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Anthem Adrift
06/16/2012, Asinvari, Maewo


16 June 2012

The usual purpose of trailing behind the boat a hook embellished with flashy plastic and rubber camouflage is to catch fish (Non-mammal aquatic creatures are generally pretty dim and don't appreciate the limited nutritional value). Someone should have mentioned this sooner. With one albeit delicious, yellow finned exception our activity in this area has been disappointing. We have, however, dedicated ourselves to remedy that regrettable circumstance and ingest more omega-3s.

After a lovely and restful night with only a trifling effect from the remarkably strong gin & tonics force on us (forced I say) by Sue from Haku II previous evening, Jan & I were adopted this morning by a family in the village of Asinvari (which, if understood correctly, means the volcanic rock which comprises a large bit of shore here). Each of the nine crews had its own family. Rally organizer John Martin of Windflower was adopted by the head guy Chief Nelson a few years ago. In exchanging gifts we received two beautiful handmade baskets and an avocado. Spokesman Darlinda will bring us eggs in the morning. Good thing as we were facing the wretched eventuality of eggless brekkie.

A canyon into the shore created by eroded lava flow provided us with an absolutely brilliant, afternoon snorkel. Caves, tunnels, dive-throughs and some spectacularly colorful fish would have made even Gary on Inspiration Lady, who has an aversion to seawater, fancy getting wet. Rinsing off the salt under a shoreside waterfall 100 meters from our boat didn't suck either.

Pig roast tomorrow and more snorkeling. Sun beaming, breeze wafting, mandatory boat work absent, ice out the wazoo. Convenient that this is not always thus as such thusness would bring everyone here with none left to support us thusly.


Guile with Style
06/14/2012, En Route to Asinvari, Maewo

15 June 2012

Took advantage of dreadfully dour and rainy day to install new fridge. To my and all who were acquainted with this undertaking's stupefaction it was accomplished in time for happy hour at Oyster Island Resort with aforementioned close personal, albeit mostly new, friends. Good spirits and humor were unrestrained due less to successful completion of the task than to free drinks and munchies attendant to a mate's (no Cal, this is from a whimsical version of English and has nothing to do with mating) birthday.

Spent one more day in this completely protected, shallow-entry anchorage before mid-tide motor sail seven miles south to Palikula Bay for staging to Asinvari. Made command decision, eschewing common wisdom, to chance rolly anchorage tonight and not stop at intermediate Lolowai to avoid 10 mile beat tomorrow based on timing of forecast wind shift. This breaks cruising rule #13 which states that anyone who trusts the accuracy of any GRIB is a chowderhead (muttonhead if English) and, for such reckless gullibility, consequently shall be smitten.

Upon arriving at 1400 meter contour and with appropriate ceremony (negligible), consigned incapacitated fridge to the depths. Fearing oversensitivity, new unit was not informed of this action so as to preempt an emotional response and potentially warm gin & tonics. With boat systems as with children the hallmark of a good progenitor is trickery and deceit.


Out of Your Tree
06/10/2012, En Route to Espiritu Santo

Land Diving

11 June 2012

Imagine this conversation in the distant past: "Hey Louie, let's build a 30 meter (100 foot) tower on a hillside from branches and sticks, wrap non-stretchy vines around our ankles and, wearing only a "penis sheath" (angled 45 degrees upward with the dangly bits dangling), leap from the top to come up short and swing back to slam into the ground." "Great idea Fred. I'll go first." If anyone has seen this on National Geographic, Tarzan or Adventures in Paradise, it looked much saner than it actually is, completely starkers. Not a sport for chubbers (only men are 'allowed' to do it) or anyone with the slightest aspiration for healthy elding. Leaping began at lower levels and worked upward until the final lunatic who, we were told, twisted his ankle, but appeared to be holding his one scrap of clothing while limping away. Locate us sometime and see the video. Yowzers!

Now enjoying a lovely broad reach under double-reefed main and yankee across to well protected Peterson Bay on Espiritu Santo where we will hunker down for the poopy (highly technical meteorological term) weather in the offing and to perform magical exercises upon our boat to accomplish, among numerous other phenomenon, installation of replacement apparatus criticus to efficiently create cubic objects whose primary intent is to maintain agreeable G&T temperatures. This could be construed to mean installing a new fridge to make ice for our drinks, but that would be no fun, unacceptably jejune and so will not be thusly articulated.


