Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Erramango Island (Vanuatu)

 Monday 29th June. Erramango

We made our farewells early in the morning and set sail to Erramango Island, 45 miles to the North west, once again in the company of the Bavaria 42 Haven 111. This was another bouncy ride in the strong trades but fortunately on a broad reach this time with our usual conservative rig of 3 reefs and No4 headsail.

Our arrival at Dillon Bay didn’t go unnoticed and no sooner was the anchor down, we had David in his red canoe alongside inviting us to visit his village.

The village is known as Port William and has a population of 500, of which 300 are children!

The cyclone in March knocked this island around a lot and the scars are everywhere. They are slowly getting back to normal and there is a lot of rebuilding and garden planting happening.
One of the many new gardens with "leafy" vegetables

selecting Tarro for replanting

Ausaid at work

Jason, the chief was very happy to see the donations we were able to leave and spent some time telling about his village. These people were very tough on the early missionaries and a few ended up on the lunch table, but now they have seven different churches to choose from!  David was keen to show us the skull cave at the back of the village but we declined (saw some of these in the Louisiades!)

They are much more advanced here than at Tanna with many huts having solar power with battery banks and mobile phones but they have no idea on how to maintain them so much of the infrastructure doesn’t work. They appreciate the visits they get from passing yachts as many bring in items to make their life a little bit easier, but these visitors have been rare since the cyclone with most yachts bypassing the Southern Islands in favour of a landfall at Port Vila.

David is keen to attract tourists and most of the villages are working towards lifting their profile and providing basic accommodation in the form of guest houses (huts) for future visitors.

David is building a very grand structure which he also calls his “yacht club” and we spent some time with him discussing his plans for the future. A remarkable man, and anyone reading this who is planning to cruise this area should make an effort to call in.

Tuesday 30th June.

We delivered 5 bags of donations to the medical infirmary and school before departing in the late morning. The plan was to sail to the top of the island and overnight in one of the small bays mentioned in the sailing guide, before heading to Port Vila.

However as we sailed north we found the South East swell was wrapping around the Northern part of the island. The anchorage we had selected was basically a narrow partially uncharted fiord and although we had google earth images of the spot we decided there was too much wind and uncertainty so both boats decided to bear away and make a night run to Port Vila as this was a much safer option.
This proved to be a good decision and we had a quick run over the 70 miles to Efate. The anchors went down at about 1.30am 

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