06 February 2010 | Australia
We leave Rivergate Marina in Brisbane after cleaning up the boat from our passage and head to the MBTBC Marina in Manly which is just south of the Brisbane River entrance. Manly is a cute small town with a newer marina and everything we need is in walking distance. It even has a great rail system close by for going into the city of Brisbane. We are loving this place. Our first few weeks here are spent getting the lay of the land, checking out the Brisbane area and getting our new generator installed. Yes, I said getting a new generator installed! It's been a long and drawn out ordeal, but thanks to Hylas, Mastervolt and Jaime, we have a brand spanking new generator. It runs so much better than our other one ever did, and we are pretty happy about that as well. The only other cruisers we know around here are Walter and Tigs on Marnie (a classic 60ft.wooden ketch) We have been spending quite a bit of time with them, sharing rental cars and playing tourists. Soon, they will be flying home to the states for the holidays. We will miss them have really enjoyed the time we spent together. We have decided not to fly home in December because we will be shipping Morning Light to Ensenada the end of Jan. via the yacht transport company, Dockwise. After making the trip across the South Pacific, cruisers don't have a lot of options for bringing their boats back the way they came. They either have to keep going west or make the difficult trip back going against the prevailing wind and currents of the Pacific Ocean. It is very hard on the boat, not to mention the crew and not a very pleasant thought to us at all. To keep going west we would head to Indonesia, Thailand and then either up the Red Sea to the Med or go south around Africa. Due to the political climate of certain area (as in piracy) and the fact that neither one of us feels the need to round any "capes", we are taking the easy way out. There's a nautical saying that "nothing goes to weather like a 747" (as in sailing against the wind). We would have liked to have waited until Aug to ship the boat home, but Dockwise is cutting back and canceling that shipping date. Plus, they offered us a reduced price as they still had room for their Jan shipping. They have a great website with video showing how the boats are loaded and transported. www.yacht-transport.com. It was a very difficult decision for us to make, not only for all of the great experiences we have had, but for all of the wonderful new friends that we have made along the way. We won't be moving back on terra-firma for awhile as we plan to keep living aboard and enjoying this life style. At least we will be closer to family and friends.
In the mean time we have been trying our best to see as much of this country as possible. It's a really large country! We have always wanted to come to Australia, even though it is home to the world's most deadly spiders, snakes, jelly fish and sharks. Because it is cyclone season our insurance forbids us from taking our boat much further north than Brisbane, not that we would want to anyway this time of year. Speaking of cyclones, one hit Fiji right before Christmas. We later found out that a cruiser we knew lost his boat when cyclone Mick went right over the top of him. Thankfully both he and his girlfriend escaped with their lives. If you would like to read a short letter he wrote about his ordeal here is the link. www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2009-12-16&dayid=364
We rent a car and drive up the coast. The Great Barrier Reef is high on our list of places to see and experience. We are advised to be extra careful driving at dusk or dawn as that is when the Koala's, Wallabies , Kangaroo's and other assorted strange animals get hit. There is a lot of evidence as we check out all the road kills that we come across and try to identify them. Not an easy job as even the rodents look different here. We stop at Rainbow Beach, named for the rainbow colored sandstone cliffs. It also has huge sand dune area's. From there, we take a 4 WD day trip out to Frasier Island, which is the largest sand island in the world. There is a lot more than just sand comprising the island. Miles of white sandy beaches and dunes are all along the east side while lush rain forests
are in the middle. Throw in a few lakes and it is a very interesting place to see. Our next stop was the town of 1770, named for the year that Captain Cook landed there. And the Great Barrier Reef is just a few miles off shore.
We take a day trip out to Lady Musgrave Island to check out the reef. Although the visibility was not that clear, we still saw lots multi-colored fish and coral. Lady Musgrave Island reminded us of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia. It has a fringing reef circling a small island with a deep lagoon in the middle. As it is the height of the summer season here the further north we go the hotter and more humid it gets so we decide to head south. We take to the road and head inland for our return trip to Brisbane. The scenery is very pretty, with large cattle ranches and farm land amid the rolling hills. We stop in quite a few small towns and feel like we have stepped back into the 50's. Everyone is very friendly and eager to strike up a conversation with the new mates in town. To our delight, we find a Lutheran Church in one the small town of Kingaroy. We attend Sunday services at St. John's Lutheran Church, the same name as our church back home, which makes us homesick.
