Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 31, 2011

Erromango – Vanuatu

26.5.11 – Thursday – We set out at 0600 in order to get to the next island – Erromango – in daylight. The forecast was for an unusual north wind less than 10 knots strong, but the reality was closer to 20. Our desired course was 327 T so we could sail quite fast and even had to reef. Today was Volkmar’s turn to fish. A few times the reel made the expected noise but by the time Volkmar, is his unhurried way, got to it the fish was gone. At a certain point I said:” Why don’t you catch a nap and I will catch a fish?” The agreement was that in case there was a fish Volkmar will come to help.

About an hour later a fish was on. Volkmar came over and became busy controlling the boat and slowing her down from the 8 knots she was at to a mere crawl while I was having a hard fight on my hands. It reminded me of a shark I caught on the way to Panama. I could barely turn the reel’s handle. After about 15 minutes the resisting force disappeared. I was turning the handle too easily to have a fish at the end of the line. Great disappointment! I even thought that the fish cut the line and took our lure with it. As the line bunched up on the reel, signifying the arrival of its end, the pressure came back and presently I saw we did have a fish, a good size Wahoo. “This one we’ll keep for the village chief” I said “Now you catch one for us, Volkmar”.

Ten minutes later we had another, smaller, Wahoo! Everybody happy!

Catch of the day

When cleaning the big one I dissected its stomach to see what it ate and out came three disgusting creatures, clearly alive, looking like some sort of parasites. Yuk!


At four pm we rounded the corner Just before Dillon’s bay on Erromango and were surprised to see a large number of yachts. We found a nice place to anchor. An eventful, satisfying day!

27.5.11 – Friday – At night it started raining and some uncomfortable swell crept into the bay. I didn’t mind the rolling so much but as I went out at first light I felt I was perhaps too close to shore. I woke Volkmar up and we moved into deeper water where just maybe the swell was smaller.

We had a list of jobs for today. I was sitting on the trampoline replacing some of the damaged slides holding the net to the boat when I heard someone call: ”Good morning”. I looked up and saw a man and a child on a red canoe The man introduced himself as David and said the boy was his grandson.

David and grandson

He pulled a smal sack from the canoe floor. “I brought you some fruit. I am a guide in this village, I can take you to see the sights”. As the custom requires we wanted to reciprocate and what could be more appropriate than the big Wahoo? I thought he was very pleased and surprised by its size. We agreed to meet in the afternoon and go for a walk in the area.

The village sits on the bank of a river and to enter it you have to negotiate the bar which practically blocks it at low water. Two p.m was a good time to go. I am always a bit apprehensive when having to take the dinghy ashore at times there are waves present. I have been traumatized in Trinidad when a sudden wave flipped the dinghy over. This time it went smoothly; we entered the river and tied to a tree, putting a stern anchor to hold us off the stony bank.

David met us on shore and unfolded the plan for the tour. ”We can take the dinghy to the other bank to see the place the where the first missionary on the island, reverend John Williams was murdered. I read about this in the sailing guide that gave the information that the poor man, probably full of good intentions, was eaten, his features etched into a stone. We thought we could survive without and so continued along a jungle trail into what David called “The garden”. This is simply the family plot, from which they harvest the different staples – taro, yam, manioc etc. They also have sandalwood trees, used, so I understand in perfume manufacture as well as material for the making of religious artifact for the Chinese. David complained that the government put a temporary ban on that tree harvest, making life harder for the villagers.

“We’ll now have some coconut to drink”. Nimbly (the man seems to be in his fifties) he climbed a tall palm and brought down a few drinking coconuts.

climbing the palm

“Now we go to my Yacht Club”. On the way he had some questions for me regarding Israel. The people in Vanuatu know a lot about biblical Israel but are completely ignorant of the present state. I had to give a quick history lesson that when finished we were nearing David’s home. We met his wife and son, Christopher, who built a very impressive house out of volcanic rocks.

Christopher's house

He told us about the yacht club. It turns out David has a dream, a vision, of building a place where yachties and tourists who will come to the bay will be able to come to for a drink, some food and maybe even accommodations. He already named the place:”WOW WOW yacht club”  and has been working on the project for the last four years, helped by his three grown sons. One of them, Christopher, has built an outstanding house out of volcanic stones. We strolled towards the site. One can see the amount of labor invested in the build and landscaping. Altogether a place of great potential, let’s hope it will be a success!

Future Yacht Club

We ended the visit by “trading”, giving some rice, crayons, balloons and copybooks for the many children in the family.

28.5.11 – Saturday – David came again this morning for some clarifications regarding Jewish and Israeli history. He also wanted me to right some Hebrew words regarding God and Love in English letters. I told him about the greatness of the biblical figure whose name he carries and ended by giving him an Israeli flag which has the Star of David in its middle.

Star of David

About half an hour after he left, David was back with a stocky fellow by the name of Mathieu, who came for help regarding his car. It would not start and was told that he had to replace the brushes on the starter. Since he did not have a soldering iron he came to ask whether we had one. Not only did we have it but also had the electrical engineer, volkmar, to do the job!

We took the dinghy ashore and went to inspect the car. A crowd was gathering to watch and assist. We quickly found out that there was no easy approach into the starter. This was not going to be a simple job. I was asking Mathieu what were the symptoms by which it was decided that the brushes were faulty and when he did not come up with a clear answer I suggested trying to start in order to see for ourselves. First we checked the battery voltage – 12.7 – good. I turned the ignition – the starter turned very slowly as if the battery was weak. Testing the battery at the time the starter was in operation showed 9 volts. “I think the problem is the battery, not the brushes” I said. “Is there anybody with a car in the village, we could try starting up with jumper cables”. Mathieu could not believe it. “They told me it was the brushes and I bought new ones” he said.

Mathieu and Batt

It took a while to convince him it was worth a try and presently a car came by with a young man named David at the wheel. No jumper cables so I took his battery off the car and replaced the one in Mathieu’s. The starter turned slowly, yet faster than with the original battery but the engine did not start. On the second try, with Mathieu at the wheel it started!

” What do you say? Miki mechanic nambawan!” There was general jubilation especially because this car was the one the local clinic uses to ferry sick people to the small airport 9 km away through the mountains.

I gave Mathieu my soldering iron and the necessary soldering material. I can buy new one in Port Vila.

Back to the boat, we had lunch and a rest in preparation for the night passage to the island of Efate and Port Vila.


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