in their best outfits and presented us all with gifts of fruit and weavings, and even dresses for some of the women – a consistenly unflattering dress called the “mother hubbard” that was introduced to the islands by the missionaries a hundred and fifty years ago. The yachties all brought gifts to their adopted families over the next few days and got to know each other. Our “family” consisted of a husband and wife (Maurice and Katherine) and their children – we were never sure exactly how many children they had, but we did get to know their 12 year old girl Meery, and their 25 year old son, Paul a bit. Meery and her friend Violet accompanied us on a hike up to the top of the hill overlooking their village, and over the top of the beautiful waterfall that flows down to the sea. Meery and Violet were barefoot while Mark and I trudged along, slipping on the rocks, even in our hiking boots. We sang songs to each other and had a wonderful time.

The next day there was supposed to be a dance put on by the locals – a kustom dance – with traditional costumes and very primitive instruments. The young men who usually dance were mourning the death of their friend and did not dance. Only 2 adults and 3 young boys danced – and only for a few minutes. Then they made us a feast – consisting primarily of a very large, and very well cooked pig that they had killed that day. The pig was roasted in the ground for the entire day. Mark and I had actually heard the poor guy squealing his head off just before they disposed of him earlier in the day. I am not too keen on pig – particularly large boars with their heads intact – so I just filled up mainly on rice and some vegetables that were also served. Everyone else was pretty happy about the pig meal. The village arranged for a local “string band” to play and the yachties and the village kids spent a very enjoyable evening dancing together. They offered kava to everyone as well but after trying a cup of the very potent brew the first night, most of us declined altogether on night two.

Besides the village activities, Mark and I spent a lot of time snorkeling there. The water was about the clearest we have seen in Vanuatu and had some beautiful crevasses carved out in the rock by underground springs. The boat was sitting in about 60 feet of water and you could see to the bottom as if it were just a few feet deep.

We decided to leave on Thursday evening as we have to start heading back to Port Villa – which is about 150 miles to the south – and we saw that the winds were right to make at least the first leg of the trip – as far as Epi – an island about halfway between Asanvari and Port Villa. We left at 5:00 p.m. – on an amazingly beautiful evening – and as we sailed away from the island of Maewo, where Asanvari is located, we could understand why some people consider it one of the most beautiful places in Vanuatu. We had a great sail, going past the island of Pentecost and then past Ambrym whose active volcano was clearly visible belching up lava during the night. Mark was on watch and said it was beautiful (I was down below trying to get some sleep). In the morning we sailed into our current bay – on the southern part of Epi. It is a black sand bay, but the water is crystal clear. We thought we would just stay one night, but now we are ending our second day here and will probably stay a third. It is quite lovely. Three guys from the village nearby paddled over today and asked to see our boat. We had them on-board and had an interesting time talking with them. Once again, we received fruit in exchange for clothing and other goods. We had a little train set on board which we gave them for their kids and they were thrilled.

Our big activity today was changing our sails – we had to take down the large genoa and put up our much smaller blade jib. It is not a bad job, except once you take the sail down, you have to fold it up on the deck and put it away. It is so big and so bulky that it seems impossible to do. Leon and Ricky once helped us do this when we were together in the Caribbean, so they can understand how hard it is. Somehow we managed to do it however, having a good schvitz in the mid-day sun, and now have the correct sail for heading south.

L.

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Departure for Epi Island

We have a small weather window for heading south so we are leaving here (Asanvari on Maewo Island) for either Epi Island (Revelieu Bay) or Port Vila on Efate. How far we go depends on wind and how we feel.

 We will depart in less than one hour (at about 5 pm local time, Aug 28) and head south along the west coast of Pentecost and Ambrym Islands. We are expecting east winds of about 15 knots.

 M.

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Surunda to Maewo

August 25, 2009

We ended up spending 4 nights in Surunda Bay. It is a pretty little bay whose main attraction for us was that it had free internet. We took great advantage of that, catching up on some work related stuff for Mark as well as enjoying seeing the NY Times and finding out what was happening in the world( after reading the news we decided it is better not to look).

