2012: Season Three

New Caledonia

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.

Noumea to Port Vila

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.

Beginning of the cyclone season

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.

Water blasting the growth_Port Vila Boatyard 30 Oct 2012 The day we sailed out of Noumea_14 May 2012 Hauling_Port Vila Boatyard 30 Oct 2012 Hauling out_Port Vila Boatyard 30 Oct 2012 Getting out to dry land_Port Vila Boatyard 30 Oct 2012 Au revoir Noumea_14 May 2012A la prochaine Noumea_14 May 2012


2012 season kicks off: Trust partners up with Auckland City Football Club

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.

Futbal long Maskelyne

Help with transporting donated items to Vanuatu’s outer islands


The problem of transport and access

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 david.lynn@butterflytrust.org.


Photographs of ‘Rireana’, our home and pivotal member of the Butterfly Trust


We use our yacht, Rireana, as a base for the work of the Butterfly Trust.

Rireana is an Owen Woolley designed yacht, 10.6m long, 3.0m in the beam, with a draft of 1.9m. She is sloop rigged with an added inner forestay. She is constructed of wood – triple skin, diagonally planked kauri – with epoxy and fibreglass sheathing. She was built by Ian Hyde-Hills and launched in 1990. We took over guardianship of Rireana from Ian in early 2006. Since then Ian has remained an integral part of Rireana’s journey.

Here are some photographs of Rireana.


Tackling rural health issues


“Come and Be Healed”. Words etched on the foundation stone of the Sangalai Clinic, named after the Rev. Fred Paton, a visiting missionary in 1897.


With a population of 260,000,  32 doctors* and a shortage of nurses, access to primary healthcare remains a formidable challenge for the majority of ni-Vans living in the outlying areas of Vanuatu. Other hurdles slowing down access to quality primary healthcare are the cost of training, the lack of proper training facilities and personnel, and the problem of transport across 83 different islands, many of which are geographically isolated from the urban centres.

The majority of Vanuatu’s doctors are permanently based at two regional referral hospitals and three provincial hospitals. This, combined with the shortage of nurses, dentists and eye-care specialists, means that a substantial portion of primary health care delivery to remote areas is still being catered for by overseas medical personnel working as volunteers. Some groups return on a regular basis, either focusing on a single catchment area or rotating through different locations on subsequent visits. Others provide financial support in the form of overseas courses and placement programmes in a bid to help selected ni-Van health workers improve their skills. With a broad range of health aid currently being driven by the government’s development partners, local and overseas NGOs and churches, as well as individual volunteers, we want to ensure that our involvement will build on what has already been established.

We have been fortunate to have had a number of highly qualified and motivated doctors and nurses, dentists and dental therapists, work with us over the years. Some return each year and return to clinics and hospitals where they have forged relationships with the local communities. This is particularly so at Lamap and the offshore islands of southeast Malekula, and at Norsup Hospital in north Malekula. Our medical personnel have engaged in both clinical work and training and mentoring of local health practitioners.

At the Lamap Health Centre in Malekula we have also established a dental clinic in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This dental clinic has been operating since 2013 and we are hoping to hand over full responsibility for its operation to the Ministry of Health by 2023.

We are also working at increasing local community health knowledge. To do this we are concentrating on assisting local health educators become more proficient at teaching local communities about basic public health awareness eg. washing hands, healthy nutrition, and basic wound care. This programme of community health education is being carried out primarily in Shefa Province, and before its evacuation after volcanic eruptions, was piloted on the island of Ambae.

However, at the same time as working at local community level, we have also recognised that without the support of central and regional government, a lot of work at the grass-roots level can be ineffectual. We therefore work at governmental levels to ensure that any grass-roots programmes fit the national strategic plans. In this regard, for example, our community health education programme for the Shefa province is run in conjunction with the management team from Shefa Regional Health. 

We have also begun a project investigating the establishment of a palliative care programme for the whole of Vanuatu. We spent 2017 and 2018 gathering information and have presented a report of our findings to the Ministry of Health.

*2010 figure as sourced from Vanuatu’s Annual Development Report

2011: Trade & Vocational News Part III


Butterfly Trust collaborates with Vanuatu Institute of Technology

With its main campus in the capital, Port Vila and 2 smaller provincial training centres, the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (“VIT”) is Vanuatu’s largest provider of formal technical and vocational training. It runs a variety of programmes in various trades, business, tourism, hospitality and computing. The Butterfly Trust was particularly interested in VIT’s rural training scheme whereby qualified instructors run intensive courses in a village environment. Designed especially for men and women with none or little formal qualifications, short courses can be customised to suit the technical level of the group taking part. As a VNTC (Vanuatu National Training Council) accredited organisation, where minimum standards are attained following course completion, individuals receive certificates recognised within the local industry.

The Butterfly Trust hopes to keep facilitating the acquisition of trade and vocational skills as an alternative form of continuing education for adults with little formal qualifications, to promote self reliance and to help generate income opportunities for individuals in the Maskelynes.

Before micro industries such as a coconut oil mill can be set up and run independently by the community, we believe that more groundwork is necessary to assist in the procurement of certain basic skills and knowledge. This is to ensure eventual success and sustainability of any project undertaken.

In September this year, the Butterfly Trust discussed future partnership with VIT Principal Kalbeo Kalpat, Deputy Academic Jack Graham and Course Co-ordinator Charley Manai. While there is plenty of organisation yet to be accomplished in co-ordinating the first course, likely to be a Vocational Foundation Certificate in electrical principles and workshop practices, the seed has nevertheless been planted.

