Friday 15 August 2009, Port Vila

[view the new photos sent in by Dick Hopkins on the Torba Province Trip – Admin] So here we are.  Terrence and I, tossing up as to who’s going to cook dinner.  Taking it in turns to make the tea, and working our way through the list of jobs.

Big news today, I replaced a deck fitting.  I knew you’d enjoy that.  It’s a simple piece of bent stainless with a thread on each end which pokes through the deck and holds the pulley which holds the sheet which holds the end of the staysail.  Terrence attached a hook on a wall to hold his jacket and then we both attached a “bat car” to the bottom of the mainsail.  Like I say, things are going mild here.

After checking out Immigration, getting all the departure cards and arranging for a “One-way letter” for Kevin I caught a minibus down to the Customs office.  This is a small blue building around the bay to where the big ships pull in.  It’s also in the middle of a construction site and with the rain, there was about 2-3 inches of liquid mud, all the way to the front door, caused by all the trucks coming and going mixed with all the rain.

The Customs man gave me a heap of forms to fill out prior to clearing – which we hope to do next Tuesday.  It should also enable us to get duty free diesel from the local wharf.  As far as I know, we don’t have to do anything with Quarantine. At least not here in Vanuatu – I imagine the Australian Quarantine will make up for it though!!

I mentioned the “One-way letter” before.  That’s what I call it, but it’s essentially an application I’ve got to make, as the skipper of a boat, on behalf of any crew member who flies in on a one way ticket, with the intention of sailing out.  I think it’s designed to ensure people go home again – after all, it is an island paradise after all, and the authorities don’t want a bunch of free-loading Aussie (or any other country for that matter – New Zealand for example) alternative life-stylers sponging off the island villages in an effort to escape the capitalist system which enabled them to get here in the first place.  That’s my theory.  Anyway, it costs about $50 for each crew member and I’m told a crew member won’t get through the airport without an officially stamped letter.

After buying a 7kg watermelon the other day at the market, half of which is still in the fridge, (they take a while to eat you know) I thought I’d branch out today, so to speak, with bananas.  Do you know how many types of bananas there are?  Lots.  Would I choose the tiny sweet ones, which looked like they should have been eaten yesterday, or would I go for the giant hotdog sized ones which look like they could be used for crowd control?  Maybe I should lean towards the slightly green ones which will ripen over the next few days, or the ones with lots of black scabs on the outside but which are still pretty good on the inside?  I must have walked around that crazy undercovered mass of frenetic activity for 10 minutes or more, clutching my handfull of, by now, warm and sweaty coins.  Admittedly, I was also checking out the tomatoes and cucumbers, but when I finally made my choice of a nice hand of middle sized, slightly small, but to my eye, quite ripe and uniformly yellow bananas, I thought I’d done well and came away pretty pleased with myself – had I bought the best bunch of bananas, or what?!   Well, let this be a warning to you all.  You can’t always judge a banana by the pajamas it wears.  I ate one after lunch today and I’m not sure how to describe the feeling.  Let’s just say a banana should be sweet, soft, flavoursome, satisfying … well this one wasn’t.  It kind of stuck to the inside of my mouth like clag, gave my teeth a fluffy texture and took ages to extract from between my molars.  Maybe they’ll be ripe tomorrow.  In any case I’ll eat the next one a bit slower.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention, more exciting news … Terrence has moved cabins.  Change is as good as a holiday he says.  He’s going to give the bunk vacated by Mike a go.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the fore peak cabin (that’s the one right up the front).  Terrence’s new cabin shares a wall with mine and for some reason, as he shuffled off to bed just now Terrence said, “now no snoring”.  So who knows how long the change of cabin will last?

Stay tuned for more exciting action

Did I mention, the sun came out as well.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and really, nothing happened today.