Labo village, Ten Stick Rock, and the Maskelyne Islands

Aug 16, 2008

We left Metenovor (Southwest) Bay, Malekula this morning are now anchored off of Awai Island in the Maskelyne Islands, a group of small islands that lie just off of the southeast corner of Malekula. The passage here is mostly southeast into the prevailing tradewinds so today was a good time to go since there was little wind to contend with. We motored the whole way, about 34 nautical miles. Lot’s of other boats that were in Metenovor Bay for the festival also left this morning and 9 of them are anchored here with us. The plan is to stay in the Maskelyne Islands until Monday when the wind is supposed to build and then sail northeast to Nebul village on the island of Ambrym for another festival.

On Wednesday, August 13 we were at Labo village for an all day festival of Kastom dancing by Small Nambas, arts and crafts, and lunch, all put on by Labo village. The event they put on was nice but more appropriate for a visiting cruise ship than for yachties. It was a bit too scheduled. While strolling on the beach at Labo we ran into our kava-growing friend Justin from Wintua village. He was brewing fresh kava in a knoll nearby, mostly for the dancers and locals. He invited us to join in, and we did.

On Thursday, we went to Benahur village at the far tip of Metenovor Bay. We were invited to tour the village and, for a small fee, snorkel the wonderful reef that stretched out from Ten Stick Rock just across from the village. This was much more informal and low key. They put out some local foods for lunch and village people came by and chatted with the yachties who dropped by. It was a rainy day, so not that many people came off of their boats. After lunch and a tour, Laura, Britta, and I snorkeled the reef. The water was very clear and the reef was exceptionally beautiful, one of the nicest we have seen. There were lots of very big fish swimming around, which is always fun to see. A woman from the village told us how Ten Stick Rock got it’s name. In 1942, the village chief granted the US Navy the right to use the rock (actually a small island) for target practice in return for ten sticks of tobacco (10 cigarettes).

Yesterday, Laura and I snorkeled off the reef of Labo village, which was very disappointing. Our Labo village hosts had told us that their reef was a “marine reserve” with giant clams. But most of the coral was dead, there were only a few clams and these were not very giant at all, and these had been transplanted from a thriving reef in an attempt to attract tourists. We then crossed the bay to return to the wonderful reef of Ten Stick Island.


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