Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ureparapara Island

Dives Bay, Ureparapara Island, Vanuatu
13°32.4589 S 167°20.4535 E ( Anchorage)

Ureparapara is in the far north of Vanuatu and a spectacular anchorage inside an extinct volcanic crater two miles long by half a mile wide. At the head of the bay lies a village of about two hundred people, a primary school and church are the main features aside from the thatch and bamboo homes. The locals are enthusiastic traders and a steady stream of canoes mostly manned by young children offer the standard fruits, veggies, eggs and occasional wood carving for trade. I suppose over a longer period of time the canoes would become a bit of a nuisance, but for now it's good fun to see the smiling shy faces. The canoes are particularly handsome and in this bay they are specialist in making dug out kayaks (i.e. no out rigger). The craftsmanship is spectacular to so precisely carve a kayak out of a solid log with rudimentary tools. I'm considering having one custom built that I could store on deck and use for recreation. The cost is minimal by our standards with a nice canoe costing around fifty USD. The labor involved is monumental as a large tree needs to be located, cut, transported and then carved. By reasonable estimation these activities consuming ten of man hours each makes for quite a value.

Today we did some trading for carvings and ordered some fresh pineapples, green beans, tomatoes, onions and limes.

A few days ago we climbed about one hour up through the steaming jungle to the edge of the ancient crater rim. Quite a view, but a rough steep and slippery trail. The locals all go barefoot and I've tried the same and there is no substitute to the traction, grip and confidence gained by the bare foot on a steep slippery trail. We are waiting for some calm weather to make a short sail and stop over to the Reef Islands, an uninhabited reef with a few small islands. The reefs and fishing are purported to be spectacular so we look forward to some calmer weather to make the trip.

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