Posts

Showing posts from September, 2017

Sola

Image
After two days of rest in Lusalava, Gaua, and as the stinging and aches subsided after Dina’s failed waterfall hike, we sailed about 4 hours to Sola, on Vanua Lava. Sola is the capital of the northernmost province of Vanuatu, Torba Province, consisting of the Banks and the Torres Islands. Ashore we found a small variety of stores and a “Yacht Club” that was also a guesthouse.

The locals were friendly and assured us that the saltwater crocodiles were further north and rarely ventured out of the river. These crocodiles were said to have either been introduced in the last century by Bishop Patterson – although it is unclear what purpose the Bishop thought the crocodiles could serve to the people of Vanua Lava – or there is belief the crocodiles swam to Vanuatu from the Solomon Islands after getting lost during a cyclone.

We were told there was a weekly Friday market, the next day, and we saw flyers about a school fundraiser that included food, dancing and music on Saturday. The Friday ma…

Lost in the jungle

Image
We anchored next in Lusalava, on the north side of the island of Gaua. We had been told that from this bay there was an easy walk to a stunning waterfall. Visiting onshore, Dina asked many locals and everyone agreed the waterfall was an easy 2-hour walk. So the next day at 9 AM, Dina and Chuck, from SV Free Spirit, set off for a leisurely walk to a reportedly stunning waterfall.
As they walked through the village, people pointed them in the direction of the walk, all saying the waterfall is easy to reach. Dina asked a few people about an informal guide, perhaps a young person who could accompany them. On the outskirts of the main village, a man suggested his son and friend, Eric and Sos, both around 19 years old, could show them the way.
Soon Chuck and Dina were following these kind young men through fairly rough forest. They had turned off the main road and seemed to be following an animal trail. Soon they were in a thick jungle. After stopping to drink fresh coconut milk, the boys…

Gaua - start of the Banks Group of Island

Image
Our next destination was the Banks Group of islands. This group is even more isolated than the rest of Vanuatu, partially due to the extra distance. The southernmost island, Gaua, is 25nm north of Espiritu Santo. This is too far for most of the locals, and most cruisers don’t bother making the crossing so they turn south after Espiritu Santo.

In order to arrive at Gaua before dark, we made a 05:30 departure from Port Orly on the northern end of Espiritu Santo. The forecast was supposed to be a downwind sail, but it turned out to be 3 hours of motoring, then 6 hours of sailing upwind. Most of the 6 hours was spent hand steering because the little CPT Auto-pilot didn’t deal well with the big swells. It just cannot anticipate as well as we can. Our friends on Free Spirit were about 1 hour behind us the whole way.

We anchored in Lacona on the SW side of Gaua, where there is a lovely black sand beach we’d have to explore the next day. The morning mist looked lovely in the jungle green moun…

Back on Espiritu Santo

Image
Without much wind, we motor-sailed back west to Oyster Bay, back on Espiritu Santo Island, about 20km north of Luganville. The entrance to Oyster Bay is quite tricky. With some waypoints from “Mr. John” and Malcolm on the bow, Dina made it in, manoeuvring around shallow coral heads, without touching! During the days we were there, other boats were not as lucky.

From Oyster Bay, we dinghied up the river to the Matevulu Blue Hole. It is a nice freshwater blue hole surrounded by banyan trees and grazing cows. The local land owners have added a ladder to the large banyan tree and a rope swing.


Although the Oyster Bay Resort was closed for renovations by the new Chinese owners (Chinese have purchased quite a bit of property in Santo and own many businesses), the Turtle Bay Resort was open. With Lynn and Tom from SV Roxanne, we rented a small car from the resort and drove north to the Loru Conservation Area. While this is described as a bird sanctuary, it was really a nice trek through coco…