Congratulations to Peter Kamsel who has won a Vanuatu government scholarship to study medicine in Fiji. Peter was one of the first students from Sangalai School in the Maskelyne Islands to receive a secondary school fee subsidy from the Butterfly Trust. Since 2012, the Trust paid a third of all Peter’s school fees from Year 9 to Year 13. Well done Peter!
One of our regular medical volunteers, physician Dr Michael Kahan, recently wrote an article for NZ Doctor. If you’re a doctor considering volunteering overseas, we warmly recommend reading this article.
To view the article click here.
Well what a year that was!
Category 5 Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu on Friday, 13 March 2015 causing incredible damage. Rireana was on her mooring in Port Vila Harbour. We were in Auckland trying to get on a plane to Vila having just flown in from a scoping trip to India and Bangladesh.
We had left Rireana on her mooring prior to Christmas. As usual, we had prepared her thoroughly for any potential cyclone. The mooring had been checked, a bridle added as back-up security, and chafe protection put in place. All deck gear had been removed, the boom had been lowered, all halyards and sheets had been removed, and down below, everything had been securely stowed.
Rireana was one of about 30 boats moored in the anchorage. On the day after the cyclone, she was one of 5 boats left afloat. Most had been sunk or wrecked on the surrounding coast and reefs. Rireana had sustained some damage when she was hit by another, larger, yacht, which had broken its mooring and now lay wrecked on the beach behind. Rireana’s bowsprit (10mm stainless steel plate) had been bent 90 degrees to starboard and, as the errant vessel bounced down the starboard side, it had broken some stainless steel work and small parts of the rubbing strake. The forestay was also slack as a result of the damage to the bowsprit.
Rireana’s builder, Ian Hyde-Hills, did a wonderful job of constructing her. She is very strong but light. Consequently there was no damage whatsoever to her hull, deck or rigging. If it hadn’t been for the impact from the other vessel, Rireana would have been completely unscathed.
As we worked on cyclone recovery work, Ian came to Vanuatu to help the Butterfly Trust with the re-building, and he also assisted with the repairs to Rireana. At this stage, everything is back in working order, but there is cosmetic work remaining to be done to get her back to her former glory. That will have to be done in 2016 when we have the time to haul her out.
Consequently, sailing in 2015 was minimal. The sheer amount of relief and recovery work required us to spend a lot of time in Vila, flying to the outer islands when necessary, instead of taking the more leisurely approach of sailing. A few day sails and a couple of weekends spent at Mele Bay was all the sailing we managed.
We are now in the 2015/2016 cyclone season. Rireana is again secure on the same mooring. She will be fine!
We re-joined Rireana in early March 2014 in Port Vila where she had spent the previous 3 months on a cyclone mooring. After working in Port Vila we set sail for Noumea, New Caledonia, in early May. Our purpose in going to Noumea was to haul the boat out of the water for maintenance.
We had one of our best ocean voyages, travelling south with a 12 knot easterly on the first day, sunny skies and a slight swell. We took advantage of the conditions to make as much easting as possible and managed to make a landfall at Williams Bay (previously Dillon Bay) on Erromango just after sunset. This was a bonus – another gentle night at anchor. The next day the sea was beautifully calm with a gentle breeze from the ESE and we sailed serenely off towards Havannah Passage at the southern end of New Caledonia. We sat on the foredeck eating lunch and enjoying the smooth waters, something we had very rarely experienced in the open ocean. Another balmy night and day followed and while progress was not scintillating, the peacefulness more than made up for our reduced speed.
We approached the island of Tiga as sunset fell and the breeze dropped, so for the last night it was on with the engine and we reached Havannah Passage as the sun rose, with a couple of light showers thrown in for good measure. The entrance through the passage was uneventful and we anchored in Port Boise for a sleep before heading around to Noumea the next day.
