Monday, November 17, 2014

Exploring Epi and A Small World

We anchored here for a night before moving further into
Havannah Harbor. It was a little rolly from the swells.
Now it is time to leave the lovely town of Port Vila (we will be back later to explore it) and head out to the outer islands. We will focus on the islands in the north central region of Vanuatu as we will be visiting Tanna with the World ARC next year. We are fortunate to have more time to explore the rest of this island group.
We spent two days in lovely Havannah Harbor on the northwest
site of Efate on our way up the island chain. Very peaceful!
We have been sailing with Joyce and John on S/V Starblazer, a Hallberg-Rassy 42. We look like big sister and little sister sailing along and at anchorages. We timed our departure from Port Vila to reach a section of rough water at Devil's Point during slack tide for a more comfortable and shorter trip. We headed up the west side of Efate with a goal of making a southern anchorage in Havannah Harbor before sunset and the threatening rain. Mission accomplished!

Little ones playing on the beach - totally unattended. And
you should see the machetes the kids carry and use!
The rainy night made for good reading time. Dennis is refreshing his German language skills so he spends a lot of time with a headset on and the computer. Some nights we play a card game known as Hand and Foot. I am lucky when I can win - usually because he makes a mistake or isn't really engaged in the game! Sometimes I think he plays just to appease me. We learned this game and played regularlay  with our friends from Michigan/Arizona/SV Revello. (We do miss you, D and B.) Usually it was the guys against the gals and it was a battle for victory!
The village on Lamen Bay, Epi, Vanuatu
With the threat of high winds and more rain, we moved up further into Havannah Harbor, which is a very peaceful and lovely anchorage. Just before weighing anchor, we heard a voice calling "Trillium" and found a New Zealand fisherman wanting to give us several kilos of MahiMahi. He is a commercial fisherman, but loves to watch his wife have fun catching fish when vacationing so they share with the villages and other cruisers. It was cleaned, skinned and filleted! What more could you want!
The beach near the airstrip on Epi at Lamen Bay. Good
snorkeling off the end of the runway (grass strip!).

After sitting out the rain in Havannah Harbor, Efate, we headed to the island of Epi and Lamen Bay. We were told there were many sea turtles and a dugong (sea cow) living here. And that you can swim with them! Why not? We were greeted by turtles upon arrival in the bay, but didn't see any others and did not get to swim with them or the dugong.
Typical village structures
Local mode of transportation. I can't believe how many people
they load into a single canoe. Good that they have outriggers!

We went ashore to explore the village on Epi. After asking permission to walk around, we saw villagers working on projects, returning from their gardens with produce and children playing on the beach. The older children were in school. There is a boarding school for the high schoolers who come from other islands. Chickens and pigs roam freely around the houses.

Tasso runs the Paradise Sunset Bungalow
resort and arranged a trip to Lamen Island
for a village tour and snorkeling for us.
We chatted with some men from Lamen Island who have come over to their garden plots on the big island. They do this each day and return with the day's harvest - and that's what they have for dinner! Some come in dugout canoes and others have motored skiffs and charge passengers for the ride across the bay. We failed to ask if we could buy any produce from them. And they did not seem to offer or look for a trade of any type.  Apparently, one of the gardens has yielded over 2000 kilos of watermelon which are sent to the markets in Port Vila. Not only does that sound like a lot of work, think of hand carrying these melons down from the garden to the shore just to get them started off to market.

School girls - a little shy, but cheerful!

Harvesting breadfruit from the tree.
It seemed to be a community event!
They poke at the fruitwith a bamboo
 pole and it comes crashing down!
We enjoyed watching one of the men "harvest" breadfruit from a tree in the village. Using a long bamboo pole, he jabbed at the fruit until it broke loose from the tree and dropped to the ground with a "thug" sounding like a bruiser to me. I guess that is how you do it when there is no ladder or cherry-picker available.!

We did make arrangements to take a skiff across the bay for a village tour and snorkeling on Lamen Island. On the way back to the boat, we met several others on yachts. It was decided that sundowners would be at 5:00 on S/V Starblazer.

Then once back in the boat another yacht crew dinghied up and wanted to chat with Americans. They were from Washington State. I told them that Brad and Linda, the couple on S/V Lark, were from Port Townsend, WA so Robin and Mark went over to see them. As it turned out, they knew each other as they lived close. AND, just to show how small the world really is, Linda had done a landscape plan for one of the cottages at Pointe aux Barques, MI! Now with only 18 residents and a total of 68 houses, how could it be that we knew the same people! It's a small world after all! (Now don't start singing!)

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