LTY UPDATE: Saturday, September 15th, 2012
Vanihe Bay, Maewo Island, Vanuatu
LTY time: 18:15 (Vanuatu time = UTC +11)
Location: Vanihe Bay, NW end of Maewo Island, Vanuatu
Position: 15 16.556 S, 167 58.467 E (you can cut & past this into Google Earth to see on map)
Wind: 2 knots (inside the bay)
Air temp: 82 F 28C
Sea temp: 90.5 F 32.5 C
BREAD and BATS
No throngs of kids swimming out to see me this morning unfortunately but none the less I did have another surprise visitor at about 6:30 this morning. Ruby heard the approaching fiberglass skiff first as usual while I was in the galley making coffee and breakfast. I came up on deck to be greeted by an elderly man who wanted to know if I'd like a loaf or two of fresh bread?! Hmmm, gee let me think ……………….. YES please!! Seems he has a small home and bakery just north of this bay and he saw me come in yesterday and thought he'd drop by to offer me some of the bread he had just baked. With my enthusiastic Yes please! he reached into the bin at his feet and pulled out two hand formed loaves and passed them up to me. They were still very warm from the oven and filled my flaring nostrils with that magical intoxicating smell of yeast and fresh baked bread as I gratefully took them from him and paid the outrageous sum of 200 Vatu (about 2 US$). But hey, I thought I’d splurge! ;)
Of course in the way that serendipity and synchronicity always seem to look after me and help guide my life, I was on my last few slices of bread from Port Villa so this timing was perfect. Taking my treasure down to the galley I quickly altered breakfast preparations a bit, finished up fresh pamplemouss (grapefruit) I had already started eating which that some of the boys at Namaram had given me and finished frothing the milk for my morning latte. This is all pretty much my standard breakfast but now I sliced up one of the fresh papayas the boys had also brought out to me yesterday, pulled some tasty New Zealand butter out of the fridge and headed up to the cockpit. Pouncing on one loaf while it was still warm I sliced four thick slices and inhaled the steamy smells coming off the sourdough surfaces, smeared them with NZ butter that quickly melted and soaked in like the bread was a sponge and breakfast in paradise was served! Seemed more like dream than reality as I sat there savoring each mouthful and the splendor of this setting. What a way to start a day!
I enjoyed the next hour or so reading and finishing my latte out on my lounge chair on the aft deck and then the waterfall started to call my name so I grabbed my shower bag and Ruby and I headed ashore to take up yesterday’s offer to shower in the waterfall. Again, not a soul to be seen and within minutes I was having one of the best showers I can recall. Talk about water pressure! It wasn’t even very cold as the day had warmed up already and I was soon lathered up, shaved rinsed in no time flat. Ruby enjoyed the chance to nose around the surrounding gardens and jungle while I sat on the edge of the pool at the base of the waterfall trying to take it all in. As if the shower and waterfall itself wasn’t enough there were about ten or more little black and white birds, some kind of swallow I would guess and they were putting on the most amazing acrobatic air show just for me it seemed as they dove down from high up in the jungle trees and made a 180 degree arc through the mist from the waterfall, back up to the trees, and down again and again and again. I literally had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Turns out I wasn’t!
I went over to check out the cave in the rocks right in front of where I was anchored and there was lots of coral growing around the entrance but the caves were too small to swim or snorkel into as they only went into the rock about two meters. Then it was back to LTY to figure out what comes next. As truly awemazing as Asanvari Bay is I decided for a number of reasons to leave and make the short sail (about 10nm) across to neighboring Ambae Island. I have some online banking and bills that I need to look after by the 18th and the only place likely to have a cellular or WiFi connection good enough to do this is in Luganville, the 2nd largest city in Vanuatu, and about 65nm from here and it would work best to break up the trip into two day sails so I arrive in good light. The other increasingly pressing matter is that the dog bite on my ankle I got in Port Villa ten days ago had started to act up. The little bugger had punctured my skin in about four places but only one had gone through to the bone and all of these had been healing up quickly in the past ten days, the three smaller ones already gone and the larger one quickly receding. However yesterday it started to suddenly throb when I was standing up and by late afternoon there was some slight swelling so that became a bit of a concern. I gave it a very thorough cleaning till it was down to fresh flesh, put on some antibiotic salve and did this every few hours. Slept fine last night with my foot propped up on some pillows and it felt better this morning but I figure that the prudent thing to do is go get it checked professionally and maybe get some shots. Luganville apparently has a good hospital and so for all these reasons I pulled up the anchor and set sail just before noon with a bit of sadness at having to leave such an idyllic anchorage so soon. This is a very unusual occurrence for me as I usually stay in an anchorage for as long as it captures my curiosity and only move on when the next new destination starts calling my name. But banking and bites conspired to get me moving a bit sooner this time.
Some high overcast had come in on the sail over to Maewo Island and so I decided to find an anchorage while there was still good light and pulled into Vanihe Bay and had the anchor down just before 3PM. Oh my, more paradise pie!
Vanihe Bay is yet another tiny little anchorage, this one created by a small rocky point formed by an outcropping of almost vertical cliffs which rise dramatically out of the sea and then slope back just enough to allow a thick lush growth of jungle to form above. According to my charts the bottom is supposed to slope up quickly from the deep as you approach the cliffs and so I motored ever so slowly up to these towering rock faces in front of me and sure enough the depth meter started to count down and I found some good holding sand in about 40 feet of water that was only about 100 feet away from the rock faces.
However these cliffs run N/S and the trade winds almost always come out of the SE so what little wind does reach me this close to the cliffs would be pushing me away and all would be well. It is a bit intimidating at first to be anchored with this vertical wall of stone right in front and beside me so I cleaned up the decks, put in the anchor snubber and coiled all my lines from the sail over while I let the anchor chain and wind settle in and make sure this was going to work out. As I was busy out on deck doing all this I kept looking up at these magnificent rock faces and the trees above because as I was creeping in and dropping the anchor I had noticed that there were hundreds if not thousands of huge black crows or ravens perched in the trees above. Something didn’t quite seem right though and as soon as I saw some of them flying I knew what it was; these weren’t crows or ravens, these were fruit bats!
** Click on any photo to enlarge
There were bats hanging from almost every tree and perhaps the most dramatic were over a hundred of them that were hanging from the limbs of a dead tree. If I wasn’t seeing this for myself I would have thought it was out of a movie set.
I’ve seen lots of these fruit bats in the South Pacific and so I know them quite well by now. They are quite large with wing spans up to a meter and bodies that are 12-18 inches long. They also have quite bright yellow and brown fur collars around their necks which makes it easy to mistake them for hanging fruit many times and also makes them look a bit like little friars to me. They are quite different that most other bats (I think?) in that they like to be out soaking up the hot sun all day as they hang from the trees and you often see them flying around during the daytime though they are most active just around sun down it seems. However I have never seen this many in one place and there are at least several hundred, perhaps thousands, I can't be sure (or count that high!) I must have spent almost an hour just enjoying this experience and marveling at this latest of Mother Nature’s unending spectacles.
So my day started with fresh baked bread for breakfast, a waterfall shower before lunch and has ended with dramatic cliffs at my side and thousands of fruit bats to entertain me. While they will most certainly be different in the details, I do hope that each of your days are as filled with moments of experiential learning that both satisfy and drive your curiosity. And if not, why?