Monday 2nd September 2013

Left early for 45 Nm run up to Oyster Island on Santo. Expected it a bit rough between Malakula and Santo so we had a reef in. Lovely quiet sail up over the top of Malakula then straight into 18-23 knots on the nose, until we had our easting and could gradually bear away up to Santo. The sea was quite rough again due to tide so we got a couple of big ones over the boat. We had forgotten to close the range hood vent so the range hood and stove were flooded with salt water.

Again we kept “P'zazz” honest staying ahead all the way.

We arrived at the Chanel entry for Oyster Island bang on time and had high water to negotiate the tricky passage to get in. fortunately the Chanel was marked with piles, a bonus we did not expect. The Navionics and C-Maps charts we have for this area are way out. Paul had ISailor which was the best we had so we followed him in. The Oyster Island Resort anchorage is beautiful. We anchored on dry land (according to our charts). After a swim and short walk we retired to the bar then the restaurant. The steaks here are sensational.

Tuesday 3rd September

Lea and I went for a run around the island. Usually when I get the urge for violent exercise I lie down until the feeling goes away, but with all the good living we have been enjoying it was time to sweat it out. I managed 1 lap around the island and rested while Lea went around again. Concentration and fancy footwork was required to avoid tripping on the tree roots. It was a bit breezy to SUP up the creek to the Blue Pool so we relaxed for the afternoon. Paul came over for lunch then we went and had a look at his dive compressor. Diagnosed a drive belt too long and loose so not much we could do until we had a new one.

Paul's crew came back from Luganville with fresh supplies so it was dinner and party on “P'zazz” with a Queen concert

4th September 2013

Bus tour to Champagne Beach. Fabulous place. Had a good swim, snorkel then picnic lunch.

On the way back we stopped at Velit Bay Plantation which has a restaurant bar for a drink.

Then back to Oyster Island resort for custom dancing and “Water Music”. The dancers were running late so we ordered our meals early. The water music was great and very different. Incredible how they make the variety of sound, but it is obviously quite strenuous as the girls were puffing hard between pieces.

The male custom dancing was equally spectacular and the men played up to the audience cheekily.

The night was marred by our dinner coming 4 hours after placing the order. The restaurant was hopelessly over booked. We should have known better. We complained to management but were verbally abused by the ICA Rally organisiners, John, and Peter for causing trouble. Not very professional behaviour from either the restaurant management or the ICA Rally and it ruined a good night.

Thursday 5th September 2013

Up early to cross the reef at half tide before we got trapped inside. Moved down to Sundra Bay with “P'zazz”. For the first time we had trouble anchoring. We had 5 goes in the inner bay before abandoning it and going back to the outer anchorage where we dug in with no trouble. We do seem to be a bit more anal about anchoring than most other people. However, we were leaving the boat for the day so it had to be right.

We all hitched a ride into Luganville. Coffee, cakes and free fast internet allowed me to post the last lot of blog pages. Then a great lunch of sensational hamburgers at the local Japenese restaurant( go figure). A bit of a look around and some shopping then bus back to the boats.

“Last Supper” on P'zazz” as Wendy, Tom and Gudge were getting off early next morning to fly home.

We debated whether to sit tight for a few days as the forecast wind was strong for the next week. In the end we decided to go east and work our way down Maewo and Pentecost sheltered from the worst of it.

Friday 6th September 2013

Head start on P'zazz” while he dropped off departing passengers. Double reefed Main with 1/3 Genoa saw us blasting ENE at 50 degrees apparent through a developed short 2-3 metre sea and 20-25 knots from the SE. We were very pleased with GL' performance, bounding along at 8-9 knots with lots of spray over the boat. A couple of big waves hit us hard but it wasn't as bad as I had expected.

In the lee of Aoba the wind completely died and then reversed to the NE. We shook out the reefs, pulled out the Screecher and even motored for a short time. Then we saw ahead a defined line of angry whitecaps. We quickly got 1 reef in before we ran into 30 knot + bullets.

Worked our way into Vahine Bay, On the NE tip of Aoba and anchored there until the tide came in to give us access to the beautiful anchorage of Lolowai Bay, the centre of an ancient volcano crater.

Last night with “P'zazz” so we had them over for dinner.

Saturday 7th September

Slept in but woken by “P'zazz's” noisy engines as she came to say goodbye. The rest of the boats had gone by coffee time so we had the bay to ourselves.