We stop back at the boat in Brisbane and repack for our trip to Sydney. We plan on being there for New Years. The firework display in the harbor is said to be the biggest and best in the world. We are really excited. We take the coastal route down the coast and are amazed at so many miles and miles of un-crowded white sandy beaches separated only now and then by a river. And of course numerous beach/river towns to explore. Most of the beaches in the heavy tourist areas have shark nets and designated swimming areas, but we are told that the nets are only a deterrent as they don't go all the way to the bottom and the smarter sharks just swim underneath. Hope there's not a lot of smart sharks around. We decide to live dangerously and take our chances in the water with all the other swimmers/surfers. It gets busier the closer we get to Sydney as this is their big season here. Not only is it the Christmas holiday season but also its summer vacation for all the school kids. We spend Christmas in Port
Stephens in an over priced run down motel which was the only place that had a vacancy.
It seems that Port Stephens is a very popular spot with tourists coming from Sydney. Christmas morning we get up early and drive in the rain to go to a Lutheran church only to find out that the church was not longer there. To top off our Christmas fun, we made a booking for Christmas dinner at one of the local hotels as all the restaurants were closed for the day. We decided to make the best of the sleazy motel and no church and enjoy a quiet Christmas dinner together. We got to the restaurant early as we couldn't wait to leave the motel. We were the first ones there and soon we noticed the hotel guests start arriving...in their walkers and wheelchairs! We soon found out that we were at a retirement home. Oh well, the food was good and the residents were very nice to us. Then is was back to the motel to watch TV on one of the five channels that came in decently and listen to our neighbors party till the wee hours. Our last stop before Sydney was the surf town of Manly, (the Manly in New South Wales, not the Manly in Queensland where we live), said to be where surfing in Australia started. The surf was pretty decent while we were there so Jaime made the most of it surfing the famous spot. Hey, and he still has all his appendages. Driving in Sydney is also a very stressful experience, at least for us. The motorways and streets are not marked very well making it hard to know what street you are on and after getting lost a few times finally made it to our hotel.
For our New Year's Eve celebration, we booked the evening aboard the 100ft. gaff-rigged schooner, South Passage. It turned out to be a great decision, as we were in the parade of lights and allowed to go where most of the other boats on the harbor were not allowed to go. At 9pm there was an early fireworks show. It was absolutely amazing as fireworks were launched from the tops of all the buildings in downtown Sydney. We would have been happy if that was it, but we still had the midnight show to look forward to. And what a show it was. We were in the perfect spot with front row seats to the bridge and the Opera House. Fireworks were also launched from barges in the bay and we were right next to one. It was incredible! Fireworks everywhere we turned and the fireworks on the bridge were especially magnificent. Definitely the highlight of our trip. It turns out that South Passage's home port is in Manly, Queensland, and right next to where Morning Light is berthed and plans are made to meet at the Yacht club for beers upon her arrival from down south. I also now have a new Australian sister here, as everyone thinks I look like the girl that runs the South Passage office. There is quite a similarity and not only that, both our names are Christine. We hit is off and were even invited over to "meet the rest of the Christine's family" for a traditional Australia Day lamb BBQ. We have found the Aussie's to be very friendly and hospitable. We even had a taxi driver invite us over for dinner. We hope to one day come back and see more of this country. We now are getting Morning Light ready for her trip home on the big boat. We say goodbye (how many times have we done that?) to our new friends, Dale and Paula on Sunrise who arrived in Manly not long ago. We are saddened by the fact that our South Pacific Adventure is coming to an end, but very thankful that we made it alive, well and in one piece! We look forward to new adventures, just not sure what they will be yet. We also want to thank everyone who has taken an interest in what we have done and taken the time to read about our travels. All the comments, emails, blog postings and prayers were really appreciated.
Before posting this blog, we did put Morning Light on the Dockwise transport vessel.
To be at the loading area at 6am, we had to leave Manly by 3:30am. Paula, on Sunrise,
got up to see us off and helped us with our docklines. Good on ya, Paula, we really appreciated the sendoff. Well.......there was problems with the loading procedures and we didn't load our boat until 10am. We could have slept in!!!!!. 14 boats were loaded including 3 mega yachts and a huge barge. We were the 10th boat to board. All went well with the loading even though we had to back our boat onto the vessel, which sometimes is a real challenge for us. We leave Morning Light in the care of Dockwise until she arrives in Ensenada around March 5th.
