logo Pearl of Persia
Date: 09 Jul 2013 00:22:09
Title: All jumbled up inside

Lat 17:44.6S Long 168:18.8E
What a trip. Arrived at Port Vila, Vanuatu, yesterday morning after a very
hard passage. We left Fiji at first light. Everything always seems so calm
and peaceful in the early morning light, before people are out and about,
and the first touches of orange were in the sky as we passed through the gap
in the reef and turned on to our course, due west. Lovely gentle breeze and
so we opened out the huge coloured spinnaker sail to pull us along. It's
always a bit exciting, or scary, with that big sail, it's difficult to pull
down if the winds build up and you can't really adjust it, so we always pull
it down at night and set the traditional white sails and then we can relax a
By the next morning, the winds had started to blow stronger until we were
shooting along, with the miles ticking down, and the boat was leaping and
crashing through the water but still under control. By nightfall it was
quite wild and with no moon, absolutely black. It's a very weird sensation,
standing in the cockpit, wind shrieking, spray and waves in the air, with
the boat racing along but in total blackness. Down below, check the
navigation screen, check the radar for no unwelcome blip. Sussanne tipped
into her bunk at 5 am and I came back on watch and it's always a relief to
see the arrival of dawn, initially a barely perceptible grey in the sky,
then you can see the edge of the boat that had previously been hidden in the
dark, and then within half an hour, light. Things don't seem so bad when you
can see. But it was grey and overcast with the clouds scudding
along.....typical English summer day.
The third day we continued to race along, the winds getting stronger and we
reefed or reduced sail area again. We were pretty tired from hanging on and
trying to balance and avoid being thrown around. Even when wedged into a
bunk it's hard to sleep. During the third night we did spot the lights of
another ship heading generally in our direction, and shortly afterwards, the
captain called us on the radio. He was a German research vessel and
confirmed that he was planning to pass us two miles ahead and that we could
maintain course, which was reassuring. By right, as a sailing vessel, we
would usually have right of way, but there is always a concern that a large
commercial vessel, not keeping proper watch, would run us down.
With the next dawn, land was visible and as we rounded the headland towards
the main town of Port Vila, we came into the shelter of the land, and the
winds and waves eased. The leading lights.....beacons set up to guide ships
on the correct approach into the bay, between the dangers,.......were
working and clearly visible, and so we came into the bay and to anchor,
flying the yellow flag to show we were a foreign ship and requesting
quarantine and customs clearance. Then it was breakfast and sleep.

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