In Noumea we hauled the boat out at Nouville Plaisance. This was akin to boating heaven after spending the last two seasons in Vanuatu. We were spoilt for chandlery and all things necessary to keep a yacht sailing. Our good friend Ian Hyde-Hills (the builder of Rireana) came up to join us and helped with the work on the boat. His expertise is second-to-none and it meant we could do things, such as replacing through-hull valves and the depth sounder transducer, with full confidence in the integrity of the work. We also replaced our anchor winch with a new Maxwell RC10 and have not regretted it. After doing the routine work such as anti-fouling, we launched and spent a few days in the marina at Port Moselle waiting for a suitable weather window to return to Vanuatu.
While in Noumea, as well are being helped by Ian, we received much assistance from our New Caledonian friends, without whom our visit would not have been as enjoyable or successful. Merci beaucoup to Raymonde, Jose and Jacqueline, Remy and Claudine, Eric and Anne-Marie, Christian and Elizabeth and Alex, Stefan and Caroline and Nemo.
We left Noumea with a spring in our mast-step and departed the Havannah Passage in a light to moderate south-easterly breeze. This continued for the first two days but on the third became more easterly and strengthened to 20 to 25 knots. We put two reefs in the main, furled most of the genoa and bounced all the way to Port Vila with large swells breaking on the beam.
The rest of the season was spent sailing around Vanuatu. Our work took us to southeast Malekula, up the west coast of Malekula to Santo, from Santo to Ambae, and from Ambae to Tongoa (sailing down the east coast of Ambrym) and back to Port Vila. A second trip took us back to southeast Malekula and then back to Vila. We experienced a surprising number of north-easterly winds, especially when we were sailing north, and so the season was characterised by reefed sails and water over the decks as we sailed to windward most of the time. In fact, we kept two reefs in the main for about 6 months, not even bothering to shake them out when we anchored. The head winds plus the triangulated seas around the islands of Vanuatu made the sailing challenging, especially around the passages between Maewo and Pentecost, and Pentecost and Ambrym, where the tide and wind produced large seas.
After our last return voyage to Port Vila in early November, we again put Rireana on a cyclone mooring and are now keeping a weather eye on the forecasts.
We launched Rireana at the end of the cyclone season on 30 April 2013. We had spent the previous 6 weeks preparing her for another season of work in the tropics.
After launching we proceeded to a mooring in Port Vila Harbour and lived and worked there before heading north to Malekula at the beginning of June. We stopped at Havannah Harbour and then, because there was an onshore wind causing a rough sea at Revolieu Bay on Epi, we proceeded directly to the Maskelyne Islands and entered Sangalai Harbour in the dark. Modern chartplotters are wonderful things. We then spent a couple of months sailing between the Maskelyne Islands and Port Sandwich while attending to Trust work. There were the usual issues with strong winds in Sangalai Harbour but our anchor held. We also experienced a rough couple of nights in Avock but again, the anchor held well. Each passage into Port Sandwich also seemed to be accompanied by strong winds, rain, and falling darkness.
We left Port Sandwich and returned to Port Vila in August, battling a 20 to 30 knot south easterly at first, which slowly, and luckily, went more easterly as we sailed south. We took as much water over the deck as we have ever done, but made a relatively fast passage, reaching Havannah Harbour in about 15 hours.
We worked in Port Vila until the beginning of September when we again sailed north to Malekula. Our passages were again, relatively uneventful. On the return voyage to Port Vila in early October we made an overnight stop at Lamen Bay on Epi, and another at Revolieu Bay.
We again made the decision to leave Rireana in Vanuatu for the cyclone season. However, this year, instead of hauling her out of the water, she is on a cyclone mooring.
In mid-April 2012 we arrived back in Port du Sud marina, Noumea, and boarded Rireana. Thierry had kept very good care of her and we soon had her back in living order.
On 1 May, the end of the cyclone season, we hauled Rireana out of the water at Nouville Plaisance, also in Noumea. This hardstand area for boats is well run and maintained. It has a travel lift and plenty of chandlery services nearby. By Noumea standards it is also relatively cheap and compared well in price with hardstands in New Zealand and Australia. The only drawbacks are that you have to provide your own water-blasting equipment and ladders.
We lived aboard Rireana on the hardstand for 10 days while we anti-fouled her and attended to the myriad others jobs that are part and parcel of boat life. We had discovered a problem with the depth sounder in the marina and despite many attempts at diagnosing the problem could not get to the bottom of it, even on the hardstand. The issue was that the depth sounder would take anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour to engage when first turned on. In the end we decided to sail with a less than perfectly functioning sounder and use our lead line as back-up if necessary. (The depth sounder is connected to our Garmin 4008 chartplotter.)
