Port Vila by sunrise

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Port Vila, Efate

In the end it took about 26 hours of continuous sailing to get us from Port Sandwich to Port Vila; not a long distance, but made at least twice as far by our need to tack into almost constant headwinds.

Our arrival at the entrance to the harbour coincided with the arrival of the P&O ship Pacific Jewel; in Port Vila for the day on one of its regular South Pacific cruises.

For a while the ship appeared as a flashing red beacon on our chart plotter, with our expected “collision time” reducing from 15 minutes down to around 5 minutes at which time she turned to starboard in order to follow the leads into port.  Up close she’s a big sight and we all agreed that despite being a sailing boat we’d give her right of way.

In the end we docked with diesel to spare in the tank and after tying up first at the fuel wharf around 7:30am to fill up we learnt that they themselves were waiting for a fuel delivery, which wouldn’t happen until later in the day.  So we bought just 50 litres in drums and decided to do the big refill in a couple of weeks – just prior to returning to Australia – so as to buy it duty free – a saving of around 30 cents per litre.

It was a good feeling to be tied up safely once more at the sea wall here in Port Vila, an area known locally as The Waterfront.  After breakfast, there was a lot of cleaning, sorting, offloading, and chucking-out going on, but by mid-afternoon a few tired puppies were choosing to have a lie down.

Our next door neighbour here at the seawall is an Australian, Larry, who is completing a sail across the Pacific after buying his yacht in the US.  Matt was over there for a short time having a chat and he came back with no shortage of stories about crew “issues”, including one where, despite glowing references etc, one crew member was violently seasick, didn’t eat for days, was diabetic, forgot to bring his test kit, seemed to be drug dependent and became gravely ill around 1,000 miles out of LA.  It got to the point of considering what do you actually do with a dead body on a boat ?  Their solution was to apparently put it in the dinghy and tow it behind.

In the end a satphone call back to Larry’s doctor in Australia helped a bit, although he didn’t give the guy much hope, however, the passage of time and a few pills from the boat’s first aid kit kept him alive till Honolulu, at which time he decided to jump ship.  Larry’s stories certainly put our epic onboard tales of coral cuts and muscle strain in perspective!

As we were making our approach this morning, past Iririki Island, I heard the words “Trinity Castle” on the VHF radio and the distinctive voice of Ken – our new best friend, along with his wife Joy, from our week spent in Luganville.  It was Ken, introduced to us by the crew on Mission 2, that made a couple of housecalls to fix our battery charging issues before the commencement of Mission 3.  They also had Cathy and me over for dinner on their lovely motor cruiser; which they had recently bought in Seattle.  Apparently Joy and Ken, after reading our daily Ships Logs, were well aware that we’d delivered their donated paint and car battery to the village of Dolap on the west coast of Gaua; plus a range of other facts about our mission north.
It was great to catch up again and we look forward to seeing them some more over the next week or so.

Dinner was … surprise, surprise … fish … apparently we have now officially consumed all of Mahi Mahi No. 1 and will be starting on No. 2 shortly.

David and Sally decided to go out on a “date” tonight and went to dinner at the local restaurant called The Waterfront where they got stuck into the steak … plus dessert I hear; not much of that onboard Chimere of late I’m afraid.

Speaking of Sally, it should be revealed that she was rescued from the [onshore] shower this afternoon by Larry – our previously mentioned next door, boat-neighbour.  In re-reading that, it probably doesn’t sound the way it was meant, so by way of explanation … the door on the facility is a bit temperamental and it was Larry who finally heard Sally’s cries for help and could open the door, when she found she couldn’t.  In husband David’s defence, he claims he went to the shower after realizing Sally had been away for a very long time – then to discover the security man and Larry working on the door to free the captive within.  All’s well now though … just goes to show how risky taking a shower can be.

We caught up with Bob this afternoon when he came to cart away the dental gear off the boat and after a brief afternoon nap it was back to the telecommunications company TVL, just before closing time, to find out why my connection wasn’t working.  Apparently it’d run out of Vatu … ie more money required, again !!

Helpful TVL service staff, Graham and Jason, know me on a first name basis by now and did their best to explain it all to me … again.

It’s hard to believe that it’s just two sleeps till the Supporters Tour begins on Friday, although by sneaking in a couple of extra naps, for me, it might be four sleeps.  We have ordered some good weather for the 10 days, but regardless, a good time is guaranteed for all.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Port Vila by sunrise

Rob Latimer

PS  An apology for anyone following our SPOT Tracker on the website. Apparently it stopped emitting a beacon around 3:00am this morning, making it look like we’d dropped anchor in the middle of the ocean. Rest assured all is good, maybe it was getting tired too.

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