Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Caofis all around us!

We've just moved from an area of no internet signal to one of occasional connection and have found that our last update, sent via email, didn't make it to the blog. So, apologies for the silence and we'll try to catch up; here's what should have appeared a few days ago:

Internet connections via our Digicel mobile phone card remain of the ‘throw a six to start’ variety so we’re sorry that we can’t post any photos at the moment. That’s a real shame as the cameras have been worked hard over the past few days.

We spent a couple of days in Gaspard Bay, a deep, mangrove-lined inlet which offers good shelter and is, we had been told, home to a dugong.  Dugongs are related, to manatees that can be seen in Florida, and are large, placid mammals that graze on sea grass growing on the sandy bottom. They are, in this respect, rather like cows so the Bislama name for them is Caofis (literally ‘cow-fish’). Well, we had 8 of them around us, surfacing to breath with a loud snort, their noses just poking up above the water, before performing slow forward rolls back down to the grass; occasionally we’d see their whale-like tails appear in the air as they dived. They are very shy creatures but we drifted across the anchorage in the dinghy, watching them for over an hour – it was hypnotically soothing!

We moved on Monday down to Uliveo island, the largest inhabited island of the Maskelynes and were given a wonderful welcome. There are three villages, Lutes, Peskarus and Pelonk which, between them, are home to about 600 people. They get a few yachts visiting (we were the first this year) and have a couple of small bungalow ‘resorts’ so have formed an eco-tourism committee, with the help of some training from the Vanuatu Tourist Board. We were met by Stewart who guided us around the island and formally introduced us to a member of the Council of Chiefs and to the headmaster of the school; we think we met pretty well everybody on the island as well! 

The villages are immaculately kept (they have an annual ‘best-kept village’ competition) and the school is well organised. As luck would have it, for the past two days it has hosted an annual inter-school sports competition against three other schools on the mainland and neighbouring islands so there were running races and volleyball and football matches, all very serious and enthusiastically supported. Graham asked Mr Benson, the headmaster, if he might take photos and printed and laminated about 20 of the best shots; this was enormously well received and, of course, has let to requests for more photos from all quarters!

The anchorage has suddenly got busy with the arrival, yesterday, of Kerry & Damian on Sel Citron and Mark, Sarah, Elizabeth and Michael on Field Trip so it’s been lovely to catch up with good friends again. Another catamaran, called Even Keels, and a monohull called Magic Swan also arrived yesterday. So we suspect we’ll be here for a few more days – it’s Independence Day on Sunday so there are more celebrations and sports events over the next two days plus we want to go to visit the Giant Clam sanctuary that the villagers established several years ago. The cameras will be kept busy!

1 comment:

  1. Great to have an update. I was getting worried!! Very jealous about you seeing dugongs as we didn't manage to see them when we were in Vanuatu. Have fun! Trishxx