Friday, September 25, 2015

From Asanvari to Port Vila

After the uncomfortable 22 mile sail down the coast of Maewo we enjoyed several days in Asanvari and hiked another waterfall. Michael chose not to dive off this one – though if he had seen the right spot he might have!

We went to a small festival - the first for Asanvari and included both the north and southern villages of Maewo. The fun part was that several of the friends we had made at "Big Waters", the northern part of Maewo, came down for the festival and the following days soccer matches. We saw a few kastam dances and a weaving and cooking demonstration. But the festival was very "island time!" It was supposed to start at 8, then 9, then 10, then 11....and it actually got under way around 1 pm! They were waiting for some people from one of the tourist ministries to see the festival so they could get on the official calendar list for the following year. The dances at each of these places are quite interesting as they are all very distinct. That makes it so interesting. The dances we saw here were a male warrior dance which had people coming out of the bush on opposite sides two at a time – and doing a dance then ended with a "sword" battle amongst all the dancers – this was with wooden swords and was fascinating to watch – very choreographed. The dance ended with "peacemaking" and all the warriors facing one way and threw their swords into the hills. The next dance, which was by our friends from the northern part, had elaborate costumes. The dancers came out in a large group with very tall branches so it almost look like a forest coming out to dance. The "trees" then did a very interesting dance. The fun part of some of these dances is that the audience often jumps up and joins in the dance. That happened here. The final dance was not really a kastam dance – but a more modern routine by some young women and bamboo sticks that they banged together and with each other. It was quite well done.

There are pictures of this festival up already.

After an enjoyable time in Asanvari with fresh warm bread delivered by canoe – we took off at daybreak and headed south in what we hoped would be a better trip. It was a 160 mile trip and we presumed we'd have to do some tacks. We had a great sail down the coast of Pentecost, holding our course pretty well and hitting good speeds. It was pretty comfortable even though we were hard on the wind because we had some protection from any big seas thanks to the long and narrow Pentecost Island. As we neared the end of Pentecost we had to fall off a bit to clear Ambrym Island (which is right in the way to get to Efate!) We did have to turn the motor on for an hour through here because it seemed the wind was wrapping around the Ambrym point. Luckily it was still daylight because we made such good time. We then continued on the other side in more open seas once past Epi Island and over the night we got on and off our course line because of wind changes. But in the end, we had a great sail the entire way – only motoring when the wind died because we got in the lee of Efate.

We made our way into Port Vila around lunch time and got a mooring. It was a very good trip south which in Vanuatu can be a challenge. We are enjoying city time as we wait for a weather window to New Caledonia. They seem to open and close with regularity. We only need about three days – but we need a more easterly wind than southeast which is the prevailing trades. Because the engine still is losing fresh cooling water we want to sail and not motor. There was a light motoring window this week – but we passed on it. Michael also had to fix the water pump on the main engine which he got repaired because he had spare parts!

So we now wait – but we still have several weeks on our immigration – so hopefully in that time we'll get a three day window.
At 9/18/2015 8:28 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 17°44.75'S 168°18.73'E

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