Sunday, July 21, 2013

On our way again!

The crew change is complete and we now have Leapy Lynda on board and we will be leaving Port Vila and are on our way to Santo a bit later this morning  after our last fresh food shop. 
We have not done the exact math but we figure we have to cover around 250NM over the next 2months which is not too tough so think we will cope.

Unfortunately due to lack of internet access we will not be able to update this BLOG for quite a while but we have a second BLOG running which we are able to update from our Sat Phone however it is text only but does give a position report on Google Earth which is pretty neat.

The address for the other BLOG is

The expect to be back in Bundaberg in Mid October.

Ciao for now!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back to Port Vila (20th July)

We had a wonderful week up in the Havannah Harbour and treated ourselves to lunch at The Havannah luxury resort on Sunday before heading back to the big smoke of PV on Sunday.

We were hoping to spend a day or two more out on the pick but the forecast showed increasing winds on Monday and Tuesday so opted for the sensible thing to head back a day early especially as we have to sail upwind to get back to Port Vila - very nasty stuff - have even made a note in the log to avoid this type of behaviour for the rest of the trip.

Extreme Cruising
On our arrival back we find that the Oyster Rally had arrived.  23 Oyster yachts are all over the place in PV from the anchorage to the moorings to the wharf.  They are a luxury British yacht ranging in length from 54ft to about 120ft long.  We went past the head boat which is sponsored by Red Bull and owned by Eddie Jordan of F1 fame (see picture below).  Naturally there was no room for us on the wall so we elected to stop on a mooring until a few spaces open up for us more modest type yachts!

The Oysters are in town

To complete our Efate stop we figured we need to go on trip so booked ourselves on the Around the Island Tour run by Melanesian Tours.  What an awesome day.  We stopped at many beaches and had the chance to spend some time at a couple of the local villages.  One of the highlights was out stop at Emau village which is one of the larger villages on Efate.  We had a guided tour around the village which culminated in a sing sing by the women and kids of the village which was fantastic.  We were also privileged enough to be joined by the assistant chief, the big boss and the ex big boss of the village!  We even got to re-visit the famous WWII museum and again met up with Ernest and his collection once again before heading back to Port Vila - but not before we had the obligatory Kava stop.  Mark and I, having previously tried this brew, elected to go in for a gander ONLY however, Amanda had to give it a go needless to say she was quickly into the fridge for a  beer on arrival back at the boat!
Yum Yum
We are in the midst of a crew change.  Amanda flew back home on Thursday and not much later Leapy arrived.  She is spending today (Friday) down at Tanna the home of the volcano and will be back with us tomorrow. 

We are starting the process of leaving from PV which includes the final provisioning of food, gas, fuel and water.  We also have to obtain our inter island cruising permit from Customs and are both going to treat ourselves to a hair cut today as we may not have another one until October!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Port Vila & Efate

Miss Amanda has joined us on Mustang Sally for a couple of weeks of cruising around the island of Efate. The first day was one of rest and recovery as Amanda’s flight didn’t arrive into PV until 2am in the morning and naturally there was also the compulsory sarong shopping.  Saturday and we hit the mean streets of Port Vila to stock Sally for the next couple of weeks on the pick.
A hard arvo at Iririki Island
Our first stop was off Hideaway Island in Mele Bay which is about 5NM from Vila.  Being Sunday there was plenty going on at the Beach Bar so naturally we had to go and check out what all the excitement was about as well as enjoying a few cleansing ales.  As the anchorage was a bit rollie and the winds were forecast to build we figured it was a good time to move on so we rounded Devil’s point and headed up into Havannah Harbour.   We now know why it is called Devils point as it is very bumpy with plenty of overfalls but the seas soon settled down once we were around and into the more protected waters of the harbour.
Our first stop was in Ai Creek which is a pretty little anchorage (in fact all the anchorages in Havannah Harbour are pretty stunning.  We were met by a dug out and we bought a lovely hand of banana’s, which are now ripening in our recently hung fruit netting out the back, This was the first time we have ever traded for $$$$.  Havannah harbour is a real area of development with plenty of nice resorts for a drink / meal and also quite a number of flashy houses on the shore line – not a bad spot to have some holiday digs.
Our first stop was at the Wahoo Bar for a spot of lunch on Monday.  Mark decided to indulge in the coconut crab which provided much entertainment for Amanda and I as well as the staff.  It took at least 1 hour, 4 stubbies of Tusker and some guidelines from our waiter on how to attack the beast before it was finally subdued and consumed
After a couple of nights at Ai Creek it was up anchor again to our next anchorage of Matupa Bay – another tough trip of around 5NM. 