We organised a walk with Ronan who visited us in his upmarket fibreglass canoe. He took us over to another crater lake where they have lots of food gardens and up to the Lolowai crater rim so we could look down on GL.

Little Samson (2 years old) walked with us quietly sobbing. We found out he was upset because he couldn't go fishing. Offered to remove Ronan's broken and rotten front tooth but he declined. Gave him a new fishing line for Samson and some clothes.

Pleasant evening listening to the band onshore, bought in especially by the Police boat, an Australian Steber 30 with flashing lights and all the toys. (Probably courtesy of us Aussie taxpayers)

Sunday 8th September 2013

Delayed departure trying to deal with Digicel, the phone provider as they had stuffed up our account. About the 3rd time I'd rung but no success yet. Very frustrating.

Still away by 8.30am for a tough sail to Maewo into strong, gusty, shifty winds again with Double reefed Main and a bit of Genoa. Anchored in beautiful Ansivari Bay with 5 of the ICA boats and “Courageous” a 56 foot racing yacht we had noticed a few times on our travels.

Wandered ashore to check out the waterfall only to be told it was 500vt pp to visit it.

Went over to “Courageous” for a chat met David, Jackie and Tom and they recommended the “Bat Cave” walk. We invited them back to GL for sundowners and headed back to the waterfall area to book the walk and lunch for tomorrow.

Monday 9th September 2013

7.00am knock on the hull and Columbus the bread man was there with fresh baked loaves still warm from the oven and reasonably priced.

Ashore we met Barry our guide and his niece Violet who would take us on the walk. Beautifull walk through the jungle up into the mountains. Very steep and slippery. At the cave the rain started. We explored the cave leaving Lea at the entrance (too many bats). The rain continued so we slipped and slid our way down back to the villiage. We met Linda, Barry's wife and bought one of her nicely woven bags. Legs very wobbly by the time we got down. It had been a fairly tough 4 hour walk.

Had a good look at the waterfall, pool and terraced irrigated gardens. We were disappointed to find out that a small hydro electric plant that had been installed here in 2006, thanks to volunteers and the NZ Government, was now damaged and defunct due to conflict over custom land ownership and petty jealousy.

Met Barry and Jill from “Centaurus” a Fountaine Athena 38 cat part of the ICA Rally. They had stayed on an extra night as the rest of the boats had gone.

Lunch was served, local freshwater prawns, vegetables, rice and a curry sauce. Very nice but quite salty. We suspect local cooking includes a lot of MSG.

Scrubbed the waterline of GL

Enjoyed sundowners on “Centaurus”

Tuesday 10th September 2013

No Columbus this morning. Disappointed we waited until after 8.00 am then moved on. While scrubbing the boat yesturday I'd noticed that the anchor chain was wrapped around a rock or bommie so we had to carefully move around it to unwrap the chain before lifting the anchor. It was then an easy 12Nm sail down to Pentecost Island and Loltong Bay. Very gusty so we were well reefed.

Ashore at the ” Yacht Club” we met Matthew who took us on a tour of the villiage. We also organised to have dinner at the club with Barry and Jill. A 7 course vegetarian feast was had. Excellent food, originally prepared and delicious. All done under torchlight as the solar power had failed. fortunately we had taken our table light. We got to know Matthew and his family. His childhood was spent at a French school so his French was better than his English. He had also spent time in Paris. He looked after his sisters 2 children as their father had been killed in some violent attack caused by inter island conflict. He was keen to know our thoughts and impressions of Vanuatu.

Wednesday 11th September 2013

Ashore Barry and I had a look at Matthews solar system but poor contacts and wiring had disrupted charging and totally killed the battery; the solar panel was ok. Barry redid all the contacts so that when a new battery is installed all will be well.

Easy sail down Pentecost to Wali Bay. Caught a stripey tuna on the way. Filleted it but Lea was adamant she wasn't going to eat another stripey tuna so she went ashore at Wali and traded it, carcus and all, for some more fruit.

Thursday 12 th September

Left Wali under motor and tried again to sort out Digicel who by now had taken all our 5000vt credit ($60) and we had no credit for calls and no internet service. On hold for ages so Lea put out the Schreecher and turned off the motors. Immediately the wind freshens, the Schreecher needs to come in and Digicel is back on the line. Lea got a good work out, Digicel promised to ring back, so we finally got the main up with a reef in and settled in for the short sail to Ambryn.