Thursday 28 September 2017
After a gloriously still night on the mooring at Aore Island Resort, with the lights of Luganville across the Segond Channel, it was an easy departure around 6:00am. No need to winch aboard the chain and anchor, just a case of lifting the mooring line off the bow cleat and dropping it into the water.
Our destination this day was the beautiful anchorage at the village of Asanvari on the southern tip of Maewo Island. Sixty miles away and around 10 hours sailing, assuming we could average 6 knots and 12 hours at 5 knots.
The one thing we didn’t want to do of course was arrive in the dark and have to rely on the chart plotter and moonlight to determine where to drop the anchor.
In the end the sailing conditions could best be described as “varied”, with a brisk 25 knot south east wind keeping us on our toes for the open-water stretch between Luganville and Ambae, then very little wind in the lee of Ambae, then brisk conditions again from the eastern tip of Ambae to the sheltered west coast of Maewo.
Having mentioned the island of Ambae, I should also mention that it is currently in a state of heightened alert on account of the resident volcano reaching Category 4 on the five-point danger-scale. Fearing a major eruption, evacuations have started taking place and we saw from a distance the Vanuatu patrol boat picking people up along the north coast and dropping into Loloawai at the eastern tip of the island.
Our course along the north coast of Ambae might have appeared to be a case of “volcano chasers”, but it was the most direct and comfortable route to Asanvari, given the winds blow from the south east most of the time. It will also position us better for the serious run south to Port Vila in a couple of day’s time.
After some fast sailing at the beginning of the day, then some slow sailing into the wind after lunch, in the end we made it to the Asanvari anchorage at exactly 6:00pm, with 15 minutes of daylight up our sleeves.
It was quite a relief to find a sandy bottom in 13 metres of water in which to drop our anchor. After the lumpy seas experienced earlier, the stillness of this sheltered bay is fantastic, with the sound of a waterfall over the stern the only real noise from onshore. Above us, the stars are shining and the reflection of the half-moon on the water is enough to illuminate the dark outline of the distant headland and the high, jungle-covered island interior
Cathy and Annette had dinner ready for our arrival (great work !!) and after a 12 hour sail everyone seems ready for sleep.
There’s a gentle breeze outside now, but the stillness of this anchorage means we could almost break out the pool table?!
Captains orders for tomorrow are to … sleep-in at leisure … followed by a swim ashore to the waterfall … some snorkelling, plus a visit to the village to meet the people Mission 3 got to know while they were here running a medical clinic and Oral Health Survey about a month ago.
We might even spend tomorrow night here too.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and take me back to Asanvari …