Vanuatu, an unspoiled stopover

Regular Multihulls World readers will remember Moby, an Outremer 51. Here we find the former crew of that catamaran, but aboard a larger Outremer 55, now cruising in the Pacific.

Who: Bénédicte, Loïc, Arthur, Anna, Victor
Where: Vanuatu
Multihull: Outremer 55
Saga is currently in Vanuatu, a relatively little-visited archipelago in the western Pacific. This small, independent country has managed to keep its culture and traditions intact after a period of dual Franco-British protectorate that is unique in the world. 117 languages, a dozen main islands with different customs and 70 smaller ones - this is the unusual patchwork home of a welcoming, modest and always friendly people. In Tanna, we got a close-up view of the volcano’s crater, spewing geysers of lava. In Erromango, it’s a good idea to help out and bring along some basic necessities and visit the village of Dillon’s bay, which is rebuilding after two cyclones last March. At the museum in Port-Vila, the capital, you can see a demonstration of sand drawing, a hypnotic art of storytelling that is both graphic and oral. At Lamen island, you can take part in an epic race of traditional pirogues (dug-out canoes); at Ambrym, the island of mystery and magic, you can watch traditional dances, including the famous ROM dance, where the men wear tall wooden masks and tunics made of pandanus fiber. At Espíritu Santo, we were able to follow a family of dugongs from our anchorage, and then took the dinghy up a small river to a majestic blue hole. South of Malakula, it’s possible to wingfoil in the lagoon and rub shoulders with friendly villagers with whom we bartered on a daily basis. At Pentecost, you can witness the Gol jump, a spectacular event that takes place 2 or 3 times a year in each village, at the end of the Yam harvest. A wooden tower 50 – 65 feet (15-20 meters) high is built for the season, with ten platforms from which many brave young men jump, attached by a vine and cheered on by dozens of dancers: it’s a kind of old-fashioned bungee-jumping! We were terrified for them, of course, but accidents are rare, such is their remarkable technical skill and know-how. We still have several islands to discover, and we’re looking forward to it!

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