Back to the Big City

August 21st, 2019

We’ve moved back to Port Villa. Here we will wait for a weather window for sailing to New Cal.  While we wait we will continue to enjoy some of the restaurants, the market and the calm anchorage. Too, we will get on with the yearly varnishing we do to keep the teak from drying out and a modicum of keeping Elysium’s good looks. We’ve run into some sailing friends from Whangarei (Eagles Wings) and new ones on Ceva and Kia.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Late Night Surprise

August 3rd, 2019

We’re getting ready to retire (to bed) and the refrigeration high pressure switch shuts everything down. Usually that is from a lack of cooling water. However not moving I would be surprised. When we move and flush the aft toilet air gets into the refrigeration cooling water and creates a vapor lock…sometimes. Yes I know the thru hulls are not placed the best. This is where Westsail had them.

I go to investigate. I move some of the boat stores around the pump so I can check the pump. The system has equalized enough that we can run it for a few minutes. I attempt to bleed the air out. W/ turns the system on…. nothing. We attempt that method a couple of times. It seems there is no water going through the pump. I do have a spare pump but am NOT interested in doing this change before bed!

The aft toilet is on the same thru hull system. We pump the toilet and it to is getting no water entering! Now, I’ve  isolated that it is NOT the pump. That may be good. We’ll see.

I close the thru hull and open up the strainer. Out slithers a mucus membrane; possibly part of a left over jelly fish. I pull the strainer and W/ cleans it. Just to note, we clean the strainer about 2 x’s / year. We did this last in Vuda Point Marina when we haul for the yearly clean up and prepare for offshore.

Moon Jelly FishOnce the strainer was clean I began to clean the innards of the seacock. We fill with water and siphoned out all the crap that was there. Besides that i discovered that there were barnacles growing about the opening that enters to the hose that feeds the system.

I’ve never really checked those before. It looks like now I need to pull the entire strainer off the seacock and ensure that the feed to the hose and the hoses are not housing more barnacles. I clean the opening as best as I can, install the strainer, put the cap back on and open it up.

It immediately fills with water. That’s a good thing. At least there is not a fish / creature that is stuck to the outer opening of the thru hull. I bleed air off the line to the refrigeration pump. W turns it on and I watch to see if water is shooting out my bleed line. Bingo. It is. I close the valve to the pump and water begins running to cool the pump. W/ checks outside to ensure that the water is making it all the way through and “Yippee” we’re back in business. We clean up the engine room, wash up ourselves and finally, again, begin to ready ourselves for counting sheep.

Post script: The refrigeration ran for about 30 minutes and then stopped again. I checked outside and there are jelly fish floating all around. We’ll be good till morning. Ah… the adventures of cruising. 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

 

ps  A few days later the Moon Jelly Fish were so thick one could imagine walking on them across Crop of Moon Jelly Fishthe water.

Spares…

July 8th, 2019

We carry a lot of spares. I had once teased a co -cruiser that they needed a sailboat trailer to carry their spares; but I think we are at the same place now.

Yesterday one of the lenses fell out of my good new glasses. I tried that magic stuff: JBWeld to fix them and that lasted one day.  Thus, I began to search through our spare glasses.

I found some new spares. Wow. I also found a new spare pair of Sunglasses that are prescription.  How lucky that was?

As I’ve now had glasses for a few years on the boat there is one critical observation I’ve made.  Do NOT get any of the additional coatings the shops want to sell you. Polarized, no, glare, no, anti red eye, no. The reason is that over time; it has been about a year for me, the coatings begin to wear off or the glue degrades making the glasses unusable. For a cruiser out and away from the big city where one can easily spend  few hundred and get some new ones, this can be a dangerous issue. Ok, so you can’t see into the water as well, get some big polarized glasses to fit over your prescription ones.  Be more cautious in shallower water. Yet the worse case is that reading charts could well cause one to make a bad decision. Do yourself a favor, get several good pair of prescription glasses, some tinted, some clear and avoid any of the coatings they want to sell you. In the end you’ll be able to safely cruise where ever you wish to go. And…

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Tourist to Yasur

July 7th, 2019
Port Resolution Yacht ClubWe left promptly at 3 pm. I know it’s rather rare in the Pacific where people often refer to island time for appointments. The road was like what one would imagine driving on the Appalachian Trail (AT) is like. W/ described the AT as all Rocks and Roots, This was all lava rock and gullies from erosion. At times we hit 40 kph, but for the most part we traveled about the average speed of a bicycle. An hour later we were at the entrance to Yasur.
 
There we paid our 10,000 VAT each (approx 100 dollar) to visit the volcano. Included was a brief Kava ceremony. There we were asking permission of the local chief to visit Yasur (the volcano). After there was a native dance. 30 minutes later we moved to the next stage.
Yasur
We climbed in the back of a truck to ascend the slope of Yasur. I call them cattle cars. Approx 15 of us / vehicle. W/ was lucky enough to sit in the cab. There she conversed with the driver as well as had a A Disney Like Experienceperfect view of the climb. Along the side of the road there were volcanic vents of steam. Yes; this is an active volcano and as such is actually said to be dangerous. I figured it is no more dangerous than driving down any interstate in the US.
 
20 minutes later we parked, doned our hard hats, received a some more instruction and hiked the last 200 meters to the rim. Already the sulfur smell was present. We could see the steam / smoke rising from the lava field. The guides informed us to use the W side as the E side was randomly bombarded by lava rocks. No one argued with the guide.
A few years ago the tour was shut down when the volcano became more active. Lava was thrown from the pool to the parking lot. Volcanos are rated from 0-5. Zero is for the most part I think inactive and 5 is; holy shit-stay away! Currently Yasur is a 2. At 3 they cancel the tours. I felt a little lucky that we would see it at it’s most active for non volcanologist.
 
