Saturday, 15 August 2015

Turtles, Dugongs and Volcanoes

We have been making our way up the islands of Vanuatu to Espiritu Santo Island where we will spend the remainder of our time in Vanuatu.  Internet signal comes and goes as we make our way around making updating the blog difficult:( But it has been so worth it!  
I have accomplished one of my dreams!  I swam with turtles!  But that is not all…. I swam over the top of a Dugong, otherwise known as a sea cow.  They are enormous and I got a really big fright, despite the fact that I had been swimming around looking for it for the best part of an hour.  It was really only a fleeting glimpse as it took off very quickly and I never really got a chance to get up front and personal but I was so happy!
But the absolute highlight of the voyage North would have to be while anchored in the beautiful Lamen Bay at the top of Epi Island.  We were able to see across to Ambrym Island from where we were anchored and could see the two plumes of the twin volcanoes.  They appeared as two cloud formations.  But that evening was simply wondrous as the sky was lit up by the eruptions.

The weather has been warm during the day and a bit chilly at night.  Showers today and periods of overcast skies but still warm enough to swim and snorkel.  The water is so clear and clean, we can see the bottom from in the boat and the beautiful tropical fish.
We caught only one fish trolling up through the islands, a Mahi Mahi, but it fed everyone for 2 meals so very nice:)  Of course, not being a big fish eater myself, I get to have something easy for myself that I really love - like banana on toast or cheese and crackers haha!
Having been to Port Vila, to a resort, many years ago, I would highly recommend Santo Island instead.  There are more white, sandy beaches and the setting is beautiful.  We will be exploring over the next couple of weeks but we have yet to see Champagne Bay, Oyster Island, Rewi River, the Blue Holes and some other amazing places here on Santo.
We went in to the main town, Luganville, yesterday to reprovision and went to the local produce markets located on the banks of the river:)  The town was small but had everything we wanted, including a hardware store that seriously rivalled Bunnings!  I lost Ron for hours!  The sreets were wider than Vila and the pavements were properly concreted but Santo was not as badly hit by the cyclone so maybe Vila was like that before Cyclone Pam.
The wind is down for now so we are heading to Oyster Island today.  Overcast and drizzly but time for a new spot:)  It is just 12 miles so not too far to travel.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Crossing from Lautoka, Fiji for Vila, Vanuatu

Departed Lautoka, Fiji, 30 July at 12.00 noon having picked up our 2 crew members, Larry and Steve the previous night.  Went out through the Malo Passage at 1400 hours. Put the mainsail and  jib up with the wind at a steady SSE 16 knots and sailed at 7 knots. Wind steadily increased from 16 knots to 25 knots that day and boat speed averaged 9 knots. 
The next day the winds got up to 38 knots with boat speed reaching as high as 15 knots.  Took the jib down at midnight to reduce power.  Big seas.
The highest boat speed was on 2 August at 16.1 knots in SE 20 - 28 knots wind.
Anxious to get a break from the big seas and the high winds we passed Tanna at 2000 hours but could not risk putting our anchor down without having cleared customs so we moseyed up slowly in the lee of the land from Erromango Island where we took the mainsail down.  Pulled up the jib and motorsailed to Port Vila, arriving at 0800 hours on 3 August.
Yet another crossing that scared the sea boots off me, with an accidental gybe and a round up, both in high winds and big sea.  Both caused by rogue waves!  Even Ron felt more than a bit anxious at times on this passage!
Ron took my 2000 to 2200 watch and I did his 0800 to 1000 watch in return.  That seemed to take the edge off my nerves and I can once again say - “I did it!”

Ron is still promising me a smooth crossing next time:)