Break Dance
06/09/2012, Wali Bay, Pentacost

Sunset at Revolieu Bay

8 June 2012

Two weeks after ordering a new fridge for two day delivery by FedEx, extracted, with some effort, information that it had come previous day and was probably being brought to their office in town. A confirmation call was to subsequently ensue. Yachting World was requested, middle afternoon, to call discovering it had indeed arrived and would possibly be delivered in a day or so after return to airport for mandatory customs inspection. A saunter to their office, other side of town (should be noted at this point that desire to depart Port Vila had peaked 4 days previously), provided eye contact with both boxes which I was loath to relinquish, but which they insisted could not be had until next day following previously mentioned scrutiny. After patiently explaining that all their requirements had been met, that sailing that afternoon was necessary to prevent my head from exploding and then staring at agent long enough to elicit a twitch, he, a driver, the boxes and I piled into a van the size of a skateboard and careened through 12 car rush hour traffic to the airport for a 48 second visit with customs agent who, noticing the 1500 vatu "handling fee" clipped to paperwork and having zero interest in observing any parts, whacked my copy with a stamp and smilingly bid me a good journey.

Having been mildly disingenuous with officials about immediately weighing anchor, did so at 0430 next morning for 12 1/2 hour motor upon glassy sea to lovely Revolieu Bay on Epi, arriving just before sunset to observe a couple of dugongs paddle by ignoring the proffered gin and tonics. Really, teetotalling is no excuse for rudeness. Snorkeling next day there and at Lamen Bay, 10 miles north, was excellent although again our offer of friendship was rebuffed by a turtle cleaning remora. Human inhabitants of Vanuatu are infinitely more sociable.

Yesterday's motorsail to Wali Bay, Pentacost was uneventful and somewhat more enjoyable than previous night's gun'l to gun'l cradle dance starting at 0200. Avoided having to request sleep-in delay as land diving ceremonies next morning didn't begin until 1000. Remarkable insanity of this will be described anon.


Walking, Wading and Wired
06/06/2012, Revolieu Bay, Epi


6 June 2012

After two weeks in Port Vila and one and a half since last you were abused by this twaddle, a little miscellany:

During welcome ceremonies in Anatom a band member elicited music-like sounds by slapping lashed-together bamboo trunks of varying length with a flip-flop (jandal, thong). Good to see they're for something besides littering pristine beaches as washed-up flotsam.

A fire dance show at Mele (rhymes with smelly and the aroma of burning marijuana, major cash crop here, may possibly be additional attraction for boaters) Bay, where we escaped the congestion and noise over last weekend, was terrific. It's a shame, however, that Vauatu has never been given credit for their traditional pink laser lighting or for "moon walking". The former cute black kid apparently didn't see fit to offer proper attribution.

Mele is also notable for a series of cascades and pools one may walk, wade and swim up to arrive at a remarkable set of waterfalls. This is, oddly enough, called "The Cascades". Brought our togs, brought a picnic, spent the day. Gaiety prevailed.

Left Port Vila at O dark thirty this morning for points north after yesterday afternoon's "fun with customs", the game cruisers love to play. Will expound upon delights encountered with this campaign in the fullness of time. Don't hold your breath for tomorrow.

Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way, if he doesn't like what you have to say, you're a mile away and you have his shoes.


Not Cool
05/26/2012, Port Vila, Vanuatu

On the Wall

26 May 2012

Got to the mast thing today for discovery that new metal sheaves at masthead replacing old plastic ones which lasted 25 years were too large and frozen into position. Those riggers in Opua are right off the Christmas list. Next opportunity to install operative bits will be somewhere in Oz September or later. Reeved new smaller halyard anyway, which should help, as well as new flag halyard and cleaned connections at radar antenna. Recalcitrant fridge remains so. May, reluctantly, call Super Cool Monday for additional ministrations and so today moved onto quay for 240 volt power to administer serious therapy. Remain skeptical. Given two under-two screeching children (mother had another in the oven) and later full decibel hollering of parents on balcony overlooking location, have surmised warm beer is viable option. Looking into local consequences of justifiable homicide. Medical professional and "nice' Canadian, Jan, is onboard with this.


Spirited Achievement
05/25/2012, Port Vila, Vanuatu

24 May 2012

How did this happen? All efforts to ignore boat maintenance have come to naught.

Fridge (for some indeterminate reasons and because infamous song "friggin' in the riggin'" implies naughtiness have decided this spelling, while overburdened with letters including one that isn't even in "refrigerator", is better than frig) was barely freezing (interior began to smell funny (odd, not humorous)) and running constantly to drive up amp usage to unreasonable levels. Despite repeating everything three or four times to a woman who, I was certain, had the IQ of a clam, two guys from Super Cool showed up this morning with equipment to service recalcitrant equipment. After mucking about with it for 45 minutes and using my refrigerant they had removed all frosting entirely. Departing, they indicated I should call for more advanced exertions if current ministrations were insufficient. Thinking to keep trying sans help.

While sardined into port lazarette toying with freon, noticed that wind generator control, while still operative, was more corrosion than box. Desire to maintain justification for big windmill on port transom and to increase convenience of using the thing, removed, cleaned, replaced various bits and remounted said box to boat interior. While engendering a sense of accomplishment this undertaking did nothing to reduce projects list or make ice for gin.

