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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Americans certainly left their mark around here

In WW2, Espiritu Sano became a huge American military base with shore-side gun emplacements, four air strips, new roads and an entirely new town, Luganville, being constructed in what was malarial swamp next to the river. At the end of the war many of the buildings were bulldozed but there are still relics (of what must have felt like an occupation to the Ni-Vans) everywhere.

Luganville's main street, with many of the WW2 concrete buildings still in use; the fire hydrants are still there but clearly no longer working

Maintenance is sadly lacking so there are traps for the unwary pedestrian everywhere, from potholes to rusted drain covers
Another ankle trap

Since the departure of the US troops, dominance of everything commercial has been assumed by the Chinese - they own all the food stores including the only vaguely-modern LCM and are increasingly buying up tourist resorts and farms. They are not popular with the Ni-Vans

One of the most bizarre relics of the American military is Million Dollar Point. At the end of the war, they had huge stocks of vehicles, construction machinery and materials which they didn't want to ship back to the States. A deal to purchase this war surplus was struck with the British and French governments (who shared the management of The New Hebrides as Vanuatu was then called) until the latter pulled out of the deal, assuming the kit would just be abandoned here anyway.

The US top brass took exception to this so the last job of the cee-bees was to build a ramp into the sea and drive Jeeps, trucks, cranes and bulldozers into the water. Millions of dollars worth of kit that would have be so valuable to the locals was systematically dumped, presumably with a slick of pollution, and it's said that many of the American soldiers wept at the sight of it. 

Today Million Dollar Point is a popular dive and snorkel site and remains a monument to stupidity and pig-headedness. Graham jumped off Maunie as we motored past it yesterday and took these photos:

Caterpillar-tracked crane
A huge fork-lift truck

Trailer and huge bundle of roofing iron

Coral is slowly colonising the kit

On to the more pressing need of our voyage, the laundry has been dropped off at the local, very yacht-friendly resort and we've refuelled the boat. This involved a dinghy ride, jerry cans and a borrowed wheelbarrow but was completed successfully. Tomorrow morning we'll do a last re-stock of food for the voyage then go around to a quiet anchorage at Ratua Island to get ourselves ready for the voyage.

Arriving with fuel cans in a wheelbarrow was a source of amusement for the pump attendant

Graham takes the first load. Note the little taxi - their drivers seem to always run these things on fumes, so as we filled up 112 litres we watched one after another come in for 1.5 to 2 litres in to their tanks at a time

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