On Saturday at noon we left the "big city" of Port Vila and did an overnight passage to south Maluka and the group of small islands known as the Maskelynes about 90 miles away. Port Vila was a great stopover. We did lots of walking around different parts the city to see what was still there after Cyclone Pam. We can report that most of the place is up and running with lots of stores, restaurants and ice cream! We did receive the new in the water paddle/rudder for "Otis" our Hydrovane wind steering system. It arrived on Thursday – taking only a week from England which is pretty darn amazing. Thanks to Hydrovane for standing by their equipment and getting this replacement rudder to us...now we'll put it to the test to see if that was indeed the issue.
We left our mooring ball and motored out of the very narrow cut and then put the sails up and managed to sail all the way to the entrance of the Maskelynes. We did put the new wind steering to the test – and it did manage to steer the boat. We'd say it was better than the past - but we'll wait to make a more definitive report after it gets used more and on different points of sail.
We sneaked between a few breaking waves on the reefs as entered the cut in the Maskelynes. The charts have a range – though not a man-made one but rather a natural line up – but it is a wide enough cut to not create to much stress. We moved around the island of Awei and nestled in front of a large reef between Awei Island and the mainland of South Malakula. We were here last year and loved this spot...so we returned to see how the small village here is doing.
Yesterday afternoon we had a few canoes come by to visit – a few kids who were very shy, but Barbara practiced her Bislama a bit which got them all giggling. Then we had a large sailing canoe with five guys come by – one, George, spoke excellent English but his fellow canoers (Rubin, Peter, )Fred and Awree (?) were quiet and shy. They told us about a "kustom" dance and ceremony on a nearby island.
Another boat also came in this anchorage, Malakai, a large catamaran with an Australian family – with three young girls aboard. The girls came by as well in their bright pink kayaks and said hello and introduced themselves. It was fun to watch the local children in their traditional wooden canoes watching the young girls in their pink plastic kayaks.
We will settle here for at least a few days (perhaps longer) and explore the reef, the beaches, the village (see if we can do anything to help them) and Barbara can study her Bislama. More on that in another entry.
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