Vanuatu, a voyage to the edge of the world...

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Why so far away? There's no doubt that if you pick the right time, wonderful moments can be experienced along our own coasts, and even very close to home. But that's not enough for me... Like some of you, I've not always escaped unscathed from my sailing experiences in the South Pacific, yet this third experiencee of sailing there will certainly not be my last.
So what is it that draws one back to Vanuatu? Why is it that its people were named as the happiest on the planet? Perhaps it's their isolation or perhaps the fact that they are a bit old-fashioned? Maybe in these isolated regions, there's a special balance that exists between a generous Nature and a sparse population. In short, as we don't really know the answer, why not try and live it? You will need to "give up" three weeks of your time: something that's not easy, but is one of the reasons that these islands are still pristine...
The archipelago is situated in the South West Pacific, with Fiji to the east, the Solomon islands to the north and New Caledonia to the south. Stretched out across their latitudes over 800km, you can swim in the sea all year round, even in the south during the southern winter, which lasts from June to September. It's during this dry period that you will find the best conditions for discovering the islands' luxuriant flora and fauna, without the crowds (there are less than 22 inhabitants per km_). Vanuatu and its 83 islands cover an area half the size of France, and are a wonderful playground for those travellers who arrive by boat, which is of course the best way to discover them. There are lots of extremely secure anchorages available.
What about the language? The main language is bislama, based upon a pidgin english, although english and french are both spoken and taught... amid a hundred or so local languages. Just imagine: how did the British and French jointly govern the New Hebrides before their independence in 1980? Their linguistic and cultural heritage resembles the aftermath of an England France rugby match. Even today some children walk miles to get to the French or English school becausee neighbouring villages don't speak the same language... Yet still, this strange cultural mosaic works: there is a political proximity, which takes place at the nakamal, with the elders and the chief. The result of this is exceptional security, and a wonderful hospitality which creates a harmonious ambiance.

Skipper on the way to Port Villa

Franck, the skipper on the way to Port Vila.

The catamaran: a family history, and an Outremer one too...

Franck, my younger brother, settled in Noum_a a few years ago... Having sailed around the lagoon in a Catana 42, he sold it to buy an Outremer 45, the second in the series. With engineering rigour, but also after a couple of intense runs in the Baie des Citrons, he methodically revised it and made it more reliable.
Our paths crossed when I was in Vanuatu in 2002. Three of us were doing a family round the world trip on "Papoose", the ...

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