Sunday 4th August

Arrived Port Vila and tied back to the wall at Yachting World Marina about 10.30 am. Quiet day, long showers and more than 50mm of water in the sink to do the washing up. Afternoon walk through town with a stop at the Anchor Inn for a beer and WiFi. Giovanni and Marina, who were moored next to us, joined us for sundowners.


Monday 5th August

Lea and I off to Customs to give them the papers from Aneityum and get a form to allow us to bring the watermaker parts in tax free. Unfortunately the computer system was down so we couldn't get the form but they assured us we could order the parts and get the form later. Clive and Libby spent the morning learning the joys of re provisioning in a foreign town to feed us all for the next couple of days.

Contacted Spectra in the USA and arranged for delivery of replacement parts and some spares.

In the afternoon we visited the CulturalMuseum and had a very informative time leaning about sand drawing, traditional musical instruments as well as the history and customs of the Vanuatu group of Islands. The centre was very well done and our guide, Edgar, was excellent. These sand drawings are made with one continuous line with the finger as the story is being told. Each image is specific to a particular story.

We found Port Vila a run down waterfront town very similar to Noumea, however, the people here are genuinely friendly, welcoming and happy to have you in their country. There is an energy to the place and the shops and market are full of goods. There are very few speciality shops here, they all seem to stock everything. Frustrating, until you have searched through every shop and come to know who has got what. The network of yachties and expats soon directs you to find most things you need.

Prices for local food and clothing are good but imported goodies like breakfast cereal are very expensive. Alcohol is also very highly taxed. Eating out is about the same price as Australia. Tourist are treated well but the K&S protocol applies; keep and squeeze. Once you know the ropes it is not difficult to find the cheaper alternatives that the locals use but tourists activities are dear.

We finished the day with a fun night at the Waterfront Bar Restaurant joined by Jorge and Uté from Miami who had just arrived. Apparently the weather for the last 3 weeks in Noumea had been awful so we were glad to have left when we did.

Tuesday 6th August

We left the marina heading for Havannah Passage for a couple of days. However, we changed plans after an hour and went to Mele, anchoring under the lee of Hideaway Island. We had been told this was a great place to unwind and relax so we decided this was the best way to spend the last couple of days with Clive and Libby. We enjoyed a great sail to get there close reaching at over 10 knots, giving our guests a taste of windward sailing.

In the afternoon Lea took Libby and Clive snorkelling at Hideaway Island while I took out the SUP for some much needed exercise.

Another night of fine food, wine and a game or 2 of cards.

Wednesday 7th August

Went ashore planning to walk to the Mele Cascades. However, the locals advised us to take the bus to get there early as a Cruise ship had arrived and the crowd will descend on us later in the morning. We took the advice and had the Park to ourselves for a couple of hours before the throng of overweight, tattooed tourists arrived.

The walk up the cascades was great, as you actually walk up through the cascade until the big 35 metre waterfall at the top. We enjoyed a swim under a smaller waterfall off to one side.

The paths and gardens that have been created around the cascades are gorgeous.

Nice relaxing arvo then happy hour and wood fired pizza at the Beach Bar. A game of 500 to finish the night.

Thursday 8th August

Relaxing morning while Clive and Libby packed up their 47 kg of luggage which included Clive's shoe selection, that would have had Emelda Marcos drooling if she was into men's footwear.

Said our goodbyes after a light lunch. It had been a great 10 days together.

We had all had a touch of gastro since leaving Erromango but mine was not improving. Self diagnosis was Guardia and that meant all the water tanks were contaminated as we suspected the source was the Erromango water. While it was piped down from a spring 7km from the village the water is untreated.

Friday 9th August

Returned to Port Vila and picked up a mooring buoy. Expecting strong westerly weather which came and went. Settled into the lifestyle of Port Villa. Went to the pharmacy for some drugs to fix Guardia. Caught up on washing to use all the water in the tanks and explored the town.

With very little water on board and hence 500 kg lighter than usual we gave the local gunn a fright in the Vanuatu Cruising Yacht Club offshore race to Hat Island on Sunday 11th. We had a great tussle with “Drydock” a 60 foot aluminium racer out in front of the fleet (well 3 other boats).

The lead changed several times but we lost it on the second last leg, a short windward beat, when I tacked too early and had to pinch high to get passed the reef on the last headland. We made up ground again but just couldn't catch them before the finish line. Good fun in the light conditions and met lots of expats at the Anchor Inn after the race.

Up early one morning to visit the fuel dock to fill up with water and wash the boat. Then off back to Mele with Miami for a few days.

Enjoyed Tightass Tuesday at the Beach Bar with discounted pizzas and a movie on the big screen erected on the beach at dark. Long jungle walk with Jorge and Uté.

Iced coffee at the Tanna Coffee processing factory nearby. Swimming and paddle boarding. Lots of reading and relaxing. Jorge and Ute over for a roast dinner.

All very hard to take!

I started a course of Doxycycline as the gastro was back. Not as bad this time but the Port Vila water, while treated, is so hard it tries to climb out of the teacup. Cast iron guts Lea is fine but I am, obviously, much more delicate and sensitive! Can't wait to get the Watermaker back in operation!

Caught the local bus from Mele back to Port Vila for local Trade Show. enjoyed the spectacle of Custom Dancing.

Friday 16th August

Package has arrived and should clear Customs that afternoon. Back to Port Villa we go, missing out on the ” Fire-walking Show” at the Beach Bar that night. Waited around all day and at 4.45pm had given up hope. Cynical Lea doing the “I told you so” had to eat her words as the FedEx man rang at 4.58 pm to say we could pick up the package. Yea!

Saturday 17th August

All fired up, focused and up early to fix Watermaker. No! My loving partner wanted to SUP around Irriki Island first, bless her! Anyway it was a beautiful morning and dead calm so it was a good idea and we did enjoy it.

Watermaker disassemble and rebuild take 1. Bugger thing is still leaking!

Watermaker disassemble and rebuild take 2. Interrupted after disassemble take 2 revealed missing special white plastic “O” ring. Definitely had it at first disassemble. Shit! It must have fallen out and slid down under engine room floor during reassemble take 1. Complete disassembly of engine room floor, somewhat difficult when your standing on it. Finally found well hidden, camouflaged, missing bit. Watermaker reassemble take 2. Success!!

Drained, flushed, and refilled 2 out of 3 tanks with lovely clean, soft desal water of no more than 170 ppm TDS and no bugs. Heaven! My bowels rejoice!

Enjoyed our first decent cup of tea in a month.

Tis the small things in life!

Celebrated with a great night out, with Jorge and Ute, at a well known ( in Port Vila anyway) French Restaurant with an excellent live jazz band on tour from New Cal. Greg & Jessie you would have loved it. We finished the night back at the Waterfront Bar where there was live “real” music that you could dance to. So we did.

Sunday 18th August

Another of Jorge's afternoon jungle walks. (He's a runner who goes off exploring when ashore and finds all these jungle tracks). This one led across the Pango peninsular to Breakers Beach Resort, a very nice modern resort where we enjoyed a cold bottle of crisp, fruity, NZ SB sitting in the sun overlooking the beach with its surfers and kite-boarders.

And after just getting thoroughly relaxed we had to walk back. Lea and Jorge then got the urge to run, so off they went and Uté and I followed at a more leisurely pace, resisting the temptation to get on the bus.