We entered the east channel into the Maskelyne Islands, which are a small set of islands at the southeast tip of Malakula. Our timing was a bit off, so we entered the narrow channel while the tide was still ebbing. At one point we were down to a crawl because of the current going against us, but the good news was that entering at low tide allowed us to see the shoaling reefs on both sides of the channel. Once we were through the entrance, the water calmed down, and we continued through the channel until we arrived at a lovely little bay at Awei Island. Scarlett O'Hara was there to welcome us, as were several locals in their outrigger canoes.
We spent that afternoon meeting most of the locals who were out fishing in the small bay. A woman named Mata asked for fish hooks, which Steve gave her. Later in the afternoon, a family with two young boys in a sailing outrigger came by. Their sail was torn so Steve handed them some needles and sail twine so that they could sew up the tear. The man asked us to come to the island to visit his village on Awei Island the next afternoon, and we said that we would.
The next morning Steve left with John in the dinghy to go to Avokh Island to help fix a generator. It turned out that there were three generators, of which they got two running. While they were gone, a man came over to the boat in a fiberglass outrigger and introduced himself as a chief. He asked me if I had matches so that he and his men could cook their lunch on shore. I gave him a pack of matches, and he offered me fruit in exchange; however, I thanked him and said that we had plenty of fruit.
When Steve and John returned from the village, Steve was carrying about six more pomplemousse--the village had give them to the guys for fixing the generators. The next time you see us, we will both have turned into pomplemousses, and we are certainly getting 1000 percent of our daily Vitamin C requirements. Steve told me that the people in the village were extremely poor. The generators were not to provide lighting or anything else, they were to power the DVD player. We wondered where they came up with a DVD player.
The next day the clouds set in and it rained, which it has been doing most of the time since we left Port Vila. Because of the rain, we were not able to go to the village on Awei to visit the family so we stayed on board, and I did some laundry and hung it inside to dry.
We left the next morning with Scarlett to move north and anchored for the night in Gaspard Bay, which was not as protected but turned out to be a good anchorage anyway. We did see a dugong in the water so it was worth the location just for that. Just after our boats were anchored, the rain set in again for the whole afternoon and evening. At least the boat is nice and clean, and we were able to put some rainwater in the water tank.
On May 16 we left Gaspard Bay and headed out the northeast channel only this time we were riding the ebb tide out and making very good time. The wind was blowing enough to fill the sails, but we still motored so that we could charge our batteries. There has been very little sun, and these protected anchorages reduce the wind for the wind generator, so our batteries had gotten low.
We enjoyed a nice trip up the southeast side of Matakula Island and then turned into Port Sandwich. Captain Cook landed there when he was in Vanuatu. It is a very deep bay that is well protected. We spent two nights anchored there and went into the village at Lamap one day to find some bread. We got a ride into the village in the back of a pickup and then walked back to the anchorage, which was about a 40-minute walk. Lamap was a nice and clean village, and the people were all very friendly. They would walk up and introduce themselves--and give us pomplemousse!
Today we left around 10 o'clock and went only 10 miles north to Bangon Bay. We anchored over nice sand, fixed some lunch, and then relaxed. Around 2 o'clock a call came over the radio from sv September. Gabriele and Hans had caught up with us and are now anchored next to us. It is always nice to meet up with cruisers again along the way--sometimes it is soon and sometimes it takes months or even years, but it is always a treat.
Tomorrow we cross over to Ambrym Island. All is well aboard sv Linda.
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