Our friends Mike and Lynn from “Wombat of Sydney” were at the same anchorage and we spent a couple of nice evenings with them. Mark and I met a pleasant 14 year old local boy named Gaston who was selling soft drinks from his family’s tiny store by the village of Surunda. (The sign outside advertised ice-cream, but we were not lucky enough to find any in stock). He took us on a little walking tour of the town, including a trip to his family’s garden, where he climbed trees to pick us vegies growing from tall vines as well as an assortment of fruits. At the edge of the garden were the remains of a plane from WWII. Surunda was a U.S. airbase during the war.

On Sunday, the 23rd, we decided it was time to go and with a pretty good weather forecast we headed out to our next destination – the island of Maewo – about 60 miles to the east. We had been waiting for the winds to switch around from the prevailing SE to the south so we could get a good angle for our sail. Friends had headed out on Saturday, and instead of finding south to southeasterly winds at 10-15 knots, they found winds coming much more from the southeast and blowing at up to 32 knots. That makes for a very nasty sail. We ended up being quite lucky as we still had an upwind sail, but the winds were much lighter (about 10-12 knots) and we had a good enough angle to sail almost all the way.

The tricky part about leaving Surunda was that the anchorage was inside a protective coral reef opening up to the east. The reef had an opening that was easily wide enough for a boat to pass through safely, but without good light you could not see exactly where the reef ended and the clear water started. There were also many coral bombies sticking their nasty little heads up here and there even in the opening. To leave Surunda and get to the next island before dark you had to leave very early , but the problem was that to leave the reef you had to sail east, directly into the rising sun which blinds you from seeing the reef. In addition, at high tide the reef is totally covered with water so you can not even see breakers on it, and there was a morning high tide for the few days around when we wanted to leave.

We are very cautious with reefs (for apparent reasons), but could see no way to leave Surunda in the conditions we would optimally wait for in that situation: i.e. mid-tide, sun overhead or at our back, so the day before we planned to leave we went out in our dinghy with a portable GPS and mapped out exact locations through the pass that would be safe. We double-checked these marks against our RayMarine Chart Plotter and felt pretty secure about leaving through the pass. At 6:30 a.m. when there was enough light to see, but not too much glare in our eyes, we proceeded slowly out of the anchorage, and safely through the pass (bet you thought we were going to hit it). It was a bit hair-raising.

We ended up having a terrific sail, and Mark even landed a small, but much desired yellow-fin tuna late in the afternoon. He also caught a mahi-mahi, but it ended up snapping itself right off the hook when Mark tried to pull him into the boat. Those guys are hard to catch. We decided to spend the night at the island of Ambae which we had to pass to get to Maewo. Ambae is a huge volcanic island that you can see from Surunda Bay, and is apparently the island that was the model for James Michener’s Bali Hai. Michener was based in Surunda Bay during the war.

There were 13 boats in the anchorage just around the corner from us in Ambae- all part of a rally put on by the Island Cruising Association (ICA) that comes up from New Zealand every year – and they were all headed to the same anchorage we were going to on Maewo. We are actually members of that association, having joined a year ago so we could join them for a sail between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We decided to get up really early so that we could get to the anchorage early and secure a good anchoring spot. It is the first time this year that we have been with so many boats. We left the anchorage at first light (about 5:45) and had a bouncy ride the 12 miles into the anchorage at Asanvari – strong wind on the nose, big seas. We were delighted to find three boats here already that we know and like very well – Intiaq (Swiss), Cardea (American) and Mondavi(Italian).

There are 3 mooring balls in the anchorage here in Asanvari, put up last year by the ICA and because we got here so early we were able to secure one . Normally we like to anchor rather than tie up to a mooring ball, but the anchorage here is very deep and filled with coral on the bottom, so we were happy to get a mooring ball. There are now about 12 boats in the anchorage. Many people consider it the most beautiful in Vanuatu. We can’t say that, but it is, indeed, beautiful, with very blue, clear water and a waterfall running down the steep cliffs and into a deep pool just behind us.

