Vanuatu: Final days in Port Vila, Efate

Sunday the weather was horrible….rain, overcast, cold and generally miserable. So we decided not to go to the Kustom Karnival after all (as it was on the beach). The wind was howling and the 30 knot gusts were even felt in the anchorage so we were pleased in the end that we had decided to stay onboard. Later on we headed ashore to the Waterfront for sundowners where we caught up with fellow cruisers.

Monday morning we headed out for more food and water. Richard also purchased more diesel which he decanted into the fuel tank on return. He also finished the varnish keepers which will protect the wood for now while I cleaned some of the stainless. We then relaxed for a few hours before heading in for sundowners which was very social again as we were joined by Karen and Cheryl (SV Interlude – Canada) plus Stuart and Sally (SV Blithe Spirit – Australia) and also met Stuart’s Mum Marilyn (a very sprightly 82 year old) who is visiting on holiday. We ended up staying out longer than we planned as we enjoyed watching the World Cup Rugby.

Tuesday we were very busy. This time we went around the boat in dink (holding on for dear life as the latest cruise ship passengers were ferried backwards and forwards throughout the anchorage) and cleaned the stainless on the capping rail (which was particularly bad on the transom for some reason) and also the rub rail. We then input all the waypoints for our forthcoming passage to Lifou into the chart plotter and also marked all the danger areas (I use the skull and crossbones symbol) so that, even if we are zoomed out, the bits to avoid remain visible.

Pretty tired after a very productive day we headed over for sundowners again and were invited to join Blithe Spirit and Interlude for a day out on Wednesday as they had hired a van and driver. This was really nice of them and we were very happy to be included. We then returned to Morphie for an early night.

Wednesday morning and we were up bright and early and headed ashore to meet up. Sadly Sally wasn’t able to join us as she was poorly. And, of course, it was raining again despite the sunny forecast. Grrrr…..never mind… least we won’t be sitting on the boat all day! So we drove through Port Vila and headed up towards Port Havannah which we had wanted to visit by boat but were not able to as this was inside the rhinocerous beetle exclusion zone. We went to Francesca’s (an Italian restaurant) and wandered the beach (which was broken coral rather than sand) and I was particularly taken by the tree roots that dotted the shore.

We kept out of the rain on the deck and fussed over the dogs (who loved Richard). The others went snorkelling but we didn’t bother just enjoying the peaceful surroundings and the views when the weather brightened up briefly.

Later on we had a very leisurely lunch (which was delicious). We stayed on the deck watching the finches eating the papaya (known here as paw paw). After lunch we had a group photo and Richard even decided to let one of the dogs pose too LOL.

Returning from Francescas we stopped at the Tanna Coffee factory which roasts the coffee that is organically farmed near the volcano. It was interesting to watch the process and of course we had to taste the end product in the little cafe.

In the same building they also make sandalwood oil. Interestingly, they can only make 500ml out of 40kg of raw material, which makes you realise why this natural product is so expensive. They didn’t seem to be selling a lot of it in the little store but I guess it would be different on a cruise ship day.

Moving on we then headed to the distillery where the gang tried the limoncello and rum tasters….but I declined, having had a few glasses of wine over lunch. The kava flavoured rum was not a hit LOL. I enjoyed checking out all the different vinegars, oils, jams and jellies on offer. Arriving back at the Waterfront we had a quick drink before heading back to Morphie. Had been a lovely day.

Thursday morning we ran the weather models again and were delighted that they finally agreed. The wind was going to be more easterly than expected (giving us a better sailing angle) and the seas had calmed down from the 4m swells earlier in the week. So we are finally going to be leaving Vanuatu. Woo hoo!

We got all our paperwork together and headed to Yacht World to pay our mooring fees and got some more cash out of the ATM. We then headed over in dink to the main port to visit customs first. All forms were in order (phew). We then returned our cruising permit and the guy retained our passports for the documents to be completed. We then went to the Harbour Master in the building next door and paid our departure fees which came to just over VT9,000 (around £75). Receipt in hand we returned to customs who gave us our clearance document. Then to immigration to fill in more forms and get another clearance document and stamps in the passport. Wasn’t too onerous really but I would hate to think how long it would take if there were numerous yachts wanting to check out at the same time…..

Coming back around to Morphie in the anchorage we checked out all the wrecks on the foreshore. You have to wonder why they don’t clean these up…….

Later on we headed over to the Waterfront for our final sundowners here in Vanuatu and said our farewells. We have thoroughly enjoyed Vanuatu (despite the weather!) and maybe we’ll return one day to see more of the islands.

This morning, Friday, and we were up early and started preparing the boat for sea. I cooked our dinner and stripped beds getting our passage stuff ready. The grab bag is packed and things have been stowed away properly as we will be heeling over a bit on this 200+ mile passage as the wind will probably be forward of the beam (although we hold out hope for a beam reach). Richard has also done his engine checks. While I’m blogging Richard went ashore to spend our remaining Vanuatu currency on some bread and coke and then we’ll get the outboard on the rail and dink up on the arch in preparation for our afternoon departure.

We will leave the anchorage today around 4pm (so that we can clear the island before the sun goes down) and expect to arrive in Lifou Sunday morning. We will then be quarantined for the day until Monday when the officials will turn up from Noumea for the official check-in process. We will not get a chance to get a SIM card until Tuesday so we’ll be offline until then. If you want to check up on us visit the ‘Where are we now?’ page and watch our tracker. We are very excited to be moving on and it certainly looks very beautiful!

Bye for now