|Port Vila, Vanuatu, Nov. 2006|
|We were originally heading for the island of Tanna, where there is an active volcano, because of the conditions it was more comfy to head to Port Vila. Two days out, the generator decided not to start. Our alternators were not working as well. This meant we had no way to charge our batteries, cool down the fridge etc. We started the engine, because if the batteries could not charge then we may not be able to start it later. We turned off all electronics we could to save energy.|
|We set sail again, leaving Musket Cove in Fiji for Port Vila, Vanuatu. This will be Grandpa's first ocean voyage on a sail boat. Grandpa is Emma's dad, Dr. Edward Byrne-Quinn, from Tucson, AZ. Jim was excited to have him on board, as we could now fly the "Doctor on Board" Flags. Our crossing, unfortunately was typical for what we have seen, uncomfortable seas, about 3 meters coming from the wrong direction. It was cloudy the whole way, however, did not rain. The third day out I think Grandpa had just about had it, then it finally got a little better for the remainder of the trip. Top right is Blue Sky coming into the mooring field at Port Vila, we had to cross a shallow reef to get there, but made it safely.
It rained everyday in Port Vila, but that didn't stop us going to the pool everyday around 3pm. Team Sandpiper was with us as well
|The autopilot stayed on, but we had the GPS off and all lights. Needless to say we made it and had enough juice in the batteries to drop the anchor with the windlass to check-in to Vanuatu and haul it up again to get on a mooring. After arriving we set to the project of finding out what was wrong with the generator, we replaced the fuel pump, which we had a spare on board, and she started!
Whenever we arrive at port we always try to find a swimming pool. There was a great resort just behind us, with five brand new pools for us to test out. The largest in the South Pacific.
|One of the first nights in town we learned of a Melanesian night in a nearby village. The villagers are from the island of Tanna. When people would arrive at a village they blow a conch shell to warn the villagers if the guests are friends or foes. Thankfully we were friends. The huge spider above greeted us. Drake and Phoebe immediately made friends with the children who took them out in the lovely lagoon on their outrigger. It was a beautiful setting and the people were so warm and friendly. Jim and the kids are looking at the crabs on the rocks, drinking coconut milk.|
|When there is a gathering, the men of the tribe will leave to go and drink Kava. The women of the village are not allowed to drink it. To the left the chief is pouring the Kava, and to the right are the mud pies the kids made. Actually the Kava. Below is Grandpa ready for his turn.|
|Kava is considered a narcotic, and is very strong in Vanuatu. They recommend only one or two cups. The women in our group were allowed to try it. It tastes how it looks, like mud, and immediately numbs your mouth, which lasts about 1/2 an hour. None of us ever felt high or different, maybe we should have had two, if any of us could gag another cup down.|
|The men are doing a traditional dance to greet the visitors to the village. Top right is our dinner, it is cooked in an under ground oven and consists of sweet potatoe, greens and chicken. On the right is our loo, a hole in the ground with wood planks to stand on, they even supplied us with loo paper.|
|Drake is playing with the boys. He was teaching them his sword fighting and light saber moves, and they were teaching Drake how to kick box. It was all very friendly, and wonderful to see the kids conect so easily. They had a wonderful time and a great experience.|
|Grandpa and Phoebe enjoyed dancing with everyone. I found a bag of balloons in my backpack and passed them out for all the kids to play with. We had some friendship bracelets that we made which Phoebe gave to the girls, and some colored pencils. The parents were so appreciative that some one would give their children gifts.|
|Vanuatu was once British and French at the same time. The locals either speak English, French or Pidgen. They are known to have some of the best beef in the world, because of the Europeans who raised the cattle. We enjoyed some fabulous meals in town, and some wonderful French food.|
|On a tour of town our taxi driver took us to the Secret Garden, which had information on the flora, fauna and history of the islands. Each island does their own form of sand drawing, which is very intricate. At the museum a local artist taught the kids, and Phoebe is having a go. The last cannibal convicted was in Vanuatu in 1964. The sign to the left tells us that the best part to eat are the upper arms and legs, the buttocks and the liver and kidneys. The eyeballs were always reserved for the Chiefs.|
|The Fox Bat is a local delicacy, they are amazing to watch fly in the evening, with a wing spam almost as big as an eagle. Phoebe and Steve are getting close to the local snake.|
|The villages would send messages via Tam Tam, which is a verticle drum carving. Phoebe is showing her musical talent on one. They had a great sound. Drake is standing in front of a replica of a chiefs house, and to the right is what the inside would look like.
After the Secret Garden we went to a nice beach for lunch, where the kids were very excited, as they found a nautilus shell. It was another windy and rainy day as usual in Vanuatu.
|We hiked to a the cascade, which is waterfall in French. The sun came out for about an hour, just enough to get hot and humid. The pools were very refreshing to swim in and the kids loved the stairs they carved out in the water.|
|A small ferry took us to a resort called Erakor Island, the beaches were lovely. It was cloudy so the snorkeling was not good. However, you can see how clear the water is and the starfish on the bottom. We had not seen this type before.|
|There were dead trees along the streets of Port Vila, so a local carver has come out and carved all of the wood into amazing pieces of art. Below the ladies are resting in front of the local craft market. The men were all bowling, playing bacchi ball in the driveway.|
|Our local hang out was the Waterfront Bar and Grill. The best food in town. Owned by Donna and her husband, ex cruisers. We donated a Lats and Atts Flag.|
|The dinghy dock is to the left. They also provided showers, which were solar heated. Needless to say we never had a hot one in Vanuatu.
Phoebe, Drake and Grandpa relax on our friends boat Shiraz.
|Dad ordered the coconut crab at a great French restaurant one night. The only place in town that serves it. We met a few other kid boats, with older children, who babysat for us that night. It is always a nice treat.|
|Grandpa went on a one night, two day trip to Tanna Island to see the Volcano. (Or to have a break from us?) If was a quick trip, but he was able to see the volcano during the day and at night.|
|To the right is a huge banyan tree, it was at the local market in Tanna. They are beautiful old trees that are all over Vanuatu.|
|The bedroom in Tanna was very primitive, but had a fantastic view. Grandpa was hoping for a hot shower, to no avail.|
|We made friends with another kid boat, pictured are Phil, Lochlain, Yvonna and Iona. They were the first to inform us that a Cyclone was just forming in the Solomons north of us. We had our briefing BBQ for the Port 2 Port rally to Bundaberg and were going to leave at 4am. Our plans changed. That evening the Cyclone was name Xavier. Whenever a storm gets named, you know it is not good. We watched it for a couple days, it was heading Southeast expecting to turn Southwest, which would mean a direct hit. When local vessels start beaching themselves in front of us, we know to start preparing. The beach before on the left and with five vessels on the right. 15 more showed up.|
|Jim dove in to check the mooring, we attached our line directly to the chain and placed a second one on as well. We took the surf boards and kayaks and stored them ashore, to eliminate as much windage as possible. People were taking all their sails down. We tied all ours down, as they were forecasting up to 40 knots in the anchorage, thankfully we only saw 30. We waited to see if the storm would turn Southwest or not, if it did, we would take our sails down then. A steel sail boat beached itself with the local boats and tied to the mangroves. Well there was nothing left for us to do, but sit and wait, so we went to the Yacht club to watch the World Series! Thankfully the storm never turned. It was one of the earliest recorded Cyclones in history. Cyclone season hasn't even started|