Luganville is Vanuatu's second largest centre and the northern capital.
Set among many modern conveniences are the remnants of the US occupation
in World War II. After a visit to customs and immigration to renew
our Visas, we walked around the town, visited the rather disappointing
market, and checked out the stores which all seemed to carry the same
assortment of everything from hardware to clothes to groceries and
looked much like discount stores. We had some ice cream at a restaurant
while the stores all closed from 12 to 2 for lunch.
Million Dollar Point
Early in the morn, Gord, Donna, Axel and Emma left with a dive company to see the famous SS President Coolidge, a 22,000 tonne luxury liner converted to a US troop carrier sunk during World War II. In 1942, after hitting US laid mines, it sunk in the channel making it the world's largest accessible wreck. Gord reportedly kissed "the Lady" (who resembles Queen Victoria riding the statue of a horse) in the ballroom at 130 feet down. They had 2 decompression dives, which turned out to be great experiences.
We arrived at Peterson Bay but found the tricky entrance into the inner lagoon too shallow for our 8 ft draft so we were forced to drop the hook outside the flat protected bay.
We were immediately welcomed by Gumbo YaYa (Kurt), Spiritus Invictus (Sven) and Dikenja (Rick). We all took our dinghies up the river to the Blue Hole where we had a refreshing swim.
|The sights along the river were amazing, with water plants floating past and dense foliage, vine covered branches hanging over the water as we meandered the mile or so down the river. It was nice to have a visit with Nancy and Kurt on Gumbo YaYa and get caught up with news of their travels.|
We had such a horrid rolly night with no sleep at Peterson Bay we opted to move the boat to a more peaceful anchorage. Before we left though, we explored Peterson Bay by dinghy, encountering a dugong, but not much of interest in the way of snorkeling. We paid 375 vatu to take the dinghy up the Northern River to another Blue Hole. This river was quite different from the southern one and amazingly clear. You could see into the water like it wasn't even there! We swam and I washed my hair in the cool fresh water of the blue hole at the end of the river.
We returned to Ascension, still bobbing in the swell and pulled up the anchor to motor the 10 miles back toward Luganville and anchored in a peaceful bay call Palekulo Bay.
|We spent a relaxing day touring around the bay in the dinghy. The following morning, Endless joined us in the anchorage.|
Although it was a long walk to Luganville and it was impossible to get a taxi from the isolated anchorage, we set out on foot, hoping to hitch a ride. Gord carrying a propane tank to be filled and Marv packing a propane tank and 2 jerry jugs for fuel, we headed down the dirt road. Some locals along the way showed us the shorter route to take but after several miles, it was evident that we were on the path less traveled (ie NO ONE) and there were no ride opportunities. It was very very hot and the road not much more than a dirt track and we walked for many miles through the bush, seeing no signs of life.
Finally, almost to town, we encountered a lady sitting in the shade of a dilapidated shelter and so we stopped to talk. Other villagers joined us and we soon found out that this was a bus stop. Great! We plunked ourselves down, very happy not to be walking down the dusty road in the heat any longer. After a considerable length of time a taxi drove by and we all waved him down. He was a really friendly local man who took us to the propane depot and then on to town.
We took care of the check-out procedure, did some provisioning and a final non-productive visit to the still absentee doctor (for chest X-rays). When it came time to hail another taxi, somehow we managed to get the very same driver again.
At first light, we headed out the pass, on our way to New Caledonia, our course set for the Loyalty Islands.