On our way to Solomon, Skimpy passes over the deepest water yet. Depths of more than 9km. An Everest of water beneath us. What secrets lurks below?
An interesting but also at times frustrating thing about travelling is the language barrier. It makes a huge difference to be able to speak to the local people on a higher level than just asking for the price of vegetables. In French Polynesia most locals spoke a bit of French, which didn't help us a lot, although Simon did brush up on his old high school French and eventually managed to have some conversations. Since then things have improved as we slowly moved closer to Australia. Both Tonga and Fiji have strong ties to New Zealand and Australia and English is taught from an early age in school.
In Vanuatu there is more than 120 spoken local languages and often two neighboring villages will not be able to understand each other. Most locals speak 4-5 different local languages as well as English and then of course the official language of Vanuatu, Bislama. Bislama was apparently the language spoken between the Vanuatu migrant workers and is a form of pidgin English also spoken in the Solomon Islands. It sounds like children talking and is a constant source of entertainment when you learn new words. It consists of only 2500 words which makes it easy to learn but the drawback is of course that some common English words have to be elaborated with a few more words in Bislama.
Below is a quick compilation of some of the most entertaining words we have found.. and this is not a joke. People actually understand this although most of the time they know the English words and use this instead. It may look like gibberish, but speak it out loud and it makes sense.
Do you speak English? - Yu tok tok Engglis?
I don't understand - Mi no save
I like it - Mi laikem
My name is Tue - Nam blong me Tue
Mask - Glass blong daeve
Fins - Fit blong dakdak
Snorkel - Paep blong pullem wind
Double bed - Bid blong marred
Condom - Ruba blong fakfak
To hit - Killem
To hit something and kill it - Killem ded finis
To teach - Tijim
Sunrise - Taim sun i kam up
And our personal favorites. If you can't figure out the meaning and are getting desperate, you may email us for the answers on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wan tingting i gat tith, i go, i kam, i go, i kam, taim i go kam bak i kakae wud (hint: it's a tool)
Wan bigfala bokis, i gat tith. Sam i waet, sam i blak. Taim yu killem i singaot (hint: instrument)
Wan smal sista blong bigfala bokis. Taim yu scratchem belli i kri (hint: another instrument)
Muskat blong solwata
Skimpy was almost washed onto a reef yesterday. At no stage was any of us in danger of being hurt but we almost lost the boat; fortunately it didn't happen, and I have my brilliant crew to thank for that, but it was very close. Its sobering being close to disaster. In the actual moment your thoughts are occupied purely by wanting to get out of danger. After the danger has passed however other emotions are experienced; fear of course, and often also a deep appreciation of what you have and what you could have lost. Anchoring a boat is a complicated business. Many things need to be taken into account - which direction is the wind coming from, which direction the waves are coming from, what hazards are nearby, are you anchoring on sand or rock, etc. And to make matters more complex you have to take into account the weather changing and the effect it would have on these variables. Fortunately in the majority of instances we are very good at judging whats happening and enjoy safe and comfortable days anchored in beautiful places. Yesterday however was not one of those cases. We knew some strong wind was coming so we moved to an anchorage that we believed would be protected to spend a nice day inside watching DVDs as the weather blew past us. Lo and behold yesterday morning the wind picked up. At first we were very comfortable, the wind was a bit strong but not bad, Skimpy had happily anchored in much worser conditions. By midday the waves had grown larger and Skimpy was bouncing over the place and made watching DVDs untenable. This was a tragedy, I was thoroughly enjoying seeing Sean Connery in "You Only Live Twice". The large breaking waves posed no problem for the boat but it put a lot of pressure on the anchor, this was a big deal because if we drifted more than 20m we would end up on a reef! To be safe we put out a second anchor as a backup, which was just as well because our first anchor lost its grip and we started drifting towards the reef! At that very same moment the dinghy, which was tied behind Skimpy, broke its rope and started floating towards the reef! What ensued was a controlled pandemonium of picking up the runaway dinghy, picking up our first anchor, letting go of our second anchor and motoring away. This was all done successfully and Skimpy managed to get out of a potentially very dangerous situation. Meanwhile, despite the wind and the rain, the whole village was on the shore watching us! In a place without television this was great entertainment. A couple of guys came out in a boat and suggested that we move to a nearby bay that would be more protected. So now here we are anchored in another bay, safe but very much on edge, and I'm slowly digesting whats just happened. It was close, too close but we made it out ok. I feel so grateful for my friends onboard and for the local people willing to help us. An even more powerful emotion is an appreciation of the amazing experience we have sailing, travelling and living on Skimpy. Every day is an adventure, a lesson about life, and I cannot imagine anywhere in the world that I would rather be right now.
After the eruptions of Tanna we are excited about Ambrym; 2 active volcanoes, crystal clear waters, indigenous villages and black magic makes it promising!!
The fin of the fish is the only visible sign that something is hitting the lure but you can feel the line and the fishing rod vibrate. The long beak is used to poke the perceived squid as the big slender fish wonders what strange variant of squid travels at 6 knots in the surface. The fisherman tries again and again to get the two large hooks to strike but the fish is still just playing with the squid. Suddenly, the hook is caught in the soft tissue at the base of the 40cm beak and the game becomes deadly serious. The fish measures 2.6m from beak to tail, but it cannot shake the hook that slowly digs deeper the more it resist. Even a series of jumps out of the water are in vain. On the boat, the fisherman reels in the line, centimeter by centimeter. The fish is close now and although the fishermen have seen it jump out of the water in the distance they are still uncertain of the size. The gaff is in the fish and they pull but only the head and first part of the body comes out of the water. The weight of the fish is too big for one man to lift and so one pulls the gaff while the other wrestles the body in an unorthodox rugby tackle. The fish slides over the railing and into the safe confines of the boat where the fish barely fits in the cockpit. The battle is over and the tension and adrenalin explodes into celebration. As the fishermen make their way to the anchorage for the night, they wonder what to do with a 50-60kg fish. Michael sees the boat approach the anchorage in front of his village. Although he is only 24 years old, he is in charge of communication with the boats that anchor here. The cruisers might be interested in buying some lobster or vegetables from the village. As he enters the boat he is greeted by a bunch of very happy people and the biggest fish he has ever seen although he has lived by the sea his entire life. The fishermen decides to give the fish to the village and Michael is thrilled at the thought of the feast the village will have after church the next day. He invites the fishermen to come to the village and drink the traditional kava with them and as the sun sets after a long and adventurous day, the fishermen tows his canoe with the fish to the village. And they all lived happily ever after... except for the sailfish which will live only in our memories.
Safe in harbor again very speedem sailing surfin downwind! Laura joined Skimpy and brought many gifts! It's suddenly Christmas already! Gritins blong Vanuatu
After the cold sail from Fiji not just the volcano; the crew need hot springs! Boiling water gushing from the cliff into a natural pool! 100m from Skimpy!
Shy new moon. He roars, he's loud, he starts smoking, he's ready...jaw-dropping-out-of-mind facial expression...he spits fire, incandescent magma explosion. MAGIC!!