2019 Cruising East Coast Tasmania

MARIA ISLAND

Click here for Google Map Link to Maria Island anchorage

Wombats everywhere

Triabunna offered ferry services to Maria Island so it only made sense for us to make that our first stop. Not by ferry but on Landfall. The only way to travel around Maria Island is by walking or by bike (there were some spectacular bike trails). And the only accommodation was tent campsites. Maria Island was a historical convict stations site and operated in the mid 1800’s to punish secondary offenders and runaways. We were learning that much of Australia’s history included tales of crime, punishment, hardship and survival in harsh but beautiful places. There was no getting off this island alive. We anchored in Chinaman’s Bay, quite a distance from the main convict station so we didn’t get to see that but we did walkaround and we were welcomed by many, many Wombats that came out to feed late in the evening. These furry little creatures were more interested in feeding than in running away from us. It appeared to us that there were more Wombats than what food was available. They were everywhere and the grasslands were pretty bare.

CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR WOMBAT VIDEO

 

Beautiful salt water vegetation. Site of one of the convict stations

 

FORTESCUE BAY

Click here for Google Map Link to Fortescue Bay anchorage

Fortescue Bay anchorage

A few of the 2500 steps on the trail

The Cape Hauy track started from the bay campground and while we were there, we had a cool, sunny and calm day so we decided to do the 4-hour return track. The well-maintained track wound itself through a variety of terrain  and onwards to magnificent views of steep cliffs and rock formations. A few young boys with rock climbing gear passed us and we later learned that the “Candlestick” and “Totem Pole” sea stacks were popular areas for climbing and absailing.

Long way to go

We found it a strenuous track and I counted well over 2500 steps but it was worth the spectacular scenery. We were looking forward to a shower at the campsite but by the time we were back the office was closed and we couldn’t buy the necessary tokens. Hot showers would have to wait for maybe the next anchorage.

And a long way down too!

If you look closely you can see the rock climbers line

 

PORT ARTHUR

Click here for Google Map link to Port Arthur MAST mooring anchorage

We motored sailed to Port Arthur and grabbed a MAST mooring. These are moorings placed in various locations by Marine and Safety Tasmania and are well maintained. Their website indicates the locations for the moorings and the last time the moorings were inspected. Technically boats are only supposed to be on the moorings for 4 hours but when you are the only boat in the bay it really doesn’t matter how long you use the mooring. The main reason for anchoring here was to visit historic Port Arthur, a penal settlement. Port Arthur started as a small timber station but it grew to be an important penal location for the colonies. This included convicts from Britain who could no longer be sent to the Americas after the American War of Independence. As part of the tour package we got to enjoy a guided walking tour and a one hour boat cruise to Dead Man’s Island (where many of the dead were buried) and to Port Puer (where juvenile convicrts were housed). Port Arthur also had a devastating historical event which took place on April 1996. A young Hobart man armed with a high-powered rifle drove to Port Arthur and went on a shooting rampage killing 35 people and injuring 37 other people. The historic site was a story of many people, places and moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Click here for Google Map Link to Stewarts Bay

After a couple of nights here we tried to head further South but the wind picked up and it was on the nose so we returned to the bay but anchored in Stewart Bay. A beautiful protected little bay and while we were here we experienced record breaking heat wave of 37C. We didn’t bother to get off the boat just enjoyed a leisurely day while waiting for the winds to come from the North again.

NUBEENA, PARSONS BAY

Click here for Google Map Link to Nubeena anchorage

There wasn’t much to see or do in Nubbena, Parsons Bay but our motor sail by Cape Raoul was spectacular. We had some fog and drizzle but not much wind so we could stay close to shore. There is a very popular Three Capes track which takes several days and it’s 48km of breathtakingly beautiful coastline. We experienced Tasmania’s magnificent coast sitting in our cockpit. It was calm enough that we were even able to motor between Tasman Island and Cape Pillar. I found it to be a little nerving and daunting as I watched the depths go from +100 feet to less than 25 feet and towering rock cliffs on both sides of the boat. Leave it to Denny to even attempt such a feat, nerves of steel!

2019 Tasmania Road Trip with Bill and Ella

We had trouble getting a berth in Triabunna but this little beauty had a permanent home at the marina

Our road trip with Bill and Ella had a 3-day time constraint because that is as long as we could get a berth in the Triabunna marina. So, taking that into consideration we took a northerly scenic route. First stop was Swansea and we arrived just in time for lunch so we convinced Bill and Ella that had to be pie and we’re not talking sugar pie but hearty meat pies. It seems to be a thing in NZ and in OZ. Love it!!  Than it was onwards to Frecynet Park. We opted to do the hike to Wineglass Bay lookout. It was a strenuous uphill climb but it was a treat to sit at the lookout and see the famous Wineglass Bay with 20 or more boats anchored there. We could just pretend it was our boat there.

An Echidna hiding from us. You can’t see me if I can’t see you

From the lookout we managed to do a short hike to a nearby lighthouse. The highlite was the visiting Wallaby who was intent on looking cute and wrangling treats from tourists. Locals were quick to shrug away the obvious pest. We spent the night in a large cabin nearby and opted for some takeout food. And it was Taters with Sour Cream and Sweet Chili sauce. A local specialty and a new unhealthy treat we may have again.

Magnificent trail to Wineglass Bay Lookout

Finally arrived at Wineglass Bay Lookout

Famous Wineglass Bay

The little fellow knows Bill is hiding a cookie

The next day it was on to Bicheno and St. Helens. The highlights were Bicheno blowhole and the Bay of Fire. The blowhole could spray meters of salt water whenever there is a decent swell. We knew if we timed it right you we could get a dousing of salt water spray for the perfect photo op. There were no volunteers in our group of four, water was dreadfully cold for us old folks.

Well maybe I did volunteer for the blowhole spray. Calm day

Just another bird picture

 

 

 

Bay of Fire was a stunning bay with orange lichen rocks in contrast with pristine white beaches. Another place to wander and be in Nikon heaven. We spent a night at the Squeechy Motel. With a name too close squelchy or squishy expectations were not high but we had a cozy night.

What’s Bill taking a picture of? Not Ella this time

in contrast to the white beaches, it was a bay on fire. Can you see Barbie?

Saw this little bird in a flowering tree. Flew like a hummingbird, just a little bigger

 

 

 

On our way back to Landfall we made another stop for pie in Swansea and after a long drive we were back at home. Bill and Ella spent a night on our boat and then we said our goodbyes. They would make their way back to Sydney and we would continue our cruise circumnavigating Tasmania.

It was a great trip. Until next time…..,.

 

2019 Beautiful Lakes Entrance onwards to Tasmania

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After Bill left we continued waiting for a weather window to sail across the infamous Bass Strait. It has a reputation of being a trechorous body of water largely due to the shallow depths, strong currents, and the roaring seas and weather that come blasting out of the southern ocean. Fortunately we could wait indefinately in Port Eden as it offered great protection from the wind. But to get protection from the swell we had to sail across from one side of the bay to the other. It was here that we learned how quickly the wind could change. On one particular day I was sitting in the cockpit talking to my daughter on the Iphone when I noticed the boat starting to point differently, wind picking up and swell increasing. I quickly said goodbye and called out to Denny who was napping. Within minutes we pulled the anchor up and motored against 40 knots wind to get protection from the other side of the bay. We motored at full throttle and we were barely making one knot. With the wind howling and the rain drenching us, we eventually arrived at our anchorage point and Denny warned me that we would only get one shot to drop and set the anchor. If the boat got a chance to turn down wind we would quickly be blown straight into a  mussel farm.  The pressure was on but we did what was needed and got the anchor down without a hitch. We learned that sailing along Southern coast of Australia would require constant vigilance unless we were in an all-weather anchorage and these were hard to find.