We re-launched Rireana in the middle of May and prepared for the voyage to Vanuatu.
During our time in Noumea we were again royally entertained by our New Caledonian friends, all of whom were very willing to assist wherever they could. Jose lent us his water-blaster and ladder and even went to the extent of helping us with the anti-fouling, and Raymonde was, as always, the most generous hostess and organiser. Stefan and Carolyne from Fruity Fruits took us sight-seeing and gave much useful local boating advice, as did Patrick of Proton. Everyone was very hospitable.
On 14 May we cleared out of Noumea and sailed to Port Boise where we anchored for the night. At dawn the next day we made a relatively easy trip through the Havannah Passage and set course for the island of Mare in the Loyalty Islands. We had a rough plan to anchor off the main port of Tadine overnight. However, on arriving at Tadine we found an uncomfortable roll in the anchorage and the south-easterly trade wind was bending around the southern point and putting us onto a lee shore. We therefore kept sailing north, picking our way between the small islands between Mare and the next large island of Lifou. The night was pitch black and the only navigation aid in the area is a light on the eastern tip of Lifou. This was obscured most of the time and so we relied solely on radar and our chart plotter. It is amazing how technology has taken a lot of the stress out of small vessel navigation. By midnight we had reached the northern tip of Mare and with a fair wind from the south-east, decided to head for the island of Tanna, one of the southern islands of Vanuatu where yachts can complete customs and immigration clearances.
By the middle of the next night, the wind had risen and we rounded the southern coast of Tanna under a double-reefed main and heavily reefed headsail. We steered further south, and covered more miles, than necessary to make certain our landfall at Port Resolution was in daylight – well that is what we say anyway. We ran quickly up the east coast of Tanna and surfing on a couple of large swells, entered the harbour at Port Resolution at about 1000 hours.
There were half a dozen other boats in Port Resolution during our stay there. We took a ride on the back of a ute over the hills to Lenekal to clear in, a couple of days after anchoring. No-one seemed to mind this delay. The weather was foul and the ute became bogged down on more than one occasion. It had to be dug out of ruts in the track and hauled and pushed up very slippery parts. By the time we got to Lenekal we were all (about a dozen of us) wet and cold. We cleared customs but the immigration officer was ill and in hospital. We therefore didn’t manage to clear immigration until arriving in Port Vila about a week later. Again, no-one was too bothered.
We stayed in Port Resolution for 4 days and were well looked after by Stanley who will organise/obtain/make/source anything a yacht could need (within the limitations of a remote tropical island of course).
We weighed anchor and sailed north out of Port Resolution on a clear sunny day. As we reached the strait between Tanna and Erromango (the next island to the north) the wind increased and we ended up having to heave to and put 3 reefs in the main. The sea was boisterous, as is often the case around Vanuatu, but once we gained the lee of Erromango everything calmed down and we anchored in Dillon’s Bay in the mid-afternoon. We spent only 24 hours there but can highly recommend the anchorage (in trade wind conditions) and the village.
The next afternoon we set sail for Port Vila. Again, once clear of the lee of Erromango, and it is a long lee, we encountered strong winds and boisterous seas. We had 2 reefs in the main and a heavily reefed headsail and were blasting along on a broad reach at 7 plus knots. For comfort’s sake we should really have had 3 reefs in the main, but it was dark and wet and slippery on deck so we chose to carry on at speed. We raced through the night and just south of Port Vila caught up with a 50 foot ketch that had left Dillon’s Bay before us. We hadn’t managed to sleep but we were clear winners of the race which the ketch knew nothing about. We picked up a mooring in Port Vila as day broke.
We spent time in the Maskelyne Islands and Port Sandwich on mainland Malekula during our work for the Trust. We called in at the island of Epi, and Havannah Harbour on Efate, on our trips between Vila and Malekula. Most of the time we had wonderful sailing conditions with the wind just forward or abaft the beam and blowing 12 to 20 knots. Once on the way from Epi to Port Sandwich we had a scorching blast with 35 knots from dead astern. We try to pick our weather as much as possible for these trips as bashing to windward in the confused seas of Vanuatu against the trade wind is as much fun as having a bath with an alligator.
