September 15

This morning instead of leaving Maewo we just moved to a new spot as our anchor chain had completely twisted itself up on some coral heads. It was quite difficult raising the anchor, and, once up we had to try three times to set it in a proper spot. The first time I felt we were too close to another boat (Valella - but not the same as the one with Garth and Wendy – from Melbourne ) so we moved. Then we dropped closer to shore in very shallow water (20ft) and when I dived to check the anchor I saw we were about 20 ft from a huge mound that rose to about 6ft from the surface. If we drift over that we could bounce and hit the bottom easily. So we moved again. This time Kate hit her head on the panel covering the anchor locker (while removing it). The final time we managed it ok and ended up in a great spot. We can even see the waterfall from the cockpit.  

The woman from Valella came by and we chatted a bit and she mentioned that Gene on “Noason” was doing some work for the village and is in very tight with the chief, so I had the idea to go over and chat with him and see what he thought the reaction of the chief would be if he knew we had not entered the country legally (ie. make our first stop one of the official ports of entry). I met his wife, Robbie, and daughter Allison – who is almost 5 – and invited them to come and visit with us, which they did. Allison and Jonah got along fabulously and Robbie gave her opinion that no one would care about our status and we should have no problem. The national government is apparently far away both geographically and psychologically from the people at the tribal level. Surprise.  

Robbie also told us about their involvement in the village, how this is their third visit in 3 years and last year they stayed here 4 months. Gene (Robbie’s husband) has apparently been “adopted” by the chief in an official pig killing ceremony (Gene had to kill the pig) and consequently they are quite fond of the place. They are working on several development projects within the village including water management, building a women’s crafts center for displaying and selling local crafts, and a “Yacht Club” – all of which are being funded by grants they applied for on behalf of the local Chief and the village, all of which will be run for and by the villagers for their benefit. The “Yacht Club” (which is still being built) will apparently be a bar and restaurant catering to yachties (there were 2 other boats here when we arrived, 3 others have arrived since – including “Noason” which came from Santo with a load of food and building supplies - for a total of 6 here now).  

In the afternoon we inflated the dinghy and went to shore. We found Gene there in a building doling out the supplies he had brought from Santo. Apparently they give he and Robbie orders (some pay in advance) and he goes to Santo and buys all the stuff and brings it back. They pay him exactly what he pays at the shops in Santo – I watched them do the distribution and bookkeeping, Gene and the Chief. Jonah played with Allison and the kids from the village while we chatted with other yachties and the locals, asking questions, looking around. Tomorrow is apparently a big party day celebrating the formation of the Province of Penama (an acronym of the names of the three islands which make up the province – Pentacost, Ambae and Maewo). Since their appears to be no difficulty with our presence, we think we will stay at least through the weekend, probably until the weather clears up (oh, its been 100% overcast and raining on and off since we arrived yesterday morning).