Vanuatu: First Impressions

June 20th, 2019

Aneityum Rainbows, Vanuatu

First; another beautiful place. The anchorage here is very serene and large enough for quite a few boats. The village is remote and the people more reserved than in Fiji. Partly this may be due to the size of their country and partly because they are remote.

When we say “hi” or wave as they pass they respond in kind. The comment one elderly women I met  years ago speaks volumes here: “You get more than you give, if you give bad you get more bad back, if you give good you get more good back”.

There is one store here that is stocked better than most remote villages. The owner (a Western Samoan married to a Vanuatuan) has SIM cards for Digicel and Top Up codes. The internet is 3g during the day and nothing at night. Just guessing it is powered by solar and the batteries are going bad. About 9 am it comes to life and works to about an hour after sundown. (In the last 24 hours it appears to have been fixed).

As this is not a normal clearance port- we wait for the Customs and Immigration officers to come when a cruise ship checks in. We emailed the authorities earlier and received permission to arrive here and completed the paper. Other wise we would need to sail a daysail N to Port Resolution and pay to have the officials come across the island for clearance. Other cruiser didn’t even get cleared there; visited the volcano and then had to clear in at Port Villa due to weather and the officials deciding they  couldn’t make it. The Capitol of Vanuatu; a 150 nm North of where we are.

The bay at Aneityum Vanuatu.

We will head N once we have all the paperwork in hand and again the weather hopefully smiles on us.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Passage from Fiji….

June 18th, 2019

The passage to Vanuatu is documented in our Predict Wind blog. I will add a couple of things. The sea state was … bad. I was hoping for a similar to our trade winds crossing from the Galapagos. We are in the trades. What I never looked close enough at was that there are most always three wave trains in this area. Those that the trades have blown up, those from the South Pacific joining them and last the Seas from the Tasman. Friends on the catamaran Aloha left a day behind us and they had the same observations. The sea state was bad. They had waited a day longer for the seas to settle then we did.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Tad Boring

June 11th, 2019

We hope to clear out of Fiji tomorrow. We’re ready, but Mother Nature has not been. Oh, the winds are ok but the seas! We expect them to be calmed down enough to leave tomorrow. And Fiji, while being cruiser friendly in many ways is not for boaters leaving the country.  They want a 24 hour notice. The following day they will check you out, on their schedule and then you have one hour to get underway. Obviously they only understand travel by planes and not boats. Thus we must pick wisely and have a little luck.

That window appears in the next two days. David at Gulf Harbor Radio provides a meteorologist perspective on this area of the S Pacific and he’s a sailor. 6 days a week 7 months a year.  He and his wife Patricia provide a wx / sea report on the ham radio and streams it on Youtube.

While we’ve waited in the marina here there has not been much excitement. That itself is a good thing. We walk the dock and the Port meeting new people. One cruising couple are vblogers ( Aquarius )  who are having the time of their life (my words – not theirs) videoing their way around the world and sharing it. We met Ken and Isabel in Savusavu briefly and then they pulled up next to us in the marina. For the armchair sailors and the wannabe’s their videos are quite accurate of what the cruising life is like. Videoing seems to be the next wave of cruisers sharing this lifestyle; but, it is not for us. It takes a way to much time for me. So…. until we cast off…..

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Mother Nature is a PITA

June 7th, 2019

We’re ready. We’ve been watching the weather and the sea conditions.  Why is it that 5 days out everything looks good. As we close in on our departure time things start turning to crap. There is a (L) that has popped up just N or us and reforms S. But (L)’s can be problamatic. They spin off weird crappy microsystems.  Then there is the sea state. In the Tasman there is a huge (H). That is churning up some rather large seas. In general large seas are not an issue except when they are on the beam.  Then they can mess up a boat pretty bad.  A cruising aquaintence rolled his boat on this trip. Not fun, not in our plans.  Right now the swell is predicted to be 3-4 m and on top of that we would have  any wind blown seas.  Not our cup ‘o tea. So like any good sailor; we wait. And I can’t say we patiently wait. W/ is ready, I’m ready!  Come on Mother Nature; give us a break!

