Moe catches supper

Dick and Irene Craig
Fri 9 Jul 2010 23:51
We left Musket Cove marina after Jeannius and before Lisa to ensure that the anchors didn't get fouled, the reverse order that we had entered the marina. We made our way to the start line and at 11am, following the signal, leg 10 commenced.
I managed to get the galley fridge defrosted, starting the procedure soon after rising. It isn't possible to do this when we are in port as the fridge in the cockpit is filled with beers and other drinks leaving me nowhere cool to put the produce, while defrosting the other fridge..
The first hour and a half was fine as we sailed under main and genoa on a broad reach. Suddenly, all hell let loose as the wind and sea both increased substantially. A deluge of water poured into the boat from open hatches, soaking the sofa and floor in the salon. By the time we had mopped up the mess and left the cushions to dry, we were all feeling seasick. I was already on my knees in the galley, transferring the provisions from the cockpit fridge back to the defrosted fridge when the disaster occurred..
We had rolls for lunch but no-one was really hungry. After preparing the rolls I forewent lunch and took to my bed, staying there until it was time for me to cook supper. We had fish pie but the take-up was not good. The remainder went into the freezer and I went back to bed.
Sometime during the early hours of the morning, the sea and wind reduced and we all started to feel better though none of us had slept particularly well.
During the day we sailed at an acceptable speed and with winds of around 11 knots anticipated reaching Tanna, Vanuatu around 6pm on Tuesday evening. We took the first of our anti-malaria pills Around 2am the wind had reduced to such an extent we switched on the engine. Had we continued to sail we would have been on a close reach. Wind from this direction is most unusual for this time of the year. We should have following trade winds. Apparently there is a big depression south and this has altered the state of the weather that we are experiencing.
Next morning, still running with the engine, the wind fluctuated between force 1 and force 3. The sea was smooth. Soon after noon a squall hit and thereafter we had strong winds on a close haul with increasing seas. As we sailed towards Tanna, we crashed through the waves, though managed to deflect the discomfort somewhat by steering a little off course.
This was how conditions remained until we reached our destination during the afternoon on Tuesday 6th July. None of us had managed to get much sleep, the noise, as we progressed through the waves, was too invasive.
The starboard engine, which ceased to work in reverse soon after leaving Musket cove, wouldn't go into neutral as we attempted to anchor and we couldn't use the controls below because they had also decided to mutiny making it impossible to switch the steering from the fly-bridge.
Dick spent all of the first morning sorting out the problems with the engines, a most awkward task, being stuck in a tiny engine room, with the temperature around 29ª/30ª.
It has been interesting to monitor how the heat has gradually reduced such that it is necessary to wear a light jacket or cardigan in the evening when outside. We are also all using a top sheet at night now.
Whereas I have had to go to enormous lengths to ensure that the fruit and vegetables don't become over-ripe, the situation has now reversed and I am suffering a shortage because the bananas, papayas and pineapples are taking so long to ripen.
The time zone has changed again and now we are only eleven hours ahead of GMT.
On Thursday 8th July, we went ashore to the village for a gift exchanging ceremony.
The local people performed traditional dances for us and sang with such naturally melodic voices. We were each given a garland and a hat, woven by the villagers.
The first gift from the villagers was a large cutting of kava and a carved wooden staff followed by woven bag after bag, each full of fruit. These bags are the local, ecological version of plastic carrier bags and were accompanied by twizzel sticks made up of gaily colored feathers and raffia style bags of all types, from slim shoulder bags and bucket bags to shopping bags and small purse-like bags.
The WARC contingent responded by providing kava roots and an amazing assortment of items from hammers, nails and saws, fuel oil, clothes, fishing line, eye glasses, cutlery and dozens more things, too plentiful to be named individually.
During the afternoon, the local women were available to show any WARC participant who had an interest, how to make plates and hats etc. from palm leaves.
Dick and I went on a trip to Custom village where we were able to watch local men and boys, clothed only in a raffia brush to cover the penis, perform traditional dances. The youngest dancer could not have been more than three years old.
The performers trooped via an archway through the middle of a gigantic banyan tree, onto the dirt floor of the area on which they were to perform. We were told later by one of the performers whose small son also participated, that the tree through which they had appeared was a male tree and the banyan tree opposite which was much smaller was a female tree as was a third tree, to the side of the area, halfway between the other two trees.
After the dancing, the man playing the pan pipes climbed half way up the male banyan tree and made music while another man made fire by rubbing two sticks together.The whole experience was quite magical.
We proceeded on from here in the four-wheel drive truck. The roads were so ravished by heavy rain that it was incredible that even a four-wheel drive vehicle could travel them. The ruts, many in the middle of the dirt roads, were as much a 200cm deep and some over a metre wide. The drivers were extremely skilful.
Suddenly, from the tropical rain forest we entered a desert of ash, rocks and boulders. We had arrived at the volcano. Leaving the truck we climbed up to the edge of the precipice and looked down, jumping as the first explosion took us by surprise. Clouds of smoke billowed from below then, resembling a firework display, molten rock was thrown into the air.
It had been dark for quite some time before we left the ash desert and the truck retraced its steps, back along the dirt road to beat all dirt roads, to the village where a feast had been prepared for WARC participants to eat with the villagers.
Meanwhile, as we were making our way back from the trip, Oisin and Moe went along to join other men drinking kava. This is a man only thing. The kava root is chewed to soften it and then wrapped in a soft cloth over which water is poured. The resulting intoxicating liquor is then consumed. Although the effect of the drink is similar to that of alcohol, it is not an alcoholic drink.
Two mornings we were woken around 5.30am by the sound of wind instruments which were also played later in the day, not tunefully. As the circumcision ceremonies are held throughout July and August we wondered if the two were connected.

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