Saturday July 5 8:30 PM (Palikulo Bay, Santo Island)
Chimere will need to be recharged with water and some food before setting out for Gaua with her next crew. However, the bit of clearing up we need to do in the next day or so can be managed just as easily in surroundings more pleasant than the Beachfront Resort anchorage used by yachts coming into Luganville.
After breakfast this morning we motor-sailed eight miles up the coast of Santo to a beautiful sheltered bay where the water is turquoise, and so clear that you can see the bottom even where it’s deep. Brilliantly coloured fish dart in and out of the reefs and coral heads. There are no buildings visible from the water, though we know there are villages because smoke rises from their cooking fires, and people wave from the shore here and there when we pass.
A strange thing about this bay is the abandoned trading ship and defunct fishing port that used to belong to the Taiwanese South Pacific Fishing Company. Apparently the ship developed irrepairable mechanical problems and drifted on to the shore, there to be abandoned along with a considerable infrastructure of buildings, slipway, loading dock, and a couple of enormous steel water tanks. We found some locals sensibly salvaging some of the scrap metal for other uses.
There are golden beaches around here, in contrast to the back volcanic sands and rocky shores of Ambae. Each island is distinctly different in character, although village people are invariably friendly and kind. Today we went across to a nearby beach where a family was picnicking. The children spoke French, whereas the mother spoke only Bislama and local language. When Jen commented on the shooting coconuts lying on the ground, the woman sent her son to break one open and scoop out the soft fluffy flesh to give to us to eat. The children gathered “starfish shells” for us. How would Australia be if everyone treated one another and strangers with such openness and kindness?
We are much closer to the airport here than we are at Luganville, and we’re told that we can get a pick-up truck to take us there from a nearby village. Bringing crew 3 here when they arrive on Monday morning before we return to Luganville to tie up the business end of things will be an initial introduction to the best of Vanuatu.