A day at the races and other good times.

Southern Princess
John & Irene Hunt
Mon 14 Jul 2008 22:49
17:44S 168:19E
Before I get into more detail have a look at our latest grandchild, isn't he beautiful? Guess it only means something to sloppy grandparents!
Copper, 364 days old 30th June 2008
Arrived Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu at 08:30 local time after a right nasty trip. Three days of awkward seas, swell from the south and a breaking wind wave from the ESE. A lumpy sick making sea. During the last 36 hours we only had about 1/3rd of the main set and only 1/3rd of the genoa. At times the wind was blowing 40 knots and just prior to this reefing configuration the boat was doing 12.5 knots, way too fast in that kind of weather.
As will happen the wind backed in the wrong direction and slowly we were being force southwards towards Erromango. Around midnight we gybed which entailed rolling up the poled out headsail and after gybing, we left it rolled up and sailed into Port Vila under the well reefed mainsail and still managed to average 7 knots. Wind anywhere from 25 to 35 knots.
Not a trip I want to do again!
Port Vila has changed quite a bit since 2001. New Sebel Hotel on the water front, some new stores and up market liquor stores. A new wine shop attracted my attention and while wandering around noticed a crate of Penfolds Grange Hermitage (claimed to be Australia's finest wine) at the equivalent of A$280 a bottle. Not something I would of thought available in a third world country! The local Bon Marche super market has a great range of French wine from A$13 a bottle so we will be able to stock up for the 6 weeks we are here. We are off tomorrow for a trip around the island; more later.
Attended the local hospital for finger x-ray today and everything is OK. No cracks or fractures. The local medical centre is 100 metres away and they cleaned the wounds up and re dressed so just have to keep them dry and wait for them the heal. I am very lucky considering. Dropped off a bottle of Moet to Williwaw as a thankyou; they did great work.
The highlight of the trip around the island was a visit to a traditional village. They scared the heck out of us as we were walking in through the dense jungle by sneaking right up to us and letting out a blood curdling yell. The head man led us through a demonstration of the traditional crafts from which they managed to live day to day. A spider wove lots of silk which they then used as a fishing lure. A mutually reliant relationship where the natives fed the spider who kept spinning webs for fishing.
Saturday was spent at the races. Friday night was a huge Calcutta hosted by the local Kiwanis Club as is the entire Vila Race Week. International stewards and a well known race caller from Queensland. We missed it but on Thursday night there was a black tie ball. Quite the social week. Be worth getting a group together and flying up for the week. Have to book early as all the hotels were full!
Lovely fellow isn't he? Not poisonous and the web gets rolled into a string for fishing.
Fierce looking buggers. The guy on the right has a traditional mobile phone carrier around his neck!
The kids were adorable and really got into the act. The guy of the right has just walked across very hot rocks in his bare feet.
Moet at 10:00 prior to the first race. Only A$45 a bottle - to good to go past. The latest in Moet neck wear.
To the left Tony Black, John Gilder, Sue Donovan, Rigel Bricken, Irene & Annette Black.
The locals had a great day out. The kids were very obliging. These guys wanted a grandstand view & they got it. Car looked a bit the worse for wear.
Crowd was very well behaved and all smiles.                                     These kids were having a ball and a great view.
The local ladies were not going to let a race day go by with out a fashion statement. I only had to ask and they were only to happy to pose.
They also had a men's fashion parade.            And the sheriff made a fashion statement.
 To the left some finalists in the 'Young Fashion Parade' and to the right a lady as colourful as the locals (well nearly so)
The ladies to the right are wearing traditional mother hubbard dresses and to the left, modern Ni Vanuatu.
Just love the colours. The day was a riot of colour.                        Just one of the many happy faces in the crowd.
The boys in the band.                                                            Cool hair cut.
Another face in the crowd                        and                            the winner of the ladies fashion parade.
The faces are terrific.                                                    The end of a great day!