We couldn’t  seem to get a weather window for crossing the bass strait and tired of waiting in Port Eden we decided to make a move to Lakes Entrance, a little further south along the coast. Halfway there we hit the notorious wind on the nose sail and we spent a night making very little progress again as we tacked back and forth.  But we persevered and by morning the wind all but died and we were able to motor sail to Lakes Entrance. The sand bar we had to cross had a reputation of being a little daunting. There is a sky cam linked to a website that boats can use to look at the opening swell conditions as they make their way to the entrance. But it was a calm morning when we arrived and we motored into the lake without any problem.

 

Click here for Google Map Link Lakes Entrance

Lakes Entrance

The lovely Sally Forth

Lakes Entrance is a beautiful sheltered lake with many offshoots to explore but it can be a little nerving as the channels can be quite shallow. It took us several hours to get to our final destination, Paynesville. This little town offered great protection from the wind, a public jetty where several boats could tie up and explore the town for a maximum of 4 hours and it was where our friends Mark and Sally on Sally Forth were. We arrived just as the sun was setting and Mark and Sally where at the dock catching lines and giving us a wonderful welcome.

The “people” is what makes a town a great place and we loved Paynesville. We were tied to a 4 hour maximum dock for 4 nights and the people didn’t seem to mind as they came for a visit and offered us compliments on our  well maintained boat. It felt good to have people recognize the hours of effort we put into the upkeep of our little home. We were invited for a glass of wine and snacks at a Joe Loci’s house, a local that tried to convince us to sell our boat to him. We spent and afternoon at his home and he served us a bottle of his own brewed Shiraz wine made from scratch. I can tell you it was one of the finest Shiraz wine I have ever had and Denny commented that if wine tasted like that all the time he would drink it more often. We will come back to visit Joe again as much for his company as for the divine wine!

Not too happy about having them hang out there

Besides hanging out with our friends on Sally Forth we took a quick ferry trip to nearby Raymond Island well known for the 300+ Koalas that live there. We celebrated Valentines Day there surrounded by the noisy Cockatoos that seemed to travel in pairs. We could have hung out here for weeks but in 4 days we had our weather window we needed to cross the Bass Strait.

Patiently posing for a picture

Black swans

A little curious

A little grumpy we woke him up. But then they seem to be always sleeping!

And one more Koala picture. We have many more

Crossing the BASS STRAIT

It was a tranquil motor sail across the straits, traversing past the oil rigs in the middle of the night and enjoying the dolphins visiting us by day. And still not a fish on the line. We couldn’t  anchor in the famous Wineglass Bay as the wind and swell were rolling right in.

Rounding the Passage Point to get to  Passage Beach

 

Click here for Google Map Link of Passage Beach

Navigating around the rough coast line

Our first Tasmanian anchorage was in Passage Beach. It offered a good night sleep, beautiful white beach to explore and mussels on the rocks ready for us to pick. As soon as we had our dinghy in the water and we were making our way to shore we were stopped by the water police. We learned that we were required to wear life jackets and have flares, a bailer, anchor, 150 feet of line and a fire extinguisher in the dinghy at all times. Denny had a good chuckle about the fire extinguisher and the police agreed it didn’t make much since in a rubber dinghy. But that was the law! He just explained the rules, gave us a fish ruler so we would know what the fish quotas and minimum catch sizes were.

Harvesting our first feed of mussels in Tassie

Not sure what these interesting creatures are. Macro photography is always fun

From Passage Beach we made our way to Spring Bay where we were scheduled to meet Ella and Bill. Anchoring in Spring Bay wasn’t easy as it was a shallow bay with lots of moorings. Landfall kissed the muddy bottom while we did our anchoring circle, it took a couple of times to finally set the anchor as the bottom had a lot of shells and weeds and the wind was gusting 30+.

Click here for Google Map Link Triabunna

We dinghied to the nearby town, Triabunna. It’s mainly a little town that services tourists wanting to get to book ferry passages to nearby Maria Island. The Island is designed for various levels of cycling tours and an opportunity for people to explore the historic ruins of the convict settlements. The information center offered public showers and for $8 had a glorious hot water wash. There were a few small grocery stores, very full campgrounds, a small tired looking hotel and a small fish and chips takeout (which we did try). We managed to secure a little berth for Landfall so we could do our road trip with Bill and Ella. Getting the berth wasn’t easy as the marina was full. The first call to the Harbor Master was a bust but as we walked around the place we met other cruisers that were leaving the next day. The second call to the Harbor Master resulted in him meeting us as he had some difficulty understanding us via the cell phone. Once we were face to face, able to have a social chat and with the promise of a beer and the understanding that we would take the berth of the boat that was leaving we were set to safely leave Landfall for a couple of days. I will say that coming into the marina and maneuvering into the little berth was a little intimidating  and we were glad that Bill and Ella were there to catch the lines. Next adventure, road tripping with our friends.

2019 Cruising Australia with Bill

Before we post anything further we have to clarify that although I do most of the writing, Denny does all of the photo editing and we both are contributors to the pictures as we both love toting our Nikon cameras around. So the blogging work is shared.

And our friend Bob also asked me to insert this picture he took while visiting us and add the comment:

Dennis working hard

Three generations!

getting ready to watch the Junior World Series Hockey Game at my Dad’s

After arriving in Australia we left the boat on the hard at “The Boat Works” and flew to North America to be with family for the Christmas holidays. This means that I am in Ontario, Canada and Denny is somewhere between South Dakota and Minnesota USA, although I did make a detour stop in South Dakota to get a little quality time with our grandson, Rhett. Besides the beautiful family time, which we can’t get enough of after being half a world away, I was fortunate to be able to drive across Canada with my daughter Allison. She was moving from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island to start a new job. She needed help to move herself, her little car and her little bit of stuff to her new home base. It was quality time with my baby girl in a little car for roughly 3000 km or 1800 miles with stops along the way to reconnect with family and friends. Some of the mountain passes where a little icy and treacherous (Ally drove on those occasions) but otherwise it was pretty good driving conditions considering it was middle of the winter. Allison and I can now both say we have been in Canada from coast to coast.

 

 

CHRISTMAS FAMILY PICTURES ( Sad we didn’t get to see my son Dylan)

 

Bottom painting complete. Should have waited for Bill

2019

Denny arrived in Australia a few days before me. He left from  Minneapolis and I left from Vancouver, British Columbia. Once we were both back on the boat in Southport, Brisbane it was work, work, work. Five days of bottom painting, cleaning and getting Landfall back in the water ready for our friend Bill’s arrival.

What were we thinking!! We should have postponed preparations until Bill was on board, at least for the sanding and bottom painting.

We started provisioning the day Bill arrived so that he could have somewhat of a say on what we had in the pantry. But the only thing he really asked for was hot dogs and coffee.

