Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Maskelyne Islands

Latitude: South 16 degrees 32.07 minutes
Longitude: East 167 degrees 46.18 minutes

We tore ourselves away from the tranquility of Port Sandwich to continue our exploration of Vanuatu. Port Sandwich was just too easy to drop the hook and stay. With fresh bread available, fresh water showers at the Rainbow Store and laundry water – along with the calm anchorage and friendly people – it is a place you can get too comfortable!
Our week there kept us out of a nasty storm that put one boat up on the rocks in a nearby anchorage and had everyone worried about the 30 plus knots of wind. We saw a lot of lightning and experienced winds in the low 20s, but the anchorage remained calm. We managed to collect a lot of water. We also were glad we took our long trek on the island the day before the storm hit as the paths would have been impossible in the mud following the heavy rains. We took a long walk with our friends from "Lady Nada." We hiked up to the ridge and walked across it – rewarded with incredible views. We trekked to Lamap village (stopping for an ice cream!) and then back to Port Sandwich. We were all quite tuckered out – but felt good about the hike.

Today, Wednesday, we finally pulled up the well stuck anchor and headed around the bend to a group of islands called the Maskelyne Islands. They are just off the southern side of Malakula – bordered on one side by that island. Making our way through the chain of small islands and islets was very pretty – with smaller islands within a surrounding reef. The reef gives the island group a lot of protection from any big seas. Like almost everything around here, Captain James Cook named these islands the Meskalines and there is a Cook Bay located here as well. The slight change in spelling came later.

We settled into an anchorage near Awei Island on one side and Malakula on the other. Just in front of us is the open sea with a large reef protecting us from the swells. The good news is we get a great breeze (good for the wind generator, comfort and no mossies!). There is no village here – so we feel like we are in our own little bit of paradise. The trees on Awei (and a fw on Malakula) are filled with "warm-blooded fruit." Those would be the flying foxes – the large fruit bats that are in the area. We expect a magnificent show at sunset tonight as they all take off from their branches – especially as the moon is getting full and should provide an additional eerie element!

The water is also very clear, so this will be a good place to clean the bottom after Port Sandwich and just get in the water to enjoy the nearby snorkeling. Plus, when we go ashore – we'll look for "magic sea rocks." If we find any – you'll hear the story about Vanuatu Magic Rocks.

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