We made it

11/16/2018 20:00 Position 27 57.057S 153 25.309E Just a quick note before we head off to bed to let you know we made it. We are anchored right around the corner from where we came in. It is so nice to be sitting still and not having the boat continuously rolling. We are hoping to check in officially on Monday. We did 782 mile trip in about six and one quarter days. Averaged 5.2 knots and motored for 41.5 hours. The wind was on the rear quarter the entire way. Anyway we are here and doing really great. Love to all Landfall ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link. The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete the original message text and these instructions from your reply. Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at: http://www.sailmail.com

almost there

Friday 11/16/2018 04:00 Position 27 32.153S 154 31.417E We have been motoring for the last 24 hours. Seas are really flat now, but the boat still has a little roll. All is really well here. Had four more hits on the fishing lures. one was a sail fish that ran the line out and then broke it. It is to bad that we seem to catch them on the small reel. the drag on the reel just gets hot as the fish peels out 600 feet of line. It does not take them long either. the thing just screams. While we where motoring yesterday we were able to make water and each have a hot shower. I was just out checking for boats and saw the largest meteor I have ever seen. It lit up the entire sky, it was amazing. We should be in Australia today but will not do customs until Monday so will not have internet until after that some time. So will talk as soon as we can. Love to all Landfall ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link. The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete the original message text and these instructions from your reply. Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at: http://www.sailmail.com

Hello from Landfall

11/12/2018 06:00 Position 24 15.540s 162.17.420 Hi Folks just thought we would let you know we are doing great. Winds have been 10 to 20 on the rear quarter so it has been a rolly but pretty quick ride. We have done over 300 miles over the last 48 hours, the best Landfall has ever done over that long of a period. We caught a big mahi mahi yesterday. He ran almost all the line off the reel, over 600 feet, but after an hour we got him next to the boat. Then we saw its mate swimming right next next to him, they mate for life. So we let it go. Not an easy task while hanging over the side of a sail boat. But it was nice to see it swim away. All is good on board, we will send when we can Love you all Dennis, the Queen, and Bob ————————————————- Do not push the “reply” button to respond to this message if that includes the text of this original message in your response. Messages are sent over a very low-speed radio link. The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete the original message text and these instructions from your reply. Replies should not contain attachments and should be less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length. This email was delivered by an HF private coast station in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht owners. For more information on this service or on the SailMail Association, please see the web site at: http://www.sailmail.com

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.