position S17 38.300 E168 12.000
Ocean Rival Journey Log
Adam Power Diana Power
Sat 8 Jun 2019 20:38
Saturday 7th June
A quick last minute provisioning trip 1st thing to pick up eggs and beer, but unpacking the beer box one bottle was broken and not by me. So back to the supermarket for a new box and as the marina office was then open I asked if there might be a shop selling deep cycle batteries. The shortage of volts stored was beginning to annoy us and the Iack of sun since arriving in Port Vila had exacerbated the problem. Try the garage just up the hill was the suggestion and there although as I suspected only selling cranking batteries, he suggested a marine shop out of town. I phoned and they had solar batteries that met the spec for not too much money so I jumped on a minibus and a bottle of beer became a bottle with 2 heavy duty batteries as a side order.
We fuelled and watered at the fuel dock and said hi to the jolly norwegian who just arrived at the dighy dock. He was a bit less jolly after a night sail and grumbled that his electronic chart lacked detail for Port Vila. That reminded me that my chart was equally deficient and to try again to download the chart while wifi was still in reach. This time It seemed to work and we were able to leave with the screen confirming our position in correct relationship with the shore.
There was a brisk 20 knots of SE breeze as we cleared the bay and I didn't bother with the mainsail as the genoa would give adequate knots on its own. I had earmarked a village to visit 20 miles round the coast which the tourist leaflet mentioned briefly in relation to a world heritage site intruigingly marked as a triangle between 2 smaller isands and the main island. The sea was lively to start but gradually eased as we gained shelter rounding the island northwards. We found the offlying islands but were unsure where to find the village of Mangalaliu. In a calm bay I spotted a small fishing boat full to the gunnels with a man and about 6 children and asked if we were near. Yes we had found it so dropped anchor in clear water, the bottom looking free of coral but a little stoney and the shore looking decidedly rocky. The dinghy skipper introduced himself and suggested we follow him in to the shore. The coral was exposed at low tide and finding a channel and then carrying over the coral to the beach would have been impossible without assistance. We helped carry his little aluminium boat back to his house and he introduced his brother Sirri who volunteered to give us the storey of Roy Mata and the reason for the world heritage site. While we listened to the storey his wife was taking dozens of loaves of bread out of the wood fired oven- the smell making our mouths water.
Roy Mata was a chief in the 1600's who succeeded in bringing peace to Efate, spreading throughout Vanuatu. Previously the villages were constantly at war with each other and Roy Mata, who was stolen as a baby by one village from another, was so wise and clever that he was made chief. He sent warriers out, south, east and north and told them to bring chiefs back with a produce from their village. If they came with bananas they were told to join the banana tribe, breadfruit, clams, octopus tribes were formed and all agreed not to fight any more. He made a rule that bananas couldn't marry other bananas so that tribes were intermingled and never tempted to revert to warring. The lineage followed the mothers tribe. The heritage triangle links Roy Mata's village near Mangalaliu with the place where he died (Lelepa island) and the site where he is buried (Hat island) with around 100 others who are believed to have volunteered to be buried with him. A french archeologist had heard the storey (around 1990) and found and excavated the graves. One female skeleton however clearly wasn't so keen as her hands and feet were bound and head raised at an angle of evident protest. Sirri showed us good laminated photos of the excavations.
Sirri showed us round the village (pop 300) which has mains electricity and mostly cyclone proof concrete block bungalows- one or two quite grand. They also have a concrete road linking the village to the round island road paid for with money from the world bank. They have no means of re-paying the loan but it seems that the bank knows that. A competetive game of football was in progress on the school playing field.
We walked a little further round the bay where a couple of smart gites with restaurants are vying for the tourist business. We had a beer on a terrace overlooking the bay at Back to Eden built and run by an Australian couple. They lamented that australians have lost the spirit of adventure, unlike new zealanders who are keener to explore off the beaten track. They chose the spot after their daughter came as a volunteer and married a local man. Lovely fellow they said but couldn't imagine being married to a Nevan - worlds apart from Poms. Their other daughter is visiting and felt the same.
In the dark we picked up our fresh baked bread from the tree that we had hung it for safe keeping and found the dinghy- luckily a pair of returning fishermen helped us back into the water as the tide hadn't quite covered the coral fringe.