Preparing for Australia
Cleaning day today. At low tide, I was in the water with the scuba kit on to scrub the bottom of the hulls. We’re quite skinny on water here, so just 60cm from the keels to the bottom - I could walk along the seabed and scrub the hulls very easily. Not to mention that David and Tom had done a great job on the waterline earlier in the trip. Job done!After a stroll around the island, we continued with the jobs. Emptied all the galley cupboards and cleaned. Took stock of all the food we had left
Change of scenery
Decided to make the arduous 5nm trip to the southern most point of the reef. What a place! Just as we finished anchoring, turtles set to just 10m off the bow!We tried to edge in a bit closer but it became quite skinny on water and we have no real tide info for here, so we have to be a little bit cautious (as we always are).
Waiting on Weather
The waiting game is afoot. The angle from here to Brisbane is a bit tighter than our run into Bundaberg last year - and Bundy remains an option should we need it. If we take that option, we know it will be busy due to the rally, and we would need to move on PDQ - but that would be ok. Its a nice cruise down behind Fraser Island and we will have reprovisioned at Burnett Heads...The dilemma at the moment is that a Thursday departure would put us arriving into Brisbane just after the weekend. There
All alone in Paradise
Still enjoying our time in paradise and we’re still lucky enough to have it to ourselves. We’ve dived twice now - both times on bommies I’ve dived before. Stunningly unspoilt with huge fish, loads of giant clams, seasnakes, tuna, barracuda, etc. Today we saw sharks trying to take the odd fish from a school as they passed. No luck, but behaviour I’ve not seen before - quite awe inspiring.
We arrived this morning, just after dawn. Snuck across the shallow section at the end of the islands (6m depth) and came down to the spot we anchored in last year as it was relatively clear of bommies.We had a walk ashore. The good news is that the islands don’t seem to have suffered too much when the cyclone stomped over them recently. Lots of bird life ashore, are the scrub bushes remain and are well used for nests etc. Quite a few turtle nests too, and we saw one turtle ashore this afternoo
We just dropped the hook at Chesterfield Reef, pretty much exactly where we dropped it this time last year! Catching up on a few jobs and some sleep and then we can start the diving programme.4 other boats here, all down on the southern end. 3 are leaving right now (including 2 of the boats that shared Huon with us for a night). The fourth boat we’re not sure. Maybe we’ll have this place to ourselves tonight :)
A nice fast passage from Huon to Chesterfield has seen us start slowing down already. We knew it would be two nights as its just two for for us to do in 36hrs, but as we head towards sunset, we have under 70nm to go. Continuing at 8knots is rather pointless, so we’ve reefed the main a lot, and 2 reefs in the genoa and continuing at 6 knots for now.The required speed to arrive with daylight is 5.0knots, so further slowdowns expected. I have last watch, but we’ll monitor it at every watch chan
WOW in a ships log usually means waiting on weather, and we are doing that a bit as a trough is headed our way this weekend. However, in this case its more due to the stunning nature of the area we are in.We took a trip down to the small boat pass in the eastern side of the atoll, at the south end to see if it was worth a dive. Its a bit shallow for that but was great for snorkelling. We could get out there in the catamaran too, if we needed to (though we won’t on this trip). The bommies were
Nature in action
We are surrounded here by nature in action. Its turtle mating season and they are at it full bore! Loads of males hanging around looking for females, who seem to get the rough end of things.Once the male is onboard (so to speak), he just rides along leaving the female to get them both to the surface to breath. She is usually not very happy about this and tries to dislodge the rider. She’s helped by rival males whose favoured method of persuading his rival to dismount is to bite a certain ap
The night was kind to us - the wind didn’t drop too far, stayed around the 14-17knot range which meant we’ve been pushing on well at 7knots in a very pleasant sea state.I slept like a baby when off watch, which was needed as I hadn’t had a lot of sleep in the prior 24hrs. Too hot inside, and bouncy plus still settling into the routine of a passage. Tom and David faired a bit better. Last night was bliss in comparison.We have under 50nm to go now, and will be there today in daylight which i
