Wednesday 13 May, 9.07 pm (Lenakel anchorage, Tanna)

After circling the Lenakel anchorage briefly and observing the (extremely) rolly motion of the only other yacht in the “bay” we headed a bit offshore before dropping our anchor. As it is we are still subject to the incoming swell as it bends around the point, setting up a relentless side to side, see-sawing motion, but not as bad as close in where the swell does everything short of actually break into surf.

The headland, with a pipeline surf break to rival Bells Beach, lies about 400 metres off the bow and about the same distance astern is the surge of the swell as it rises onto a volcanic ledge that extends down the coast.

Fortunately we have a very large and, well rated anchor down, with about 40 metres of heavy chain. I don’t think Bob has ever seen an anchor that big, and we’ve got three of them. The racing boats that Bob has sailed on tend to have an anchor because the rules say so, and then it’s as light and minimalist as you can get.

So after raising the flags – Vanuatu national, Q (yellow) and the Australian, we set about getting the dinghy ready to go ashore. This we did, and after dropping me off on the shelly beach with my folder of official papers, Martin and Will returned to Chimere, as the law states – to relax.

After asking for directions from a few of the friendly locals I finally made it to the Customs office only to discover that they were working on the other side of the island – at Whitesands, and the office was closed. I met the two French blokes from the other yacht in the bay. They’d had their dinghy stolen and were trying to solve the problem of getting to and from their boat, while also clearing customs. I’m led to believe that Customs will be in operation tomorrow, so we give it another go. I think this might have been my first lesson in island time and the fact that “office hours” can mean different things in different countries!

I made good use of my time ashore and walked up to the hospital to meet Morrison, the Vanuatu Government health worker who will be coming aboard in a few days along with the Australian volunteers. I then walked to a few resorts in order to find one that had internet facilities so that I could upload a few photos from the past 11 days. I must say, after a couple of hours walking I discovered many things about Vanuatu in general, and Lenakal on Tanna in particular people are very friendly and helpful with instructions.

Google and Microsoft work the same here as at home, road signs are used very sparingly, Toyota utes are the vehicle of choice – if you’ve seen certain episodes of the car show, Top Gear, you’ll know why. I suspect the number of people you can fit on the back of a ute is more a function of passenger size, rather than regulation. Tanna might be one of the cooler places in Vanuatu, but it’s still a place for sitting under a shady tree if you can get away with it.

Back on board, there were definitely a few “stir crazy” signs amongst the crew – although Bob got stuck into his book in the corner on the saloon couch and declared … “I could stay here a month, I don’t need to go ashore, I can see enough from here”

So tomorrow I sense there’ll be a general excursion ashore, and having walked over most of town today, I’ll bring the dinghy back to Chimere and keep Bob company till I get a call to pick them up again.

After a wonderful meal of spag bol, an early night was declared, so here it is 9:30pm and everyone’s in bed. Outside there’s a gentle, cool offshore breeze, the stars are very bright and lights along the shoreline are, one-by-one going out.

After 5 years of thinking, dreaming and planning, it’s a strange feeling to finally be here – spending our first night anchored in Vanuatu – ready to assist with medical transport. There really is a sense of unreality about it, and I must thank again, all those who’ve encouraged, supported and followed the mission to this point. Thank you.

Amongst the luggage and gear stowed aboard when we left Sydney was a collection of parcels from my ever-supportive Linda. We opened a parcel Day 1, Day 3, and today we were able to open the parcels duly labeled, Day 11 & Upon Arrival. Thank you so much. Not sure what we’ll do with the maracas, glow sticks and soft juggling balls, but an immediate use was found for the chocies. The gold choc medallions on green ribbon were a nice touch – “Australia to Vanuatu 2009”

Smooth sea, fair breeze and secure anchors

Rob