 

First anchorage and the pelican was patiently waiting for an easy meal

Click here for Google Map Link

We spent one calm day at the Muriel Henchman Park which is also where we spent our first anchorage in Australia with Bob. That was our starting point for our sail with our goal to get to Tasmania.

Seas getting a little rough

Our first few days of heading South had it’s challenges. We caught a fish and after considerable amount of effort trying to get it on board we lost the fish; a wave crashed through our open galley ports dousing everything with sea water and Denny had to spend time fixing our water maker luckily with success! About 60 miles south of Coffs Harbor the winds turned and it was on the nose. We were making very little progress and unable to get a good weather forecast so we decided to turn back and duck in for shelter in Coffs Harbour

Safety in Coffs Harbour

Click here for Google Map Link

Once we were safely berthed in the marina Denny realized that one of the cars on the sail track was broken. He managed to find a marine store and order the part with only 10 minutes left before closing. It was Friday afternoon and the part would be shipped the next day. We enjoyed the marina hot showers, had a little walk through town and found a quaint little Mexican restaurant where we had dinner. The next day Denny and Bill worked  on replacing the sail track “car” and managed to fix that with some challenges. Before setting sail on our Southerly course, we grabbed a tasty burger and a fine pint of beer and we were off again.

“The Boys” working together doing repairs

Click here for Google Map Link

We had some strong northerly winds, found a current that helped us get to Pittwater before the prevailing southerlies hit us again. Pittwater was busy, hot and lots of activities as it was the Australia Day holiday. We spent a couple of days here, grilling hot dogs, relaxing and waiting for a weather window to keep heading South.

Note the fancy bandage on the finger. Not even coffee is making me feel better

From Pittwater we sailed to Port Eden before the Southerlies made us take shelter again. This wasn’t an uneventful passage either. First we caught the monster fish!! Can’t say what it was as we never did see it but when it caught the lure on the first fishing rod it pulled on the line at great speed and I managed to clip off the top of my left hand pointer finger trying to slow or stop the drag. The HUGE tuna or marlin managed to break free but then snagged the lure on the second fishing rod and went straight down taking the lure and all the line with him. Not a fish we wanted on board anyway but it would have been nice to at least get a glimpse of the fish. We put a new lure on the remaining fishing line but forgot to tighten the drag so somewhere along the way we caught a fish that took our remaining line and lure without us even knowing about it.

On a calm day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before arriving in Port Eden we were hit by a thunder and lightening storm like we have never encountered before. Not the usual wind but a lightening show that lasted for hours. With each lightening bolt we were thankful that it didn’t strike the boat. And somewhere between the thundershowers we also had a squall that caught us unaware as we were sailing with the large 160 jib. We managed to sail through it but Denny had to go forward to untangle lines on the roller unit and going forward during a squall is never a good thing.

This little fellow hitched a ride during the storm and hung around for a while

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link

Came across these little beauties

And then found these. Mussels for supper YUM

We waited in Port Eden for 10 days trying to get a weather window to cross the infamous Bass strait and finally get to Tasmania.  But we didn’t just sit on the boat and do nothing. We went on daily walks, had beers at the local pubs, had some Australian pizza and socialized with some of the locals and other cruisers.

Didn’t make it to the Wooden Boat show in Tasmania on time but saw these in Port Eden

 

 

 

 

An afternoon with Doug and brave Cloe

 

We had a nice afternoon with a man who volunteered to take us into town to buy sparkplugs for our dinghy motor that was acting up. His dog, Cloe was a sheep herder but was deathly afraid of cows.

Beautiful ‘ Sally Forth’

We had ‘happies and appies’ with Mark and Sally on their beautiful Nordhaven 52ft power boat “Sally Forth”. They were also trying to go to Tasmania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the museum where we learned all about Old Tom, the killer whale. He was thought to be the leader of a pod which helped the whalers by herding the baleen whales into the bay. The killer whales were then rewarded with the tongue and lips as their share of the kill. We rented a car and did some day trips in search of the elusive Platypus and Koala. Never did see either one but we did manage to come across a Wombat road kill and stopped to have a look as we were desperate to see some Aussie wildlife.

Alas, NO Platypus

 

In the end Bill had to get a flight to Tasmania as his time was running out and Ella (his wifey) was due to arrive soon. He booked flights from a nearby airport with a final destination to Burnie, Tasmania. On his last evening we had a couple of drinks on another cruising boat. It was priceless to see Bill’s face as the local sailor exclaimed he had never heard of an airport in Burnie and further more would never fly there. Bill grudgingly left the next day but we had agreed that if we ever got a weather window we would try and meet again in Tasmania. As it would have it, Bill inadvertently forgot his wallet on Landfall so a meeting up with them in Tassie was a definite. 

More shopping. Where’s Bill?

Is there a resemblance?

The coast is not that friendly

Goodbye Bill, see you in Tasmania!!

 

2018 Cruising with Bob in New Caledonia and Australia

Bob arrived in Noumea after over  two days of flights originally leaving from Minneapolis. He was sitting at the marina restaurant with his bags patiently waiting for us while we walked the waterfront looking for him. Not sure how long we kept missing each other but we finally made the connection. It took several trips with the dingy to fairy Bob and all his bags out to the boat, maneuvering through some choppy seas trying hard not to get Bob and all his debris wet.  But that wasn’t to be and he got his first experience of wet salty clothes and life on Landfall.  It was like Christmas onboard as we unpacked all the goodies Santa brought for us including peanuts, candies, salsa and lots of other treats. We spent that night in the rolly Noumea anchorage and then we sailed directly to the island of Mato.

Click here for Google Map Link

Can you spot the reef shark. We know Bob can!

Mato is a beautiful anchorage among reefs, clear water and plenty of reef sharks. It was impossible to convince Bob to go snorkeling after the shark sighting even if it was only a little reef shark. We did a quick hike to the top of Mato Island and enjoyed a beautiful view of our anchorage.

Click here for Google Map Link

We spent the night at Mato but had to make a move as the wind was starting to get stronger and this anchorage was only protected by the barrier reef so we were getting the full force of the wind.  Our next anchorage at Ile Ouen was totally different. The water was murky and we were surrounded by red, mountainous terrain.  We explored the shores and after much coaxing managed to get Bob to go for a little snorkel. But it was quick and short. We all saw large grey shark and although they weren’t aggressively hunting they were lurking in close proximity.

Click here for Google Map Link

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DENNY!!

Denny’s birthday was a day away and we were planning to celebrate it with our friends on Atlantis who were waiting in Ile Casy. So we had a great sail and grabbed a mooring close to Atlantis. We had bought humungous steaks and our friends joined us on Landfall. We had such a good time partying and eating Bob’s perfectly barbequed steaks that we didn’t even  think to capture the moment in pictures.

We spent a day exploring the island. There were some great trails which took us all around the island to some nearby wilderness campsites,  the ruins of the resort that used to be there, top of the island where we could see more of the Bay of Prony and found a plaque dedicated to Moose the dog that lived all alone on the Island.  Story has it that the owners of the resort and the dog left the island but the dog not wanting to live anywhere else jumped off the boat and lived on the Island all by himself. He was fed and loved by all visiting cruisers.

