We left Vanuatu yesterday morning (Saturday for us, Friday for you) and are en route in light breeze
and flat sea. Yes, motoring! The wind is a paltry 7 knots and it's H.O.T.
We actually cleared customs and immigration yesterday and then decided to wait out a nasty
thunderstorm before getting underway. Well it ended up lasting through much of the night: torrential
rain, black skies, thunder, lightning and gusty winds. Exactly what Commander's Weather suggested we
might find en route to Australia. The water temperature is around 29 degrees C around here at the
moment which is perfect for all kinds of crazy convective activity. The atmosphere is quite
oppressive. Weird streaky clouds in the sky and a distinctly 'unsettled' feel to the air. It's made
for some awesome blood red sunsets though. It's this same warm water that sets off Tropical Storm
formation so let's hope it cools off a bit. According to Commanders the water temp off the Solomon
Islands has dropped a degree or two over the last week so that's a good sign for us.
All the rain meant Espiritu Santo's many rivers discharged an armada of coconuts, branches and, the
heavy battleships of the fleet, some huge logs! We spent a stressful few hours after leaving Vanuatu
dodging these wooden icebergs until we got far enough offshore to have left them all behind. We
hope! On top of that, we had a really strong opposing current against us - up to 3 knots at times!
Good thing we spent a few hours in the water giving the hull and props a good clean before we left.
Every bit helps!
Our time in Vanuatu was really special for one big reason: the SS President Coolidge, the largest
diveable World War 2 wreck in the world. The Coolidge was a luxury cruiseliner that was converted
into a troopship. She sank in 1942 after hitting friendly mines while approaching Luganville.
Amazingly, only 2 lives were lost out of a complement of 5,000 men. We did several dives on this
enourmous piece of history that really took our breath away. Most spectacular was a surreal night
dive using no torches. We penetrated one of the murky cavernous cargo holds to watch thousands of
Lantern Fish flashing their bioluminescent eye sockets in the darkness. We both agreed we've never
experienced anything like it. It defied description really, like visiting another planet.
There was of coure a lot more to see besides the Coolidge, but all too soon it was time to leave
Vanuatu. We're now officially in cyclone season, and we have to get to Australia asap. We expect to
be in Thursday Island around the 24th of November.
Lots of love,
Mike & Sarah