HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM US TO EVERYONE!!! We hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season. Speaking of season, here’s our cruising season wrap up. From the title, you’re probably thinking what Vanuatu and New Caledonia, I thought they already made it down to New Zealand. Well, you would be absolutely correct, however, we missed many exciting adventures from our blog for this season. So, I thought I would do a quick (which turned out not to be so quick) round up of events and adventures, not including those in New Caledonia which I have already mentioned in past posts. We will give another update of events in New Zealand soon afterwards and there’s BIG news and pictures coming, so you’ll definitely want to check back. For now, enjoy! If you don’t have time to read the text just check out the pictures, it’s worth a peek!
This country has two major cities, Port Vila located on the island of Efate and Luganville located on the island of Santos. Most islands are still fairly primitive having little to no electricity and many that we visited have gardens planted around the island.
We began our travels in Vanuatu with a stop on the island of Aneityum. We had a wonderful (probably our best to date) sailing trips North from New Zealand to Aneityum, Vanuatu which took about 6 days. While in Aneityum, we attended a welcoming festival, went on a hike which was suppose to be only four hours (roundtrip) ended up being eight hours (I mourned the loss of two toe nails), and did some wonderful snorkeling at the nearby Mystery Island where the cruise ship takes it visitors. That’s right a huge cruise ship anchors near the small island of Aneityum and takes their guests to the even smaller island called “Mystery Island”. Here are some pictures.
|Hitchhiker on board!!!|
|Click on the picture to see it better!|
|We were surprised to see this tractor!|
|Five minute rest on the way up!|
|Plant is said to protect their gardens|
|We made it ... finally!|
|Everyone was really relieved.|
|Big grouper ... no spearfishing allowed, figures!|
We stopped at a few other anchorages in Aneityum before sailing North to Tanna where we took a 30-45 minutes bouncy truck ride and then hiked a short distance (about 30 minutes) to an active volcano, Mt. Yasur. The next day we had the pleasure of experiencing our first circumcision ceremony/festivities where we were asked to bring gifts of baked goods for the young boys who were circumcised (it was done about a month ago). Now, this circumcision ceremony was very interesting and somewhat disturbing for us, because to our surprise, the festival involved pig killing which included bludgeoning a pig. This is typical custom and there are usually many pigs served at major ceremonies (i.e. weddings, circumcision ceremonies, etc.). Exploring new lands and cultures is one main reason why we enjoy cruising which sometimes means exploring outside our “cultural comfort zones”. So sometimes, the differences can be a bit more difficult to enjoy than others with that said some people may not want to view some of the photographs below.
|HOT!! HOT!!! HOT!!!|
|Ceremonial pig slaying|
|The boys were circumcised about a month ago|
|The boys and their families|
|Gifts are given to the families of the circumcised boys!|
On our way North and back down South again, we stopped in Port Vila located on the island Efate and is one of the larger cities in Vanuatu. During our visits in Port Vila, we watched a fire dancing show, went to a horse race which included “decked out” ladies in heels and hats (very fancy) and fashion show, and I (Sandy) celebrated by 50th birthday with my British twin Simon who was born same day and year as me! I celebrated with a birthday dinner, birthday party, birthday resort day … hey, when you’re old you get to celebrate A LOT!!! Dad, sorry to say your youngest isn’t young anymore.
Look at all the ladies dolled up ... my favorite is the island dress!
|Sharing my 50th with my twin Simon & good friends|
|My worst picture EVER ... aweful hair cut in Vanuatu|
All through Vanuatu, we were catching fish and really enjoyed the snorkeling and diving!! Here are some of the pictures from our snorkeling and diving near Epi Island.
We stopped in Ambryn Island and were pleasantly surprised to be invited to a wedding ceremony. We decided not to attend the festivities, but did get to watch the preparation for the wedding event which can take the whole weekend.
The women are preparing the traditional Vanuatu meal of laplap for the wedding
We were sailing North at a pretty good pace, because it was important to arrive Pentecost Island by June for the land diving. We didn’t want to miss this spectacular custom. As we were racing our way North hopping along the islands, we caught a few fish along the way and got a nice picture of Gypsea Heart underway thanks to our friends, Anne & Mark on Blue Rodeo. We made it to Pentecost Island in time for the land diving and it was INCREDIBLE!! We also enjoyed some diving and getting to know the people of Pentecost Island.
Great picture ... I love the expression of the man on the right!
Land diving is a spectacular event something worth experiencing!
|Kunie's Chromodoris Nudibranch (I believe)|
|I traded with these little girls...fresh veggies for cookies!|
We stopped in Maewo Island (Asanvari Bay) for a bit of exploring and enjoyed a wonderful dance celebration. Then sailed over to southern Aore Island anchoring by Ratua Island which is one of my favorite places. Great snorkeling spot and very good diving nearby also. I believe you’ll find some good snorkeling and diving waypoints on www.venturefarther.com, so go check it out. Also, while snorkeling around Ratua Island, we were able to see several Cuddlefish which I have included pictures below. There’s a wonderful YouTube video which does a fabulous job telling you all about the Cuddlefish and other creatures. This is a must see, so go to https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLOHbM4GGWADc5bZgvbivvttAuWGow6h05&v=GDwOi7HpHtQ= If you’re so inclined, let us know what you think of the video in the comments section of this blog.
|Cuddlefish ... not too happy with me!|
|Cuddlefish ... yes, they change color!|
|Really close picture of an octopus!|
|Banded Coral Shrimp|
Ok. So this intended “quick” update is not so quick. Looking back we did so many things in Vanuatu, but since this “quick” update is going on forever, I’ll just include these last pictures of the Coolidge dive we did near the island of Santos in Vanuatu to wrap up the Vanuatu section.
|We call this toothpaste nudibranch|
|Electric clams...hard to tell but in the dark they glow|
Aren't you glad we did this season wrap up? There are some wonderful things in Vanuatu. It's worth a visit. I just wished we could have gone into more details here providing information about their history and culture. We’ll do better in the future. Okay, now onto New Caledonia.
New Caledonia (Highlights)
We had a great time in New Caledonia though it rained a lot when we first arrived in August. Here is a list of some things we did in New Caledonia which haven’t been included in previous posts. We celebrated my 50th Birthday in Noumea (yes, again) … can’t celebrate too many times at my age. I toured the Tijbaou Cultural Center with our cruising friends Rita and Uli. Rankin showed off his sporran and kilt to our fun loving Scottish cruising friend Barbara on Taurangi. Rankin kayaked through the raging rapids in Baie de Prony. He along with our friends Kelvin and Lynette also enjoyed the “hot” tub (which we call the tepid tubs) there too. We also hiked around Ilot de Casey with our guide dog (we don’t know his name). The dog literally will give you a guided tour around the island. We almost got lost, because we didn’t follow the dog. Thanks guys! Did I mention our friends from New Zealand, Kelvin and Lynette, came for a two week visit so some of our exploring was with them. We rented a car in Ile de Pins and explored the Grotte de la Reine Hortense (a beautiful cave). We also took a wooden pirogue excursion from Baie de St. Joseph to Baie d’Oro (which is a restricted bay). So these are just a few more things we did while traveling around New Caledonia.
|Barbara is quite impressed with Rankin's sporran!|
|Braving the rapids!|
|Kelvin & Rankin get to know each other a little better!|
|Our guide dog|
I apologize for such a hurried season wrap up. We thought y’all might want to see a little of Vanuatu and a little more of New Caledonia. Until the next time which will be soon. Remember, we have a really BIG surprise, so be sure to check back in a bit. Y’all take care, enjoy life and HAVE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!