Thursday 12th September 2013

Arrived at Ronan, Ambryn after a very quick reach across Selwyn Strait. The wind funnels through most of the straits between the islands and you will often get gusts around 30 knots when the forecast is for 15-20. There are also strong tidal currents around the islands that throw up a short steep sea. We tend to carry a double reefed Main for this reason but often you think you will be ok and shake out a reef only to find 5 minutes later that you are wishing you left it in.

Anchored in clear black sand as the wind continued to build throughout the afternoon making the anchorage quite rough. Decided not to get off the boat until the wind settled down.

Periclees had come in from Port Sandwich, Malakula but they anchored in the next bay to the west of us. David, Isabelle and the kids braved the choppy water and dinghied over to see us. Good to catch up with them. They had been in Port Sandwich since we left them at the Maskelene's spending time with the locals there and building them a “Pizza” oven.

Friday 13th September 2013

Weather had calmed down and we went ashore for a walk to look at local wood carving. Periclees crew were waiting on the beach for us. Met by village ambassador, Barry, who gave us the tour of the village and the wood carvers. We walked on to the village of Ranvetlam about 3 km up the road. Chief Joseph greeted us and showed us some of his carvings, a class above what we had seen so far. Joseph has exhibited his work all around the world. We purchased a small ROM to look after the boat.

Hot day so we swam a lot. 5 other boats from the ICA rally arrived and it was arranged for a ROM Dance to be performed for everyone on Sunday so we decided to extend our stay.

Saturday 14th September 2013

Very hot night. the big Laggon cat next to us had his genset on all night for Aircon. We spent a few hours in the water with Larnie and Yarra playing on the SUP's. sundowners ashore with all the boats and Barry's family. Met a young Aussie girl doing a volunteer year with the village trying to promote Eco- tourism for the island and computers for the school. Tough job!

Sunday 15th September 2013

Scott from the big Lagoon cat “Three little birds” negotiated a discount for the group to 4000vt pp. Thats $50.00 AUD, still very expensive in relative terms when you consider you can attend the ballet at the State Theatre for that.

We all gathered onshore and walked up the steep track to the village of Fanla where we received a welcome coconut to drink followed by a village tour, including their ancient Banyan Tree with hollow centre big enough for Yarra and Larnie.

This is the traditional home of the ROM. We were told the story of the origin of the Rom masks. The costumes were fantastic with a full covering of dry banana leaves and a large decorative, tall mask. The choreography, however, was a bit disappointing with lots of stomping and shuffling. There were apparently 2 different dances performed but we couldn't tell the difference in either the movements or the noise( sorry but I can't credit it with being music). There were about 10 ROM's and about 10 small Nambas accompanying them.

Overall we once again felt that the Ni-Van don't get the value for money concept. As many of us discussed on the way back to the boats you wouldn't go back to see it again.

Monday 16th September 2013

Mass exodus! We headed across to Port Sandwich on East side of Malakula to catch up with Miami. Nice and calm in the lee of the Ambryn volcanos

until we again got caught out with full sail up as we left the islands protection. We had discussed reefing but were soon into 20- 25knots on the beam .

The outer case of the main halyard let go with a bang and the Main partially dropped. The case was jamming the clutch so it was not possible to get the Main down without cutting the halyard. This would cause huge problems later so we winched up the Main on the spectra core and we kept going. A bit overpowered but the wind backed the further out we went and so we got to Port Sandwich quickly with no problem other than lots of flying spray.

I heard a noise from inside the boat. Lea went down to investigate and found the gas alarm on and salt water everywhere in the galley. A small hatch had been left open on vent.

Inside this beautiful, protected waterway we taped up the broken case ends and managed to thread them through the clutch and get the Main down with the halyard intact to use as a mouse line to pull the new halyard( in stock) through.

Once anchored we also discovered the the open hatch over the galley had let a lot of salt water into the boat. This had run down under the floor and shorted out the gas detector sensor. I had to rewire the system with a new switch to operate the solenoid and bypass the gas detector. We also had a big clean up.

Had a great catch up with Jorge and Uté on Miami. Uté cooked us a delicious Lasagne. We had another great night but drank far to much Gerry's red wine and topped it off with some sensational Cherry Schnapps from Jorge's family business.

