Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Maskelyne Islands - Dugongs, Giant Clams and Soap

After leaving Ambrym and waving good bye to Honey we sailed down to the very secure anchorage of Gaspard Bay near the Maskelyne Islands.  We spent a night there and spent some time watching the dugongs.  They can be elusive but we were fortunate to see one as soon as we had the anchor down.  We thought we may be able to swim with them but they were a bit too shy for that.

Right after we anchored in Gaspard Bay we met these fisherman and traded some gasoline for fresh vegetables.  The boats are made locally in the Maskelynes.

The great rig they have for bottom fishing
Off searching for the dugongs ...

When actually one came to the boat while I was swimming the other way.  We took hundreds of photos and this the closest we got to a dugong photo ...

What they actually look like (Wikipedia photo)
Securely anchored in Gaspard Bay
We then moved Fluenta from Gaspard Bay to outside the island of Lutes.  The trip took us longer than planned and we ended up breaking our rule about arriving into an unknown anchorage too late in the day.  We were delayed in leaving - watching the dugongs - and then due to the short distance we towed the dingy.  The conditions were considerably lumpier than expected so our speed was limited to reduce the loads on the dingy following along behind us.  The entrance to the anchorage near the village has a very narrow and shallow entrance so that was not realistic to try in the late afternoon.  We anchored between the island and the fringing reef but were challenged to get any good holding and were challenged/stressed by the poor light.  At one point we came the closest we have ever come to hitting a coral bommie and we were down to two feet under the keel.  The next morning we went out with the dingy armed with the handheld sounder and GPS to check the entrance to the village followed by an uneventful entrance to the anchorage beside the village.  Once inside the anchorage it is very secure with almost 360 degree protection by reef and mangrove.

We then moved to Lutes where the anchorage is even more secure as it is surrounded by mangrove and reef.   We went ahead with the dingy and the portable depth sounder to recce the route ahead of time.

Part of the fleet at Lutes

The kava bar the morning after.  Note the whale bone in the rafters.  Vanuatu kava is much stronger than Fijian kava.

Liz learning to weave mats

The village that held the memorial church service we attended.

We had lots of canoes come by to trade. These girls are part of the village volleyball team and were pretty happy to get a new volleyball.

Heading out to see the Ringi Te Suh giant clam sanctuary on a local boat.

except it was rather low tide so some pushing was required.

Giant clams !  They are protected in the sanctuary.

The kids checking out the clams with the guide.

And a clown fish

Bislma is so much fun to decipher.

At the Women's Co-op.

and the soap factory.

We anchored outside the mangroves so that we could have an early departure for Epi.  We were a long ways from the shore but when the wind died we became infested with these flies.

and our Vanuatu fishing drought was over as we caught two wahoo within a few minutes.


  1. Where do you guys go for a vacation? I guess that topic never comes up. Great pics. Place looks laidback and amazing. Louise and I will be in your area (hemisphere) Feb/Mar 2018.

    Barry & Louise (Ottawa)

    1. Well, Liz and the kids are back in Canada so that is a vacation of sorts. We also sometimes do what we call our "charter holiday" where we pretend we are on a charter boat and do no home schooling or any boat projects (unless we are sinking ...).

      Thanks for the feedback on the pictures. We take so many photos it is hard to decide which to use. I try to cull them further but then get impatient and just press "publish".


  2. Where do you guys go for a vacation? I guess that never comes up. Great pics. Place looks laid back and amazing. Louise and I will be in your area (hemisphere) Feb/Mar 2018.

    Barry & Louise (Ottawa)

  3. Hey guys, this is Deb on SV Coastal Drifter, also a Canadian Boat, also both retired from the CF, also Cruising full time! Just want to say thanks for all the great information you have posted because being in French Polynesia ourselves, on a long stay visa, we have found it very helpful. As you know that internet is hard to find and very unreliable at times, but we bookmark your post and binge read them when we can. We do use Iridium Go, but the Web components are iffy at best. We are currently in Makemo, loving it. Been here a month, but soon moving on to a new Atoll! Just wanted to touch base to say hey! Thanks!
    We can be contacted at, and would love to keep in touch.

    1. Great to hear from you. We are envious of the long stay visa as we would have loved to spend more time in French Polynesia.


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