Both Cardea and Mondavi were planning on leaving first thing in the morning, so we had a small party on our boat with them last night which ended up being a lot of fun. Lorenzo (Italian) and Candia (German), the couple on Mondavi, are extremely outgoing and talkative and very funny and between them and Jim on Cardea we had a wonderful time. I made pizzas and everyone drank wine and told hysterical sailing stories. All of the bad and strange things that happen when sailing end up being terrific stories, especially when told by other sailers, whom, we have learned, all have a tendency to exaggerate!

L.

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Photos from Port Orly (Espritu Santo) and the Banks

We are now in the Surunda anchorage at the southern end of Peterson Bay on Espritu Santo. We came here because it is fairly close to Luganville and we had to go to Luganville to get a visa extension and renew our “cruising permit.” That has been successfully accomplished.

We have some internet access here and so use this opportunity to post a selection of photos taken at Port Orly on Espritu Santo Island and at Gaua (Santa Maria) Island and Vanua Lava Island in the Banks group of islands.

View from the beach at Port Orly
View from the beach at Port Orly
Market House, Port Orly
Market House, Port Orly
We donated prescription medicine to this clinic
We donated prescription medicine to this clinic
Our chartered pick-up with driver Chief Joseph and his grand-daughter plus our jerry cans and supplies (Oyster Island)
Our chartered pick-up with driver Chief Joseph and his grand-daughter plus our jerry cans and supplies (Oyster Island)
With Karin of Intiaq in Port Orly
With Karin of Intiaq in Port Orly
Laura causes a sensation in the school yard
Laura causes a sensation in the school yard
Catching sardines, Port Orly
Catching sardines, Port Orly
Sardines,Port Orly
Sardines,Port Orly
Fisherman makes Laura a gift
Fisherman makes Laura a gift
Making watermusic, Lacona Bay, Gaua Island
Making watermusic, Lacona Bay, Gaua Island
Children watch watermusic
Children watch watermusic
Chief Nixon, Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island
Chief Nixon, Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island
Chief Nixons wife
Chief Nixon's wife Linda
Two of Chief Nixons children
Two of Chief Nixon's children

Lovely Port Orly

Some notes on Port Orly

 After spending two weeks here in total over the past month, Port Orly has become one of our favorite spots in Vanuatu. Here are some notes to remember for future visits:

 Snorkeling is excellent by the small island as well as in the middle of the bay behind the reef with the wreck on it. Some turtles and rays as well as beautiful coral and the normal Vanuatu tropical fish. (one shark)

 You can anchor safely in a large sandy area between Bucephale Island and Thion Island. There are numerous coral bombies, but most are low and it is easy to find a spot to anchor.

 The water is aquamarine, warm and fantastic for swimming.

 If you take the dinghy all the way across the bay to the west you will find that it leads into a river which is easily navigable by dinghy. You can also kayak once you get inside the river. Up the river about 1/2 a mile is an adorable restaurant, just being completed while we were here. If the two toothless Vanuatu grandfathers who are building it are able to pull it off, it will be a really fun destination for any future visits.

 The anchorage faces Thion Island which has a beautiful little beach that is walkable at all tides – some great shells wash up there.

 The locals sometimes fish nearby, but do not venture close to the boat.

 The village of Port Orly has one restaurant in operation, owned and run by Rosina – worth a stop, even if it does cost about $9 a person (a fortune here). No menu, they just serve you what they have that day.

 The villagers seemed unfriendly at first, but after walking through town a few times we discovered that they are actually very sweet and friendly, especially the kids. A small amount of conversation in French earns many smiles.

 Behind the school is a little cantine where you can buy local fruit and vegetables during school hours. They will even try to get you things you ask for if you order it the day before.

 There are a few tiny stores – they just have some old tinned food and fly covered bread snacks.

 There is a local health clinic which was very greatful to take all of our old medications – their supplies are almost nil and one woman does everything by herself.

 The sandbar near town is great for anchoring the dinghy, but only at high tide. At low tide it is totally inaccessible, being filled with broken hunks of coral.

