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Gift Exchange Ceremony on the Island of Tanna, Vanuatu

The cultural experience on the island of Tanna continued today with a visit to Port Resolution Central Primary School. On arrival everyone was welcomed by a refreshing coconut drink before being guided into the main assembly house where all the impeccably behaved children were waiting to greet the World ARC participants.

The Principal introduced the teachers and welcomed everyone on behalf of the children and went on to explaining that they take students from kinder-garden ages through to year 6 and there are currently a total of 130 pupils in the school. He also thanked previous World ARC fleets and the World Cruising Club for all their generosity in the past which has made significant changes to the school. These funds have helped fund new buildings, sports equipment and computers. After his kind speech the children sang some beautiful songs about their family and their school which brought tears to many eyes.

During the afternoon the eagerly awaited ‘Welcome and Gift Exchange Ceremony’ took place in and around the grounds of the Port Resolution Yacht Club. This ceremony is unique to the village and follows a pattern established over many years. Firstly the local priest gave a prayer and provided a blessing to all the fleet, wishing everyone a safe passage on all their various onward travels. This was followed by the senior members of the village, both men and women, performing a dramatic series of dances.

After the welcome the whole group made their way to the Yacht Club where the formal ceremony and exchange of gifts took place. All the World ARC Yachts have been considering their visit to Vanuatu for some time and many useful gifts have been purchased specifically for the ceremony such as bed linen, stationary, school materiel, boating equipment and many more everyday items which are always gratefully received by the locals. Many thanks to Lara on Charm for coordinating all the gifts.

On entering the YC everyone received a grass garland and hat made of coconut leaves by the local ladies. After further welcome speeches, the skipper from each boat was asked to step forward and introduce themselves and provide a few short words about their crew, boat and homelands. The common theme throughout all the speeches was how grateful all the participants were to be able to experience and see the village of Port Resolution and how this was their favourite stopover to date.

The evening commenced with a feast prepared by the local ladies from the village and served in the YC which was enjoyed by all the participants as the sun set behind the anchorage, overlooked by the smouldering volcano of Mount Yasur.

On route to Port Villa, which is the next formal stopover, many of the fleet will pause for an informal gathering in Dillons Bay on the island of Erromango where the head of the village, Chief Jason, is looking forward to welcoming the crews and proving local tours of the caves, surrounding forests and bays where there is the opportunity to snorkel in the clear waters off Vanuatu.

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