We’ve been bouncing around Vanuatu for a while since I last updated the blog. Apologies - we’ve been busy and I’ve been slack!We made it up as far as Ureparapara (know by us as ‘Pac-Man island’ due to the shape). An incredible place to sail into as you really feel you’re right in the centre of a volcano. The villagers are very remote (infrequent supply ships, few passing yachts as the anchorage is reputedly very rolly, no phone coverage). We had a great welcome, helped setup some lig
It was a supremely comfortable night. The next morning, we met up with local and his family and walked up from the beach to see some cavings on the rock face some of which are quite old - though many looked quite new! Then we walked around to the moon cave. The story is that some powerful being took 3 attempts to make the moon, pulling rock from the walls to do it - hence the 3 openings. The water is crystal clear, and we could even dinghy in to the cave (which we did later).We moved further nor
Finding out feet
Its a very pleasant bay here, with a nice waterfall up the hill from the bay, which runs down onto the beach, and a cave on the left hand side. We had a quick explore ashore when we were there for sundowners with Bla Ellinor (who I lined handled for in the Panama Canal ages ago!) and Mezzaluna who we have met a few times.Sundowners and nibbles ashore was very nice. It was good to catch up and find out what they’ve been doing in Vanuatu and pass on the bits we know, as they head south. A local
Moving steadily north
After a morning fixing an issue with the furling boom (mostly David and Gavin in problem solving mode), we left Ambrym whilst we still had wind. Plenty of wind. More wind than we really wanted to test the mainsail fix in! Peaked at 27 knots in the gap between the islands of Ambrym and Pentecost.Geniet Lewe stretched their legs and headed further north. We chose to stop a bit sooner. The anchorage on the chart said anchor in 10m of sand. We were still in 60m of water, 40m off the beach, which doe
Gaspard Bay and on to Ambrym
We moved around to Gaspard Bay, and spent a couple of nights there. We had plenty of rain there! In fact, we tried to dive twice, but both times aborted due to the rain coming - as David, Gavin and Nadine were going to snorkel and tend the dinghies whilst Janet and I dived. Clearly no fun in the rain!We also failed to see dugongs again. Well, we did see them on the surface but didn’t manage to swim with them. I’m running out of opportunities!From Gaspard Bay we headed to Port Sandwich - anot
The weather was not as bad as expected - we got some wind, from which we are totally protected and a tiny amount of rain. The locals are desperate for rain, so its sad in some ways that we did not get the promised downpour... The boat could do with a nice fresh water wash too...Geniet Lewe came over and today we headed out for a dive on the far side of the reef you can see. It was a pleasant enough dive, enough current that we were drifting along quite happily but not so much that we couldn’t
There is such a thing as over-provisioning...
Back in Panama, we provisioned like mad before heading out into the pacific. Clearly people out on the atolls eat so provisioning is available, but we did have some rather long sails ahead of us - 5 weeks to get to Pitcairn for instance. Plus you can’t always get what you want - anyone for mutton flaps? Thought not....On one particular occasion, I was working on a boat problem, so Anthony and Amanda headed off to shop. I asked them to get me some washing powder for the trip - as that was one t
Time flying in Vanuatu, future plans
Blink and time flies by! We cleared into Port Vila, albeit quite late and we had just about resigned ourselves to re-anchoring for the night at the Quarantine anchorage (which is deep with less than great holding), when the guys zipped over. Initial clearance and biosecurity was a breeze. The ni-Vanuatu are invariably friendly and easy to deal with. Their practical approach to biosecurity is a delight (keep everything onboard). They left at 5pm, 15 minutes after arriving - so we lifted the ancho
Last 24hrs have been pretty good - nice speeds, winds between SE and SSE 4 to 5. Swell picked up a bit, but still very comfortable.We landed a lovely, yellowfin tuna at 7:30am - made a very nice lunch. We also hooked up a couple more fish, but lost them both. Guessing mahi-mahi as they hooked up about the same time.About 60nm to go, so should be in this afternoon. Probably clear tomorrow. Then Geniet Lewe arrive early next week, which will be nice!
