Dear F&F, September 30 – October 1st, 2011 (Eastern Hemisphere)
We left our mooring at Aore Island with a favorable weather report to motor south against the dormant trade winds. We weren\’t sure how far we\’d get, but wanted to try and keep the trip to two days. As such, we ended up going down the East side of Malakula Island. En route we passed the final resting place of USS Tucker. Having read the story of the vessel and watched a lovely presentation by a local hotelier, I could really get a sense of the day she was lost. The currents in the channel were so strong, a 3-4 foot standing wave was created which must have aided in guiding Tucker to her final resting place. Though there is not much left of the wreck after nearly 60 years, it is dive-able in only 30-60 feet of water.
Malakula Island – just south of \”Santo\” has several items of note.
First, it\’s home to the \”Big and Little Nambas\”. This refers to the size of their cod pieces and I\’ll just leave it at that! Though now done mostly as tourist shows, the \”Nambas\” dress in their traditional outfits of \”not so much\”. As we would be moving along to get to Port Vila; we unfortunately didn\’t have the time to explore this most interesting aspect of Vanuatuan culture. Also along the way was Port Sandwich. This spot has a bit of a checkered history for cruisers. The main pier has a warning about shark attacks. Do not swim here! There seems to be a semi-resident Tiger Shark that has attacked swimmers and a few cruisers. At least one life has been lost. It seems that there used to be a meat packing plant here which has been closed for years. Unfortunately, no one seems to have sent the memo to the Tiger Shark! Lastly, we anchored after a long day at Gaspard Bay. It is a lovely spot in a well protected bay; immediately adjacent to the Maskerene Islands on Malakula\’s southern tip. There is reported to be a family of Dugongs that live here amongst the mangroves. Alas we did not see them. Dugongs are related to the Manatee\’s of South Florida. They are very friendly and quite endangered. These are the creatures that early sailors mistook for Mermaids. They can get over 7 feet long and look a bit like a cuddly walrus.
After a calm evening at Gaspard Bay we again took advantage of a nice weather opportunity to make Port Vila, Vanuatu\’s capital. Coming into Port Vila was pretty exciting, the city appeared to be fairly modern. The inner bay was extremely well protected and offered great moorings. We waved to several old friends already tied up here ahead of us.
The next day, Anja and I went exploring and had a nice lunch at the Cafe \”Nambwan\”. (Number One). The local language, \”Bislam\” is a combination of many of the dozens of Vanuatuan dialects, English and a bit of French. \”Beach House\” blong me. Blong being the Bislam for \”belong\”. And so it goes. To see a condensed history, about the geography and culture of Vanuatu, click this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu
Stay tuned… Scott and soon to leave Anja:-(