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Date: 16 Oct 2012 00:50:40
Title: Turtle on the menu :(

Lat 15:31.31S
Lon 167:09.97E

The last few days have been pretty cruisy, and we have basically been slowly making our way up to Espirito Santo - the last island in Vanuatu before we depart for Australia!

We dropped Jem and Ewan at Craigs Cove on Ambrym to catch their tiny plane back to Port Villa and on to Sydney. We saw some dolphins in the bay just before they were about to leave so Jem and Archie jumped in for a quick swim. The dolphins were cautious but this time did not flee and a couple of them got within a few metres. I was jealous that I didn't go too!

Jem swimming with dolphins!

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After saying our goodbyes, we headed off to Malecula, another island to the west of Ambrym. On the way we saw Jem and Ewan's plane overhead and I was waving madly but I'm not sure if they saw us! Malecula doesn't really have that much to offer in terms of entertainment, but Archie wanted to try and see one of the famous "massive man eating sharks" that supposedly hang out at Port Sandwich because there is an abattoir there, and they chuck the carcasses into the water, creating a healthy snack for in-the-know tiger sharks. The bay was actually one of the most pleasant and peaceful bays we've seen, and certainly one of the flattest anchorages we've had all trip. It's very sheltered, and the glassy water and sounds of birds signing off for the day meant we slept well. Archie threw some of the remaining inedible Panama chicken into the water to try and lure the big sharks. We've been keeping it as ice packs in the freezer with no intention of eating it so this seemed like a good use! Surprise, surprise there was no sign of anything in this still, beautiful bay, although apparently an 8 year old girl was killed here some years ago.

Yesterday we moved 30 miles up the coast to Port Stanley, and anchored against an island in the mangroves called Uri. A couple of guys from the village came out and invited us to visit the village so we popped over in the dinghy. Unless it is low tide, access from the beach to the village involves walking through shallow water, and along a mini concrete jetty in the mangroves that was funded by the NZ government. The village here seemed a little more affluent than others we have visited - most of the houses had a few layers of breeze blocks acting as foundations. Willy showed us around the village and the friendly locals supplied us with lemons, pumpkin and bananas. In return they were asking for reading glasses, which funnily enough we don't have (!) but we did find a magnifying glass that we've never used so we gave them that so that some of the older women can continue reading! One of the guys was tucking into a strange looking meat. When asked what it was, I was dismayed to find out that they were eating the turtles that we had seen swimming around our boat. They seemed to sense my disapproval and quickly justified it by claiming that there are "many many many" turtles in the bay. I'm pretty sure a turtle wouldn't satisfy my 60% rule. (Only kill and eat something if you can eat or utilise at least 60% of it - created when arguing for saving Coco the Coconut crab!) We tried some and it tasted like pork, but I couldn't face more than the tiniest piece. Willy also mentioned that they have dugongs in the bay so this morning we went on a dinghy safari in search of the elusive creatures. They are still eluding us!

Archie and Willy at Uri village in the mangroves

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Turtle on the menu

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This lady gave us some bananas and then ran after us to give us a pumpkin

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We spent most of today sailing up to Santo, our last island in Vanuatu! We caught another Mahi mahi on the way, which I reeled in for a change (though I still wimped out of gutting it!) It's currently sizzling in the pan for dinner. We are anchored near the town of Luganville which is Vanuatu's second largest town after Port Villa. Again it is much smaller than we imagined. We are planning on staying here for a few days to do some diving on the SS President Coolidge - the world's largest accessible wreck dive, and also at Million Dollar Point where the yanks dropped tanks, bulldozers, jeeps and all sorts of other machinery into the water at the end of WWII. We are also planning on exploring the east coast of this island so it will probably be a couple of weeks before we're ready to leave Vanuatu. We are loving it here and it rates very highly on the trip list in terms of the experiences we've had here.

Reeling in tonight's dinner, another Mahi mahi. The guns are coming along nicely!

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