Hi to the Lightwave team.
Quick (well long really) update on progress. In a nutshell the boats have both been handling all conditions really well and much prefer rough strong winds than bobbing about in none. Our watermaker has been by far the best investment apart from the boat itself and apart from a few (two major) navigational electronic glitches being sorted out under warranty there have been no problems apart from not having nearly enough time in the world for all this.
Well it doesn’t appear to be Bonjour anymore it’s hello, g’day and pigeon language which we have buckley’s of understanding but will see how it goes. We finally made it to Vanuatu after what seems forever since we left Coffs.
It was a 42 hour sail here over 200 nms from the Loyalty Islands. We took longer as we actually sailed the whole way rather than crank the motors on when the winds were lighter during the night. It was actually an enjoyable two days with no problems along the way. The only issue was the last night enroute to Port Vila we found ourselves with good sailing winds which would have brought us into port during the night and after the night entry into Noumea from Australia and the shouting match that followed trying to work out which bloody lights were the navigational ones. So, we slowed the boat right down (which was a sad thing to do and goes against the sailing grain) but it meant we made it into Port Vila just in time to see the sun’s rays come up over the other side of the island – it was a magic sight and the beams of sunlight looked like the Japanese flag beams. Anyhow, very happy to finally have arrived.
Spent most part of the day waiting for Quarantine to come visit (very trusting and simply ask you to empty any contraband items out and take them to shore – no inspection of the vessel). Customs was on the other bloody side of the island where the enormous cargo boats come in. Us in our little dinghy looked a weird sight as we came up along side a Hong Kong carrier unloading container ships. We’re wandering around a docking area that has security gates and guards to enter, wire fencing and cameras everywhere. Enormous trackers picked up the containers and moving them about in front of us and we could just dinghy up and gain entry. All the workers had their fluro safety shirts and hard hats and we’re in thongs and shorts! No OH&S for boaties.
We cleared customs, immigration and quarantine and paid everyone their fees – no costs in Noumea but it costs around $100 all up to bring the boat in which is fine considering this is a struggling economy and hopefully all the money coming in goes back into the right coiffeurs – who knows but there are a lot of boats entering and clearing customs everyday – there were 6 in the morning we entered and they haven’t stopped coming in really.
Although I’ve only been here a day the island has a good feel to it. We wandered through town which is a bustling place with small roads, lots of people and cars. The markets here yesterday had fantastic fresh produce and I understand each village has their day in the market so different produce maybe on different days but yesterday it was anything green, yellow or root veggies. I feel uncomfortable paying so little for the food – you don’t just buy one lettuce you buy two strings of lettuce which has about 1.5m of lettuce strung to them for about $1. The women who run the stalls smile and laugh at you and they have these sweet little kids clinging around them.
It makes you realise how lucky we are to be able to travel like this and also the life of excess we all seem to lead.
So at the moment I’m sitting on board watching these enormous dingies ferry islanders and tourists alike back from the mainland to the Irikiki island resort which is on the other side of us. This went on well into the night last night and many a boat returned with locals on board singing away after a few kavas I’d say. It’s very entertaining and hopefully tonight when we flick across to happy hour at one of the waterfront pubs across the road that’ll be us on the trip back to the boat!
Today I’m planning to wander about the town and restock, find out if I can walk about the place to the other side and then maybe figure out where to from here. I’m busting to go down to Tanna island which has the active volcano on it which you can hear rumbling from 12 miles out but I’d say that will be visited on the return trip. There are lots of little islands close by you can day trip to and I’d say we’ll do a few of them for a while before heading up to Espirito Santo for a few weeks which means we have to revisit customs to clear for some reason.
Anyhow, it’s all good here and although we haven’t snorkelled for a little while it’s fantastic to see a different place and explore in other ways. Plus, you’ll be pleased to know it’s bloody hotter here than it was in New Caledonia and I’d say we’ll be hitting the mid thirties easily today, we’ll see!
We definitely miss all our friends and family and often wish there were other people around we knew to share this with us but we’ll enjoy for all you guys instead. Until next email I’m now officially on island time which means anything could happen, or of course it might not – well at least in my own good time now.
PS – if you’re interested in seeing any photos someone has started a page for us when the three boats originally left Coffs at www.flickr.com/coffsharbour we’ll try and put photos in of the trip when we can.