LTY UPDATE: Friday, September 14th, 2012
Asanvari Bay, Maewo Island, Vanuatu
LTY time: 17:05 (Vanuatu time = UTC +11)
Location: Asanvari Bay, SW tip of Maewo Island, Vanuatu
Position: 15 22.505 S, 168 08.020 E (you can cut & past this into Google Earth to see on map)
Wind: 50-20 knots (inside the bay)
Air temp: 82 F 28C
Sea temp: 90.5 F 32.5 C
AWEMAZING DAY in ASANVARI BAY
I awoke as usual to first light this morning and enjoyed watching the sky brighten gradually to bright blue as I lay there looking up through the large hatch directly above my aft cabin bed. I have a similar view of the night sky each evening when I go to bed and so my days start and end with these vivid reminders of just how fortunate I am and how amazing the cosmos is. Just as the changing hues and brightness told me that the sun had just peaked above the horizon I heard some odd splashes and the sounds of young voices followed by some slapping on the aft transom steps directly behind my head on the bed. In many ways I’ve learned that you sail by sounds and you get to know each and every one of the thousands of different sounds on the boat and know when something changes or there is a new sound. I hadn’t heard this symphony of sounds for some time but I knew just what it was; my first visitors of the day had arrived!
I’m starting to get used to it but it is still an odd feeling when I first come up on deck each morning and find a whole group of people already sitting on the beach looking out at Learnativity and waiting for me to rise. As soon as I’m spotted on deck the calls, whistles and shouts begin as they try to get my attention and it happens throughout the day and right into the evening in many places. I guess it is partly because wherever possible I seek out small little bays or anchorages that are not charted or popularly promoted in the sailing guides and so I am often the first boat and “white man” they have seen in quite a while. Then as soon as my first visitors discover Ruby and that I’m quite happy to host them onboard, show them around and answer their questions, it seems that more people that I could ever imagine were living ashore come out of the jungle. It is a school holiday for two weeks right now and so there are more children around with all day to do as they please so there has been a particularly large number of them aboard the past few weeks.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I took a group of about ten boys for a ride with Ruby and I in the dinghy and had a few more of them onboard so word was out that this new boat in the bay was “visitor friendly” and the procession began early. Apparently their enthusiasm got the better of some of the braver ones this morning and they just couldn’t wait for me to be sighted so about six of them swam the 100 meters out to Learnativity “just in case” I was up before six today. It is such an amazing sight that brings such a smile to my face as I step out onto the aft deck and see six young glistening brown bodies hanging on and peering up at me from the bottom swim step, laughing excitedly and sounding like a bunch of young school girls even though these are almost always young boys ranging from about five to twenty years. So that’s how my day started and the procession of visitors from ashore continued for the next two hours and I think I must have had well over thirty of them onboard in groups of four to ten. I was just going to do a short sail of about 15nm up to Asanvari Bay today so I didn’t have to rush to get away and just reveled in the joy and laughter with all my new found Ni Vanuatu friends. (this is how the people of Vanuatu refer to themselves).
Not a bad “commute”! How was yours?? ;)
Once the swimmers had all been out to see me I got things stowed away, raised the anchor and was sailing out of Namaram Bay by about 09:30. The weather was perfect with clear skies and calm seas and although there was no visible wind off to the west of Pentecost I was reasonably sure I’d pick it up once I got up to the north end and out in the pass between Pentecost and Maewo islands. Almost as if I knew what I was doing this is exactly what happened as the wind continued to build as I sailed north and I was soon doing over 7 knots with the full main and genoa out to Port as the SE trades blew through at 1-20+ knots. It was only 15nm up to Asanvari Bay which is on the very SW tip of the long skinny N/S running Maewo Island and I had the anchor down by just after noon.
Asanvari had come highly recommended by Philip and Teri who had been here a few weeks ago and just loved it and I’ve read that every boat that has been here has raved about it. You never know just how a spot is going to strike you though as we are all so different, but this spot is right out of a movie set or poster and is just the most perfectly pristine little tropical jewel I’ve seen in a long, long time. Funny how life works as I found myself thinking over the past few days how Vanuatu was very beautiful and the people most interesting but didn't create the same degree of awe and amazement in me that Fiji did. Then I sailed into Asanvari Bay. If you get the chance do check this location out on Google Earth or Bing as I’m certainly not able to do it much justice with my impoverished prose though I think it would be a challenge for even great writers. I’ve taken lots of photos and videos already and whenever I get a good internet connection, maybe as soon as next week, I will post my backlog of photos up on the blog so you can get a much better idea of just what I’ve been experiencing lately.
Asanvari Bay is a very small arch cut into the SW corner of Maewo Island with a protruding finger of rock and coral creating a small west pointing finger at the south end and then curving in an arc that is probably no more than 2km long along the coastline. At the south end of this little bay there is a white sand beach with about ten or so huts and houses and the villagers I met there this afternoon tell me there is another small village a few hundred yards east on the other side of the point. Unlike Namaram Bay I did not see a single soul ashore for the longest time and then only a few young boys out in their dugout outriggers and maybe three adults ashore. As the shore curves around to the north it goes back to being craggy black volcanic rock until it reaches a large stream that enters the bay and a cascading waterfall set just back into the island that you think must be a mirage it is so beautiful and picture perfect. The shoreline continues on the shallow arch around to the north and changes to steep sided cliffs that have risen up out of the water with some underground forces and comes complete with a tiny cave that I am anchored right in front of. As the arch finishes its curve north there is another beach, this one of highly polished black volcanic stones sprinkled with white shards of dead coral that has washed ashore.
On my visit there this afternoon I met Jason, a man of about 40 I would guess who lives in one of the two small houses there and amongst a large and very fertile plantation behind his house he has two pigs who get their own beachfront palm oasis and seem to enjoy a steady supply of coconuts based on the thick carpet of coconut husks they were sleeping on. Ruby did her best to get them to play with her and they seemed amused by this strange little critter but weren’t up for any games.
I made a brief stop at the waterfall on my slow trip around the bay in the dinghy and someone has gone to a lot of trouble to pour a very substantial concrete sea wall and erect a small little “bar” building complete with stools. However the waterfall itself is Mother Nature at her best and so I just stood in about two feet of this clear fresh water that had just crashed down the rock face of the waterfall above. I’ll go back in tomorrow as the elderly man and woman there said I’d be welcome to come back for a shower and/or to wash my clothes. Now THAT is my kind of shower and laundry facility!!
I could go on and tell you how clear the sea water is, how there was a steady flow of the most beautiful little black and white birds putting on the most amazing aeronautical acrobatic show as they zoomed through the moist air just in front of the waterfall, but I’ll leave it at that and the pictures to follow for now. Suffice it to say that as I try to comprehend how just this one day has started and ended I think you can appreciate why I keep repeating and appreciating just how fortunate I am. As with today I have no idea and no expectations of what great surprises and experiences tomorrow will bring but I’ll be back with more attempts to capture and share this with you. I truly appreciate having you along for the ride albeit limited by my abilities to describe it all to you.
Wayne & Ruby the Wonderdog