Friday, August 26, 2011

Erromango, Vanuatu

Interesting coral rock

Locals washing clothes in the river

Now this is an anchorage I could see Cook getting into.  Broad, easy in and out, anchor about 1/4 mile off shore.  Low 30’ cliffs of banded ash deposits tilted seawards interspersed with smoother slopes of green coming down to the sea.
Took a kayak down coast and river; broad shallow river with some mud and lots of larger round stones- thinking it sees some high flow in wet season.  Village here, boats moored in river’s slow flow.  South bank is great big high large gravel bar.  Some lil side streams feeding in.  Upriver at the road ford women wash clothes and kids swim.  Whole bay has clear water.  South of river, long gravelly shore, then some layered consolidated ash rocks line shore, then a long stretch of 20’ high limestone/lime-coated rock, well eroded by sea into sharp jagged boulders and shallow caves.  Above this is more banded volcanics.
Talked to Jim on Hoodoo - Kiwi or Aussie.  Big heavy cat with clear decks and hard runabout.  Friendly guy, been all over.  He went out fishing with villagers this AM.
We both get visit from two outriggers, Mike and two boys.  Good English, give them some CDs and hair bands.  They say they just use axe and chisel to build outriggers, takes 2wks-2 months.  Use a 14’ long log from white straight tree that grows along shore, + 8’ long branch as outrigger.  Old white paint on outside.  The boys try out our kayak.
Village is set at mouth wide valley with big flat river that winds around corner and must become steep and fast when it goes into the hills.
We go to the village and meet Chief William - owns a lot of land, him and his family- village house and guesthouse, and plantation with sandalwood et al.  And house on Efate.  Nice, old gentleman a lil sickly and forgetful.  He had a large sore on his leg, which is very common here.  Offered to take us to cave with bones or sandalwood tree later.  Wife Martha gave us fresh hot bread.  “I like to say hello so people will feel welcome here in our village.”  William was a schoolteacher for a religious school, and worked in mining for New Caledonia.  He says they were gonna mine manganese on Erromango, good quality stuff, but not enough and logistical issues.
Many people in village say hi, but as enthusiastically friendly as in Fiji.  Directions from old woman who spoke Bislama only- pretty easy to understand about half what she said to us, but hard to understand bislama when people talk to each other.  Climbed up big hill to plateau and walked nice country road with sandalwood trees and cows.
We left Erromango with 3 knots of wind behind us, and motored to Port Vila over calm seas.

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