Vanuatu 17:44:86S 168:18:63E

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 1 Aug 2008 16:27

We departed Musket Cove with some considerable reluctance, in the early hours of 16th July, having spent the night on a mooring buoy. We had quite strong winds with gusts of 35 knots and a big and confused sea for the first 24 hour run. It was a beam reach and was in fact one of the fastest 24 hour passages we have ever done with 190nm covered in the first day.

This was certainly a passage of two halves! Loads of wind for two days, then it died off to nothing, with rain and leaden grey skies. The nights were cold too, with us both having to wear long trousers and puffer jackets during the night watches.

During the boisterous part of the journey, we discovered that during our stay in Musket Cove, one of our guests had trodden on the top of a diesel jerry can whilst they climbed on board. This had cracked the top of the plastic can. (The plastic seems to get quite brittle in the prolonged sun light…not that we have seen much latterly).  So as the boat was being tossed about, the contents of this 20 litre jerry can started spreading across the teak decks. Now salt water, teak decks and diesel makes for a fairly deadly cocktail in the stability stakes, whilst attempting to negotiate around the boat. So we had to unlash the errant can, whilst trying to keep the other three companion cans in place, before jettisoning it over the side. Not something I was very proud of, but crew safety comes before environmental issues in my book.

The wind also moved around our stern, so for the best part of the second day we were sailing with a goose wing configuration. Just like Old times in the Atlantic!


The wind died off to an unusable 6knots Apparent on the third day, so trusty Perkins was once again pressed into service and we motored for the last two days. Just so frustrating when we started off sailing real fast and we thought we could sail the whole way. The good thing was the full moon. I don’t think we have ever seen one so bright as for the last three nights. It was just like daylight…with stars too. Makes the night passages so much more bearable.


As we entered the main bay before Port Vila entrance, it was time for the traditional hoisting of the courtesy flag…………



We arrived at the Customs buoy in Port Vila, on the Island of Efate in Vanuatu on the early afternoon of the 19th July, local time.  We arrived shortly behind Big Blue and Glendora, who were already at anchor. So we dropped the hook, called the BWR agents, “Yachting World” (no not the magazine) and asked for them to organised Quarantine and Customs clearance. This they did, and within 20 minutes the quarantine officer was on board.  Now the whole quarantine process in Port Vila is err…..well we had all our Oranges, Apples, Bananas, Red, Yellow and Green Peppers confiscated. Oh and all the tomatoes. These the officer carefully placed in a bag…provided by us. He then left with a large smile and also handed us a bill for his time which we had to pay to Yachting World. On Glendora he took all their Ginger, Onions, Lettuce. But he left us with ours intact. On Big Blue he took nothing. He did not touch anything else. Whereas Heidenskip had to pay import duty on their Cheese…and the yacht Jenny had all of the contents of their freezer removed. Now call me cynical, but………..WE all collectively came to the conclusion that this guy’s wife gives him a shopping list in the mornings as he sets off for work. This to cover the evening meals and lunches for the next couple of days. Get the picture?  I did notice that he got very excited about all the Peppers we had in the fridge. A trip to the French supermarket in Port Vila the next day revelled why. Peppers were £2.5 each!


The Customs guy, Simon, was next. He could not have been more helpful. Even filled in the declaration form for us. He too issued us with a bill for his time, payable to Yachting World. Then the “boys” from yachting world guided us through the narrow entrance channel to the area where the mooring are, avoiding the coral heads, and then off to our buoy…number 25. Home for the next few days. It was a lovely remote, peaceful spot, near to an Island which had lots of birds. So each morning we were greeted by our very own dawn chorus.


Once then settled, we discovered that two of the adjacent boats were from Dartmouth!! WE travel over 17,000nm to then park next to boats from our home port. Such a small world. The crews of both JJMoon (a Contest 43) and Songster made us most welcome.


The very next day we took a one hour flight in a 9 seater twin engine Islander aircraft to the Island of Tanna. This is where they have a live and VERY active Volcano.  This trip is a MUST DO adventure if you ever come to Vanuatu.  But definitely NOT for any Health & Safety officers on holiday. They would have a fit!!


The plane was very basic. No loo and definitely no “trolley Dolly” service.



The views from the plane of the anchorage were quite spectacular………..


 We are moored just at the left hand side of the picture by the red landing craft.


Tanna will receive a blog entry on its own tomorrow. This is it is such a spectacular place, and we had three cameras with on the trip. So loads of pics!!


Lastly a word about Vanuatu. It was formally part of the New Hebrides group. It consists of 84 inhabited Islands. There are in excess of 100 languages being used by the native population of around 250,000 souls. .

Before Independence it was under joint French and British rule. So culturally it is an interesting blend of local, French and British. On Efate, there was a huge French embassy, but the predominant language is English.  The Chinese have made large financial donations and paid for the new Parliament Building. The Taiwanese have just bought the exclusive fishing rights for Vanuatu waters and are building a large fish processing factory on Efate. So the local fisherman are about to discover how hard fishing can get when the Taiwanese wipe out all the fish stocks………The main business seems to be tourism, mostly Australian and New Zealanders. What a melting pot!!


Oh and they were still eating people as recently as 1976….officially that is. This has been the most basic native country we have seen to date. More of this in the Tanna episode tomorrow.