 The alternative to the sandbar is a nice sandy beach about 1/2 a mile away by dinghy – towards the west – right next to a broken down jetty. The fishermen who hang out there will be happy to share their fresh sardines with you.

 Getting back to the boat from the jetty can be a bear – a chop tend to form in the open water between town and the anchorage. You have time your visits to town carefully.

 Very nice place……. pretty close to paradise in fact.

 Tomorrow, however, we have to move on…. heading a little south.
L.

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Heading South: Back to Port Orly

In our last blog we wrote that Chief Nixon of Waterfall Bay had sung us a welcome song and a farewell song that he composed just for us. We thought that the farewell song was premature, but it turns out it was not. The weather turned nasty and the next day (Aug 12) we left just at sunset. Heavy rain and squalls ended at about 3 pm and the weather forecast was good for going but not staying, so we left.

 We had a better than expected sail south and arrived in Port Orly early in the morning. The hot and rainy weather that we have been experiencing for the past two weeks has been replaced with strong southeasterly tradewinds and lots of sunshine. It has cooled off and the humidity has plummeted. I am wearing a light sweatshirt as I write this, and we have light blankets at night. The chop in the bay from the winds makes the snorkelling less good. Instead, we have explored the town of Port Orly, hiked a bit, and canoed up the river at the far end of the bay. The Australian catamaran Ka Pai that we met in Tanna last year came in for a day and we had a pleasant BBQ on their boat.

 We will likely remain here only a day or two more before making our way further south. Waterfall Bay in Vanua Lava Island turns out to be the furthest that we will get this season. The remaining passages of the year all get us closer Australia.

 M.

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Chief Nixon of Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island, Banks Islands

We are now in our 4th day at Waterfall Bay on the island of Vanua Lava in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. As you may guess there is a big waterfall in this bay. It is only about 40 feet high, but it is wide and the water absolutely thunders over the top into a big pool before running into the sea. It is not the kind of waterfall that you can stand under – like those you see in French Polynesia. This would would probably crush you if you dared stand right under it. We aren’t about to try. It is pretty spectacular to see though.

We met up with some friends here (from the boat Priscilla) that we have been trying to rendezvous with since leaving Australia 3 months ago. We left the marina in Scarborough, Australia in May, just a week or 10 days before them, with plans to find each other in Vanuatu but it took until yesterday to actually overlap at the same destination. Unfortunately they were only here for two days and they are already sailing north as they want to sail up to the Solomon Islands before heading west to Australia and we are heading back south through Vanuatu and then New Caledonia before heading back to Australia (or maybe New Zealand)

Waterfall Bay is beautiful and we have been lucky enough to have a few days of brilliant sunshine (not too common up here). We have also befriended Chief Nixon – one of several chiefs in this very low density place. It is actually hard to meet a grown man here who is not a chief or at least a chief’s brother. Chief Nixon is quite an engaging personality and has a lovely family of three small children. Their home (a large and clean thatched hut) is on an otherwise deserted stretch of beach that is backed by a steep, richly foliated cliff wall. We have enjoyed exchanging gifts for fruit with him and his family. They have brought us large loads of bananas, papayas, yams and drinking coconuts and we have given them childrens books, crayons and large bags of clothing (mostly for the children). They are extremely appreciative of the gifts we have given (which is not always the case). It is fun for us as we still have a lot of stuff on board to give away and it is nice to have a family that we want to give it to. It is often dificult to really have a conversation with the locals as our worlds are so very different – with no newspapers, magazines, stores, electricity, running water or other modern conveniences – they are extremely isolated. Chief Nixon, however, is a very intelligent guy and we have really enjoyed getting to know him a little.

Many of the other islands of Vanuatu have a supply ship that comes once a month with rice, sugar, oil and other supplies, but they only get a ship once or maybe twice a year. Fortunately the sea is full of fish and lobster here and people do not go hungry with all the fruit and yams that they grow. They even have beautiful fresh spring water flowing out of the rocks near the seashore.

