August 2011 - Page 2

Havana Harbour is only a 30 minute bus ride to Port Vila and the local women in the village go into the town to sell their dresses, fruits and vegetables and to braid hair. We found out that they stay at the market all week, and come home on the weekend. They sleep at their stall in the market!!!! I was stunned, but when you go to the market and see the stalls, you see whole families lying on mats in their stalls, now it all makes sense.

Lelepa Island

Even though the wind was howling, we decided it was high time to get off the boat and go for a small adventure. We wanted to see Feles Caves on the island of Lelepa. We got in the dingy and made our way over to Lelepa Island, we landed the dingy with the help of a fellow on shore who was waving us in. He told us we were in the wrong place and offered to be our guide to the cave, so in he hopped and directed us to the cave. He told us where to pull the dingy up to the beach and took us to the trail to the cave. He also answered all of our questions and gave us a short history lesson.

This particular village, through oral history, has dated the cave drawings to 1800 BC. They used to have leprosy as a big issue all through the South Pacific and every culture had every way of dealing with it. They used to take their lepers into this cave to die, then they would bury them. They would also use this cave to move the whole village in times of tribal war, these were headhunters and were still eating humans in 1940's. As a side tidbit, it was the first time in 100 years that a Samoan delegation was coming to form friendship bonds. The last time the Samoans came they were all eaten!!! So you need to give credit to these Samoan to come back - risky?

Chief Roimata was a chief in 16th century, revered throughout Vanuatu for bringing an end to local wars, died in Feles Cave. In honour, his body was tranported to Hat Island, a large grave dug and up to 300 members of his community buried with his body, to accompany him to the hereafter. The story, passed down through the generations, led a French archaeologist to the gravesite . In July 2008, Chief Roimata Domain (the gravesite, Feles cave and his place of residence) were given World Heritage listing.

The dingy ride back was a soaker!! Jimmy seemed to think this was hilarious and everytime we were hit with a huge wave he laughed and laughed. We dropped him off back at the beach, totally soaked but no worse for wear. We had nothing for him but we did have a small bill so we gave it to him as a token of our appreciation. He didn't ask for anything though. We waved good-bye and bashed our way back to Stray Kitty for a swim and hot chocolate.

On this picture, you can see little dots, each dot represents one person who died.

After a few days, the weather finally calmed down, we heard a knocking on our hull and found two canoes full of the children from the village, the older girls said that their mother had sent them out to get the girls and me to bring us to the village to braid our hair. What could we say? We invited them up to the boat first for some juice and cookies. It was so much fun watching them on the bow of the boat. They were terrified of the trampoline. I told them it was fine to step on but they didn't beleive me!! The girls crawled into the canoes and started paddling to shore. I picked up Karen from Tahina and we dingyed in. They had a huge mat with the elastics and beads all set up. It was fun having a girls afternoon chatting and doing hair. I miss you girlfriends!!!!!

Vanuatu is so interesting to all of us. Vanuatu's population comes from 132 different language nations where 96 of those ancient languagues are still spoken every day. Each village might speak a different language even thought they live on the same island. Astounding!

Havana Harbour, Efate to Lamen Bay, Epi - 64.8 nm

Unfortunatley, our friends on Tahina had to turn around and go back to Port Vila because of some hardware problems with their boat so we never got a chance to say a proper goodbye, so good bye, we will miss you!! Please keep in touch.

The main reason we wanted to visit Lamen Bay was to see the dugongs that are suppose to be living there. There is one special dugong called Bondas who will let you snorkel and swim with him and even let you rub his tummy. We searched and never saw any dugongs at all. Then we met this one man on the beach, he was an aid worker from the US,who has been living here for two years. He told us that some villagers from the other end of the island were very jealous of all the money that the village was making from Bondas that they went out and killed him!! I was shocked, I just couldn't beleive it. When you look around the village, you can see that they did use to have some tourist shops which are now closed. A cruise ship used to come here just to see the dugong. His friendliness seemed to be his downfall. It is so sad (if it is true).

Lamen Island, Epi to Luganville, Espirito Santo, Vanuatu - 92.9 nm

We had a beautiful overnight sail to Luganville. As each wave crashes into the stern steps, you can see in the phosphorence in each foamy wave, overhead there are a million stars in the sky and I can see the milky way, off to my starboard is the volcanic island of Ambrym 5 miles away and every so often you can see an orange flash where on of the active volcanos is exploding. The wind is perfect, just gently pushing along. A night like this is one to remember until..................

I saw a boat approaching, heading directly our way, normally this isn't a problem as before it becomes one, the boat will change course but this one wasn't budging. I woke Chris up and we tried calling them on the radio, they never answered, after three tries, we turned on all our lights that we could, we got out all the flashlights shined them at the boat, still nothing, we got out our air horn but unfortunatley the cartridge was all out so we had to run around getting a new one out of our emergency gear. Our big spotlight was also out of battery so it was useless. Finally we turned our engines on and started trying to move out of the way, when a miracle happened and they must have seen us, and they changed their course. We could see men running around on the deck, I don't know what was going on. I was so relieved that disaster had been averted. However, it was a good reminder for us to have all of our emergency gear ready and in good working order before our next long passage to Australia.

Millenium Cave

This was another one of the coolest things we have done. We organized a cab to pick us up at 8:30 a.m. it was a one hour drive along a bumpy dirt road to a village. We then walked for 45 minutes until we came to a second village. This village owns the cave and has set up a whole day tour. Once we were shown the plan for the day, we met our guide - Bob. We started along the muddiest path I have ever walked on in my life slipping and sliding along and down, down down, across bamboo bridges and down very steep ladders. We stopped at a special spot and had red clay applied to our face, this is out of respect for the cave.

Then we reaced the millenium cave. This massive cave stretches 20m across and some 50m high. From here we got our our flashlights for a journey through a magical realm of sparkling stalactites and stalagmites, with fresh water pools and thousands of tiny bats and swallows, their homes made high up in the roof of the cave.

Once we made our way through the cave to the riverside, we had our lunch then we floated down the fresh river towards home. Whilst floating down the shallow quick flowing river, the breathtaking scenery with it’s thermal fall’s and towering rock faces was incredible. The tour finished with the walk back up to the village where the tour started.