Day 117, Year 2: Turtles in Lamen Bay
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2007
Weather: Beautiful Day with Lots of Liquid Sunshine
Latitude: 16 degrees 35.789 minutes
Longitude: 168 degrees 09.791 minutes
Location: Lamen Bay, Epi Island, Vanuatu

We found the turtles! There are beautiful green turtles here. At least we think they are green turtles. They are big and they feed on the turtle grass on the bottom and they have four pair of lateral scales. Therefore, we think they are green turtles. We have very little identification sources for turtles aboard, so maybe once we post the photos, someone can let us know what we really saw.

We left Revolieu Bay at 7:45 this morning and arrived here in Lamen Bay at 10:45 AM. We sailed most of the way with winds that varied from 8 to 25 knots. We had a calm ride for part of the trip, but then things started to get a little lively. We finally took down the sails and motored the last bit into port. As soon as we arrived, we got ready to go snorkeling. I’ve heard that somewhere here there are beautiful nudibranchs, but we didn’t find those today. Nudibranchs are fantastically colorful
caterpillar-like creatures of the sea. We will keep searching tomorrow. In the afternoon, Mark and I went to shore in our dinghy. We had intended on walking to the village, but we never made it. There is guesthouse here on shore called Paradise Sunset Bungalows. We went ashore there and inquired to see if there was someone we should check with to have permission to walk on the shore. Evidently the people here are not as traditional as in the outlying villages, and they do not go by the old
custom of gaining permission from the chief to visit. There is a store, a school, and an airport on shore, as well as the guest house. This place has obviously acclimated to tourists. While on the beach, we talked with Marianne and Andy, a Swiss couple that we first met in Sawa-i-Lau. They have two beautiful little blonde headed boys, Simon and Sammy, who are about five and two, respectively. While we were talking, Simon was working hard at flying a kite and Sammy walked into the village and
started playing with children there. At two years of age, he is most comfortable with just about anyone. We also talked with Jason and Laurel of Monkey’s Business. Jason and Laurel are probably in their thirties and are from Colorado. We have seen their boat many times, but this is the first time we have met. After talking with them, Mark and I headed back out in our dinghy, but we went only part-way and stopped in a shallow area. Mark put on his snorkeling gear and jumped in to look for turtles.
We agreed that he would swim back to Windbird, but that I would go back and watch just in case he needed a dinghy assist. Usually I do the reconnaisance, but Mark opted for this tour of duty. I watched for a bit and decided that he looked like he was having way too much fun. So I put on my snorkeling gear and jumped in, pulling the dinghy behind me. Mark motioned to indicate that he had found a turtle, so I went that way as fast as I could. Actually he had been swimming with a turtle who decided
to go down to the bottom and feed and send up another turtle to swim with Mark. Both of us followed this second turtle until we came close to Windbird. We then looked down and saw another turtle grazing on the grass near our anchor chain. This turtle actually crept closer and closer to our anchor, and finally sat right on top of the anchor and kept feeding on the grass. I’m just glad she didn’t decide to eat the anchor. It was such an honor to get to watch these beautiful creatures feed on the
turtle grass. The grass looks like a yellowish-green moss on the ocean floor. Not my idea of delicious, but they seem to love it. Both Mark and I really enjoyed this experience.

By the time we got back to Windbird, it was getting close to sundown. Ranger called and invited us over for “sundowners”, so we quickly showered and headed over to Ranger. We discussed the pros and cons of leaving here tomorrow to head to Ambryn island or waiting and heading there on Tuesday morning. The festival that we are attending there begins on Wednesday, and we have no details on time, ways of getting from the anchorage to the village where the festival is happening, etc. But in the end,
we decided to enjoy this beautiful anchorage one more day and then head to Ambryn as fast as we can on Tuesday. Many cruisers are planning to attend the festival, so hopefully someone else will have figured out the details. While we were on Ranger, we got a call on the VHF radio that Paul heard while he was down in the main salon. He answered and said a woman wanted to talk to us and that she was coming over. It was Marianne that we had talked with on the shore and she wanted to know if we were
interested in going together to pay for a trip to nearby Lamen island to search for dugongs. Evidently the old dugong who called this bay home has died. His name was Bondas, but he evidently left behind about five young ones that are sometimes in this anchorage and sometimes over at Lamen island. We told Marianne that we would love to come along in the search of dugongs, so tomorrow at 9 AM we will do that. If you have never heard of a dugong, they are very similar to the manatees in Florida.
Some people refer to them as Teletubbies, a kind of fat little vacuum cleaner. These mammals have a fat snout that swishes about on the ocean floor in search of food. Manatees have a fan-shaped tail, whereas dugongs have a split tail like a whale. Both turtles and dugongs used to be a major source of food here on Epi, but the chiefs have banned the hunting for both as they have realized what a tourist attraction they have with live ones.

Another busy day. Every morning we think we will slow down and just relax, but there are so many wonderful things to see out here that we just can’t allow ourselves to do that. We are constantly discovering new things and meeting new people, and loving every minute of it.

070819 Day 117 Epi, Vanuatu–Revolieu to Lamen Bay
070819 Day 117 Epi, Vanuatu–Turtle Pics and Lamen Bay Underwater 1