The land of OZ
25 November 2009 | Australia
Upon making landfall in New Caledonia, we officially have sailed across the largest ocean in the world, the Pacific. Our next passage will take us across the Coral Sea to Australia. It is about 900 miles and should take us five days. We check weather everyday and hire a weather router to get some expert opinion. In a few days we get the go ahead and after saying our goodbyes, we leave the slip and raise sails for our next passage. A few other boats that will be making the crossing decide to wait another day for wind, but we were told to leave early and get to Brisbane before the next low pressure system came through. Being slightly chicken we decide to leave early. Our first day out is spent motoring but we have plenty of fuel so really don't mind other than the noise. A system down in the Tasman Sea is causing some uncomfortable sea conditions for us and we are bounced around.
Our second day out the wind picks up and of course, so do the seas. What was just an uncomfortable motion, now is a"hold on so you don't get hurt" motion. The seas are like a washing machine and I immediately get queasy. Time for some Stugeron. That has been my drug of choice for these situations as it doesn't make me sleepy. The third day is still a rolly one, but on the forth day the weather starts to get better. As soon as the wind lightens up to 15 to 20 knots the seas start to calm down some and our ride gets a little better. But now we are ahead of schedule and to avoid arriving at night we need to slow the boat down. Going too slow in rough conditions is not a comfortable ride either but after adjusting sails we find a sweet spot that is still a little too fast but more easily tolerated. The forth day the winds lighten up even more and we are actually enjoying ourselves but still going too fast so we need to slow the boat some more. Morning Light just wants to go fast but that is one of the reasons we bought her. The last day of our passage we have light winds and calm seas. As soon as we are in Australian waters we raise our Australian flag and also put up our quarantine flag. Our last night out is spent changing course quite often to miss the numerous fishing boats. Needless to say neither one of us got much sleep. We enter Moreton Bay at first light and follow two Aussie boats into the pass. It works out great as most of the entrance buoys are missing and the waters are very shallow making navigating a little tricky. The marina and customs dock where we are to do our check in is located quite a ways up the Brisbane River. Going over a river bar on the wrong tide is not a good idea and the adverse currents can make for steep waves. We are blessed with a rising tide going over the bar and up the river and an almost slack tide upon arrival. It doesn't get any better than that. We had heard that checking into Brisbane is one of the worse places as the customs agents there can make life very miserable for cruisers entering their country. We found out quite the opposite and if fact it was one of our easiest and most pleasant check-ins we have had. Of course we had eaten all of our fresh meats, eggs and dairy before arriving. The last morning as we headed across the bay we had an eating frenzy, not wanting to give up our fruits and veggies to the quarantine officials. We ended up with two apples that we just couldn't choke down in time. Our check in took about two hours and of course by that time the tide had changed and the current was picking up. The dock master at the marina was very helpful and gave us a hand getting us safely into our slip. Ah at last, we have arrived and have safely checked into country. We then lay down for a nap.
Since we started our cruising, we have sailed some 15,000 nautical miles and have visited 10 countries, not to mention the numerous islands that each one has to offer. Our cruising has been a mixture of amazing experiences, both good and bad. It is not an easy life by any means. It is very important to know the visa requirements, advance notification and check in procedures for the different countries as heavy fines can be implemented if you screw up.
Keeping up on weather daily not only on passages but also when at anchor as wind shifts can turn an otherwise calm anchorage into a very dangerous place. Navigating in reef infested waters keeps you alert at all times. Planning where, when and how much provisioning to do for extended periods of isolation is always a brain strain. Then there is the boat maintenance which turned out to be much more time consuming then we had thought, even with a new boat. Systems are used on a daily basis and the marine environment is hard on them. Our relationship has been pushed to its limits quite a few times, but overall we feel closer to each other then we have ever been. Cruising has given us the opportunity to see so many beautiful places, marvel at the many different animals and sea life and meet some very interesting people along the way. We are so very thankful for all of it.
