Two days ago (July 25), we sailed north along the west coast of Maewo Island and anchored in Narovorovo. There is only a small rock outcropping to provide protection from the swells. It became so rolly after a few hours, that we re-anchored closer to the rocks. The wind shifted overnight, and when I looked out early in the morning, we were uncomfortably close to the rocks. So we re-anchored again, further away.
After re-anchoring, we went to shore to meet people from the village and took a walk north on a dirt road on the narrow coastal plain between the ocean and steep cliffs. We came across some men shoveling black sand into large bags on the beach, and stopped to talk. They were friends and relatives from the village of Talese helping to build a house. In this group, we met Kelly, a man of about 32, with an interesting background. His father, a native of Talese, is a “politician” in Port Vila, the nations capitol and largest city, and Kelly was brought up in Port Vila, attended college (secondary school) in Santo, and then went to the University of the South Pacific for two years. In college, he played basketball and then was point guard on the Vanuatu national team, competing in the South Pacific Games and traveling with the team to tournaments in nearby countries.
Kelly told us he got tired of urban life and was happier back in his ancestral village. The home that was being built was for his father, and Kelley was supervising the construction. However, his major effort is in starting a freshwater prawn farm. He studied fishery science and has support from the government for this effort to help his neighbors earn money from prawn farming for school fees and the like. He expects his first prawn “harvest” in December.
We met Kelly’s 90+ year old grandmother, who has skin that is quite light. We then met his cousin who skin is also light. Kelly subsequently told us that his great-grandfather was a French missionary who married a woman from Vanua Lava Island in the Banks Islands (which we visited last year). His grandfather was the first Anglican priest of Maewo Island, and assisted the US Navy during World War II. Kelly, although religious, is a bit of a rasta. He only recently cut off his dreadlocks (his cousin Mark still has his), and the portraits of Bob Marley and Haile Selassie adorn the front of a family home. Kelly offered to take us on a hike to a couple of waterfalls the next day.
Winds and seas picked up considerable during the day yesterday. We were in a “squash zone” arising from an intense area of high pressure coming off of the Australian continent. The new forecasts called for 28 knot winds and 16 foot seas. Although the seas are nothing like that behind a big island like Maewo, it was a very uncomfortable night of rolling, and listening to the sound of everything that was remotely loose on the boat knocking around. First thing in the morning, we re-anchored again, and then again, moving the boat as close to the beach as we dared so as to get more in the wave shadow of the rocky outcropping.
After that re-anchoring, we rowed our dinghy to the beach in order to walk to Talese village and meet Kelly. We rowed because the large swell made it impossible to safely move the outboard engine from Sabbatical III to the dinghy. When we met Kelly, we asked me if I would be willing to talk to an assembly of students at Sulua Centre School. I agreed, and a few minutes later there I was, speaking for about 30 minutes to an assembly of sixth through eighth graders at the K-8 school. I talked about sailing, places we have visited, how GPS works, the lift effect of sails, and other things that came to mind as being interesting and somewhat scientific. Afterwards, with Kelly, we walked a mile or so north in the direction of the waterfalls until Kelly’s brother-in-law came by with a pick-up truck. We sat in the truck bed with a few others and a got a ride to the first waterfall. We also visited a second waterfall and a cave before hiking back to Narovorovo and the boat.
Maewo is the rainiest island in Vanuatu, and has a very high interior, and so is locally famous for it’s waterfalls. It rains on and off throughout the day — and this is the dry season. The grandest waterfall of all is “Big Water”, which the people of Maewo consider one of the wonders of the world. Tomorrow, Kelly will join us as we take the pick-up truck driven by his brother-in-law north to Naone to see “Big Water”.
Sabbatical III’s new position tucked up close to the beach and the rocks seems to have helped the roll. Perhaps our fifth anchoring position is a good one. Hopefully, we will sleep better tonight, and look forward to an adventure tomorrow.