Tuesday 17th September 2013

Hangover day. Slowly fitted new sail over for Main then an afternoon walk to the village. Met Rock and his wife Noella. He lives close to the anchorage and enjoys sailors company. It was here that Dave from Periclees built a Pizza Oven while they spent 2 weeks here. Jorge and I inspected the construction and agreed David had done a great job.

Wednesday 18th September 2013

A fierce Southerly blow came through about 4.00am with heavy rain. We thought we may be dragging so had a cup of tea while the storm raged. All was well, however, and the wind eased so we went back to bed. Extra fresh water collected put Lea in another washing frenzy. In the afternoon, we picked up Uté ( Jorge was off exploring the wilderness again) and took the dinghy up one of the rivers. We were caught in a rain squall and sheltered under a large tree overhanging the river, where we discussed Uté's preserving techniques and recipes.

Then down to wreck.

Drinks ashore with Rock, Noella and Napolean the cat

Thursday 19th September 2013

Sailed to Crab Bay 25 Nm up the coast. Gave Miami a 1 hour head start while we sorted out twisted reefing lines. Pleasant sail with 15 kt SE. Soon passed Miami.

Arrived to find double set of buoys in our path with long lines drifting on the surface. Lea thought it was a net so full reverse to back out and go around them. Anchored in a tight area between coral reefs. Warned Miami about net and Jorge had to go too close to a bommie for comfort to get around the buoys. Turns out they are moorings, available for use at 1500vt but the reality is they are an obstruction that no sensible yachtie would ever trust. Unfortunately they are placed in the best position in the bay.

Had a nice walk ashore seeing hundreds of crabs (it is a crab sanctuary), lots of turtles as well as the wrecked aluminium hull of “Tantrum” a Cairns yacht that came to grief here a few years ago.

Sundowners on GL then cooked some serious steaks

Friday 19 th September 2013

A short jump to Port Stanley with little wind. As soon as we arrived the easterly came in strong. We abandoned plans to anchor at Norsup and headed back south to the anchorage behind the southern end of Uri Island. We didn't like it and the anchor didn't hold so we went in search of somewhere else. We found a lovely sandy spot inside the northern tip of Uri Island in 4 metres. As it wasn't a recommended anchorage I had a good snorkel all around. Turned out we had chosen well and were in clear, clean sand. Too shallow for Miami so she stayed up in the other anchorage

We were visited by a tinny with a white man and 2 natives on board. They invited us ashore.

Ashore we found a small guest house run by Jake, his wife Lyness and son Peter. Their only guest was Stuart an Aussie having some time out. We settled down for a chat and ended up staying for dinner. Lyness is a real character with a big personality. We had a lovely night and the food was simple but delicious. We arranged to catch up with Stuart who will be at the Aore Island Resort with his family on Tuesday.

Saturday 20th September 2013

Delightfull sail up to Luganville in perfect easy conditions. Found the mooring we had been offered the use of on Aore Island and after attaching a line to the mooring we settled in for an easy afternoon and night. A bit surprised by the current at full ebb tide flow as it caused standing waves just outside of our position. Put the rudder hard over to port and we sat nicely inside this turbulence.

Sunday 21st September

Went ashore to check out the house and nearby resort. Greeted at the resort by Helen who knew all about us courtesy of Colin the house owner who had kindly offered us his mooring.

The weather was going to turn nasty and come in from the north so we left the mooring and went to anchor on the other side of the strait with Miami. This also gave us easier acces to town.

Studying the GRIB files had shown a possible weather window opening on Wednesday to head back to Aus.

Late afternoon the weather came in hard together with torrential rain. It was a boisterous night but no problem.

Monday 22 nd September 2103

Woke up to find the dinghy half full of water much to Lea's delight. She had scrubbed it out specially to catch water. We collected over 100 litres so Lea got into some washing even though it was still pouring with rain.

Headed ashore and bused into town for internet fix, another Digicel confrontation, coffee, cake, lunch and shopping. weather window on Wednesday looking good.

Back to boat and Sundowners at the Beachfront Resort with Miami and Sea Turtle

Tomorrow we clear out if window still looks good. Hard to believe it is coming to a close but we still have 6-7 weeks of sailing to go and it will be great to be back in Aus.

Tuesday 24th September 2013

Weather looks good, all cleared out. Dinner at Aore Island Resort tonight then off tomorrow.