Hello to our friends on Atlantis

Click here for Google Map Link

I would rather a hot shower

We wanted to give Bob a good tour of New Caledonia before making our way to Australia so we never stayed more than a couple of days at any anchorage. Next stop Bai Du Caranage for some water play at the cascades and hot pools. Surrounded by all the freshwater it was time for washing clothes and showers.

Never imagined ever having to hand wash clothes

Yes its Denny pulling the dinghy. Maybe Bob had to wash clothes by hand but he traveled in style

Click here for Google Map Link

Its not just sharks to be afraid of

We slowly made our way back to Noumea with a stop in Baie Ue. We were anxious to get ready for our passage to Australia but we decided to slow down our return until after the independence referendum as we weren’t sure if there would be some unrest and violence after the vote. As per Wikipedia “The Noumea accord signed in May 1998 set in motion a 20-year transition that transferred certain powers to local government and laid the groundwork for an independence referendum in 2018.” The result was 56.4% for maintaining the status quo. New Caledonians will have 2 more opportunities in 2020 and 2022 to vote for independence. Luckily there was little fallout from the resulting referendum and we could continue on to Noumea and prepare to do the immigration checkout.

Not seeing any sharks here

Click here for Google Map Link

In Noumea we did the walkabout to customs, immigration and a final visit to Port Captain, last stop for coffee and chocolate croissants and then off to a mooring by Ile Maitre and wait for a weather window. It was a beautiful resort island and a great place to hang out. Denny and Bob jumped in and washed the bottom of the boat so we wouldn’t take any unwanted critters to the land of OZ. Bob was a little hesitant about being in the water but so long as he had Denny for company he seemed to be ok.

Click here for Google Map Link

Time to go to Australia

Our passage to Australia took about 6 days, 36 minutes and we sailed 782 miles. We had some swell and wind but also lots of calm motoring. We caught a Dorado on the way and Bob and Denny took turns for an hour reeling it in only to have to release when we noticed its mate swimming by its side. We just weren’t hungry enough for fish to break the pair as they do mate for life.

TO SEE VIDEO OF BOB’S SAIL TO AUSTRALIA CLICK HERE

Welcome to Australia

Once we were close to the Australian coast we were welcomed by a large pod of dolphins.

We arrived in Southport, checked in the next day and then made our way to the Boat Works where we had planned to haul out the boat.

 

Southport Australia

Click here for Google Map Link

The Boat Works is a great place to work and store the boat while we travelled to North America for the Christmas holidays.

One last hike

 

 

They offer free courtesy cars for use so long as you book them in advance. We took advantage of this and did a few road trips nearby to explore some of Australia before Bob’s return trip back to Minneapolis. We enjoyed Bob’s company, had a lot of laughs, took advantage of his cooking skills and we were grateful for his help during the passage to Australia. Until next time….

 

 

Australian turkey? Christmas around the corner!!

Couldnt leave Australia without a picture of a Kangaroo

 

2018 New Caledonia

Click here for Google Map link to Orphelinat Bay, Noumea

2018 New Caledonia – cruising with NZ Dockland 5 friends
It was a beautiful 3-day sail from Vanuatu with wind on the beam at 15 to 20 knots. We managed to clean up a little and managed to get some sleep but we were still feeling the effects of our volcano experience so we needed a quick place to rest and recuperate in Bai Du Caranage. We tied the boat to a mooring and felt very comfortable in this well protected bay. We slept for 12 hours or more and loved the 24 hours of rain we got that washed  all the ash, soot and salt off the decks. The boat seemed a little cleaner but the stainless had taken quite a beating from the acid from the volcano and would need some TLC with lots of muscle varnishing.
After 2 days of recuperating we made our way up the long channel to Noumea, the only place to check into New Caladonia. We timed it so that we would arrive there Sunday evening and be ready to check in Monday morning. Immigration is only open 8:00 to 11:00 in the morning so we would have to get started early. The Bai De L’Orphelinat is full of moorings and we anchored in the outskirts were the charts tell you NOT to anchor but everybody seemed to be doing it. It is not a place one would like to anchor for long as it has a lot of swell and the big boats passing by. The local island ferries would send Landfall on a nasty roll and we had to scurry to hang on to anything that would go flying and cause damage to our teak or cause nasty spills, particularly Barbie’s red wine. Early Monday morning we went to shore taking all our vegetables and with the help of marina staff found the location of immigration, customs and bio securities. Unlike other countries, in New Caledonia, the cruisers are required to go to the physical locations versus having officers come to your boat. Always a challenge to figure out the checking in process. Bio security still had to come to the boat and we managed to get a birth in the marina where we opted to stay for a couple of days to continue with the boat cleaning. Easy access to lots of fresh water, shore power, showers, grocery stores and a short walk to the laundromat. We were aware that many of the friends we made while in Dockland 5 were in New Caledonia as well so we were excited about a Dockland 5 reunion. And so it began. First a visit from our friends from Cava and Bravo and later Kindred Spirits. We spent a glorious afternoon recounting our experiences with the help of a bottle wine and a couple of beers. Fortunately, our berth neighbors were tolerant and didn’t mind the raucous talking and laughter.

Love our friends. Great times

Beach fire, friends, wine and cheese and baguettes. Life is good

Once we had re-provisioned we headed to an all weather anchorage and do some ‘buddy’ boating with our good friends.We soon learned that the wind can blow in New Caledonia. For the most part evenings, nights and early mornings were quiet but then gust up to 20 knots during the day. So, this little anchorage offered little wind protection but great protection from the swell. In the evenings we had fun getting together for sundowners. Denny and I spent one afternoon gathering firewood and then had a great evening beach fire with our friends sharing tasty baguettes, French cheese and pates.

House boat??

 

 

We explored the shores surrounding us and us ladies even did a kayak paddle across the bay where we bought some more baguettes. The paddle back was a little nerving as it was against a 25 knot wind but we made it safely with dry baguettes.

 

 

Anchored with friends

Click here for Google Map link to Ilot Amedee

After 10 days of together in Ile Uerie we headed back to Noumea to re-provision and get propane.
Our first anchorage alone after saying goodbye to friends was to Ilot Amadee. The island had the tallest lighthouse of New Caledonia and also promised to be a great place for turtles. We had a little problem rolling in our jib as we approached the Island and it was just something else for Denny to fix.. Luckily we managed to take it down without any incident. Amadee was a beautiful little island that catered to all the tourists arriving there with the tour boat. Two days of being part of the tourist circus was enough.

View of our boat from the light house

Click here for Google Map Link to Ilot Kouare

Ilot Koure offered some beautiful pristine white beaches and great snorkeling. It was later that we learned there had been a fatal Bull shark attack but that had happened over 3 years ago. But considering that in the last 10 years there have been 10 shark attacks of which half were fatalities, the likelihood of coming face to face with the great beasts is unlikely. It’s still always a little unnerving for me getting in the water. Denny drove a piece of coral up into his heel while beaching the dinghy so what little snorkeling the weather permitted, I did alone.

Denny’s pic of the Eel. Better to coming face to face with a shark

Click here for Google Map Link to Ouatio Pass

We did do a day anchor next to the Ouatio reef pass and the clarity of the water there was unbelievable. We could see the details of the sea bottom in 15 feet of water. I snorkeled around at Denny’s encouragement while he followed in the dinghy. Having him near made me feel a little safer and I spotted many colorful fish, turtles, Manta rays and a couple of small, lazy grey sharks.