02 October 2009 | New Caledonia
Christine and Jaime
Hi Everyone, This is a little out of sequence but thought we would at least post a blog that we are fine here in Ouvea, New Caledonia. We were in a very shallow anchorage with a fleet of about 30 boats that are with the ICA rally that we had joined in Vanuatu for the trip here. Early in the morning we were notified that one of the boats in the fleet had received a text message that there had been a large earthquake in Samoa and that we were to be on a tsunami watch. The waves were supposed to hit in an hour and a half. Since being in deep water is the safest place to be in a tsunami, we all picked up anchor and headed out a pass which was about a mile away into deep water. The French here in New Caledonia kept us in touch with what was going on and after the warning was canceled, we all headed back into the anchorage again. We didn't even see a ripple here but it is better to be safe than sorry. We haven't gotten a lot of news but from what we have heard it is not good for the people of Samoa. We then remembered that our friends, Glenn and Sally on the Dorothy Marie were in Samoa and we were anxious to hear from them. Here is the email that they sent us. I'm sure they won't mind us posting it on our blog. ---------- Hi there! We are safe and sound in the marina at Apia, Samoa. Yesterday was a bit terrifying and we are so saddened by the loss of life and such utter destruction to this beautiful island, but at the same time feeling so thankful that the both of us and the boat are fine.
We were still dozing in bed when the 7.9 quake started, but it lasted long enough for us to fully wake up, realize what was happening, throw on clothes, and get topside - and still it rumbled. Neither of us can remember ever feeling a quake quite that strong or one that lasted as long. A quake on the boat feels a bit different than on land - more of a jumping than a rolling rumble. Everyone in the marina was topside and wondering how long it was going to last - it seems usually by the time you realize what it is and start to act, it's over. Not the case this time. We were very happy when it finally stopped and went back down to try to catch another few minutes of shut-eye when alarms started ringing. At first we thought it was just sirens on emergency vehicles responding to the quake, but then the tsunami alarm went off - no misunderstanding that sound! We again threw clothes back on and Glen had the engine started and was starting to throw dock lines when we realized it was too late. The water was receding so fast, there was no way we could have gotten our boat out. A catamaran was the only yacht that made it out. A man from the port authority was running down the dock yelling for everyone to evacuate. Now, we have a ditch bag ready in case we should ever have to abandon the boat at sea, but hadn't ever thought of putting one together for ditching to land! I grabbed the camera and we both grabbed shoes and jumped off, but then went back for the computer, our paperwork file, passports, and wallet. It was hard to think what all to grab. Everyone was running off the dock and joining the people in the street - the police were making announcements to head for higher ground. All we could think of were the horrible pictures of what had happened in Sri Lanka. The thought of how "it" had all started with the water receding was flashing in our minds. It was very scary and we couldn't help but think, this really can't be happening to us. We ran and ran up the street trying to find out where we should go. When we got to the Aggie Grey Hotel, a man out front welcomed us in and told us to head for the 3rd floor. The stairwell was crowded and extremely hot because it is enclosed in glass. Everyone from the lower floors were already on the 3rd floor as well. We made our way through the crowd and were trying to find a view out so we could see the marina. A nice couple on holiday from New Zealand invited us into their room and we all stood out on the balcony watching the water in the harbor recede to the point it was dry, then rush back in with waves crashing on the seawall. It was at that point we realized if there really was a "big one" the third floor was not going to be high enough, but there was no where else to go. We just kept standing there with our new kiwi friends and watched. There were times when it seemed like it must be over - the water in the harbor went calm, but within a minute or so, it would start it's mad rush back out, then in again. Luckily our cell phone was in my little backpack I had grabbed and it surprised us when it started ringing. How wonderful to hear Darlene's voice on the other end - a very comforting feeling. We hadn't heard any "official" news, so it was great to hear about the magnitude and the epicenter of the quake. Unfortunately, when we got the new SIM card here in Samoa, it wiped out all of our saved numbers, so we had no way to call anyone else - sorry!
We stayed on the 3rd floor of Aggie Grey's for about an hour and a half, then they announced breakfast was being served downstairs - yeah!!! We noticed quite a bit of damage (cracks) on the walls in the hotel as we made our way down. They still wouldn't allow us to leave the hotel and go back down the road to the boat, but at least they felt it was safe enough to go to the ground floor. It was a pricey breakfast buffet, but we joined in anyway. Poor Glen hadn't managed to get a shirt on before leaving the boat and there were a few odd looks that he was dining half dressed, but then there were people wandering around in their pajamas as well, so no worries! After another hour or so, we made a break for it and headed back to the boat. The warning had not yet been canceled, but the waters had calmed and we felt we would be safe. It was such a good feeling to see that all the boats in the marina were fine. We had two fenders pop from the boat hitting so hard against them and the dock, when the surge was so high, but no real damage.
