Anyhow, we are now on our final trek North. Next stop will be the top of Malakula then Santo for a re-stock. We are keeping an eye on a disorganised low pressure system to the NE of Vanuatu. It is sitting under some fast moving cool air in the upper atmosphere and could even get fed by a trough/front moving through mid-week. Potential conditions for cyclone-genesis but unlikely at this time of the year. If the worst happens and we get some tight rotation we will do a quick re-evaluation of plans.
Tip of the day: After being away from a shop for some time, the Aeroplane brand Sweet Treat Icecream is a big hit with the crew. It comes as a powder and makes some of the best icecream we have ever had!
Marie, the wife of Matthew the yacht club manager/village tourism council chairman, gave us an extensive tour of the village and surrounds. Matthew appeared at lunchtime with apologies for his absence. The men of the village are all repairing the hydro power system. Life here is a two-way track so Matthew's Opti sail is currently undergoing a refurb in the Freyja sail loft. We will deliver the renovated masterpiece (complete with shiny new grommets) this evening before we dine at the yacht club restaurant. BYO of course if you want your drinks cold or alcoholic or anything other than coconut milk.
After a 'champagne' sail at hull speed across Lolvavavana Passage (yes I spelled that correctly) we anchored in Loltong Bay. A well dressed local sailed across to us in his Opti for an introductory chat and village orientation. As it turns out he is the manager of the local 'Yacht Club' directly in from us. More to follow on that today.
The highlight for Kris today was to have been a sleep in. So much for that. We seem to have found a village of morning people. The village drumming club starts before the sun is up and reception of Drum FM is very clear out in the bay. ("Hours of Ad free drumming to help you greet the sun") I assume anyone here who wasn't a morning person ended their suffering long ago.
More snorkeling this afternoon and exploring all the WWII wrecks around us then off to Peterson Bay tomorrow. BTW, for the fishing fans out there; we caught a 5ft barracuda on the passage here yesterday. It was catch and release as that dude was not coming in the cockpit with us. And yes, we have photos.
Great view of the two steaming volcanoes from this anchorage as well as during the sail today. They will dominate the skyline with two red glows again tonight.
Caught a skipjack tuna on the way to Epi and presented it to the local village chief upon arrival. The men of the village were in the middle of making an oven (it looked like a pizza oven). The two villages that we saw here at Revolieu Bay are immaculately maintained and well organised. Doesn't look like Cylclone Pam hit this place as hard as everywhere else we have been.
The maintenance issues continue and we need to get to Luganville mid to late next week to change out our house batteries. They are all on their last legs (about 2 years sooner than they should be). This state of perpetual maintenance challenges might seem odd to non-cruisers but we seem to about the norm for a well prepared vessel out here! It is an ongoing and almost full-time preoccupation. (I didn't even mention that we have re-plumbed the water system to bypass the hot water pressure tank that has corroded through at one of the fittings. No hot water! Or the fresh water foot pump that started transferring all of our fresh water to the bilge and is now disconnected.) Maybe cruising is best described as overcoming successive challenges. In this case as a family team. In that sense I guess it is similar to the rest of life.
Anyhow, uneventful passage from Havannah Harbour with a tail wind and some confused seas up to a couple of metres. One swell coming from the SSW and another from the East. And us in the middle! The kids did the usual in the lumpy conditions. Nate went back to bed and slept and Jay watched movies. Mum and Dad operated the vessel and chatted (while hanging on). Just looked at the barometer. I am guessing the Low pressure system is fairly close right now, maybe directly to the NE. That would account for the Melbourne weather.
The boys have made great friends in the local village and even had Richy over for kiddy 'sundowners' yesterday (after swimming in the deep natural spring in his back yard). Kris and the kids walked to the local school yesterday for a visit and donated some schooling supplies. Once again it is hard to escape the impression that the Vanuatu people might just be the nicest people on the planet.
We attended Vanuatu Independence celebrations yesterday at the local village. Lots of dancing with food stalls and a 'swim for the pig' competition. Jay stripped down and had a good go at swimming for the pig but got beaten by some experienced locals. After being dropped out of the canoe 300m offshore the pig was supposed to swim back to shore. He had other ideas and went out making good speed with the current. Glad he Jay didn't win as the pig was the prize...
Pete from Marine Solutions has had a look at our injector pump. Most likely scenario is that the internal seal separating the pump head from the body is gone, allowing pressurised diesel into the pump body. Hence multiple leaks from around the pump. Worst case is that we get diesel into the crankcase and end up with a run away engine (then no engine). So it is coming off for repair/rebuild on Monday. The mechanics out there will know that getting the gear timing right when refitting an injector pump is no mean feat. Sounds like we have another adventure to look forward to...
Our thoughts go to anyone caught out by the TC while sailing in the Solomons.
Wednesday night is looking good for a departure to Port Vila. Have sent notification to Vanuatu Customs but who knows if they have received it? Might follow up with a call tomorrow to avert any fine. We should have known it was time to do a night sail with the moon waxing towards full. Should be a beam reach for about 200 miles. (yeah, I know - I have my fantasies) Need to get there before the low over the Solomons joins with the low pressure down near NZ and makes things all weird.
The photo is our rental car. The locals seem to call it "Ugly". We can't really disagree - but hey, it still runs after 200K!
We have a resident army of squid hanging around the boat. Not surprisingly, squidding has become a favourite past-time for the boys. Salt and pepper squid at sunset isn't too had either. The photo is Jay cleaning the ink off the side of the boat....
For anyone else thinking of visiting Casey, Ile du Prony - do it! We passed it by a few weeks ago and now wish we had a few more days here. The native dog (tour guide) who greets your dingy, jumps off the jetty, catches sea cucumbers and escorts you on the walks is worth feeding. Great walks and good swimming.
The weather is pushing us on tomorrow to stage in Yate prior to a night sail across to Mare Island on Sunday night.
The swim at the natural pool was the highlight. The number, variety and proximity of the aquatic life was mind blowing! Like swimming in an amazingly well stocked natural aquarium. Of course Mum didn't believe Nate about the eels ("I'm not going back over there. There are eels") Dad found the eel and Mum watched another eel swimming between Dad's legs while he was watching the first eel.
Parked in about 4 metres of crystal clear water off a tropical island and expecting perfect weather until we need to relocate before the expected Westerly on Tues. We have photos to upload but our internet difficulties continue to prevent that right now. Standby.
As it turns out, we may have come to the wrong place. The charts say we are at Ile des Pins but this isn't like any brochures I have seen. We have a 1 metre swell breaking on, what is now, a surf beach. At least we are not in any danger of losing our sea legs tonight! Lucky we waited for lighter conditions to make the trip here....... (yes, I want a refund).
We are parked right in front of a hotel/restaurant and are quite exhausted. If they could hear our order over the pounding surf we might give it a go. Alternatively we could do a black ops beach landing in the dinghy but then they probably wouldn't let us in. Looks like it is soup, cheap wine and a book.
Did some exploring, cracked open some coconuts and found that we have a new crew member today. Scrappy, the 1 metre long remora enlisted some time today and is very active in dealing with any scraps we throw over the side, including tackling open coconuts on their way to the depths. The book is currently running at odds in Srappy's favour should Nate go over the side (he is, after all, bigger swimming ability being equal).
School is in right now but the grand reef fishing expedition is on for this afternoon.
Happy crew who are now REALLY practicing their French. Yeah! Will keep sending updates as we embark on the cruising reality.... "another port, another part"
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