Click here for Google Map Link for Ilot Ua

We decided that we should visit Ils De Pins with its teal blue waters and beautiful white beaches. It was just a day sail and the winds were promising not to be too strong even if it was on the nose. We made one stop Ilot Ua and we were here with three other boats so there must have been promoted as a good place to go but mainly for the snorkeling. We just made it a one-night stop and it positioned us well for the day sail to Ils De Pins.

Click here for Google Map Link to Kuto Bay, Isle of Pines

Isle de Pines nearby resort

It was a tack, tack, tack sail to Kudo and we made it shortly before nightfall. There were about 20 boats here and it was a well-protected bay with little or no swell which was comfortable after the last few anchorages. We spent 5 days here and did a few hikes and kayak paddles.

Denny did one death march with me to a nearby town that boasted a cute restaurant but it was closed by the time we arrived. We were not looking forward to the return hike in the sweltering heat and we were lucky to get picked up by a couple of local women and a baby driving a well-used little pickup. Conversation was difficult as they spoke little English and I spoke minimum French. During our hike back, Denny had found a channel lock pliers on the side of the road and he offered this tool to the ladies as a thank you. The look on their face was hilarious but they accepted the gift, which, according to Denny was a useful gift!!

Top of PicN’Ga. Souvenir coins left on the cross

I did a hike to the highest peak in Ils De Pins called the PicN’Ga. Denny was still feeling the pain from the coral cut on his heel especially since the previous day hike. The view was astounding and worth the grueling up hill hike. Five days here was enough and we were looking forward to a couple more days with our friends in Cava, especially since they were looking for a weather window back to NZ.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link to Anse Majic

 

Mooring at Anse Majic

We made it back to Anse Majic and grabbed a mooring and spent a day with Cava. Shortly after our arrival they found a great weather window for NZ so, sadly, we parted ways. Kindred Spirit had already left for Australia and Bravo would follow suit shortly. And that’s cruising life, meeting amazing people but always saying hello – goodbye. We did another great uphill hike and were amazed at the diverse colors and terrain from the rest of the anchorages in New Caledonia, mainly the red clay deposits due to the extensive mining in the area. We also found a really neat, hidden little paradise that offered a fresh water shower, although it was a cold one. It was also a great place to do hand laundry. Yes it is living the dream hand washing clothes by hand and cold showers where and if you can get one!

Click here for Google Map Link to Baie Du Carenage

Always trying to figure out how things work!

We continued our exploration of the Bay of Prony and anchored in the Baie De Carenage. We found some new hikes here and taking advise from other cruisers, we took a bucket and small bristle brush to wash off the red clay mud and coloring that accumulated on our footwear. The hike brought us to some beautiful waterfalls and to a unique swimming hole with overhanging rocks and pristine clear water that just beckoned us to jump in. Denny took all his clothes off and went in first and was cheered on by a hiker that appeared out of nowhere. It took some convincing for me to follow him mainly because of the cold water but also some inhibition, of which Denny has none. After all the cold water dips we were told of a nearby natural hot spring and it wasn’t hard to find. A gorgeous little man made concrete pool fed by fresh water and a hot spring. We had the warm pool all to ourselves!

Finally a pool with hot water!!

Our friend Bob was coming to visit us and then sail to Australia so we had head back to Noumea, as that was to be our meeting and starting point for our next adventure with Bob!

 

2018 Vanuatu – Tanna Volcano

Click here for Google Map Link

We are currently in Australia and hope to be here for some time. Our first planned destination is Tasmania and we are now in Port Eden waiting for a weather window before crossing the well-known ‘boisterous weather’ Bass Strait. This gives us the opportunity to catch up on the blog updates from Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Vanuatu version of bungy jumping. Yikes!! Glad its not Denny hanging there

Our last stop in Vanuatu was Tanna. After a long hard day’s sail against prevailing winds we arrived in Point Resolution very early in the morning and set the anchor as the sun was rising. We were determined to finally get close to Mother Nature’s caldron after missing the opportunity to hike to the volcano in Ambrym. We had already checked out of the country and were just making a quick stop. We were aware that we had a great weather window to sail to New Caledonia but only if we left within 24 hours. We quickly got the dinghy in the water and began searching for the Tanna Volcano tour guides. The town was pretty quiet that early in the morning.  We met other cruisers who had already booked themselves a guide and were planning to head to Mount Yasur that afternoon and invited us to tag along. The only instructions we received were to bring a torch, good walking shoes, water and food and meet at a specific location on the beach at two in the afternoon. We arrived at our meeting point early to make sure the tour guide was ok with us joining the group. Signs of the active volcano were everywhere as we spotted kids enjoying warm water baths caused by hot water flowing into high tide pools. The hot springs nearby were used for bathing and cooking.
The tour guide was a young man from a near by village and he explained that we would first do a three-hour jungle hike to the base of the volcano. Although we had not gotten much sleep during our overnight sail passage, we were hyped to explore the flora and fauna and had lots of fun getting to know the people in our group. It was a steady uphill climb but we stopped often and our guide treated us to fresh coconut drinks, sugar cane nibbles and green onions to take back with us. We were given the opportunity to swing from a rope and harness over a valley with heart stopping heights. Only one person volunteered and it wasn’t Denny or me (although Denny probably would have if I didn’t give him an “I’ll kill you myself if you do” look). We arrived at the base of the volcano just before sunset and we were told to sit back and have our picnic and stay well-hidden while we waited for the “licensed” Tanna tour to end. That was an “Oh Oh” moment for us. It was our first inkling that what we were doing was not on the up and up. We were aware that the government had taken over the rights to take people for the volcano tours and that the whole expedition was very expensive with limited time to see the eruptions. But we had tagged along to an already scheduled tour and had been under the impression that it was an authorized one. Denny and I had come too far to turn back and the young guide seemed very knowledgeable and experienced.
We waited patiently and could hear and see Yasur’s eruptions from where we were. The ground shook and the roaring sound of the explosions were incredible. Finally, we got the go ahead to continue up to the mouth of the volcano but not by way of the ‘tourist’ track as there we would be spotted by the posted security guards. We had to crawl and stumble on all fours up the rock face without the use of our flashlights and sometimes had to stop and look up when an eruption occurred to make sure we didn’t get showered with volcano debris. Relief was felt by all when we made it the top and could finally get front row seats to the majestic lava shower that seemed to occur every 10 minutes. The sight was breathtaking and exhilarating and it is impossible to describe the immensity of the thundering force of each eruption. Denny quickly setup the tripod and camera and proceeded to take pictures but then was told that pictures with flash and Iphones could not be used as the security guards had spotted us and were making their way up. We were taken to an outcropping of rocks and told to hide while the guide went down to possibly bribe the guards to let us wander around! The wait was excruciating and we all felt like we were taking part in a commando expedition. Finally the guide returned and advised us that security was staying at the base and we could explore some more but keep camera lights and flashes well hidden. We were given the option to hike to a lookout point which would allow us a better view of the smoldering lava. Only four of us which included Denny and me followed the guide to the higher vantage point. We crawled to the edge and could look down at the molten red lava but before we could get our cameras out Yasur erupted and the wind carried the smoke and dust towards us. We couldn’t breathe, we couldn’t see and had to make a quick exit out of there. I hung on to the guide and with eyes closed, stumbled back to the lower viewing point. Denny wasn’t as lucky and he had to make his own way down with tear filled eyes. We took some time to get our breath back and refocus our eyes before we were given the instruction that it was time to leave. One thing was for certain, we were not going to descend without the use of our torches. We were assured that the route we were taking down was on the opposite side of the security gate and torches could be used so long as we kept them pointing down directly in front of us. The way down was just a mountain of fine ash and sand and we slid, ran, stumbled down the volcano. We felt like we were downhill skiing with little control for what seemed like and endless amount of time but really only 10 minutes. When we spotted truck headlights we were told to turn off our torches until the guide confirmed that it was the vehicle that would take us home. We all felt relieved and elated that our great adventure had ended well. Little did we know that our drive back to the beach was going to take an hour and half over some very dubious washed out roads. There were times where the road was the width of the truck and an inch too far over either side could end badly for all of us. We were sitting in the box of the truck, hanging on to whatever we could and hoping the roll cage would offer some protection if necessary. But the driver was experienced and had taken this route many times. Somebody in our group asked our guide if he had conducted these tours very often and his reply was “No, never before!”. He looked at all our horrified faces and he quickly clarified “never with OLD people” as if that should make us all feel better!!
We arrived back at the beach shortly after midnight and said our goodbyes, thankful to be on our way back to Landfall. Despite the questionable choice of tour guide all Denny and I could feel was awe, exhilaration and very fortunate to be able to get close to a force of nature so powerful, lethal, thunderous and beautiful.
But we had no time to linger in the immensity of what we had just experienced. Our sailing weather window indicated that we had to make an immediate exit and steer a course to New Caledonia. As we had already checked out of the country, we didn’t have the option to wait for the next available window. So although we were exhausted, full of ash and soot, we hoisted sail and left beautiful Vanuatu. Next stop New Caledonia!

