Back to Port Vila
06 August 2014 | Port Vila and surrounds
Barbara / Overcast with showers
Was unable to post the last blog entry due to our continuing internet problems with Digicel and the 60-day package that runs out after 30 days! However, as we are back on the capital, Port Vila, I am optimistic that we can go to an internet café and upload two blogs at the same time. I’ll also update the photos.
Pentecost was very interesting. We saw one of the towers where the land diving takes place. We didn’t want to pay 2000 Vatu to walk up to it, but met the local expert Luc, who gave us some of the background. The diving season has been extended for the tourists, but originally was to ensure a good Yam harvest. The towers are built each year, a complex process, supervised by the Elders. People wanting to dive have to select their own vines, but the whole thing is closely supervised. Boys can start diving after they have been circumcised (about 9 years old) and dive from lower heights. Some men jump many times and the final jump is right from the top of the tower, where the person jumping has to leap outwards to miss the leaning tower, rather than just fall forward, as from the lower stages. It would have been amazing to see, but seeing the tower before it is destroyed in a month or so, was very interesting. I have never been tempted to bungy jump and certainly would never do that!
We had a good walk and looked at Luc’s bungalow accommodation, which looked basic but perfectly adequate.
The wind eased a bit the next morning as we prepared to continue south. We had planned to go back to Bowamo, on Ambrym, the hot water springs we had been to before, but a) we were having a fabulous sail and b) when we got to Bowama it was on a lee shore with quite a roll. We then decided to go to Craig Cove, which had been suggested as a good place to get a flyer the next day. One of the cruising guides we have described it as poor holding, with strong currents and susceptible to wind changes (very appealing), but it was actually a great anchorage and we had a very calm night there. Once again, not knowing the shark status, the bobbing cork wash technique was employed – in and out the water in 2 seconds.
Raising the anchor at 0415 (pitch black), we headed south on a forecast of easterly winds. Once at sea, we were in a definite South, southeast wind and spent the day close hauled, beating our way to Epi. We chose Ivo Bay, as we hadn’t been there before and had a very rolly night…. getting up several times to stuff tea-towels in cupboards and lash down rolly things on deck.
We were both wide awake for another 4am start, and had one of the best days sailing we have had on our trip so far. A beautiful sunrise saw the log pass 3000nm since leaving Nelson as we kept an average of 6 knots on a close reach. Conditions were perfect and full sail had Tuarangi in her happy place and the miles falling away beneath her hull.
By lunchtime, we were off Port Havannah and then had to tack in to one of our earliest anchorages at Lelepa Landing. The anchorage was blissfully calm, although the oldest digger in the world was flattening some of the jungle right by the anchorage with all the squeaks, roars and clinks you can imagine. Fortunately, he knocked off at 5pm and we had a calm and early to bed night.
We decided to keep going, although due to our Internet issues, had not been able to get a recent forecast and head back around the Devil’s Point to Port Vila. Once again, it all started calm enough at 5am, motoring gently down Port Havannah, but soon enough, we were in the washing machine waves on the point, crashing and bashing our way to windward., with squalls coming over, each one bringing a different wind shift. It can really be a horrible bit of water, but fortunately is quite short and you are looking in to Port Vila. I am very happy not to have to go round there again on this trip!
We picked up a mooring at Yachting World, actually getting one near to the shore and therefore a short row. Being in the tiny minority of people who row rather than having an outboard, this is really nice! However going ashore, a small boy asked us if we couldn’t afford an engine! Getting more data was unbelievably hard and in the end we bought a new Sim card, which is the cheapest way to do it. Then I went to the dentist, having had a sore tooth, which had produced a swelling much like a cartoon figure only twice as painful. Anxious about what the local dentist service may be like (based on my hairdressing experience) we were delighted to find ultra modern facilities with state of the art equipment and Australian dentists. However, the poor tooth wasn’t so lucky and happy hour was spent being pumped full of anesthetic and then having it extracted. Not such a happy hour for me, but feeling much better now that all the infection has gone.
So now we are catching up on jobs and preparing for our trip to New Caledonia. We will await the right weather window, which looks like it may be around 12th. So I am emptying and sorting food lockers, Simon is changing oil and topping up batteries and we are reading up on entry requirements for New Cal and where we might go when we get there.
Next blog will be a short reflection on our time in Vanuatu.