Tuesday 20th August 2013
15 31.36S 167 09.92
Denis cooking a beautiful beef stir fry last night in honour of our visiting Swiss yachtsman, Yves. During dinner he told us he was leaving at midnight so it would be an early night for him and only one glass of wine. We discussed routes to Port Vila and Yves said he had settled for heading down the west coast of Melakula. He is effectively retracing our route but against the prevailing winds. Yves had a few tricks up his sleeve so I’m sure he will get on fine. One thing he did mention was that we shouldn’t swim along the coast of Melakula because it is noted for sharks! That advice comes a bit late for us since we have already traversed this bit of coast with many of our team swimming at every opportunity. Still it gives one a shudder to be told so emphatically about the risks. I think the advice is based on observations on the SE coast where there was once a fish cannery. The waste from the cannery was discharged into the ocean which in turn attracted the sharks. SE Melakula is a fair way from where we were and if the sharks were attracted there that means there would less sharks everywhere else. Therefore the risk was low. That bit of logic makes me a lot better!
Today Dave and I had planned to do something touristy. Dave did the Millennium Cave tour and I did a horse riding adventure trail. Dave was away all day and had a great time. Just to get to the caves was an adventure.1 hour mini bus ride over rough tracks followed by and an hour and 20 minute walk. Once in the cave everyone donned their life jackets and hopped into the water which was deep and cold. The cave ran for 300 metres. When they emerged back into daylight they rested and had lunch. After the rest they hopped back into the water and bobbed their way down a canyon. At the end of the tour the only way out was straight up a cliff using bamboo ladders. I asked Dave to write up his experiences for the log and as others have done before him he explained that he is a man of few words. The description above is my best effort to distill his day into a few words. (for more description of the Millennium Cave tour refer back to the 2009 log).
My outing on the other had was just a half day. I was picked up by Fabrice and taken to the Lope Lope ranch where I met the Megan. Megan operates horse trail tours using horses she has rescued from abusive situations. Once the horse are returned to good health and are trained they are used for trail rides. Today I was the only customer so Megan invite two young girls who learn riding with her to join the trail ride. It is a long time since I have ridden a horse so I was hoping to have a very quiet horse and an easy trail. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or worried when Megan said “I think we’ll do the experienced trail today”. Megan has things very well organized and had selected a perfect horse for me. He was about 15.3h and the slightest touch of the rein sowed him or stopped him. So all I had to do was sit in the saddle and steer. I was fitted with a crash hat just in case….
We rode up a big hill, through a Government research farm to take in the views. Interestingly one of the projects at the farm was a hybrid coconut that doesn’t grow coconuts! The horses were then turned down hill and through a rain forest. We came out into a tidal area covered in forest and bordered by a stream that was a blue as a snow fed river. Following the river brought us out at the beach. The tide was well out so we had a big riding area on the sand to play around on. Well my stead and I stood still while the young girls took turns in having a trot around. From this point it was straight into the ocean where we skirted around coral outcrops taking the horses in waist deep water (horse’s waist that is). Once we were back safe and sound we unsaddles and put the horses away and had a cool coconut drink. I took 3D video from the horses back while riding which I replayed for everyone.
Denis stayed on board all day and had a blissful time enjoying the boat, the scenery and the pleasant weather. He did some housekeeping and later entertained crew from a neighbouring catamaran CatKnapp which is one of two boats of a group called OceansWatch.
Later we all went ashore and enjoyed a pizza.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and tourist for a day
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