We have finally started the process of leaving Vanuatu and are currently anchored on the top of Santa Maria Island. 14.12.775 S 167.27.704 E.
We sailed here yesterday, covering the 75 miles from Oyster Island in Santo in under 10 hours. It was a bright and sunny sail, with 20 knot winds from the east slightly ahead of the beam. We sailed most of the distance with a single reef in the main and a full jib. The beam seas were a little uncomfortable for the folks below in the main salon, so the bowls were out and the movies were on.
While we were underway, a large fish snapped one of our meat line snubber/shock absorbers in half, leaving just a small length of nylon rope attached to a stern cleat. The length of black rubber tubing was completely gone, along with 10 meters of 400 lb line and a very nice squid lure. None of us saw the hit, but I assume it was a marlin or some other large pelagic predator. We’ve caught 50 pound fish on those babies and they worked fine. Now one is gone. The hit must have been quite a sight.
When we came into the lee of Santa Maria Island, the wind died so we turned on the motors. After 30 minutes the starboard Yanmar overheated, so we immediately shut it off. I am pretty sure it’s the first time that has ever happened. We motored the rest of the way into the anchorage using the port engine, and turned the starboard engine back on to help set the anchor. Raw water was coming out of the exhaust, which is a good thing because it meant that the impeller for the raw water cooling pump was still working. Marine diesel engines cool themselves with seawater that is pumped through a heat exchanger, which in turn cools a fresh water/radiator fluid mixture that circulates through the engine. I’ll take a look at it later this morning. I am hopeful that there was a temporary blockage in the sea water system or that the coolant level was low. Good thing we have 2 engines!
Prior to going to Oyster Island, we spent 4 nights in Santo Harbor hanging out with Arctarus II and Flour Girl in front of the Beach Front resort. There were 5 kids between the ages of 6 and 11 across the 3 boats, and it was good for Leo and Hazel to play with other kids. We did Steak Night at the resort one night, sundowners on Flour Girl another night, and a birthday party for 9 year old Khan from Arctarus on Thursday. The weather that week was rainy, the anchorage was rolly, and the water in the harbor was too muddy for swimming. But Jenna and I enjoyed the company of the other adults, and the kids enjoyed the resort’s small pool. The $3 happy hour draft Tuskers didn’t hurt, either.
We couldn’t leave Santo until a package for Jenna arrived from New Zealand. We were starting to get a little nervous about whether or when it was going to show up, but thankfully we got the phone call from the post office on Friday morning and were soon on our way 10 miles around the corner to the Oyster Island resort. That place was beautiful and protected with a lovely beach and a restaurant on the water. It’s also for sale, and we spent a couple of hours discussing what we would have to do to increase traffic there if we owned it. Nice place.
From Santa Maria today we will sail another 18 miles north to Waterfall Bay on the Island of Vanua Lava. We’ll get our passports stamped by the island’s policeman/immigration officer on Sola Bay on Monday morning and then start sailing northeast. We’ll make a final stop at either Norbarbar or the Torres Islands, and then we will begin our 680 mile passage to Gizo in the Solomon Islands. The heading from here is 288 degrees magnetic, and if the southeast trade winds continue we will have a comfortable downwind run. Lauren is still with us, and it will be nice to do a passage with 3 adults standing watches at night.
We met a young couple in Santo this week who had just lived in the Solomons for 3 years. They said Gizo was lovely, and that the mayor there was from a German family that had lived there for 3 generations. The family sailing on Per Ardua arrived there 4 days ago, but my assumption is that they will be on the way to Kavieng by the time we get there in a week. I assume we will catch up to them in Kavieng.
The boat is full of food and we are enjoying the transition into adventure mode after over a month here in Vanuatu. Please wish us fair winds with no storms over the next week!