Port Sandwich, Malekula

Sun 14 Sep 2014 01:01
10th September 2014


Any port in a storm, and that is exactly what we found here in this shark infested estuary. Rather reminiscent of Loch Lomond especially with the mists rolling in and the bugs. 

We were surprised going ashore (remembering we had only gone 6 miles down the coast) to find the village all spread out, rather tatty and messy with cows, pigs and chickens everywhere, along with plenty flies, and surprise...they were all speaking French.  Bizarre!

This goes back to the joint administration of both France and Britain back in 1900 and the French Catholic and English Protestant missionaries.  The bemused population called the resulting chaotic regime, 'Two Fella Government'. Neither country was particularly interested in ruling these man eating 'savages' but didn't want the other one taking charge. So there were two legal, two education and two health systems so that even today there are French and English speaking communities. They say the French prisons were much worse but the food was better !

On top of this the peoples of Vanuatu have their own languages …all 115 of them.  They agree to communicate in Bislama, a concoction of pidgin that everyone understands: 

So there we are asking for the boulagerie and requiring a parapluie as it was bucketing down. Levi's Stores sounded promising but the cargo boat was sadly overdue and all it had was soy sauce and some Magi Noodles. The houses were more 'sophisticated' than our lovely village in Banham Bay, constructed with breeze blocks and corrugated iron. In the 'kastom' traditional villages cyclones flatten their pandanus leaf homes but they can easily be re-woven and thatched…a fresh eco house. Corrugated iron just rusts, is noisy when it rains and baking in the sun. 

Harry checked Hebe's rig and found a stay, supporting the mast, was splitting and needed replacing. 

We had to get to the capital Port Vila on the island of Efate, with as little stress to the rig as possible. 

After a few days a small weather window appeared and we set off to motor overnight south to Port Vila. I made a strange pasta concoction with cabbage to keep us going (bad idea, gives you wind-Ed) and we headed out into a very lumpy sea (icky -Ed) facing a head wind. Poor Hebe slammed and complained all the way down and none of us got any sleep, but she made it and here we are now anchored peacefully in Port Vila……the 'gastronomic hub of the South Pacific' (tell that to the marines-Ed) 

This one didn't make it…….

Cleaning our teeth on arrival we all went YUCK PUKE….salt water had contaminated our fresh water tank ! Hebe has a clever water harvesting system, you switch a lever and when it buckets with rain you can fill your tank. Only trouble is you have to remember to shut it off before going to sea…..especially when the waves are crashing across the decks…ooooops. Luckily Port Vila has a fuel dock and nice hose pipe.