Thursday, November 22, 2007

Landed in Australia

We are now in Bundaberg, Australia and docked for the first time since April. With the boat secure to a dock I can relax my duty as skipper. No weather worries, radio schedules, anchor alarms, weather analysis or route planning fetter my days. We are at the Midtown marina located on the Burnett River lying 6nm inland from the sea. The location is superb and just a few blocks to shops in center of town, very close to the outdoor public pool, and right on the river trail. The plan was to head further south to the Brisbane area, but... it was just too easy to stay here. We are now officially landed as we bought cheap mountain bikes and spending much of our time ashore.

Australians are super nice, very outgoing, genuine and relaxed.

Bundaberg is the regional center of the larger farming community. Sugar cane grows in abundance and supplies the local mill. The Bundaberg Rum factory makes use of all the sugar cane to produce famous Bundaberg Rum The town has a nice central business district, lots of small shops and a few blocks that are very pedestrian friendly.

Pick up trucks are replaced with "Utes" or Utility Vehicles descend from 1970’s Chevy El Caminos and Ford Rancheros with a flat bed on the back and a V-8 under the hood.

Strong accents are the norm.

Here are a few new Ausie vocab words

Wack = Give it a try.

G’day = Good day

Milk bar = small convenience store

Whinge = Complain

Esky = Cooler

Sanger = Sandwich

Mate = General term of familiarity regardless if you know the person or not.

Good on ya = Well done

No worries = No problem or you are welcome

Bush = Anywhere away from the city.

Ripper = Good

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Waterfall Bay

Snorkeling on the reef near Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava, Vanuatu.

Look close and you can see the waterfall in the background. This is one of my favorite places in the South Pacific. Amazing scenery above and below the water, very friendly people and only a handful of yacht that call here each year.

Reminder: Double click on any pictures to load a larger high-res version.Bright reddish pink fan coral
Pink soft coral found only at the best of best snorkel sites.
Clown fish in anomie. These are my favorite and on each snorkel it;s my goal to find as many colonies as possible. In a rich and vibrant location like it's easy to spot many different species of anomie and various types of anomie fish.
Some sort of worm?? with small fish
Kathy and friend Thimai practice water music with some local women. Son and grandson of Cheif Jimmy I think this is "John Star" and his son.

Chief Jimmy of Waterfall bay, VanuatuGrandson of Chief Jimmy
Son in law of Chief Jimmy
Brightly colored pineapple in Chief Jimmy's garden.
A couple of Chief Jimmy's sons leading the way to the top of the waterfall to hunt fresh water prawns.
Getting a pounding in the waterfall. Look closely and you'll see a group of us withing the falls at the base.Kathy with Chief Jimmy at the top of the waterfall.

Deadly accurate with a sling shot. This young boy was demonstrating how he could consistently shoot apple like fruits out of a tree fourty feet away. Amazing.
Island boy
S/V Jipcho sailing along the shores of Vanua Lava, Vanuatu. David and Thi Mai on board.
Kathy at the navigation station checking our postion and time to go.
Lobster. We did some good trading to obtain this lobster. Money has little value this far out in the bush so trading a few D cell batteries and some fish hooks got these beauties

Friday, November 16, 2007

Topor Man! Topor Man! Watch out for Topor man! He comes around in the weeks preceding Kastom (traditional) festival and chases women and children and if he catches them beats them with his stick. The kids are terrified of this villain and run and hide when he appears or is rumored to be lurking. I narrowly escaped a whack on the head just seconds after I snapped this picture. One of the KastomChiefs of Gaua island leads a dance.
Kastom Sea Snake dances are seen specificaly in the Northern islands of Vanuatu. We were lucky to catch this amazing perfomace at the Gaua arts festival. The Kastom dancers wear elaborate headdresses and paint their bodies with horizontal white stripes, in resemblances to Sea Snakes found in the surrounding ocean waters. Local legend recounts of how the Sea Snake once saved all the fish in the sea, by driving off the shark who was attempting to fill his belly with them. As the fish were now free to multiply in numbers, apparently the Sea Snakes are now seen as a symbol of fertility and homage to the Sea Snake is meant to promote successful fertility among the tribal members.

We invited Peace Corp workers on Gaua over for a pizza dinner and beers. This was quite a treat as there there is no pizza or cheese or pepperoni to be found on Gaua and they had been there a long time. Water music at Gaua arts festival. The video clips just can't do the performance justice.

Gaua Arts Festival

Dave teaches local kids at the festival how to play marbles as he gives a couple hundred marbles to all the kids.
Friends Thimai & David from s/v Jipcho enjoy some Lap Lap for lunch. Cruiser enjoy the Gaua arts festival. s/v Artic Fox (Tim, Cameron and Cynthia), s/v La Vie (Kathy), s/v Jipcho (David) and s/v Two by Sea (Chris)
Wooden statues of fertility?
Water music

Gaua Arts Festival

Kastom (traditional) grade-taking ceremonies mark the steps taken by influential chiefs as they move up through a formal system of grades, gaining power and rank. Each step is marked by the ritual killing of pigs and gifts of taro root and shell money. Each rank progressivley requires more pigs. A feast follows. The Pig the chief has his foot on was just ceremoniously clubbed to death. It was pretty gruesome as special club didn't pack quite enough punch and it took way too many swings to dispatch the pig.
Kastom High chief of whom the conducted the grade taking cerimony.
Dancers with great Kastom (traditional) costumes.
This Kastom dance performance was very lively and seemed to be the crowd favorite.

Cruisers Kathy & Chris of s/v Two by Sea enjoy the show in the shade of an enormous banyan tree.

Chicken foot anyone?

This tasty chicken foot was in kathy's chicken and rice meal served on a banana leaf. Nothing goes to waste and since this huge meal cost less than $0.50 USD is was a good value foot and all.Local girl chops up some fresh beef for sale at one of the food stands.
Topor man almost cracks my skull!
Woman in traditional dress. The big smile show how incredibly friendly these people are.
Chief shows off some shell money.

Dave tries for a WIFI signal in Port Vila. Getting connected to the internet can be very difficult and super expensive when available. The worst was in Luganvile, Vanuatu where we paid $0.25USD per minute for dial up speed internet access. Vatu the currency of Vanuatu. The money was very colorful and adornded with great artwork. 100 vatu = 1 USD in September 2007.
White tip shark we caught near Chesterfield reef in the Coral sea.
Turtle carving with inlaid ornate shell. Ureparpara, VanuatuLocal man packing some freshly plantains.
Special dance performed in Ureparpara for the four cruising boats in attendance.

Nice tuna. A dog tooth tuna? White meat and tasty.