Red is Bad!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Packin N’ Moving

June 6th, 2019

The headstay repair is completed. We loaded the dinghy on this am. It is all tucked in on the aft deck. W/ for the most part has been moving things around in the boat preparing for offshore. I’ve been checking the wx. It looks like Monday or Tuesday we will exit Fiji. We love this country and the people. The life here is not for us. Tennis is minimal and supplies are often hard to come by and expensive to import. The food is great and the anchorages quite excellent. The water gorgeous with an abundance of tropicals. But; there is more world to see, more people to met.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Cruisers Bane

June 4th, 2019

As long distance cruisers one thing is patently obvious. The worlds division in fastners is a real PITA!

We’ve replaced our headstay. They don’t have imperial wire here so we opted for metric. Ok, no big deal. Then we needed a metric fitting on the top and either a metric fitting to imperial screw for the turnbuckle or a new turnbuckle. We choose all new.

Next to  replace the headstay we pulled down the furler. While I really like our furler it is no longer made anymore. Parts are unavailable. I have a bunch of spares and a spare short Famet Furler for the staysail we’ve never put up; but that’s it.

I dropped one part overboard (into water I don’t wish to submerse myself).  To the machine shop I go. One out of four lost.  I have 4 new machined up. Two out of the four actually look like they will work. One definitely does and I secure the drum to the foil. Now on to the foil and the rest of the drum.

When we pulled off the foil I twisted off some screw heads. The studs were still in place. One I was able to remove with heat (the riggers had a torch) and the others I left in place.  Some of the screws I stripped the Phillips so I used a dremel to cut a slot. The blade on the impact driver removed them the rest of the way. That worked for the bulk of the screw removal. However, those screws were toast.

While I have a large inventory of fastners it is not infinite. When in a port with hardware or yachting stores I usually pick up what I need from them.  Store one; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Damn! Store 2; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Double DAMN!  Luckily I found some longer bolts that I could cut and use. Somewhere along the way I also lost my tap for the screw used. I was using it to clean out any corrosion in any of the fittings. Again, no one carried them here. And again; luckily, I had a second tap.

Cruise and carry or not,  supplies at your own risk.  Imperial vs Metric. It is pathetic that the US didn’t have the humility and courage to adopt all metric decades ago. As cruisers; when traveling to exotic lands we pay for that spinless choice.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Unexpected

June 2nd, 2019

The head sail foil for the roller furling is up. And because the new fittings set the bottom higher the top  block (I refer to them as Elephant ears) is closer to the halyards. This caused a serious problem when we made the passage from the US to the Virgin Islands.  At that time the Elephant ears caught and jammed  one of the other halyards keeping us from furling the sail. Thus, tomorrow I expect to pull one section and shorten it three inches. That would be about the height it has been for the last 8 years. Then I need to shorten the internal halyard that the Famet Reefurl uses. After that we hope a brief sea trial and then watch for another weather window heading West.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Completing the Puzzle

May 31st, 2019

Well…. we have a new headstay. New upper and and lower fittings. Now we need to get the Famet Furler back together. I had a local machine shop make 4 new pieces of the one I dropped in the water. Two look like they will fit. 🙂 I only need one.  The wx and seas for the trip Tuesday went sour anyway. W/ called immigration and they said to call them back two days before our Visa expires and they’ll make an adjustment. Thus, we’ve crossed the speed bump and we’re back on track. A few days later; but, back on track.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Oh-Oh!

