Day 119, Year 2: Arrival in Rodd’s Bay, Ambryn Island
Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Weather: Mostly Overcast
Latitude: S 16 degrees 06.561 minutes
Longitude: E 168 degrees 07.716 minutes
Location: Nebul (Rodd’s Bay), Ambryn Island, Vanuatu
We were up at first light and pulling up Windbird’s anchor by 6 AM. The day was overcast, but the sun continually tried to break through. Lamen Bay was hard to leave. It is definitely my favorite Vanuatu anchorage thus far, but other anchorages call. Last night at sunset, Mark called me up to the cockpit to see the Lamen islanders sailing their outrigger canoes from the mainland back to Lamen Island. They sailed right between the boats in the anchorage with their coconut palm-leaf sails. I love
it. If your sails wear out, you just go get another palm leaf. So simple and so beautiful.
As we motored out of Lamen Bay this morning, we could see the perfect volcanic cone island of Lepevi, a volcano that last erupted in 2003. We then set sail in 20 knots of ESE wind and had a delightful broad reach sail up the southwest coast of Ambryn. We could see Christina and Blue Marlin off to our starboard and Ranger off to port. Hanging over Ambryn there were thick clouds above both Mt. Marum and Mt. Benbow, Ambryn’s two active volcanoes. They spew volcanic ash out over the island making
it very difficult to grow food. Water is also scarce as drilling a well could result in molten lava instead of water. Ambryn is home to Vanuatu black magic. According to the Lonely Planet, “Sorcerers (man blong majik or man blong posen) are feared and despised. Many islanders have seen too many unexplained happenings and would treat anyone who is found practising black magic severely.” So why would we want to go to such a place? Well, first of all, magic performed for tourists is not considered
black. So that’s a good thing. We are specifically going to the Back To My Roots mini-arts festival near the village of Olal at the very top of the island. Here we will see the Rom dance. The costume for this dance is quite elaborate with dancers wearing tall cone-shaped painted masks with their bodies covered in banana leaves. We will see the wood carvings of Ambryn islanders, as well as tamtams (wooden slit drums), the black tree fern carvings, a variety of musical instruments, and on and
on. I am particularly interested in the musical instrument that is a single-string bow played like a jew’s harp. You pluck it with a coconut leaf. I just have to see and hear this.
When we left Epi Island we were not exactly sure where we would anchor and how we would get to the festival, but we had heard that about 30 other boats were planning to attend. Olal, where the festival was advertised to take place, doesn’t have a good anchorage, so we knew we would have to anchor before we got there. With the help of other sailors already at anchor, we found a place in Rodd’s Bay just before the northern tip of Ambryn. When we called on the radio, Arctic Fox and Diva were in that
anchorage. Not long after that call, Scot Free II called to say that they had gone to the Olal anchorage and found it a little too dicey, so they came back to Rodd’s. So Rodd’s Bay became our destination. Blue Marlin got in just before us and Tempe Te was there well before us. Christina, Ranger, and Fannieul.St came in right after us. So of the 30 boats that we had heard about, it looks like only half that many might make it.
Mark on Diva and Tim on Arctic Fox went to shore today and walked to the festival site. They found Chief Justin in a village near the anchorage and he will serve as our guide tomorrow. All of us yachties are to meet on the beach at 7:45 and then walk to Chief Justin’s home by 8:15. He will walk with us to the festival site which is out in the middle of nowhere. We know opening ceremonies are at 9 AM tomorrow and the Rom dance is on Friday, but other than that, no one seems to have specific information.
We will just have to go with the flow. Another great explore.
Now to one of the more exciting things that happened today . . . Mark caught a small Yellow-fin Tuna and Paul caught a very large Wahoo. Mark has really been wanting to catch a Yellow-fin and Paul really been lusting after a Wahoo, so today was their day. Tonight we had a reunion with Gerry and Donna on Scot Free II and enjoyed fresh sushi and sashimi on Ranger. It was delicious. We lost our Bongo lure today to a very large fish and caught the yellow-fin with a blue squid lure. The Bongo lure
was the one made out of a snack bag. It caught the large Wahoo we landed in the Yasawas and was our lucky lure, but we will just have to make a new one.
|070821 Day 119 Ambrym, Vanuatu–Arrival in North Ambryn|
Passing this along from a Canadian traveler:
“Ciguatera, kills about one person a year in Vanuatu, but makes many more very sick. It is caused by a toxin produced by a coral reef algae that is eaten by fish and concentrated up the food chain in carnivore fish. Its presence is variable from one place to another and from season to season, but it seems to be associated with trauma to the reef (storm, blasting, etc.). I was told that it is a neurological toxin with symptoms including the sense of warm and cold being switched and water on the skin causing pain. Symptoms last for months and once sensitized, a person is vulnerable to much smaller doses. Ciguatera is avoided by not eating fish that live or are caught on the reef or their predators, such as barracuda. Deep water species, such as most of the fish sold by government Fisheries Department (FD) shops on the islands or in FD shops in Luganville and Vila are safe, as they do not graze on coral or eat fish that do. Just be aware that even FD shops often sell parrot fish (a reef “grazer”) and that “Tahitian Salad” sold in restaurants is traditionally made from marinated parrot fish. Personally, I never ate fish caught on the reef (well, Tahitian Salad a couple of times; I admit that I survived), and I noticed that Fisheries Department advisers out on the islands never did either. Many people advise that you go with local advice regarding the safety of specific fish, but I think that just makes your odds of staying well a bit better; it is no guarantee of safety.”