Three mast-climbing projects - reeving new drifter and port flag halyards and cleaning radar antenna contacts - was placed in abeyance until tomorrow to attend happy hour congregation for discussions of substantive subjects and to support the spirits import business.


05/22/2012, En Route to Port Vila

She Blows

23 May 2012

Subsequent to reports of Mt Yasur being "awesome" was expecting a come-down as these things usually go. Climbed up outside of cone late afternoon to rim of double caldera with no safety rails and a brisk, gusty wind blowing in toward the edge. Periodic hissing and whumping sounds preceded flaming lava hurled out of one side then the other, often higher than our heads, sometimes partially hidden by great puffs of ash. When darkness came and one could see all the flaming bits it got even more interesting. Great geysers of bright molten magma sprayed out of and around the crater with one volkswagen sized chunk landing just below our vantage. Cool! Ni-vanuatu (natives), who seem to make a good living off this thing, must have eaten all the lawyers back when cannibalism was considered proper social etiquette.

Returning to the "Yacht Club" (it does have a beautiful view of the anchorage) in bed of 4WD pickup that jounced us up and down the mountain on a road nearly as cranky as the volcano, Jan & I partook of mystery meat stew (the place is lousy with fruit bats?), kasava and fruit. The local Tusker beer (named for pigs whose tusks are allowed, by breaking off opposing teeth, to grow full circle and two of which cost more than the food) is pretty tolerable swill.

Currently racing up east side of Tanna with triple-reefed main and yankee for the overnight to Port Vila in 20 to 25 knots and 2.5 meter sea. Except for the occasional gunwale (pronounced gunnel, Cal) roll it's surprisingly comfortable and, so far, dry. We remain skeptical.


More Pigs?
05/19/2012, En Route to Tanna

Welcome to Anatom

20 May 2012

Despite not showing until 2 days post landfall, imbedding his tinny into our topsides while skillfully avoiding large fenders and mumbling so softly even Jan, who can hear fish breathing, had difficulty understanding, Timothy, the customs/quarantine guy, was nice and had allowed us dispensation to dine with Freezing Rain night before.

Anyway, lay day before pratique remained unwasted. Besides obligatory post- passage sloth we cleaned a seriously debauched cabin and serviced again non- freezing frig. This last done with just sufficient knowledge to be dangerous as too much gas was injected then too much released (no worrys as ozone is stinky and toxic) before a semi-adequate technic was stumbled upon, conceivably, to avoid warm G&Ts.

Welcome dinner ashore, for which we were now legal and which followed contrived and totally unnecessary speeches read by ostensibly uninterested representatives (although probably just shy), music and custom dancing, self-served onto palm leaves must have been terrific for the 38 NZD each it cost. Money probably went to compensate relatives of delicious pig who looked disgruntled after making a lifetime commitment. One skin of Vanuatu Kava, a narcotic reputed most powerful in Pacific, ingested before dining made lips, tongue and throat numb. Three or four apparently occasion an inability to lift one's arms or walk.

Now broad-reaching the 48 NM to Tanna where active volcano, Yasur, which is to be climbed anon, belches black ash as we approach.


This Little Piggy Cried Wee, Wee, Wee
05/17/2012, Anatom, Vanuatu

18 May 2012

Arrived at 2100 into Anatom anchorage in drizzly, overcast, pitch blackness. The originally voiced strategy to run in until hitting something, fling an anchor at it and go to bed was circumvented as all seventeen boats already hooked became wonderfully helpful in finding us an open location. Thinking to sleep in until customs and quarantine beat on our hull around 1000 after dealing with the bi-weekly cruise ship (there's a small village and little else, but snorkeling on the reef is reported excellent) we instead awoke at 0630 NZST, 0530 local. Sleeping only 3 hours at a time must be habit forming. Currently catching up on emails and choking down tubs of plunger coffee awaiting belated officialdom.

Little Anthem was caboose of train into Vanuatu because its 29 foot 11 inch waterline limits maximum and thus average speed. This regrettable circumstance is usually the case as nearly every Pacific cruising boat is longer. Sailing time for us was 4 to 18 hours greater over 7 1/2 days than majority of fleet (15 total including speed sleds). Harrumph! A smidgen of cogitation has revealed that averaging an additional .15 knots would have prevented the ignominy of last and .5 the veneration and glory of top 5. Hmmmmmm. So, "says I", how much additional length would achieve this sublime outcome? Using the formula for theoretical hull speed and percent of same one might average on passage, 36 feet approximates a salutary length. As Cabo Rico 38s have a low waterline to deck length ratio many boats of 42 to 43 feet would serve (A Cabo Rico 45 would answer nicely if one could be found for meager contents of piggy bank). Hmmmmmm. Wonder if there are any abandoned and lonely Pearson 424s or Shannon 43s out there.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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