2018 Vanuatu. Visit from NZ friends Pete and Mel

Click here for Google Map Link – Lakatoro

Lakatoro would have been a nice anchorage but while we were there the weather was nasty. Denny and I had a long dinghy ride to the dock and from there a 3 mile walk to the airport where Pete and Mel would be arriving. We did manage to find a ride and it was a

Burned out hulk of an airport

good thing we did because I wouldn’t believe we were at the airport. It was just a burned out building, open to the elements and no security or gates. There were a couple of people hanging out with their luggage and that was the only evidence that we were in the right place. We waited and waited and waited. Finally Denny found somebody that looked like he was an airline employee and asked about the flight schedule. He informed us that the flight had been cancelled due to thunder and lightening storm in Port Villa. So we headed back to the boat not knowing where Pete and Mel were. We finally got a text that explained they were delayed, and then one saying they were on the way. The wind had worsened so we arranged a water taxi for them as the dinghy ride would have been a wet one. With the wind howling there wasn’t much to do except take a little tour of the nearby village. We decided not to stay in Lakatoro any longer and sailed to the next anchorage that was a little more protected.

Click here for Google Map Link – Crab Bay

Crab Bay was a little challenging to get into as there was coral everywhere. The little hole we anchored in wasn’t very large with minimal swing room, so we put out a second anchor to keep us from swinging. It was still very windy out but we were sheltered and felt no swell. There was a nearby nature reserve with a trail so we decided to do some exploring.

We found another shipwreck on the beach which is always sad to see. We couldn’t find the story about this boat on the internet. One of the planned stops during our friends visit was to do the volcano hike on Ambrym. The hike would take 10 hours through some rough terrain and uphill and it would have to be guided. We decided we would do it in 2 days and hire porters to carry our food, sleeping bags and camera equipment. This would give us more time and energy to enjoy the hike and the volcano. We got a weather window so after 2 days in Crab Bay we set sail for the next Island, Ambrym.

Click here for Google Map link – Ambrym

 

 

 

The link to google map will give you an idea of our less than desirable anchorage and the distance we would have to hike to the Volcano. Google describes Ambrym as one of the most active volcanoes in the New Hebrides and one of five lava lakes in the world. We were all pumped to go. 

We took a hike through the village looking for a guide, along the way we made friends with a village dog or I should say he made friends with us.

Our Buddy Flea

We named him Flea for obvious reasons. He followed us everywhere and was even prepared to jump in the dinghy with us. From the boat we could see him trying to swim towards us and  made it half way before giving up. He then started barking and pacing back and forth on the shore for a long time (Mel’s offering of cookies may have something to do with Flea’s persistence)

 

It was a hot and humid stroll around village and we were starting to second guess our ability to do the walk. We  came across a cozy, little Cava bar where we could celebrate our success. We found somebody who had the experience and knowledge and willing to take us to the volcano Caldera but the weather wasn’t cooperating. There were low lying clouds and it was coming from the wrong direction which would probably hinder our view of the lava lake in the crater once we reached the top. We weren’t willing to do the hike without being able to actually see the volcano. We waited for a day but weather wasn’t improving nor did it look good for the next couple of days. However, it was a  good sail (motor) window to head back South to the main Island, Efate. There were no available flights from Ambrym to the main Island that Pete and Mel could take in order to catch their connection to NZ so we decided to abandon the Ambrym hike. We hope to come back someday and do it. The night before we left we did see some Dugong swim by the boat and on the day we left Pete, who was in charge of fishing, caught us an Albacore Tuna so we were happy with that. The passage back to the main island Efate was an overnight motor but that was better than a beat against prevailing wind.

Clouds hanging over Ambrym

 

 

Click here for Google Map link – Havanna Bay

Back on the main Island we spent the time enjoying food from some nearby restaurants and resorts. Pete and Mel had friends that had a little cottage near where we were anchored so they were able to get off the boat for a little while. I did end up with a very nasty infection from a small cut on my ankle that appeared to be nothing at first. The cut became swollen, red and from there the symptoms worsened and I had fever and chills. It was going to be a hospital emergency stop for me but luckily Pete and Mel’s friends had the proper ointment and antibiotics and by morning I was cured. But it does stress the importance of keeping small cuts clean and having appropriate medication for these instances. The outcome could have been very bad for me if appropriate action wasn’t taken quickly.

We enjoyed our time with our friends and 12 days seemed to go very fast. They were back to NZ and it was time for us to head to New Caledonia with one stop on the way, our last chance to see an active volcano in Tanna.

2018 Vanuatu -Santo

Click here for Google Map Link for Ratua Island

Click here for Google Map Link for Luganville Bay

We left Malua Bay, Malekula early in the morning and headed to the northern island of Santo. It was a great sail. We spotted a shark fin so we knew there were sharks nearby and we caught a very small tuna on the lure we were towing. We returned it to the sea as it wasn’t worth taking.

This little fellow managed to get himself sucked into our Water Maker filter while making water on the way. We set it free.

