Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We have been slowly making our way north among the many islands of Vanuatu. Yesterday we had participated in a group sail. It was extreme amounts of fun. We were at an anchorage where there is a huge reef off the Emae Island; it is called Cook's Reef. There were 5 boats in the anchorage and we all piled into a 40 foot catamaran and sailed out to the reef and anchored and went for a snorkel. It was the first time I had sailed on a cat so it was an interesting experience. There were 16 on board, we had 2 local guides and the 12 others were Australians. It was great fun getting to know the Aussies and gleaning some great intel about Oz from them. I also quizzed them on some Aussies sayings so that I would know the lingo when I got there. Michael and Andrew, our guides, had a look of wonder and concentration on their faces as they were piloting the cat. We learned some more Bislama as well. The captain of the boat like to talk so we christened him Tok tok too much, and me lookum behind you, means see you later.
At the reef we anchored and spent about an hour in the water. Barry found some great shells but we left them there as they had creatures in them. (We did take one shell from Fiji with a creature in it and spent the next week, dissolving him out of it and putting up with the stink, so we have resolved never to pick up another live shell. I actually felt pretty bad about taking it!) Barry would dive down and turn these big shells over and then leave I felt bad about the poor creatures inside so after he left I would dive down and turn then back over. We saw some great examples of coral we had never seen before and there were a bunch of Nemo fish hiding out in the soft coral.
On the way back to the anchorage the Aussies put out the fishing lines and caught 2 good sized barracudas. They were thinking of throwing them back but Michael said that his village would love to have them. There were a couple of larger fish on the line but they snapped the 30 pounded test line and they lost three lures. That was a major loss and the captain was not happy.
I enjoyed sailing on the cat, I did not have the sensation of moving that you do in a monohull, and there is no heeling of course. Also the wake at the back coming off the pontoons made me think we were going a lot faster than we actually were. I lay on the trampoline that connects the 2 pontoons and watched the water for a while, I could see how you could just fall asleep out there. It was perfect weather for the venture and we had a terrific time.
We hope to get to a festival at the end of the week and then make our way up to the island of Espirito Santo where we want to dive on the wreck of the Coolidge, a former luxury liner that was converted to a troop ship in WW2, which sunk when it hit land mines going into the harbour at Luganville.