It is now 5 hours since the first rumble of the quake and the warning has just now been canceled. You guys at home probably know a lot more of the facts than we do, but this is what we know so far.... three people were killed in a village close to the airport here on 'Upolu (the main island of Samoa) and the airport has been closed. In American Samoa, boats sitting on moorings in 30 feet of water touched bottom when the water receded from the PagoPago harbor, but from what we have heard, there were no losses. The airport there had spray from crashing waves flying up onto the runway - 300 feet up! The southern sides of both Samoa and American Samoa have been hit harder than the northern sides (where we are!). There were tsunami warnings going out as far as Hawaii and it was expected that New Zealand may be hit as well. We cannot get internet to get more info. This is just what we have heard on the local radio. We hope there haven't been any other casualties and or major property damage. We also hope we never have to go through anything like this again! :)
Today, Wednesday, it is thought there are over 100 fatalities and there are lots more missing. Several villages were completely wiped out - you wouldn't even believe the devastation. American Samoa got hit hard as well and we heard one cruiser died - was washed overboard and drowned. Not sure the name of the boat - his wife was below and is okay, but the boat has some damage and she had to search for him. Found him in the morgue - can't even imagine.
We were evacuated to higher ground again yesterday late-afternoon. An aftershock set off another warning and even the NZ Orion was radio-ing another set of waves may hit. There was no sign of the water receding this time though, so we weren't as worried and haven't heard about any more destruction as a result. We're VERY happy to have had a quiet night, although we had everything ready to go just in case.
Sorry this got so long - Glen always says I can take a short story and make it long! Anyhow, we want to thank everyone for thinking of us. We so miss you guys and wish we were there with you! :) Big hugs, Glen and Sally
Ouvea and Ile De Pins
27 September 2009 | New Caledonia
Christine and Jaime
We are back in the land of the French. For years New Caledonians have used the catch phrase 'France in the Pacific' to promote their country on the international tourist market. It's true that New Caledonians speak French, and croissants and baguettes are an important part of their diet. However, there is a unique Pacific identity mixed into the French influence. New Cal has the more laid back approach to life with a complete disregard for time constraints. The local indigenous people here are called Kanaks.
They are not as friendly here to us yachties as in other countries we have been, but maybe too much French influence. We have even seen some isolated instances such as tire slashing and rock throwing. We are also informed that there have been a number of dengue fever cases reported so we need to be careful. The good news is there is no Malaria here like we had to watch out for while we were in Vanuatu. After a fairly non eventful passage other then a touch of mal de mar, we hoist our French flag and our quarantine flag before entering New Caledonia waters. Because we joined this rally, we are allowed to clear in to the country in the beautiful Loyality Isand of Ouvea. Lonely Planet describes this anchorage as " If your idea of heaven is a deserted tropical beach and sparkling lagoon, Ouvea is your paradise." It is true as Ouvea does have one of the prettiest white sandy beaches that we have seen, especially coming from Vanuatu which is mostly volcanic black sand beaches. Even with 30 boats that are in the rally, there is plenty of room to anchor and still not be too close. We spend a few days of just hiking and touring the island and other than the Tsunami incident, we were able to relax and enjoy being in paradise. On Oct. 3rd, we pick up anchor and head for the Isle des Pins. The Isle des Pins is without a doubt the jewel of New Caledonia. It has a pretty bay with a long beach where the sand is finer and whiter than you could ever imagine. The water is crystalline. The landscape is very different in that it is covered with pine trees. There are caves, forests and old penal-colony ruins to be explored, a hill to climb if you're energetic, and beaches to lie on if you are not. Of course we try and do it all. Naturally, on this island paradise, seafood is available in abundance. How ever we pass on the local specialty of escargot. They are crawling all over the island, along with the black and white poisonous snakes. This cruising life is tough. One whole afternoon was spent with Destiny trying to buy hamburgers and French fries. We even got chased by some pit bulls when we ventured the wrong way and ended up on private property, but we eventually found our prize and enjoyed every last bite. The next day we spent four hours going back and forth to the local bakery trying to buy baguettes and still didn't get any until the next morning. They kept promising us that if we came back in an hour that they would have them. While anchored in the bay here, we have another Tsunami scare in which we all picked up anchor and headed into deep water. After our second scare it seems that the cruisers, us included, are all a little more nervous and keep checking for aftershock reports. On Oct 10th (our son Rod's 40th birthday, yikes!) we head north to the Baie De Prony which if on the south end of the main island of New Caledonia. Destiny stays behind, but we have to get to Noumea before too long and prepare for our passage to Australia. Hopefully we will see them in Noumea before we leave. We stop for the night in a beautiful bay that we have to ourselves. The earth here is a really bright red color and the contrast to the greenery is very striking. It is very quiet and calm and we are sung to by the birds in the surrounding trees. We hike up to a lighthouse with a spectacular lookout of the southern end of New Caledonia. The down side is that the red clay dirt is hard to remove from our shoes, in fact it doesn't come off. We are careful getting back into the dingy and on the boat, but still make a mess and we spend quite a bit of time cleaning up afterwards. Baraka calls and we give them instructions on how to find us. We all enjoy another quiet night in the anchorage before heading to the big city of Noumea. Noumea is a mixture of old and modern where delightful colonial builings lie hidden among more contemporary architecture.