Also on the agenda was the issue of providing assistance and further training to VIT’s instructors in the Port Vila campus. For this, the Butterfly Trust will be seeking the assistance of technical training institutes or experienced builders, woodworkers and electrical engineers from New Zealand interested in ‘Training the Trainers.

2011: Trade & Vocational News Part II


RTC students to benefit from coconut oil generator

The Butterfly Trust has now made the decision to donate the Listeroid generator,  purchased in 2009 to run a coconut oil mill, to the Rural Training Centre (“RTC”) in the village of Pellongk. It came to the point where the logistical difficulties involved with setting up a coconut oil factory became quite major in the current state of play. Over the past 2 years, the Butterfly Trust has had numerous discussions with the promoter of the project,  village chiefs and organisations in Vanuatu including World Vision and Volcanic Earth, in an effort to reach a workable solution. We have come to the understanding that, while there is still a potential for the industry to be developed in the Maskelynes, the chances of a functioning mill coming to fruition in the immediate future are  rather slim.

Meanwhile, the Listeroid has been put to good use by the community and after undergoing minor repairs, has now been donated to the RTC for training purposes. The RTC, an accredited training institution, runs courses in carpentry, building construction and hospitality. RTC Director Alick Masing agreed that having the use of an additional source of power to run electrical tools for class demonstrations and practice would be of immense practical help to tutors and students. In addition, as the RTC is situated in Pellongk, the wider village community will benefit when extra lighting is required for community events and functions.

It was a matter of finding an interim solution that would provide the greatest benefit to all. The concept of the coconut oil mill has not been abandoned, just placed on hold as these matters can take time.

2011: Trade & Vocational News Part I

Brian has the flare when it comes to solar

Despite having spent consecutive 12-hour days repairing generators from all over the Maskelynes, American sailor Brian Basura and his wife Claudia Richardson from SY “Skylight” did not hesitate when the Butterfly Trust approached them out of the blue with a request to run a course on generators and solar power.

On 26 and 27 July 2011, up to 15 men (and the occasional woman) from all over the Maskelynes showed up at the Uliveo Workshop in Peskarus village to attend an intensive workshop on the theory and practical skills involved in maintaining diesel generators and solar power equipment.

Brian deftly and succinctly explained the rudimentaries via blackboard diagrams as the men listened attentively and took notes. According to Brian, he was combining concepts usually taught at primary, secondary and tertiary level physics and engineering at various points during the course. “The men did very well and asked pertinent questions, which demonstrated a basic level of understanding.”

The Uliveo Workshop was a flurry of chatter and activity as tools and engine parts were scrutinised and passed round. There were field trips to diagnose the state of solar panels and batteries at the community hall at Lutes village.

Attendee Tom Nombong said at the conclusion of the workshop that he hoped there would be more courses such as this in the future, and added “..but they must be longer.”

We were very pleased to learn that in the weeks immediately following this workshop, a number of the men were busy fixing generators in the villages including one belonging to the Sangalai School.

The Butterfly Trust is very grateful to both Brian and Claudia for coming on board at such short notice.


2011: Season Two


We returned to Rireana in February 2011 (after a stint in far north Queensland looking after the vanilla farm of Fiona and Matt George-Allen). We then did a lot of maintenance work on Rireana, before heading south through the Sandy Straits to Mooloolaba and Brisbane. We eventually ended up at Scarborough Marina just north of Brisbane to ready ourselves for the sail back to Vanuatu.

We were a bit anxious about the trip east across the Coral Sea, it being against the prevailing south-easterly trade winds. However, in the end, the weather window we picked (with the help of Bob McDavitt) was even more placid than we expected. So placid in fact we motored almost two thirds of the way to Noumea. By the time we docked in Port Moselle we had 25 litres of fuel remaining. Luckily we had Ted Jordan on board for this trip who was great at calculating optimum engine revs and fuel usage.

We had a quick turnaround in Noumea, Ted flew back to New Zealand, and we sailed up to Vila, a trip of about 3 days.

After a month spent in Vila doing the bureaucratic side of Trust work, we again headed for the Maskelynes on an overnight trip. It is about a 17 hour sail and has to be timed so that we can enter the reef at Sangalai Harbour in daylight.

We lived at anchor in Sangalai Harbour for the next 3 months, although had to move anchorage on occasion to escape strong south-westerly winds which put us onto a dangerous lee shore in the harbour.

We returned to Vila, spent some more time on a mooring there, and then sailed again for New Caledonia. This was a relatively fast trip. After two seasons of sailing we had used up a lot of our long term supplies and reduced the weight on the boat. With relatively light winds forward of the beam and a slight sea, we averaged just under 6 knots on the trip to Noumea. That is quite respectable for a boat of Rireana’s size.

Once in Noumea, we decided to leave Rireana there while we returned to New Zealand for work. The reason for this being that ocean voyages, including the time spent waiting for suitable weather windows, take up a lot of time. We believed this time was better spent fundraising and working this year, given the effects of the global recession. So we left Rireana tucked up in Port du Sud marina in Noumea in early November and flew back to Auckland. Our friend Thierry Boujon is keeping close watch on Rireana while we are away. We hope to be back on board in mid-April and sailing back up to Vanuatu soon afterwards.

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