Wreck at Matupa Bay
This anchorage is just around the corner from “The Havannah” – which we found out is a pretty swanky couples resort when we went for a walk up there for coffee.  On the way we went through a nice village which had plenty of road side market stalls and also a stall of WWII memorabilia.  We had only been wandering around for a bit and before we knew it we had Ernest  showing all around the place which was pretty neat.  After coffee and on our way back to Sal we were joined by a number of local kids who were on their way home from school for a spot of lunch – think we provided some excellent entertainment.   Just near our anchorage on the main drag we were also greeted by some entrepreneurial locals who were in the process of making their local market stall into the new Bon Marche!  They had some great produce and we now have a big bag on lovely home grown tomatoes and some spring onions.  
The Havannah !!
It is now Friday and we have again moved a bit further into the harbour and are now anchored in Sunae Bay which is as far as we can go.  We have already been for a walk to the local village and have eyed off a few nice bommies for a snorkel tomorrow. 
We are planning to back into the Yachting World wharf on Monday as we have booked an Around the Island tour for Tuesday  How bizarre -  this was the only day free for the island tour as there are cruise ships in pretty much in port on every other day!

Life at Yachting World
How far do you have to go - Gramac at Port Vila

Local version of a Flathead

PLANKING - Vanuatu Style

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tanna to Port Vila (3rd July)

Well two out of three ain't bad - sounds like the title for a song.
The shopping went well and early in the afternoon Thomas returned with a good supply of Paw Paw, Ponpamoose, Spring Onions and Limes in exchange for 4 x D Cell batteries.  We also had a nice snorkel on the reef (not too difficult when the water temperature is around 26C) followed by a soak in the hot springs! We also confirmed our trip up to the Volcano (Mt Yasur) for 3.30pm on Sunday - the only thing missing are the 2 crayfish however, we were not that confident that they would be arriving so not too disappointed.

A BIG Warning to Navigators in these waters!

We ended up with 9 of us (plus guides) that went up to Mt Yasur from Port Resolution.  The standard transport is a 4WD drive ute so we crammed 8 of us in the back of the ute for the 7km drive up to the car park at the volcano.  Doesn't sound all that bad until you find out it takes the best part of 1 hour to get to the car park over some pretty rough roads that have been made even more challenging due to the recent heavy rain.

The whole experience of visiting the volcano is pretty hard to describe.  As you are driving towards it you see these mammoth clouds of volcanic ash in the sky and the car park looks more like a scene from the moon.  Apparently this is the only active volcano in the world that you can view from the crater edge and you can kind of understand why when you get there as it does have a bad reputation and we have heard that there have been some recent fatalities.  The viewing area is on the edge of the main crater, naturally on the upwind side.  We turned up at dusk which seems to be the most popular time as the lava explosions and volcanic fireworks are a lot more impressive as the sun goes down.  All we can say is that it something one should do if they ever get the chance.

Once the volcano tour was done it was time to get going again so we up anchored on Monday morning (1st July) to do the overnight passage of around 130nm to Port Vila.  We had a lovely sail with moderate easterly winds blowing - not too shabby at all.  We arrived at PV around 8.30am on Tuesday morning (water temp 27C) and are now tied up at the Yachting World wharf.  We have had a bit on an explore around town and had a great meal last night at the Waterfront Bar & Grill.  We were also able to catch up with Peter and his family for a quick cuppa and a chat in the arvo which was great. 

We had another surprise this morning while walking the mean streets of PV we happened to look out in to the bay only to see Gramac V from Martha Cove dropping her anchor - how far do you have to go!

We are expecting to stay in PV until Sunday when we will start our 2 weeks cruise along the west coast of Efate which Miss Amanda who is arriving on Friday.