It seems strange for us to all of a sudden be in a large city like Noumea. The noises of the city seem so much louder than we remember and all the hustle and bustle of city life is a little hard to get used to, but on the flip side its great to buy avocado's and strawberry's again.
And of course the French restaurants are fabulous.
06 September 2009 | Vanuatu
Christine and Jaime
The Maskelynes, Awai Island, Malekula. Upon hearing that the anchorage in Lamen Bay, north of where we were, was very rolly, we decided to head to the Maskelynes which are in the southern part of the island of Malekula. South Malekula is well know for its traditional way of life and customs. Many villagers only migrated from the bush in 1969 to lead Christian lives, and they still retain many customs learned from their ancestors and continue to practice them. The Maskelynes are a group of islands off the southern end of Malekula. They are just gorgeous with most having coral reefs with excellent diving and snorkeling. Sharks are not as much a problem here as they are further up north. In fact, further north most villagers bathe in the rivers rather than the sea for fear of sharks. After a rather boisterous sail over, we find shelter from the wind and seas behind Awai island. It is not a very large anchorage and with a few other boats already there it takes a little while but we eventually find a spot. Only a few families live on Awai island and they are all very friendly. They show us around their village and we trade fuel for bananas and paw paws. The children are excited when we give them colored pencils and coloring books. Children as young as 6 and 8 years old, paddle to school across a large bay all by themselves and infants are allowed to play with machetes. Kids here are taught responsibility at a very early age. Finally we meet up with Destiny and Baraka as they sail into our bay. They are heading south to Port Vila as soon as the wind angle is favorable as beating into the trades is something to avoid. Not a very pleasant ride and it would also use up a lot of fuel. We decide that since our time is getting short here in Vanuatu and going any more north would make for an unpleasant trip back that we would head back to Port Vila with the rest of the boats. In a few days we get a more favorable wind change and head south with Destiny. The wind is hard on the nose and we have a wet and bumpy ride back to Havannah Harbor and then on to Port Vila. Port Vila reminds us of Neiafu, Tonga. Boats are all on moorings and a great restrauant and bar at the dingy dock called The Waterfront. The town has a great vegi market that is open 24 hrs a day Mon-Fri. In 2006, Vanuatu was voted the happiest place on earth. Family and church are very important to these people and their monetary and materialistic needs are very little. Humm. Is there a message here? We spend our time touring the island and eating out way too much. On one of our tours, we visit a WWII Museum and are treated to the sight of Old Glory flying out front. We joined the ICA rally to New Caledonia and there is quite a bit of activities socializing involved. The main reason we joined was because we could check into Ouvea in the Loyalty islands of New Caledonia instead of having to check into Noumea and then having to backtrack out to Ovuea. A real plus as it involves an overnight passage each way. Another plus is that we have met a lot of new cruising friends. We wish we could have seen more of the islands in Vanuatu, but instead of trying to see everything quickly, we decide on slowing down to really enjoy the places we are able to visit. From what we have heard, Tanna is the real jewel of Vanuatu and most cruisers we met didn't get a chance to go. We feel very fortunate that we were able to spend some time there and that the weather cooperated as well. Now we prepare to leave with 35 other boats for a two day trip to the Loyalties in New Caledonia. Half of the boats that are slower, leave on Sat. The other half, which includes us, leave on Sun. Always sad leaving, but a new excitement in our future destination.