134nm to go to the quarantine anchorage at Port Vila - should be there in daylight tomorrow, so this may be Amanda’s last night at sea for a long time! We’re back on genoa now, as the gusts were getting too much for the screecher. Wind is due to drop around 4am though...
After the slow night, the wind steadily returned to the SE force 4/5 territory but the swell had disappeared - leaving us with some fast champagne sailing for the afternoon. This continued on into the evening, with the wind shifting more SSE this time. As a result, we’re back on schedule, clipping on at 8-9 knots at the moment. We’re still on reefed main and gennaker.Its also been quite warm - we do resort to long trousers and a light sweater at night, but its nothing compared to how we were
The first 12 hours were fast - good wind from the SE, seeing 8-9 knots for large periods. Over night the wind has shifted a bit further aft and dropped into the 12 knot true range (9 apparent), which doesn’t make for good sailing for us. At the moment, we’re not flying the spinnaker as Amanda isn’t confident with her arm - so we’re hanging on with gennaker and main for now.No fish yet...
Our dive fest had to end sometime - and with the wind switching back on, it was time for us to move on. I thoroughly enjoyed Fiji again, and don’t regret the hard-yards sail back upwind to the islands from Australia...We had yet another visitor - I had been chatting to Monica as potential crew to Australia, but with her limited connectivity and our schedule, we didn’t manage to get things sorted. I’d discounted her. She had a couple of bad boat situations, and though we had intended just t
Why we’re still in Fiji
Dinghies from Duplicat and Pirlouit as seen from 15m...Current anchorageStunning sunrise on an almost totally flat sea, still anchored out on the reef
Quick note - I’m aware the position reports aren’t making it onto the map at the moment. I hope to get that sorted before we leave for Vanuatu. Our departure is delayed somewhat as the weather here is stunning (zero wind, blue skies), so we are cramming in as much diving as we can! Tentatively targeting Friday as we want to avoid a weekend arrival and we’re in no hurry....
Ania left the boat today after nearly 4 months onboard. Quite how she managed to put up with me for that long, neither of us are sure! And vica versa of course ;). It has been good fun for the most part, with a few ups and downs - inevitable when you share such a small space for so long. Certainly there aren’t many people you don’t know well who you would chose to spend that long with!In keeping with the view that this boat has everything, she asked for an iron for her jeans. I think we’ve
Who said guests are like fish?
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said that guests are like fish - begin to smell after 3 days. However, I think we can take exception with the aforementioned gentleman as we’ve always seemed to be blessed with lovely guests. However, mostly that’s because we have people staying who we know very well. This changed this season.Yvonne was a friend of Ania’s who we met briefly for a meal in Jersey. I extended the invite as I figured it would be fun for Ania to have her friend onboard, an
Vatulele part 3
The waters around the island of Vatulele are stunningly clear and very inviting. Having failed on our dive mission, we decided to explore around the lagoon a little bit.Suprisingly, the lighthouse on the island actually worked! It was a bit shocking to see it flashing at night - but it was the only light we could see. There were no lights at all within sight which was a little unnerving for the crew.There were a number of cuts into the limestone rocks. We explored a couple - lots of crabs around
The flipping ship
Our anchorage was in a slim part of the lagoon with only about 4m of water at high tide. The downside was an incessant scend that rolled in from over the reef, particularly at high tide. Along with this was a rather strong current inside the lagoon which meant we were often sat perpendicular to the swell particularly at high tide. Of course, the chart has us on the reef or land, depending on your view...Err... not quite....The seabed is mostly grass over sand, so the holding was pretty good. How
Vatulele is well off the beaten track and not many yachts head that way (according to the chief). We do know that Jadean and Nautilus were there last year - so its not totally unheard of for yachts to visit.One of the issues is the lack of reasonable charting. The charts are missing all detail and even the Google Earth image has clouds over the promising windward passage. We opted for the lee passage (just to the right of the small island in the image below). Judging by the water colour, we figu