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