Monday July 6 8:53 PM (Luganville Beachfront, Santo)

As the taxi bounced along the road this morning taking a good deal longer than I thought it should to cover the few kilometers to the airport, I said to the driver: “Is this the back road?”
“No” he said, the back road is rough one.”
What was supposed to a ten-minute  trip turned out to be closer to twenty-five, and we arrived just as the plane was landing. Rob, Mike, Terry, Jo and Chris alighted, having done the red-eye special with a midnight landing in Vila at last night, getting to bed at 2 am after being delayed in customs, then up for a 5 am start for the flight to Santo.
Fortunately they were charmed by the beauty of the Palikulo Bay anchorage we had brought them to. Despite their fatigue, breakfast, a swim in the turquoise water and the glorious surroundings revived them wonderfully. Chris took off with enthusiasm to catch a fish, and succeeded almost immediately in pulling in a 2kg trevally. Jo tackled it determinedly to recapture her scaling and filleting skills. Those of us who have managed to catch only one fish in 5 weeks could only watch and marvel.
On the first day for crew 3 and the next to last day for crew 2, it was a fitting transition to have a sail together. This afternoon we beat into a 15-knot breeze back down the coast to Luganville, motor-sailing under the main and staysail and moving along nicely at 5 knots. It’s funny being on a boat with so many people who know what they’re doing and have spent a lot of time together. An order from the helm is just as likely to be greeted with a wisecrack as immediate compliance.
At the fisherman’s wharf we took advantage of the long hose belonging to the boat we pulled alongside to refill our water tanks. Local fisherman came aboard at Rob’s invitation and crowded into the saloon to peer at the computer maps of the planned journey and offer advice on anchorages. Our arrival there coincided with two large pizzas being pulled out of the oven for lunch, and I felt a twinge of discomfort that I only had enough to feed our ten crew members and not everyone. I was relieved when the men appeared at length clutching a bundle of chocolate and a couple of brand new Geographic magazines Rob had given them.
A tour and a few essential transactions in town were topped off by drinks and dinner together on the foredeck – a delicate coconut curry using Chris’ fish supplemented with another from the market, the introduction of island cabbage and snake beans to the incoming team, topped off by plum pudding, custard, and a video of medical tour 1. It looks like they had almost as much fun as we’ve had!