Instead of taking Rireana outside the cyclone zone to Australia or New Zealand, we again decided to keep her in the tropics for the 2012/2013 cyclone season. And in order to do as much Trust work as possible, we decided to keep her in Vanuatu. So at the end of October we hauled Rireana out of the water at the Port Vila boatyard. This was an entertaining procedure involving many divers chocking the boat level on its cradle before she was hauled out by a winch on the back of a tractor. We then spent three weeks preparing for any possible cyclones, including removing everything from the deck, including all halyards and the solar panel. We lashed Rireana to her cradle and also to concrete blocks in the ground using ratchet type cargo straps. (One half of a foldable anchor ball makes a perfect rat guard for a cargo strap.) We then crossed our fingers and flew back to New Zealand for 3 months of work and fundraising.
Football is a popular game throughout Vanuatu. In the Maskelynes, men risk injury to their ankles every time they kick a ball on the grassy sports field at Sangalai Centre School. Looking deceptively even, this pitch is no lawn. It is ridden with crab holes and players literally have to dodge the occasional chickens crossing their path. Friendly matches are played on dirt tracks adjoining villages using makeshift goal posts constructed from tree branches. Proper footwear and balls are scarce. Any gifts of these items have been well received in the past and shared amongst the various villages.
The Trust is therefore delighted to announce its partnership with the Auckland City Football Club (ACFC) on the occasion of the club team’s Super City derby 3-1 win against Waitakere United on Saturday 4 February 2012. This followed a successful and colourful fundraising effort at ACFC grounds, raising $920 from raffle ticket sales. ACFC then generously made a further contribution to cap the day’s takings to $1000. To top it off, the club has also agreed to organise donations of playing kits, training gear and equipment on behalf of communities in Vanuatu.
Read the report by ACFC’s Media Manager at the club’s official website at http://www.aucklandcityfc.com/.
Butterfly Trust applauds the tremendous effort and enthusiasm displayed by all members of ACFC who have so generously created a platform for further projects and opportunities to benefit communities in rural Vanuatu. We are grateful to the Chairman and management team at ACFC, organisers of the raffle prizes as well as everyone involved with media and communications. We also thank our volunteer ‘butterflies’ who flitted amongst the crowd selling raffle tickets and promoting the work of the Trust with much grace and humour.
As a result of publicity generated following this week’s media release, the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) has expressed its ‘thanks’ to both organisations. Link to the Vanuatu Football Federation’s website.
Lambert Maltock, President of VFF says, “On behalf of Vanuatu Football Federation and the football of our humble nation, we wish to entend to both organisations and those directly responsible for this help, our most sincere and utmost gratitude. Indeed, such a kind act of generous assistance was unexpected and we are truly grateful for this thoughtfulness. I am sure those intended beneficiaries would be truly happy to receive this help.”
The same report can also be viewed at the website of The Vanuatu Daily Post, the country’s daily newspaper. Link to the Vanuatu Daily Post website.
The Auckland City team has played against several Vanuatu teams, namely Tafea, Port Vila Sharks and Amicale in the Oceania League since 2007. The upcoming match between Auckland City and Amicale takes place at the PVL Stadium in Port Vila on Saturday 31 March.
Photographs taken at the Auckland City Football Club Raffle Ticket Fundraiser on 4 February 2012, 47 Kiwitea Street, Sandringham, Auckland, New Zealand. Credit to Shane Wenzlick and Marc Peretic-Wilson.
Maskelynes’ photographs taken by the Butterfly Trust in July 2011.
Transporting items to the Maskelynes continues to be a challenge with no direct access by road or air. We are very grateful to the captain and crew of Tallship “Soren Larsen” for helping with the transport from New Zealand of donated items of medicines, books and clothing over the past 2 years.
Once again, the Butterfly Trust will need help with transport in 2012. If anyone can help or know of anyone who can, please contact us by email to email@example.com.