Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Time to Say Goodbye to Tanna

The weather has cleared so it is time to set sail toward Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu. It is a two day sail and we will stop at Dillon’s Bay on Erromango along the way for a night of sleep. Then we will leave late afternoon and sail overnight, arriving in Port Vila in daylight hours. This is not a place to enter in the dark. Like all of the islands, the reefs are treacherous and one does not want to visit a reef in a yacht!

Before leaving Tanna, Dennis made an early morning trip ashore to give some things to a couple of the men we met. Patrick was in need of some tools and gasoline (petrol) for his weed-whacker. Dennis doesn’t really believe that the thing worked based on what he saw, but we got the fuel to him.

Stanley's family
Also, Stanley, the yachties liaison, privately asked me for help for his family. He has a wife and three children; the littlest is about a year old. His concern is that he cannot find enough food to get them through the next few months until the yams and taro are ready for harvest in November. He has no land on which to garden. Apparently the land is owned by one chief and he decides who can use it. Stanley used to have a garden plot, but now the chief is using it for his own clan. Without a garden plot, there is nowhere to grow food. Many people here are hungry, but at least, they have good well water.

The government and international aid has come to an end since it has been three months after the cyclone. Stanley said a large bag of rice which feeds his family for one month is 4800 Vatu ($48 USD). He has no way to earn that kind of money for rice. He and his sisters live in small village within the community and they are in the same situation.

I have emailed a request for rice, powdered milk and canned meats in self-opening tins to the ICA Pacific Circuit Rally boats hoping they can buy some of these things in Fiji and deliver them to Stanley’s clan. He seemed embarrassed to ask, but the desperation showed on his face. He brought his family to the yacht club so we could meet them. We offered to reimburse anyone who needs it if they will just get it to the family.

I packed up all of the self-opening cans of meat, powdered milk and rice I had on board and Dennis made it part of his early morning delivery to shore.    Just to make sure I wouldn’t offend him, I had asked Stanley if he would accept the fresh food gifts we had been given at the Welcoming Ceremony and Gift Exchange. Again, Stanley seemed somewhat embarrassed accepting a gift without having something to give us, but he accepted it. I feel better knowing it is being used where needed instead of me trying to figure out what to do with it all.

Dillion's Bay, Erromango
Mount Yasur was still coughing and spewing black smoke into the air as we sailed away from Tanna.  It was a sunny day with fresh winds off the starboard quarter so we moved along at 6-7 knots for 50+ nautical miles, reaching Dillion’s Bay, Erromango, Vanuatu just in time for watch the sun set and catch green flash Number 18!

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