One of the boats that was here the last few days with us is also a friend from previous sailing years and they are the only boat we have met that is not a sailboat. Their powerboat is called Special Blend (he sells fertilizer!) and Jim, the owner, and his wife Martha are avid fishermen. Jim caught a couple of huge fish as he sailed in here and presented them to Chief Kerely – who is now his friend for life. Rivalry between the chiefs is a bit of a problem here. When yet another chief (Chief Jimmy) heard about the big fish that Chief Kerely got, he rowed over to Special Blend and asked for a fish too. Jim is a really good guy and actually pulled up his anchor and went out of the bay and started trolling the reef outside for a few hours until he could bring in a suitable fish for chief #2.

Several boats have come and come since we arrived here 4 days ago, but right now the bay is empty except for us.

Very cool. Chief Nixon just paddled over to our boat with his old guitar and sang us two songs that he just composed for us. There was a welcome song and a farewell song for Mark and “Flora”. It was so cool – we have it on video and want to post it to the blog when we eventually get somewhere with internet.

L.

PS That is Mark and his wahoo in the photo,assuming the photos makes it to the blog.

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Waterfall Bay ,Vanua Lava Island

We arrived in Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island in the Banks Islands today. We stayed an extra day in Gaua Island as the weather was atrocious yesterday. The problem with all of the Banks Islands is the lack of even a single protected anchorage. We anchor in just a little dent on the west side of an island. When strong squalls came up yesterday morning at around 4 am, the seas built and Sabbatical III was just pitching around in an uncomfortable manner. The forecast is pretty good as far as seas state goes for the next few days, so we are hoping for more comfortable anchoring.

 Waterfall Bay has two large waterfalls cascading down to the sea, and a small village perched below steep cliffs. Our arrival here brought together the same set of boats we were with in Port Orly waiting for a weather window to head north – Flame (Australia), Kaiterete (New Zealand), Miami (Switzerland), and Sapho (Germany).

 We have not been to shore yet but have already made an arrangement to get lobsters tomorrow morning. We will likely spend a few days here before heading to Reef Island to the northwest.

 M.

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Wahoo and Watermusic

We are in Lakona Bay (Ptetewut), Gaua (Santa Maria)Island, in the Banks Islands. We had a better than expected sail here yesterday. Right after we cleared the bay at Port Orly in Espritu Santo Island we turned off the motor and sailed all the way to Gaua Island in 10-12 knots from the ENE.

 My experience fishing this season has been mediocre — a few smallish fish. I had not been able to land a big fish capable of feeding us for several meals until yesterday. Just as we were clearing out of Port Orly, passing to the south of Lathi Island, something big struck my lure before we had even set the sails. It was a big, toothy wahoo about 4 1/2 feet long.

 Wahoo are voracious predators that swim at up to 50 knots and have a mouth full of sharp teeth. Fortunately, I had 2 meters of stainless steel wire leader connecting the fishing line (210 pound test) to the lure or it would have bit right through. There is very little waste in this fish — its pretty much all edible white meat. He yielded about 24 steaks of 3/4 to one pound in weight each.

 Today we toured two village in the bay and traded for fruit. While on the boat, people are always paddling up to Sabbatical III asking for something or offering to trade. We gave away a lot of stuff but it got tiring after a while. The women of this bay have a unique form of musical expression called “watermusic”. Eight or ten of them wade out into the river and make music by vigorously slapping the water in different ways to achieve a surprising range of tones. Laura and I are the only visitors in the bay, so we were the only “paying” customers, although all the village children came out to watch.

 Tomorrow we are heading north to Waterfall Bay in Vanua Lava Island, about 35 miles away.

 M.

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Leaving for the Banks Islands

We have been in Port Orly on the island of Espritu Santo for one week now. Today was the first day it did not rain in the past five days. On some days it rained 18 or 20 hours and came down hard. We have hung out here waiting for some wind to come up and the rain to slacken.