We had planned to anchor close to Ratua Island where there was a nice little resort. I was ready for a little resort visit and enjoy a nice meal off the boat. There wasn’t enough room to properly anchor but we were told by a Catamaran that there was a boat leaving within the hour. We waited and waited and then decided to radio the boat that was supposed to leave. Unfortunately, they were having engine problems and had decided to stay so our planned outing had to wait. It was getting late and we had a couple of hours to go before we would reach the next anchorage which would actually be near the main town in Santo, Luganville. There were standing waves as we traversed through the East pass and it seemed a little daunting but luckily we had timed it right with the tide so we moved along quickly. It was a long way from the Segond channel to Luganville but we managed to get there just before nightfall. The dated cruising book we were using said that this was a calm anchorage. That must have been a joke or written with some sarcasm. We didn’t sleep well that night at all, as we rolled back and forth. Early in the morning we blew up the dinghy loaded with our shopping bags and our empty propane tank and set off for shore, but it wasn’t to be. The dinghy motor would not start and the rolly bay was not a place  where Denny could work on the motor nor could we safely row to shore. We really did not want to spend another night at this anchorage so we off loaded the dinghy, deflated it and set off for the next bay that according to the cruising guide was going to be protected, although by this time we were seriously doubting the information provided  in the dated guide.

 Click here for Google Map link for Palikulo Bay

The Guide was kind of right, Palikulo Bay was a beautiful anchorage, but their waypoints to entry it were off, we ended up snaking in between the coral heads on our own. It was wonderful to have a nights sleep with the boat sitting still. The only other boat there was from NZ and left early in the morning so we were left to explore the area on our own. While Denny worked on the dinghy motor, I kayaked the bay and found a nearby golf course. Once back on the boat I googled the golf course and found pictures of the locals playing on the course in bare feet! Once Denny had the dinghy back in action we made it to shore with garbage, backpacks and the empty propane tank. We found the road and a truck stopped and offered us a ride to town. The passenger in the truck turned out to be a chief from one of the villages in Ambae. Ambae is a nearby Island that has an active volcanoe that just erupted requiring all the people living there to be evacuated. The chief was driving around getting a census count of the people living near Luganville so that he could get aid for the families from the Red Cross. People were living in temporary tents and were hoping to go back to Ambae by the end of the year. We were a little skeptical about that considering that some of the villages on Ambae were covered in 3 to 4 feet of ash.

Dishwashing duty at the market meal stand

Lunch at Luganville market. A deal for $5.00 / plate and a gracious chef

We made a few stops before going to Luganville and they offered to take us directly to the propane tank fill station, waited until the tank was filled and then took us back to the market. As they were planning to make several more stops in the

surrounding areas they offered to take us back to our anchorage in the afternoon. The generosity of the Vanuatu people continued to amaze us.

We had a simple lunch at the meal stand and replenished our fresh fruit and vegetable supply and made our truck rendezvous for the 20 minute ride back to our boat anchorage. We spent 4 more days exploring this bay which had World War II relics and white beaches. 

Click here for Google Map Link for Peterson Point

Peterson Point was our next anchorage and we used the waypoints in the guide to enter the narrow, shallow channel. Well, surprise, the waypoints were off. All I could see was reef all around as we entered the bay and heard Denny talking into our headsets that all we had was 2 inches below the keel and no option but to keep going. We made it through without scraping bottom although our nerves were a little frayed. We did use the dingy before we left to find a way better route to escape the bay.

Denny fixed our anchor light while in this safe anchorage. View from the mast!

Peterson Point was a very protected little nook and there was a boat here that had been anchored here for the past 10 years (it’s there in the google map picture if you look closely). They had floated a 500 kg ( about 1000 lb) anchor from World War II remnants left behind, dropped it to where they wanted to be anchored and just chained the boat to it.  They were a wonderful German couple in their late 70s with no plans to ever sail again.  Many of the surrounding islands, including the one that the Octopus Resort mentioned in our trusted cruising guide have been bought by China and then soon after closed. The Islands are now “private” and had security guards ensuring nobody set foot on the shores.

This little boat has been here for 10 years!

 We kayaked or dinghied to both of the blue holes, Riri and Matevulu.  The entrance fee was $500 Vatu which was about $5.00 US. It is appropriately called blue hole as the water is an iridescent blue.

We had some fun swimming and taking pictures of floating leaves with our underwater camera trying to capture the colours surrounding us.

 

 

 

 

 

Having fun with the water camera. Floating leaves and fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Found a natural vine swing on our way to the blue hole

 

Fresh water swim in Riri Blue hole

 

We did find a little resort on the main Island where we had a nice lunch with a couple from Australia that had arrived a couple of days after us in their Catamaran.

 

Cattle enjoying famous Champagne Beach

 

I celebrated my birthday in Peterson Bay and Denny splurged on a $100 taxi and took me to Champagne Beach as it was something I wanted to do. The beach was nothing like what I had imagined it would be. It was overrun by cattle and there were some run down stalls permanently set up but were probably only occupied if there was a cruise ship nearby. It was a beautiful, pristine white sand, teal blue water beach. Service men came to this location with bottles of champagne to celebrate the end of the war and that’s where the name ‘Champagne Beach’ originated.

Birthday present to Barbie. A day on the beach

Click here for Google map link to Surunda Bay

Vegetable provisioning. We buy what’s local and learn to cook with it. Our favorite is Snake Bean

Our last anchorage on Santo was in Surunda Bay. From here we caught a ride with the manager of the cattle ranches.  They grazed 6,000 head of cattle on 6,700 acres.  All the cattle went to markets in Japan.  The beef in Vanuatu is very good, some of the best.  We were headed back into Luganville  to re-provision as we had our friends Pete and Mel from NZ coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. Luganville is the largest town in the neighboring islands so that’s where we had to go again. Once we had filled our backpacks and had lunch at the market we filled our Gerry can with gasoline for the dingy.  We then sat at the side of the road and managed to flag a taxi for the trip back to the boat. The taxi driver was happy to take us to our anchorage as he lived nearby there but had a couple of stops to make. First, put a few liters of gas in, with appeared to be one of the only two gas stations in the town. It was Grand Central Station at the pumps with cars strategically positioning themselves in a line for the next fill up. Some cars seemed to have skipped the line but nobody yelled or honked the horns. Very civilized despite the chaos. From there it was to next station to fill the tires with air and that was as chaotic as the pumps. Replacing well-worn tires didn’t seem to the norm here, just keep adding air. Once we were on the way and about half way to our destination the taxi driver asked if it was ok if he stopped at a Cava bar that belonged to his cousin. He would be our host and buy us a Cava drink. What could go wrong with that idea. We did stop and Denny bought all of us a drink. We met his “cousin” who owned the Cava bar and also had some property in Australia. He seemed very well read, articulate  and knowledgeable  and Denny was bold enough to ask him what he thought of all of the property in Santo being purchased by China.  He had some strong opinions and was troubled by what was happening. They gained their independence in the 1980s and were slowly losing it now to the Chinese in debts to be later paid and in property being purchased. He pointed out that the Prime Minister of Vanuatu had been invited to China and given the red carpet treatment almost annually but countries like NZ and Australia had only invited him twice.  (this is not a fact that we did any research on so cannot vouch for it being true). He found it disconcerting and really had no solution to what was happening so long as the Vanuatu people had a short lived, short sighted economic benefit from this arrangement. We talked about this for quite some time and he offered us and his ‘cousin’ the taxi driver another Cava shot ‘on the house’ before we left. It was strong Cava and I could feel the effects and so could the taxi driver who drove us back at a snails pace with all other vehicles passing us. Luckily we made it back alive.

But the highlight of this anchorage were the children from a nearby village that we made friends with.