At the upper parking lot we could hear Yasur, we could smell it and every few minutes we would see liquid rocks thrown in the air. However we could not see the lava pool form where we were. If one had a drone; for another 10,000 VAT you could fly it over the pool. I wonder how many drones ended up lost down in the lava pool.
 
We toured at Sunset when the views are more interesting. The lava plums light up against a dark background. The darker sky and the active lava creates mother natures fireworks. Friends told us to bring hats, scarves, face mask, and goggles. We did. When they went three years prior they indicated that the dust thrown up stuck to every part of their body. Luckily we were on the up wind side of Yasur. I only had grit in my mouth a couple of times and we never had to wear the face masks and goggles.
We did have layers of clothing on. At the top of Yasur it was blowing about 15 kts and at that altitude (the volcano top), it was quite cool. Two hours later everyone was getting cold. . People started to head down towards the cattle cars and the ride back to the tourist center. The tourist center provided us a few snacks, restrooms and a covered area. There we availed ourselves of the facilities and changed clothes. Ready again for the Disney ride, back to the boat.
 
At Port Resolution we climbed down the steps to the dinghy. We hauled it into the water (the tide is about a meter here) and with a headlamp navigated through the reef out to our boat. How we avoided striking any of the reef at night I can only guess. The tide was higher than when we arrived. Lucky . So far, this has been our best volcano experience and I rather doubt we’ll ever get to see the lava pool any closer. I’m not sure I want to. But like a bug to the flame; one never knows.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Tourist in Port Resolution

July 3rd, 2019
We stopped at the top of Aneityum before departing to Port Resolution on Tanna. We hoped to take a tour of Yasur, one of the few active volcanos in the world we can get close to. The anchorage on the N end was ok, not great, not horrible. We would not plan on spending much time there. Less is more in this case.
 
We upped anchor in the dark and followed our GPS track out. A few minutes later I could breath easier and we hoped to set sail. It was not to be. The iron genie did the work for most of the trip. About 1/2 way we put out some sail. The ride was a bit bumpy but I love the quite of mother nature moving the boat to where we want to go.
 
We pulled into Port Resolution about 3 and dropped the hook in 20’ of water over volcanic sand. Within the hour we decided to put out the flopper stopper. At this point it wasn’t all bad but we had heard that the swell works it way around the bay entrance.
 
We emailed our tour guy for the volcano. W/ had received the name from Aquarius and they liked him. He was spot on but the wrong guy. He’s not from the village that “claims” the bay. When we went to the yacht club for pickup up we were sadly informed of that. The yacht club owner/manager (Wherry) actually wanted us to ensure that he gets to speak with our guide. After their conversation hat said we were off.

Contact Werry for trips to Yasur

Just incase anyone is planning on stopping here to clear in and see Yasur; the correct info
for touring the volcano is: Weery (yes that is his name); Ph: 541-6989 or 537 6209. In person you can find him by entering the little bay( generally in front of where one would anchor), haul the dinghy up on the beach and ascend the steps on the left.
 
Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long
ps this is a bit out of order and after my next post I will place it in the proper sequence.

Aneityum, Vanuatu

June 29th, 2019

This is a facinating place but a little to slow and laid back for me. We like to have a bit more going on. If one likes to be disconnected from the world this is one place to hang out. The internet is on about 1/2 the time. There are no restaurants. Monique on Aloha did purchase some fried seafood at a community gathering. However, that is not quite my style.

For the most part the anchorage is fine. For 5 days it was perfect, then the seas started building up and now we have some wrap around swell into the harbor. That swell causes the boat to roll from side to side. We’ve put out one flopper stopper to change the rhythm of the roll and slow it down making it more comfortable. Flopper Stoppers have made life aboard Elysium tolerable more than once.

And finally the frosting on the cake is Mother Nature. For the last 4-5 days a stationary front has been hanging over us. Winds 20-30 knots for 3 days, no Sun for 4 out of 5 days and rain for the last 24 hours.

An ugly day for a Cruise ship adventure.

I feel for the people on the cruise ship that visited Mystery Island. Rain puts me off but there were plenty of Aussies (the ship berths in Sydney this time of year) that braved the weather. As the most interesting thing we could hope for here was the cruise ship, we’re looking to head north. When the wx clears a bit we will motor or sail N to Tana where we can get up close to a volcano.

Oh, and lest I forget… it is cold here. I’ve been in the tropics so long that winter on the border is blanket time.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

An Ugly Day…or Two

June 24th, 2019

We are under the U of Vanuatu to the left of the Thunderstorm.

An ugly couple of days. A stationary front sits right on top of us. In he image we are just to the W of that thunderstorm symbol. We’ve not had any T-Storms actually but the wind has been constant 20-30 kts in the anchorage, the rigging has been singing like a ghost during Holloween, and intermittently the rains have been off and on.

To top it off, by most appearances here the cell tower runs by solar. For over 24 hours we had no internet. Weather info is more difficult to get and communicating with family and friends difficult. Finally; I think those in the community were effected and the cell tower is functioning again. I’m not sure what they did, maybe just turned a generator on to run it. It doesn’t matter; we’re back in the world of electrons.

We could always communicate some. We have a ham radio / SSB setup. And we purchased an Iridium Go from Predict Wind. We have data capabilities with either setup. Thus emergency emails as well as most weather info we can still acquire.

Anyway; we wait for the officials. I think it’s only two days away now.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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