Leslie’s Letters: Vanuatu in June 2017

View of Kandu from Beachfront Resort, Luganville, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

June 27, 2017

Dearest parents,

Well received all of your incredible newsy emails. Thank you ever so much. I haven’t written you many emails of late. I’m in the midst of posting some of the blog entries that I’ve been collecting and writing at night. It’s a long process.

We’ve had the most incredible experiences here in Vanuatu. Exploding volcano, Rom dancing, hiking into remote African like villages, Land Diving, eating local yams and local mackerel – what adventure!

Mount Yasur, Tanna, Vanuatu.
Rom Dancing, Fanla Village, Ambrym, Vanuatu.
Leslie Rigney hiking to Fanla Village, Ambrym, Vanuatu.
Land Diving, Pentacost, Vanuatu.

Tonight we’re anchored outside The Beachfront Resort (friendly and helpful to cruisers) on the island Espiritu Santo in Luganville and are planning to have dinner at the resort in order to benefit from their great Wi-fi X 4 people/devices. We’re hoping the wind dies down a little so our dinghy ride back in the dark to Kandu is not bumpy and wet as we’ll be transporting computers.

Eric got the engine figured out, which had been causing him angst since yesterday. Happily, the problem was apparent and the solution was simple; he had changed the oil and filters but didn’t stock up the new filters with oil, so the engine was sucking air. When we get our retrofitted pactor modem in Australia, we’ll actually be able to send emails in route over the ocean along with low-resolution photos. It will be great to have that working again along with our wind sensor.

I’ve got to send a message to Teaching Textbooks (Bryce and Trent’s math programs) regarding the discs we’re having problems with probably due to being in a salty environment since early 2015. They said they would send us replacements. We need them badly now that the boys are boat schooling full time. I must find the list of bad CD’s that we painstakingly drew-up! Where could that be? Sigh.

This week, we plan to go on a scuba dive of the USS President Coolidge 600 foot troop carrier wreck that sank in 1942 during WWII.

Image of USS President Coolidge wreck on it’s side.

It is located in relatively shallow water so it will not be a problem for the boys to dive it considering their low degree of experience and skill. We also plan to take an afternoon island tour of the WWII leftovers: Million Dollar Point where the Americans dumped massive amounts of war vehicles and equipment deep into the water after the war, hospital sites, quonset barracks and shelters still in use, an old prison cell built to detain Japanese POWs, etc,

Trent Rigney at Million Dollar Point looking at rusted engine parts.

It should be a great education adding to the boys’ understanding of World War II and how it affected even the most remote peoples of the world.

Also, I think we might rent a car to tour the northern part of the island up to Port Olry, fitting in a swim in one of the celebrated Blue Hols along the coastline and a visit to Champagne Beach where the sand is beautifully fine.  Friday – we’ll stock up and check out of immigration. Saturday we’ll be leaving.

Gotta go – dinner is ready. I love you, and dittoing your memorable salutation, send you back clouds of love love love, Leslie.

8 thoughts on “Leslie’s Letters: Vanuatu in June 2017”

  1. That land diving is really scary. What young studs won’t do to impress the gals. Are the natives from African descent?
    Tx for sharing your letters to your parents. Gp

    1. So love hearing your responses. Yes it looked scary and is scary. One of the mother’s of the 15 year old sons jumping was looking on and while she put on airs that she wasn’t concerned, I’m sure her heart was palpitating wildly! Turns out that the people from Vanuatu are from South Africa by DNA testing. How they got there is a mystery! Loving you, Leslie

  2. Reminds me of ’61 and ’62 when I worked on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands as Supervisor, Naval Radio Station NDJ. This was before satellites and all we had was AM/SSB radio to Hawaii and Guam.

    The jungles and ocean were FULL of abandoned/wrecked WWII aircraft, vehicles and other leftovers. On Roi Namur, an island 50 miles north of Kwaj, there were Japanese bunkers with 3-foot thick reinforced concrete walls and ceilings. After the war the Army Corps of Engineers said they were “unsafe” and tried to blow them up! THEY ARE STILL SAFE!

    1. Jim – I love hearing your thoughts. That had to have been a different and great experience working in the Marshall Islands and broadcasting on the radio. Neat Neat Neat! The old wrecks in jungles – I wonder if they’re being sought after today. Evidently in Vanuatu, they are constantly looking for airplane wrecks on their lands to verify sightings and such. Funny about those Japanese bunkers. The Vanuatuan quonset huts are holding up like they were built yesterday! Leslie

  3. Leslie: This was very informative and fun looking good times. Great for the boys. Reality back in USA will be shocking I ‘ m sure. Love Papa

  4. Hello Leslie, Eric, Bryce and Trent. As a user of the ferry in Darwin I noticed you moored at the ferry terminal. I wanted to chat to you but each time I went past, you either weren’t around or you seemed too occupied. I noted your website and checked it out at the time. It’s just come up again on my iPhone. What a wonderful adventure you’re all having. Vanuatu was a stop over for me in 1970 on a cruise ship, it was a honeymoon trip. One of my son in laws is from Connecticut, his folks are in New York (dad) and Florida (mum). He’s skipper of a pilot boat on Darwin harbour bringing the ships in and out. No doubt you’ll all have some wonderful stories to share. I wish you a safe and happy journey and I look forward to your updates 😊

    1. Hello Margi – We would have loved to chat with you. It sounds like we have a bit in common. We absolutely loved our visit in Darwin. Much too short, but delightful. Loved the cultural mix and especially visiting Mindil Beach. You must live or work on one of the local islands or distant peninsulas if you’re riding the ferry regularly. Darwin area has an air of freedom and the west that we still feel a bit in California…although where we normally live, Los Angeles, the population is so dense that “Home on the range” is a distant idea. We are a little behind in our posting and still writing about our intense experiences in Vanuatu, but I’ll be sure to mention the great times that we had in your special part of the world. Being a pilot boat skipper, we heard, is a great job and tends to run in the family! Good on him! Thanks for following! Leslie

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