Monday 11 May, 8.01 am (180 Miles from Tanna)

Making good use of some idle time, I was reading an onboard magazine about, you guessed it, boats and sailing, and to my surprise there was an article about fish and fishing. Seems there’s an animal protection group in the US that is seeking to protect all fish and convince people to stop catching and eating fish. They liken fish to our fluffy, cat and dog friends and to that end are seeking to change the image of fish by referring to them as “sea kittens”. So, “Save The Sea Kittens” is the new cry at the barricades, whether it be commercial or recreational. Further, and I should give a warning that children should look away now … they equate catching a fish on a hook to … “hooking a kitten through the mouth and dragging her behind your car”. Meanwhile, sushi anyone, or Wahoo steak? (Source: Latitudes and Attitudes: April 2009)

Speaking of fishing, our hook remains safety aboard at the moment. Not because we have joined Save The Sea Kittens, but because we already have a good supply in the fridge (a very good supply actually) and there is only so much fish one can eat.

At the moment we have just rounded the southern tip of New Caledonia and are about 180 miles from our destination – Tanna Island. We’ve just had a rain squall, which caste a rainbow in the early morning light along with an increase in wind speed. But now it’s gone we are left with a rolly swell and barely enough wind to fill half the mainsail. It’s cloudy on the horizon and so far we still have not seen land. I suspect the first land we’ll see will be the southern island of the Loyalty Group (Mare Island) as we pass on our way north.

With just 180 miles to go, the thought was to either increase our average speed to around 6-7 knots in order to arrive tomorrow afternoon, or alternatively, keep plodding along in the light breezes and arrive Wednesday morning, 13th May, a voyage of 11 days. We took a vote, amongst those awake, and decided on the latter.

The interesting, or challenging thing about Tanna Island, is that the Customs office is on the West coast, at Lenakel, but it’s a poor anchorage. Whereas the better anchorage is on the East coast, but you have to make special arrangements to clear Customs with the office back West. Either pay for them to come, or rent a taxi (read, back of ute truck)for the 4 hour round trip. A side benefit of the road trip is that you get to drive past the volcano.

If we can clear customs at Lenakel on Wednesday, (weather permitting) then we’ll have the rest of the day to decide whether to sail around to the East coast of the island and the preferred anchorage of Port Resolution.

Our main task will then be to meet the first medical team on Friday, back at Lenakel so as to being transporting them to coastal villages in order to conduct eye care and medical clinics.

It’s now about 8:45am (7:45am Melb time) and I’m going off watch. Bob thought he just saw some land off the port side, which was briefly exciting, but at this stage it’s unconfirmed.

Smooth sea, fair wind and Tanna here we come.

Rob