Passage to Port Villa, Efate
Position 17:44.60S 168:18.81E
Date 0845 (UTC +11) Saturday 20 September 2014
Distance run – 83.5nm over the ground, 75.6nm through the water
Time from Dillons Bay – 13.5hrs
The distance to Port Villa from Dillons Bay was just too much for a daylight passage so our initial decision was to wait until 0200 and leave then to make sure of arriving in daylight. The forecast wind came up earlier than expected so we decided to make it a proper over-nighter and slipped at 2010. It took until midnight to motor sail out of the wind shadow of the island but the remainder of the night was a gentle sail, even if the seas were at times somewhat boisterous. 0800 saw us approaching Port Villa, the main town of Vanuatu and we sailed right up to the fairway buoys.
The mooring field at Port Villa
To get to the mooring field you have to pass under electrical cables. Fortunately we were forewarned that there was 30m at the town side – it just looks less looking up. The mooring field close in was full and our allocated buoy seemed half way back to Erromango so we decided to go into the Yachting World quay; our favourite – stern to.
With the cheerful assistance of the YW staff it was no problem and we had the luxury for our four day stay of being able to walk the plank ashore and have mains electricity to keep the batteries topped up and run the air conditioning. The Waterfront Restaurant and Bar at the right of the dock provided a good meeting place for yachties for Happy Hour and a good time was had by all.
In Port Villa we were able to complete our customs and Immigration formalities, started in Aneityum. We also took the precaution of acquiring a 4 month Visa for Vanuatu in case we wished to extend our stay longer than the 30 days allowed. This cost Vt 6,000, about £40, per person and required two passport photographs and in addition to the regular fee and the Vt10,000 that we had paid for special clearance in Aneityum; it was all very worth while.
Port Villa hosts a lot of Australian and Kiwi tourists as well as yachtsmen and there are regular visits from cruise ships, so it is a busy place. There is an excellent fruit and vegetable market and reasonably stocked supermarkets for provisioning. Transport is free range with minibus that take you more or less where you want for Vt150 per head (about £1.00). Our outing to one of the two Harbour View Restaurants, with Pacific Cool, Gradiva and Wild Fox was very good and a jolly evening.
We moored with two other Amels, on our port Pacific Cool, Bill Shaproski from Seattle, a Super Maramu, and on our starboard side Gradiva, Marc and Claire Arav from Aix en Provence, a Mango. It made an interesting comparison of the changes and not so changes in Amel design over the years. Gradiva in particular was in beautiful condition and very well tended. Marc spoke excellent English and having been an engineer on the building of the Channel Tunnel had a wealth of interesting anecdotes, quite apart from their considerable sailing experience.