Off to Vanuatu

Off to Vanuatu

Described as “the poorest and the happiest people on earth” the small independent country of Vanuatu is our next port of call. We set course for Tanna Island in Vanuatu. We left our friends behind in Vadu Pt. after a great reunion of “the usual suspects”; Mary Powell, Curious and Fly Aweigh had been with us all across the Pacific and now we each had our own separate destinations.

Leaving the quiet protection of the barrier reef surrounding West Fiji we encountered large swells from the south. Enough is enough and I altered course to make a smoother ride. As we left the effects of the Island the seas moved to a more easterly direction and we resumed course. A look at the weather grib told me that a large high above us and a low to the south were coming close and would bring big winds. Our departure fit in the weather window just before the blow.

We picked up a favorable current and had a smooth crossing to Tanna which we spotted at sun up the third day. Debbie got bit by sea sickness as this was her first ocean experience. It is always sad to see someone so miserable but one always knows it will pass and it did. By the third day she was back in spirits.

Tanna has a small bay on the west side that usually provides shelter from the prevailing easterly winds but not today. The low to the south had pushed the winds out of the south and directly into the bay. A quick look and some thought to the upcoming blow and I switched course to the north to Port Villa. As we were a bit tired and the timing was off for a day light arrival, we hid in a well protected cove on the next island to the north for the afternoon. We all thought this was a great place to explore but having not cleared customs we stayed on the boat—we will return we all said.

As the sun set we picked up the hook and headed north. The protection of the lee island gave way to moderate SW swells as darkness fell. We had a great crossing that ended with perfect timing as the sun rose we entered Port Villa.

Port Villa is the only real town in the country and the home of most government officials. Rain and 25 knots bid us welcome as we anchored in the Q area. The quarantine official came out in a launch and after a quick process cleared us. Now I had to visit Immigrations and Customs. This required a trip to shore which revealed an amazing town. Not having the Indian influence of Fiji, this culture was pure Melanesian but now with a French accent and some British twist—this country had been bounced between Brit and French control for centuries but gained its independence in the recent past.

We arrived just in time for the local cruisers net and got the weather—no news here it is blowing—and local info. Of note it seemed that many of us had bought the cell phone modem from Digicel in Fiji with promise of continued service in Vanuato but someone forgot to tell the folks here so no dice on the internet connection. There may be a solution in the works.

I did the rounds, bank—out buck is worth 1000 of theirs – so I get huge bills. I gave Jess a thousand bucks to spend ashore! I did the immigrations and customs thing and we were again welcome to a new land with little fuss.

On shore I saw a boat from Henry Island – a small island in the San Juans—and stopped by. Wow folks from Friday Harbor! Nancy and Jonathan Atkatz, I know Nancy’s folks they used to own Roche Harbor. What a small world.

The first night in town we were invited to a cruiser’s pot luck so we packed up our goods and braved the windy night in the dink. We were greeted by a large group of cruisers some I had known and many new faces. The hosts were a couple of Americans who live here and have a wonderful home on the waterfront. We made some new friends, ate a great dinner and had a wonderful time.

The wind continues to howl and the forecast is for the same for a few days so we will enjoy Port Villa and relax until the next leg.