Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
The crew of Picton Castle were shocked and saddened by the news of the vast destruction reportedly caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam to the tiny and beautiful island nation of Vanuatu.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were last there, trading clothes, knives and pots and pans for fresh fruit, handmade baskets and tiny model dug-out canoes, learning to speak a little Bislama and playing on the beaches with hordes of inquisitive small children.
We had a wonderful time in Vanuatu – from the tiny but bustling capital, Port Vila on Efate to wonderful Banam Bay on Malekula Island, which is like visiting another world, or at least another time.
We were welcomed into the villages like old friends, and the arrival of a ship full of sailors seemed like a great excuse for singing and dancing and string bands playing on the sandy beach under the stars and coconut fronds. It’s our favourite way to visit, when the islanders enjoy the party as much as our crew.
But Vanuatu is not a place to be in a severe cyclone. Low-lying villages and fragile buildings with thatched or sheet-tin roofs are no match for 26 foot sea surge and 180mph winds. And an economy based mainly on subsistence farming will not make the recovery any easier.
So we’re grateful to the quick response from New Zealand and Australia, and all of the aid agencies who are working to get basic supplies to these gentle and gracious people, who had so little to start with and who now face total devastation.
Our thoughts are with all in Vanuatu, but especially our friends in Malekula, Maewo & Pentecost.
– Captain Daniel Moreland and the crew of the Picton Castle
If you would like to help, please consider making a donation through an aid agency of your choice. Here are a few agencies that are already working to provide relief in Vanuatu.