May 30th, 2019

I went up the mast today to check the rigging before we left for Vanuatu. Oh SHIT!  I found two broken wires on the headstay. Lucky and unlucky. We’re hoping to leave for Vanutatu Tuesday.  I called the only rigger around; Bruce.  He has 10 mm wire which is quite close to the 3/8 size but we won’t be able to use the HighMod fitttings. He actually indicated that the Hy-Mod etc fittings up top don’t do all the best with roller furling. I haven’t seen any of that info but that was his take on it. As of this am we have 95% of the roller furling down. We’ve sent him a length of clevis pin to clevis pin. I dropped one piece in the water (a few curse words were promptly said) and we have a diver coming to see if he can retrieve it. We can’t get the drum off the lower section but there is a machine shop here. So we hit a speed bump. We are getting over it. Hopefully we can still make the Tuesday departure. Cheers…

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Forwards and Backwards

May 18th, 2019
Having completed much of what we wanted in Denarau we moved across the bay to Vuda Marina. Here we would connect with Kitty, the manager of Yuvee Marine, for some boat work. I found a couple of fiberglass tabs that had let go when we were struck but the ship in Suva. Who by the way never made good on their promise to pay nor did MSAF on their promise to fine them. We were stuck with the expenses. Anyway, we needed those interior repairs completed. We need the teak we purchased cut to repair the slats on the bow sprit. We need new bottom paint. And finally the wheel attachment for our Sailomat wind vane stripped and repainted.
 
Finding and keeping good contacts through the world is a real plus for cruisers. And Mr. Coreman of Altex in NZ is one of them. He provided us with the contact info for the Fiji distributor of Carboline SB-3000. We contacted them and while the process wasn’t that of a developed nation it all worked out.
 
We received a quote and they asked when we would come to Suva and pick it up! Lots of laughing occurred on our end. We don’t have a car and it is a long dinghy ride. We wanted it shipped. First, they indicated they would drop ship it with a freight forwarder. Opps, we needed to pay first for the paint. At home in the US the entire cost would be included. Ok, they sent us an invoice to pay. I went to Western Union to see about transferring the money to their bank account. First Western Union said yes but we need a copy of your passport. Back to the boat for the copy. Returning to the office I now heard: Opps, they can’t do it. Western Union provided some; IMHO, lame reason but I couldn’t finagle them to do it. I had to go to the bank.
 
That evening I thought I could pay them from our NZ account. I could, if only I had the banks physical address. The bank was BSP. The Bank of the South Pacific. While on the BSP website they didn’t provide any postal address’. The following day it was into town for me.
 
I was up early, Grabbed my wallet and headed to the bus stop. I had the cash. Stupid me; W/ had grabbed some cash from my wallet for more groceries. Off I went. I caught the dollar bus to town, found where the bank was and got in line. Less than 30 minutes later I was at the teller and ready to pay the bill. She filled out the paperwork and I opened my wallet to count the cash. Opps. I was $300 short. I asked if I could put some on my credit card. Sorry. She said there was a bank machine on the other side of the room but I had already taken money from it today and was at my limit. Hanging my head I left the bank with my money and the bill.
 
I called W/ and asked her to hop the bus; bring more money and met me in town. While I waited I eased my hunger and had lunch. She showed up an hour later and we both went to the bank.
 
In the morning I had a call from the Altex distributer in Suva saying I didn’t need to pay the Fiji tax. Yipee. We both went to the bank and this time I was able to complete the transaction. I expected the paint shipped tomorrow and I ought to get it in the afternoon. Sweet.
 
Two hours later; back at the boat I received a call from Altex saying I didn’t pay the freight charge. I thought they had said it would be freight forwarded and I would pay when the product arrived. Nope, I needed to pay for the shipping. With the paint paid for they said they would ship it anyway and trust that I would pay the extra $100, at my earliest convience.
 
At least, from Denarau getting into Nadi is not difficult. Roughly every 15 minutes the dollar bus picks up passengers and 30 minutes later you are in town. Not wanting anything holding over my head I went into town the following day. Same bank, different teller and paid the $100 FJ.
 
That afternoon I received a call from the shipper, where was he to met me. Bingo! Fifteen minutes later he met me at the fuel depot and I had my paint. Tick another thing off our list. Next we can proceed to Vuda where we will have the work done.
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long