On route from Tanna to the main capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, the World ARC fleet had the opportunity to stopover at the island of Erromango. A total of 17 boats filled the bay and some 50 participants were keen to explore more of this fascinating country and its mystical islands.
One of the main attractions on Erromango is the skeleton caves. These are caves naturally carved out of the lava rocks over many centuries and were where the locals use to hide away from other tribes trying to capture the village and its people. Some 200 years ago after the death of the chief, his bones along with his family were laid to rest in these caves. Preserved by the atmospheric conditions their skeletons can be clearly seen today. With a steep and precarious climb, other human skeleton remains were also visible which are also believed to be important members of the tribe from Erromango. Having made the climb along with 36 participants, World ARC yellow shirt, Andrew Pickersgill, said “this tour is not for the faint hearted but well worth the efforts to get to the top!”
From the same beach it was possible to snorkel, however, on morning of the tour the surf was up a bit and the tide was low so it was only a quick dip before the fleet of dinghies left to return to the main village for more adventures.
Docking the dinghies at the mouth of a most beautiful river, participants were welcomed by the entire village turning up to say hello. Having been lead into the local community building, the group was officially welcomed by one of the heads of the village, David, and in his absence, the chief’s brother, Dick, who provided a few short words of thanks and gratitude for our visit to their island. In a slightly unusual fashion for the Pacific ways he then invited the head lady of the village, Jocelyn, to say a few words of welcome which was warmly received and appreciated by all.
The World ARC fleet provided a large pile of gifts for the village. A number of the fleet have been gathering items for the school, toys for the children and useful everyday items for the community such as rope, clothing, linens, materiel and cooking equipment. In return the ladies of the village had prepared a spectacular table full of fruits, sugar cane, banana fritters and other local delicacies for everyone to enjoy.
On behalf of the Chief, David gave everyone permission to walk around their very pretty and extremely well kept village. He also invited all the sailors to visit his Yacht Club which was a very special hut at the top of the beach with a lovely view of the bay. With all the usual facilities available, book swaps, showers and general resting areas under a ceiling full of visitor’s flags, this is well worth a stop for any passing yachtsman and their crew.
To some up their visit Bobbie Waterman on Cabana said “this is about as far from tourist trail as you can get and the people are so heart-warming and authentic.”
Most of the fleet have now made their way to Port Vila where the pontoon of Yachting World Marina is filling up adding a hive of excitement and colour to the waterfront. Participants are looking forward to exploring a slightly more populated area where they can begin to prepare for their crossing to Australia, but not before they enjoy a number of events organised for them here on the island of Efate.