position S18 49.200 E169 00.700

Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Thu 6 Jun 2019 20:24

Tuesday 4th June

A light south eastery breeze carried us slowly and comfortably to Erromango overnight in about 12 hours. 3 yachts awaited in Dillon bay -one of which we recognised as the english new zealanders in the Nicholson.  There was also a nice old classic german ketch flying an EU flag and an italian/brazilian couple in a french flagged yacht (the italian skipper preferred not to fly his french flag).
The introductions made we had a swim off the boat and after lunch landed the dinghy on the beach in front of the yacht club. The yacht club in Tanna was expected as it is mentioned in the cruising guide but here it was a surprise. David had clearly seen Stanleys enterprise and has trumped him with a substantial 2 storey building with lovely garden. The bay isn't quite so picturesque and the beach is stoney but they have a river and David gives village tours. He was already showing the german boat around when we turned up so we had a pleasant time waiting and chatting to Davids wife. The village is quite substantial -around 500 people and has both a high school and a hospital.
The german ketch is chartered with 5 guests and the german skipper and by the time they got back it was too late for another tour but then a chief (there seem to be a few here) offered to show us all his cave with skeletons just a short 10 min dinghy ride around the bay. So we followed the germans in their large dinghy, and the 3 english with chief Jason in quite a large dinghy in our much smaller dinghy thinking a 10 min ride would be O.K for our small petrol tank. Nearly half an hour later we reached a beach worrying about petrol and regretting not  taking our oars which I stupidly hadn't bothered to take for the short ride ashore.
The cave invoved a short climb up the cliff and a tight descent down a newly built ladder into a chamber just big enough to accomodate the 12 of us, and laid out on the floor a couple of piles of bones including a human skull. Jason made a show of asking permission from the spirits to enter and  assured us that his canibal ancestors lived in the cave and left the bones of their vitims scattered around. It isn't an unreasonable assumption- they were canibals and the 1st missionary to arrive in 1800, John Williams, was killed and eaten. A few years ago there was a reconcilliation visit by the Williams family from Canada to make peace with the descendants of their great ^10  grandfathers murderers. A book in the yacht club library documents the visit and the show that the locals put on to re-enact the event. The killing of white people was well justified as the islanders had been horibly persecuted by australians who were after sandalwood.
We almost made it back to boat but the petrol ran out a couple of hundred yards short. Luckily the Nicholson crew saw us hand paddling in the gloom and came and rescued us.