They had waved me over to say hello while I was on one of my kayaking explorations. I knew there was another ‘blue’ hole nearby so I asked if they could take us to it. We brought the dinghy over, loaded it with the 5 kids and we made the slow trek to the nearby blue hole. It was really a concrete swimming hole fed by some fresh spring water. Denny was quick to jump in but the kids just hung by the edge and wouldn’t go in. It took me a while to realize that swimming in the ‘blue’ hole was forbidden. The kids wouldn’t break the rule but were afraid to tell us about it until I asked a direct question as to whether it was ok to swim. They said we had to make a cell phone call and ask for permission and probably pay a fee. The kids visited Landfall and we gave them Coke popcorn, cookies and they watched a movie. They were amazed at all our storage lockers and the canned goods we had and they were amazed at the great tasting fresh water that our watermaker made from seawater. After their visit to our boat they were anxious to give us a tour of their home. They showed us every tree, bush, garden that offered fruit or veggies that they could eat, in contrast to our canned food lockers. Their little sister kept collecting flowers and giving them to me. We got a tour of their playground which were the remains of an old house/café. It had some local drawings on the walls which they proudly showed off. Everywhere there was shattered glass and they walked around in their barefeet without a care. They promised to drop by the next morning with some fresh coconuts and Navale nuts that they had skillfully peeled and it tasted like almonds. It was their way of thanking us for the popcorn and coke. They were energetic, fun children and we swam and hiked with them. They had lots of free time as they were on a 2 week school holiday and were basically left on their own while their parents worked. They referred to me as the ‘Queen’ as instructed to by Denny and they loved it and were always concerned for my welfare during the hikes and swim. They found us a harvest of wild lemons that looked like oranges but tasted like lemons.

My friend, Mr. Turtle

Denny even managed to convince them it was oranges and their expressions were hilarious as they bit into the sour fruit. I told them his nickname was the ‘menace’ for a very good reason. It was sad to have leave these resourceful, amusing, amazing, kind, happy, generous kids. It was an amazing 5 days surrounded by white beaches, turtles and happy children.

 

 

Click here for Google Map link for Port Sandwich, Malekula

Our friends from NZ Pete and Mel were flying into Malekula to visit us for 10 days so we had to leave Santo and head back South. It was a sail against prevailing wind so we had to pick a weather window. And we picked a great one that allowed us to go all the way to south east Malekula, Port Sandwich. It was a very protected anchorage and there were 7 sailboats there when we arrived, the most we have seen since we left Port Vila. We were only there for 2 days and only got off the boat to have happy hour with a Canadian couple on Katie M II, a boat that was in Riverside Marina NZ while we were there. From here we could easily sail in a northern direction to Lakatoro to pick up our friends who were arriving in a couple of days.  

2018 Vanuatu -Malekula Island

Click here for Google Map Link

Lunar Island

Our next destination after the Maskelyne Islands would be the West coast of Malekula Islands. Most cruising boats would prefer to sail by the East coast and it’s probably a much more scenic and anchoring friendly coast but we like stepping off the beaten track. A part on our Windlass had broken at our last anchorage so now when the anchor had to be hoisted using power I had to be down below with my head in the chain locker and keep the tension on the chain by  pulling it into the locker. It didnt require a lot of strength just continuous pressure and if there was 150ft of chain out, it was an arm workout. The Windlass part had been ordered and was scheduled to arrive in Port Vila in a month or so. Anchoring in deep water was not fun. Lunar Island was a beautiful peaceful anchorage with a steady stream of fruit bats flying overhead as the sun was setting. It’s worth clicking the Google map link to appreciate the beauty of the anchorage. It was only a quick overnight stop so we didn’t take any anchorage photos.

Malekula, South West Bay.

Click here for Google Map Link

South West Bay anchorage was a large, open bay but very shallow, so great for anchoring. As the prevailing wind is from the East or South East the open bay on the West coast was pretty good for the light winds we had. The highlight for this anchorage was the large lagoon which we explored extensively by dinghy.

 

The locals traversed the lagoon with their dugouts to get to their farming plots. We came upon a very nice family with their dugouts loaded with their harvest and with no hesitation, they offered us a large Papaya and a large bundle of Island Cabbage. I had never tasted Island Cabbage before and although a little slimy when cooked it tasted much like spinach. Denny invited the children to ride with us in the dinghy back to the village. It was a half an hour paddle by dugout which was sitting pretty low in the water with all their vegetables, momma, kids and dog. We made it back the same time as we had to take the long route due to shallow, low tide waters. The kids, although a little shy and spoke a little French only, had great fun driving the dinghy.

smiles are universal even if you don’t speak the same language

We had dinner at Chief James house. He had extended an invitation to share a meal with him and his family after I brought in a freshly baked coffee cake and we asked for permission to explore the lagoon. We arrived at their hut and we were invited to sit with them and we were given peanuts on the shell before dinner. The family consisted of the chief and his wife, the chief’s dad and 2 children. I brought along a curried sweet potato and pumpkin dish  which they seemed to enjoy. but other than that, there was no joy in the dinner. Only Grandpa spoke and ate with us, everyone else sat further apart and focused on a large flat screen TV which blasted a French show. The chief, scooped up a large portion of food for himself but set it aside as he was high on Kava and his wife lingered by the door socializing with people that passed by the house. It felt like an obligatory dinner invitation and the main meal was Cassava Lap Lap packets and fried papaya. Denny and I drenched the packets with our curry sauce to make it edible. Maybe our expectations of the village welcome was a little high after meeting the wonderful family in the lagoon.

The anchorage did offer some nice kayaking opportunities and beautiful sunsets.

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Malekula, Malua Bay

Malua Bay didn’t offer much protection either but again we were blessed with calm winds. As soon as we were anchored we were welcomed by 2 locals each in their own dugout canoes and both stayed on opposite sides of the boat competing for attention. At last I had to make a choice and promised one local, Melten, to meet him on the beach in the morning so that he could guide us to the ‘blue water’ hole nearby.

It was a 20 minute walk to the blue water hole and it was a beautiful natural, fresh water

Barbs Big Leap of Faith

swimming hole with a small waterfall that one could slide down on and some ledges that offered some diving and jumping opportunities. Melten was a great host and didn’t ask for any money to be our guide. He did ask us if we wanted any fresh produce for trade for school supplies but we offered to buy it. He came on board offering some fresh lemons and apologized about not being able to bring some fresh tomatoes which is what I really wanted. We spent a great afternoon sharing a little about each other’s way of life. It was here that we learned that when couples marry in Vanuatu a dowry of $1000 US has to be paid to the woman’s oldest brother or the father in the case where there is no male sibling. So needless to say Melten courted his now current wife for a long time to make sure she would be a good wife. We later learned that in most cases the village contributes to the dowry fund. We also learned that they pay taxes on the Copra they sell but get no pension and very limited government services in return (ie. minimal health care). They are also required to pay $1000 US for school fees for each child. A lot of money for them to accumulate considering their subsistence living. Requests for donations for school fees seemed to be a recurring theme at most village anchorages that we went to.

He read the cruising guide’s description about our anchorage there and thought it was hilarious that we should keep an eye out for Dugong. I guess the guide should be updated to exclude Dugong sighting at this bay. Melten seemed to enjoy learning about our culture as much as we learned about his. That is what we really love about cruising even though the constant requests for donations can be a little discouraging.

Always new things swimming around the boat