 Tomorrow seems to be the day. There is not much wind forecast, only 10 knots, but that beats the forecast of 2-5 knots for the rest of the week. We will leave before 6:30 am and head for Pwetevut Bay on the southeast corner of Gaua (Santa Maria) Island. It is about 50nm from here and should take us 8 or 9 hours in light winds.

 There is no cell phone service in the Banks Islands — indeed, very little communication at all. Supply ships come come and only a handful of yachts visit each year. We will,of course, still have satellite email. We are looking forward to some adventures.

 M.

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Port Orly

We are up in Port Orly – a beautiful anchorage on northeastern Espritu Santo Island about 30 miles north of our previous anchorage, Oyster Island. Before we left Oyster Island we spent a day in Luganville (the main town in Espirito Santo) trying to prepare ourselves for the next leg of the trip. We wanted to extend our visa – which expires September 9th – and had been told that we could do so in Luganville – but the authorities there said we could not extend it yet. They said it was too soon to renew it and that we should just come back in a few weeks. They don’t understand how difficult it is to just “come back” to Luganville with the sailboat after we leave to sail north. We tried our best to talk them into renewing it, but the supervisor was just not interested in helping us out, so we will see how things go over the next few weeks.

 We plan to sail north to the “Banks” – a set of islands in the far north of Vanuatu (about 50-60 miles from where we are now) – and then start working our way back south again. We may have to stop back in Luganville to extend our visa, or we may go all the way south to Port Vila to do it. Anyways, it was an interesting day in town. We drove there with Joseph, a chief in the little village near the Oyster Bay Resort. He has a nice pick-up truck that accomodated the 7 fuel cans we brought with us as well as all the fruits, vegetables and food that we bought while we were in town. It was an all day affair to do our shopping, but well worth it, as we have re-stocked on all the important things we need for the next few weeks. We even found apples which was a big treat – there are just so many bananas a person can eat! On Monday, after 10 days in Oyster Bay, we left – heading out of the shallow pass at hight tide with just a foot of water under the keel again – and sailed up to Port Orly. This is a very beautiful spot – and we were very excited to find our good friends from Intiaq here. They have already been up to the Banks and were headed south again – and we were fortunate enough to rendezvous here for a few days.

 It is always a gourmet affair with Karin and Jean Francois as she is an amazing cook and always invites us for terrific meals onboard their boat. They are a lot of fun. There are 3 other boats in the bay as well – 1 Australian (Flame), 1 New Zealand (Kaitorete), and one Swiss (Miami). We know them all from meeting them in other anchorages over the past few weeks. The two kids onboard Kaitorete know Hannah and talk about her all the time.

 We had some lovely weather the past few days, but today it is grey and rainy and it is expected to stay that way for a while.

 L.

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Still in Oyster Bay but without Hannah now

It has been 5 days already since Hannah left (we miss her!) and we are still in Peterson Bay anchored outside Oyster Island Resort. When Hannah left we had a couple days of terrible weather – grey skies and too much wind . Then it calmed down and the sun came out again. What a difference weather makes around here. We were extraordinarily lucky with weather during Hannah’s visit – lots of sunshine, not too much wind, and a few cloudy days – but nothing extreme.

We had planned to go to town yesterday ( Friday) to renew our Vanuatu visa, but as we got in the cab the driver told us that all the government offices would be closed that day for International Children’s Day. We decided to wait until Monday to go to town – it is a half an hour drive from here and we will just go in once, re-provision, get our visa renewal, and hopefully head north on Tuesday. Oyster Bay has been a nice spot to hang out.

The most interesting and beautiful thing we have  discovered here are the “blue holes” . These are deep pools formed from underground freshwater springs that carve themselves over time into expansive swimming holes over the underlying limestone rock. The color of the water ranges from an aquamarine to a deep velvety blue – and they are terrific to swim in . There are two blue holes with rivers that run into our anchorage, and both involve about an hour of kayaking each way. The rivers are very narrow and shallow – too shallow to go up at low tide even. They are lined with rich dense foliage , including some huge banyan trees, and when you kayak quietly you hear dozens of different birds. We have enjoyed the blue holes so much that we have already made 5 or 6 trips up and down them. Tomorrow we are going to treat ourselves to a big Sunday brunch at the resort! That will be a nice change from the Special K we have been eating every morning of the trip to date.

