Vanuatu: Still in Port Vila, Efate

Sunday morning (15 September) and it rained again, hard! So we just stayed on board down below before heading ashore for sundowners with Chris (SV Sea Bear). We were all feeling a bit miserable and were definitely fed up with the weather. But at least we were safe and secure in a sheltered harbour with access to facilities. The sunset was so beautiful it almost made up for the dismal day.

Monday morning and it was time to make some decisions about our proposed Tuesday departure as Customs and Immigration clearance needs to be done 24 hours in advance. So we ran the weather models again only to find out that the weather window had closed down and we would now be looking at arriving at the Havannah Canal in 25 knots of sustained wind with higher gusts. This area is known to be particularly challenging in high winds so we decided not to risk it. The Go West Rally (which we are participating in from New Caledonia to Australia) had made a special arrangement to check into Lifou in the Loyalty Islands instead (which are not usually a port of entry) and means a shorter passage and the opportunity to visit more islands rather than by-pass them. So we signed up and made special arrangements with the officials to clear out of Vanuatu on Saturday for a Sunday departure. Lots of paperwork to complete but at least we now had a plan. Whilst I was busy doing all this Richard took himself off to get some diesel – the fuel dock is not open on a Sunday so an alongside fill up before departure wouldn’t be possible. Jobs done we later had sundowners on board Morphie with Chris.

Tuesday morning and the sun came out. Hurrah! I worked hard cleaning, waxing and polishing the cockpit whilst Richard did some mechanical jobs and also swapped out our ensign. He also found and repaired our French courtesy flag. During the afternoon Sea Bear left the anchorage but sadly we were down below so failed to wave him off which was a shame. Safe sailing Chris! During the day we had received an email from the Go West Rally organiser who articulated concerns over the updated weather forecast for scheduled departures from both Fiji and Vanuatu but promised to stay in touch. It certainly looked pretty feisty to us! Unbelievable how things change so quickly.

Wednesday morning and I did the washing using the spare 10L jug of fresh water we had stowed in the lazarette. Richard was on a mission for refrigerant gas again. He had found out a few places where he could buy it (allegedly) and walked the town, and walked, and walked only to be turned away from all stores that he visited despite the locals telling him that it was definitely available. Fed up from being given the runaround he returned to Morphie but at least he didn’t come back empty handed as he had filled up the jug with fresh (potable) water. The harbour water here is surprisingly clear and looks clean but, near the main street, there is a warning not to swim because of ‘health risks’ (although they do actually swim off the casino beach near our mooring). Not sure what those risks are but don’t fancy making water (just in case) so we are going to fill up every time we go ashore and use that to top up our tanks. During the day SV Mezzaluna and SV Bla Ellinor turned up in the anchorage having had a rough and bouncy sail down. We all headed ashore for sundowners and ended up in a big crowd having a few cold ones. Was very social.

Thursday morning and the rally was confirmed as postponed with the new date for checking in pushed out to Monday 30 September. This is really cutting down our available time to explore New Caledonia but what can we do?!? So now we are going to be here in Port Vila for another week. As we had virtually emptied the freezer in preparation for entering into New Caledonia (which has strict bio-security rules about food) this meant that we now needed to go shopping. So we headed up to the Bon Marche supermarket for a provisioning run. Back on board we unpacked and stowed our goodies before returning ashore for more water and happy hour sundowners.

Friday we had a lay in and relaxed. At 4.30 pm we headed ashore to meet the gang and bundled into a bus to take us to the Beach Bar in Mele who are the original hosts to the Vanuatu fire show as the performers come from the nearby village. So we took our seats and enjoyed the view along the beach and out to sea as the sun went down.

And here’s Richard with our supplies LOL. Spotted the name tag?!? Yes, Asa decided we should fit in and look like a proper tourist group rather than a bunch of cruisers so made us all wear name tags and even had a little flag to jolly the 10 of us along.

The fire show was amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed it!

Saturday morning and it was cloudy and grey yet again with a bit of rain in the air. A cruise ship had come into the port overnight so there were lots of local boats buzzing behind our stern carrying tourists to and from their various activities. Wish they would observe the no-wake zone though as we get rocked and rolled around a bit LOL.

As we are stuck here waiting on weather we are using our time to get on with boat jobs (today it was varnish keepers on the rail). Was a pretty windy day so looks like the forecast might actually be correct for once! We had a quiet night on board before having an early night.

This morning, Sunday, and I’m blogging very early before the internet speed slows down as more people come on line. Then I’m going back to bed for a while. This afternoon we are returning to the Beach Bar to see their Kustom Karnival which includes live music, kustom dancers from the Banks Islands (remember the snake people from the festival in Malekula?) and even clowns. So looking forward to that.

Bye for now