Saturday, June 14, 2008

Havannah Harbor

We moved around Pango Point in 35 knots of wind. I don't think we'll ever get another easy sail. The trades are mighty this year. We were in the process of anchoring when a local named "Bill" zipped over in his launch and told us to use the big gray mooring. "Boss man catamaran is outawata. It wan bigfala. You live there plenty ok." We did as we were told. The next day our new best friend Nelson paddled over in his handmade dugout canoe. With the exception of a few nails it was made of all natural materials, nightmare to paddle though. I traded him a paint brush for a bag of lemons and I threw in the mineral spirits for free. He lives on 1 island and farms his plot on another, so he crisscrosses this channel everyday. This is Havannah Harbor. It's where the US parked its huge battle wagons during WW2. His grandfather remembers the war and has told Nelson good things about the Americans. Nelson showed us where the TV show "Survivor" held their "Tribal Council Meetings". He didn't quite understand the rules of the game show with its 2 tribes and contestants competing to be the last person thrown off the island. It sounded goofy as hell to a native, but he agreed with his grandfather that the Americans are good and generous people. It's nice to come to a place where people finally like us!!! He came back later after collecting veggies and stayed to eat the lemon cake Suzi had made. It became clear after a while that he wasn't going to be leaving anytime soon, so we set him up with his local newspaper in the cockpit, topped him off with refreshments, and as he read out loud, we went back to completing our chores. He finished the paper and then wandered around checking on us. It was really quaint how comfy everyone was with each other. We kayaked to shore and then snorkeled off the reef. All the while, he paddled his outrigger next to us making sure we were alright and that all our questions were answered. When you make a friend in the SPac, you really make a friend. I knew this from my months in Fiji. I printed out a picture Suzi had taken of him and me earlier and gave it to him. Nelson Parro our first friend in Vanuatu.

That night we ran the generator and the ice machine. After shutting it off, we had cocktails, and watched a movie in the cockpit beneath a night sky of black velvet. The stars so bright you could almost hear them.

I bought $200 worth of duty free booze back in Port Vila. The customs officer came out to the boat and packed up the hootch. Then he put his royal stickers all over it. We can't open the box until we depart Vanuatu waters. There's the rub. I stare longingly at the box, knowing that, inside, the Southern Comfort 100 proof needs me too.

Port Vila is a city worth leaving. It's overwhelmingly ex-pat and full of the same old people I keep running into. The Au Bon Marche grocery store is rather amazing though. Where ever the French have ruled, they leave their 2 hour lunch breaks and excellent selection of cheese and meats behind. I don't pick on the French or power boaters any more. I like them both. And the open air market will blow your mind. The vendors come from all over Efate and even other islands. They set up on a Monday morning and stay 24 hours a day until it all sells or Sunday rolls around, whichever comes first. You can wake them up at midnight and buy a pamplemousse. They'll be sleeping on a mat next to their taro and husked coconuts. Fascinating how different lives can be.

I recruited a couple of Scandinavians and we went off in search of kava. I'd been told throughout my whole time in Fiji that the Vanuatu kava is a crippler. And it was. 3 bowls later the stupor was around my neck like an ascot. I felt flush and nearly nauseous. It was nothing over powering, or physically debilitating, but definitely stronger than the Fiji waka. A strong serenity was forced upon me. I'm aware those are contradictory terms. I would imagine, that taken to it's logical extreme, kava would end in a peaceful coma, or maybe a Parkinson's disease freeze out, in which you are imprisoned in your own body. . . but in a good way. I better try it again. I'll let you know. 2 things that were absolutely better and worse than drinking kava in Fiji: 1.) Better - You get your own bowl. 2.) Worse - the savages hawk and spit everywhere.

"Released because the police are fed-up with having to recapture"

We're sailing comfortably in 1 foot swells making 4 knots in 9 knots of wind speed. Sure, we're 30 degrees off course but I can keep the sails full and our VMG is only a knot off of our SOG. We'll gibe at midnight. This is heaven. I guess we can still get lucky on passages. It's been 7 hours of these conditions, so I have every hope it will continue for the next 15 until we get there. We're headed to Ambrym in the northern islands. It's a double headed volcano. I'll bet it'll be something worth writing about.

Your man on point,


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