L

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Some random photos from Vanuatu during Hannah’s visit

These photos are from Hannah’s visit to Sabbatical III. Higher resolution versions are on our Flickr site (just click on any of the photos). — M. 7-20-2009

With Paramount Chief of North Pentecost, Chief William, and his wife.  Loltong, Pentecost
With Paramount Chief of North Pentecost, Chief William, and his wife. Loltong, Pentecost
View of Sabbatical III at anchor in Loltong, Pentecost Island
View of Sabbatical III at anchor in Loltong, Pentecost Island
Hannah with bananas and naked little girls peering out of their houseHannah with bananas and naked little girls peering out of their house

Dickie and family, Loltong,Pentecost Island
Dickie and family, Loltong,Pentecost Island
Mark with Chief William, Chief of Tomman Island
Mark with Chief William, Chief of Tomman Island
Laura with wife of Chief, Tomman Island
Laura with wife of Chief, Tomman Island
Hannah drinks kava (Southwest Bay, Malekula)
Hannah drinks kava (Southwest Bay, Malekula)
Hannah checks out huge cucumber (Dixons Reef, Malekula)
Hannah checks out huge cucumber (Dixon's Reef, Malekula)
Father and daughter prepare to explore Dixons Reef, Malekula
Father and daughter prepare to explore Dixon's Reef, Malekula
Laplap supper after the Kustom dance, Banam Bay, Malekula
Laplap supper after the Kustom dance, Banam Bay, Malekula
Women dance, Banam Bay, Malekula
Women dance, Banam Bay, Malekula
Men dancing, Banam Bay, Malekula
Men dancing, Banam Bay, Malekula
Change comes to Vanuatu
Change comes to Vanuatu
Longhead, Tomman Island
"Longhead", Tomman Island
Dinner on Intiaq (Karin and Jean-Francois) with the Bahatis (Nat, Betsy, Cameron) and Sam, his wife, and baby Jackson
Dinner on Intiaq (Karin and Jean-Francois) with the Bahati's (Nat, Betsy, Cameron) and Sam, his wife, and baby Jackson
Hannah with Jim from Cardeaat Lamango Ranch, Malekula
Hannah with Jim from "Cardea"at Lamango Ranch, Malekula
Solomon and Rita and their family, S.W. Bay, Malekula
Solomon and Rita and their family, S.W. Bay, Malekula
Hannah
Hannah
Lobsters in Banam Bay, Malekula
Lobsters in Banam Bay, Malekula
Chief Saitol, Banam Bay,Malekula
Chief Saitol, Banam Bay,Malekula
Hannah and schoolchildren, Loltong, Pentecost Island
Hannah and schoolchildren, Loltong, Pentecost Island
Village on Tomman Island
Village on Tomman Island
Masing performs for us aboard Sabbatical III at Banam Bay,Malekula
Masint performs for us aboard Sabbatical III at Banam Bay,Malekula
New Zealand boys bring their kill in for butchering, Lamango Ranch, Malekula
New Zealand boys bring their kill in for butchering, Lamango Ranch, Malekula
Hannah and Laura in front of the Au Bon Marche Nambatu, the best supermarket in Port Vila.  Nambatu refers to radar station number two of the US Navy during WWII.
Hannah and Laura in front of the Au Bon Marche Nambatu, the best supermarket in Port Vila. Nambatu refers to radar station number two of the US Navy during WWII.
In the dinghy
In the dinghy
Hannah and Chief Saitol, Banam Bay,Malekula
Hannah and Chief Saitol, Banam Bay,Malekula
Intiaqs rat get only a small taste of salami before the end comes
Intiaq's rat get only a small taste of salami before the end comes
The girl loves paw-paw
The girl loves paw-paw
Children at the dinghy, Loltong, Pentecost
Children at the dinghy, Loltong, Pentecost

Hannah looks for coral bombies
Hannah looks for coral bombies