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- Vanuatu -
sailing in the New Hebrides

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Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides, and known before that as The Cannibal Islands, is now an international offshore business haven with discreet company formation and banking services. Along with these business facilities, it has wonderful French cafes and French supermarkets - all in Port Vila. Outside this quite small city, most of Vanuatu lives pretty close to the Stone Age.


The anthropophagous approach to cuisine - better known as cannibalism - was
perfectly common throughout all the Pacific islands until the missionaries ended it.
(It seems that the missionaries' quite impressive fast success in the region was
largely due to "buying" the chiefs and having them command a new religious allegiance.
But quite a number of them landed "in the pot" before their successes were achieved.)
Most modern literature is of the opinion that the anthropophagous persuasion has disappeared,
with its most recent practice in the '60's in places like Papua New Guinea or maybe even Vanuatu.
But there are rumors of unknown reliability that cannibalism persists in some diminished forms
- the eating of the thumbs only, of strangers only, for example - in some of the most remote areas.
This kind of thing, it is claimed, might occur in Vanuatu, Papua, or in a few other remote areas.
Totally unsubstantiated, so far as we know.


Whatever might be going on in the business offices - or the remote villages -
Vanuatu IS a spectacularly beautiful island nation of natural treasures and
friendly people living close to each other and to the Earth.

Check out the fantastic cascading series of waterfalls in Mele, for example.
They are just a few kilometers outside Port Vila -
some of the best waterfalls anywhere, and absolutely not to be missed.


Jack and Chrissi walking in the bush on the way to the Mele falls. It's a beautiful walk to the falls through the bush which is loaded with fruit trees.



Havannah Harbor is around 25 miles from Port Vila on Vanuatu's main island of Efate.
It has a number of good and varied anchorages along with several friendly villages.
The folks in the home-made outrigger canoe in this photo (they are ALL home-made in these parts)
are coming over from their village across the way to tend their gardens.
That's Naga, of course, in the photo too.


"Sapose yu nidim boat - ringim bel."

Get it?
"If you need the boat, ring the bell."

It's Bislama, of course, a form of Pidgin English and the official language of Vanuatu. Historically the villages here lived is such extreme isolation from each other they normally did not even share common languages. When these islands became a country, it became a country with, literally, thousands of languages!

The "black birders" (slavers), and missionaries, whalers, and others who interacted with the natives brought in English as a common shared language - and of course it was transformed and became island-ized into its Pidgin form. It was the handiest way to create an official national common language - and so it is today.

Makes sense. Does that ring a bell?


In Havannah Harbor, there's a village on the island across the way,
and this fella needs a boat to get there. He rang. And then he
waited about a half hour. But it all worked - in an island sort of way.


At the extreme north end of Havannah Harbor, villagers were busy cleaning up the beach
and constructing a large palm frond roofed structure, all in the service of tourists they hoped
would come visit them. The canoe is a typical outrigger, locally constructed,
and used for just about all water-borne transportation
- like getting back to the village in the evening.
That's Nguna island, with its extinct volcano, in the distance.



These village women were great at weaving palm fronds for the roofing of their tourist structure - they do it all the time for their homes. But Chrissi had been learning a few weaving tricks they didn't know at all, and some of them might make good items to sell to the village's hoped-for tourists. Here Chrissi is demonstrating to this eager bunch of local women how to create a palm frond hat ("Ten dollars!" I suggested - as a price for the tourists! A huge fortune to these folks). Chrissi's palm frond bird was very popular with everyone too.




Exploring the area with Chrissi in her kayak.


Those outrigger canoes make pretty good "toys" for the kids too!
Pretty nice neighborhood for the kids, no?
And, hey: no crime, no money, no problem.


Port Vila has a good little boatyard with modest prices.
So it was time to do Naga's bottom with a record fast - 8 day - haulout. Coming out of the water on a pretty clever and solid railway device.




 And a huge treat!

We finally met, after years of close calls but never meeting, John and Fran from Naga's sister ship Ninth Charm!

It was an absolutely charmed encounter, and I am certain that we will remain friends forever. And I'm sure we will meet again in ports further along the way.

Here they are - not even making faces! - in Naga's cockpit in the boatyard in Port Vila.

John and Fran have their own Ninth Charm website with lots of excellent stuff about their voyaging, experience, etc.


And THIS of course: is Naga (on the left) and Ninth Charm rafted together by Vanuatu's Mele island.
It took years of near-misses and many thousands of miles for this special event to happen!
Both boats are Dick Newick "Native" designs. Naga is wood/epoxy and Ninth Charm is foam/epoxy.
Naga is a conventional cutter rig and 9C is a wing-masted fractional sloop.
So similar, but they were so very different too.
Thanks for sailing up from Oz, you guys, and meeting us in Vanuatu!


After Vanuatu?
South Pacific Cyclone Season was on us again, and it was time to move.
Off we went to Lifou in French New Caledonia!


Enjoy a lot more of Vanuatu with some good books.
Some of them would make a great gift:



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