On another subject we have now also set up a second BLOG page (yes painful) which we can update via our satellite phone as we do not often have access to the internet.
Unfortunately it is text only but it is better than nothing although it does have the added feature of position reporting on Google Earth which is kind of neat..  We will also keep this one going when we can so that we can upload some photos.
The link to the new BLOG is

Anatom to Tanna

The Little Red Dolphin clocks up 10,000NM
We ended up spending a bit longer in Anatom than expected due to weather which was not an issue as it is a very beautiful bay with really lovely people.
We found the village baker so were able to  buy some bread which was a pleasant surprise although the next day when we went back he was all out of flour until the next island trading vessel turns up in a couple of weeks.
We had a bit false start on our way to Tanna.  We were hoping to get here on Thursday (27th June) but after setting off nice an early we found a sizable northerly swell had formed which is not a good thing in Port Resolution so we skulked back to Anatom and had another go on Friday.  We had a bit more luck on Friday and found a southerly swell had formed so we kept on our way to Port Resolution.  During the 45NM trip to Tanna we were lucky enough to catch a small tuna on our hand line which was all good until it arrived on board.  It became apparent that we are not very proficient at dealing with fish on board as it quickly looked like we had conducted an axe murder all over the back of the boat – this is something that we have to work on however, it did mean that we had a couple of nice tuna steaks on the BBQ for dinner.
We arrived around 15:00H only to find a 124ft pleasure craft in the bay called Platinum from
Fremantle – we figured with a name like that it must belong to some mining magnate!!  As we are keen to do the trip up to the local volcano, Mt Yasur which is only a couple of kilometres from the anchorage, we head into the main village in search of Stanley who is apparently in charge of yacht relations and tours.  Instead of Stanley we ended up finding Chief Narua (aka Russell) who informed us that is was already Kava time so we should come back to find him tomorrow morning.  We found out that Russell is also the local primary school teacher so we have found a home for some of school books that we have had on board since Melbourne.

We wandered back into the village on the Saturday morning and this time did find Stanley but unfortunately there is a bit of a problem with the transport vehicle so we have left him on the case to work on our trip to see the volcano.  We are confident that Stanley will be back as he gave us his mobile phone to charge.  Luckily we do have at least some of the volcano in the bay with us as there is steam and boiling water running into the bay continuously which is a bit eerie and disturbing Mark to the point where he is doing regular checks to make sure there is no boiling water or glowing bits around the boat.  We have already started the trading process this morning and so far have ordered some Pompamoose (big grapefruit), Spring Onions, Paw Paw, Bananas and hopefully a Lemon from Timothy and on another front have ordered in 2 Cray’s from Simon so we are now waiting with great anticipation to see what actually turns up.   
We also found out that it was a good thing that we did not arrive on Thursday as the other boat in the anchorage (a cat with a young French family from Tahiti) reported that there was a large swell in the bay and also that their boat ended up covered in volcanic ash which then took around 5 hours to clean off the next day.
Hot Springs!

We are looking forward to a warm dip in the hot springs this arvo before our lobster dinner and hopefully have some good news on our trip to Mt Yasur and the famous Shark Bay - apparently this bay comes complete with sharks unlike its namesake – Shark Bay at Safety Beach!

Hello Vanuatu

We departed Noumea as planned on Wednesday 19th June and did an overnight passage straight through to Mare in the Loyalty islands.  We had a very pleasant day at Mare sunning ourselves and enjoying a lovely snorkel in the wonderfully clear water.  The anchorage at the north of the island is really pretty and would have been nice to spend a few more nights here but not to be on this trip so after a morning dip on Friday morning it is up anchor again and we are not off to Vanuatu *Very exciting*. 
We weighed anchor and were out of the bay by 9..00am.  To get to Anatom is around 130NM so we can get along at a very comfortable pace as we do not want to arrive until mid-morning on Saturday to make sure we have reasonable light for our arrival.
We had a very gentle sail with winds of around 8-12knots from the south east for most of the trip and had a very comfortable night at sea although we did have a really big southerly swell running.  As hoped we arrived at the entrance to the bay / lagoon at around 10.00am and may a very safe arrival as the lagoon is very well charted and has a wide entrance.  For those that have travelled on cruise ships we are anchored right next door to Mystery Island.
Not long after our arrival we were greeted by Keith who came out on his dug-out canoe to greet us.
Keith on Surveillance

Angalawat Bay at Anatom is very beautiful little spot with palm trees, lush green forest, white sandy beaches and breaking waves on the nearby reef – just a little different to your average view at New Caledonia!