24 October 2010
(I Wrote this Thursday night, but only posted it now, Sunday. Sorry! Some great stuff has happened in between, too I must tell later. tomorrow Monday we plan to leave Port Vila for Oz.)
Approaching Port Vila on Wednesday afternoon I calculated that we would arrive off Vila sometime in the night, depending on whether the breeze kept up. By this time the Bluebottle was sailing quite nicely in smooth seas with stays'l and genny on opposite sides, doing 4 to 5 knots. It was then I thought of entering at night, and started asking on the radio for help. Once I had the information about the leading light and the confidence, given by two boats who had been into Port Vila, I made up my mind. We were going in. The last part was exciting and happy - the wind increased to 20 as it came ahead as we rounded Pango Point into the bay. Heeled and sailing only on the reefed genoa the boat pushed ahead purposefully, sea lit by the moon. Then the engine was started and sail rolled up. And we followed the light - now pulsing white (you are right on course!) now red (you have wandered off, turn to starboard!) now green (hurry, turn left!) - we followed the light as devotedly as did the three wise men following the Star in the East. In fact it looked a lot like a big, soft, yellow star on a Christmas card. I am now certain that THEIR star turned red or green if they wandered too far to the left or right.
Satisfaction at achieving entry in the dark turned to dismay as the anchor dragged, depth changing quickly from 35 feet (10 metres) to 85 feet (26 metres). Can't go to sleep yet; haul in the 200 feet of chain - do it again. Second time, the anchor held!
It was after midnight, the engine quiet. The yellow quarantine flag went up before we went to bed. Also came a vodka and home-made ginger beer and ice. We were tired.
This morning, it was all on. Quent came on the radio and it was set that Quarantine would board at 9:30, then we would raise anchor and move the boat in to the mooring field, and from there find Immigration and Customs. Quent and Kez came out to the yacht in a battered old tinny piloted by Willy, all with big happy grins on their faces. Our voyage home to Australia had begun. More later.