September 2009 Port Vila, Vanuatu
Suva is a busy port with ferries and container ships moving at all hours of the day and night. Suva is also the best place to shop between Tahiti and New Zealand. It was a busy week for us stocking up on food, fuel and bosuns stores.
Another overnight passage through M’benga Passage took us to Musket Cove, on the Lautoka side of the island. Inside the barrier reef is a large lagoon measuring 30 miles west to east and nearly 100 miles north to south. The Mamanuca’s and Yasawa’s are the dry side of Viti Levu. The weather is almost always sunny and warm.
The crew had a relaxing 5 days here in these clear turquoise waters. They went tramping around Malolo, played golf, rented a small catamaran, went to a party on a sand bank and went snorkelling on the reef.
We sailed up the lagoon to Lautoka to buy fresh veggies and clear customs.
Lest season we made this 500 mile passage in 4 days running before reinforced trade winds. This year, with the ever present occluded front, there were calms and rain it took 9-days. As it is the wind is free and diesel isn’t, so we wait for the wind.
This is our 4th year working with Project MARC in Vanuatu. There are many smiling faces here to welcome us back. The daily Post newspaper welcomed us and poked fun at us for being lost-at-sea two years ago. We seem to have a spontaneous party every weekend.
We loaded tons of supplies for our 6-week expedition around the island of Malekula. The jobs at hand were to repair or rebuild medical aid posts around Banam Bay. Then do a survey of the villages along the southern coast and around to Southwest Bay. From Southwest Bay the next 20 miles of the west coast is accessible only by boat or on foot. We will send teams ashore to visit the villages on the coast and in the highlands.
Our medical aid work will keep us busy in Vanuatu till the end of October. After that we will get ready for the passage back to Nelson.
As usual we are short handed for the return passage. Anyone wishing to have a deep-sea voyage on a square-rigger, this is your chance