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19 July 2010

Helicopter Ride around Efate and outside islands

Left this morning at 9 am with Juergen, Heidi, Casey for a three hour ride up to Ambrym Island to see a large volcano in the northern part of Vanuatu. We went up the west side to Port Havannah, Lelepa and Moso islands. Beautiful villages along the trip with 500 people in one island adjacent to Port Vila. Out a little further over a village of 5000 people. Then into the mountains and seeing the virgin forests from on top. Then into the beautiful harbor of Port Havannah with 300 feet of water. This was a navy base for the US in World World II. The shore is dotted with coral reefs. Over Moso to the northern side of the island. This side has huge caves and beautiful coral reefs. Next time we should explore this area in detail. Then up to Nguna island to see the extinct volcano. The locals do not let the helicopter company land here. Was hoping to land and walk along the rim of the extinct volcano, but no joy. Very good anchorage on the most NW end of the island looks to be a nice village there also.

At this point we are heading north to Ambrym but weather closed and a decision was made to head back to Port Vila. On return trip we went between Nguna and mainland where there is a beautiful beach and large sandy reef in the passage. There is a very low and small island just north of Efate which has a resort which was half built. Juergen was up there with his grand kids and had a great time earlier in the week.

This would be a kite surfing Mecca. Back thru Port Havanah and thru the Hilliard Channel. The island of Eretoka is just off shore and is where a peaceful chief lived in the 1200’s. He had a hundred wives and when the chief passed away the hundred wives were all buried alive with him. A French man wanted to see if the legend was true and started digging on Eretoka and on the first dig found the mass grave. The wives were given kava before being lowered into the ground. The legend has it that the wives who didn’t want to die were held in the pit and a large rock placed on their chest so they wouldn’t move and the dirt was then shoveled on top. Remember these islands were full of cannibals. What would you like to buried alive or eaten? Nasty.

Back to Port Vila over Point Devil and back to the helicopter pontoon in Port Vila Harbor. It was Juergen’s first helicopter ride and for the first time he was shell shocked and wasn’t talking the whole time!!!! A trip for the memory banks!!!!

- Casey

July 19th 01:02:50 Z
17 44.314 s
168 18.579 e
11:00am Wild Tigris time