Because of the dangers
of sailing alone in waters with heavy shipping i have (since Tonga) decided to
always take on crew and keep watches. On the leg from Fiji to Vanuatu i was
joined by Sabrina from Canada. Sabrina was supposed to sail with me all the way
to the Solomon's but since i have lost the urge to sail on and will be staying
here in Vanuatu for some time we found her a new boat to crew on and she is now
on her way to the next island.
Fiji to Vanuatu passage.
The two first days of sailing was smooth and we had perfect wind, we did over
130 Nm daily and it was looking like we could make it to our destination one day
earlier than predicted. Both of us were a little seas sick though and the night
watches were very, very slack (one look pr. hour).
three the sky was darker and we started to spot big rain clouds and squalls here
and there. At sunset I miscalculated the strength and direction of a squall and
were a bit too aggressive and tried to go through the backside of it with the
sails tripled reefed but in a butterfly manner and even the genoa poled out.
During the next 6 hours the rain got heavier and the wind steadily increased. At
almost exactly midnight the sails started flapping and the boat heeled hard
over, it was now obvious that the shit had hit the fan and that we needed to do
something. When we got outside we could see that the pole on the genoa had
broken off somehow and the wind had turned the boat sideways to the waves. The
genoa had to come in and I rolled it up while Sabrina took the helm and steered
us into the wind. After this we tried to take the wind in the back and run with
the wind but for some reason we could not hold a good course. I suspect this is
because we were not balanced enough without any genoa up.
getting into wet weather gear we decided to try out the new drift anchor that I
had bought in Fiji. The drift anchor ( a parachute ) , once deployed from the
bow is supposed to hold the bow of the boat up into the wind and waves because
it moves slower through the water than the boat will be pushed back by the wind.
The procedure of launching the anchor from the bow and getting things set up
went surprisingly easy and before long the boat was anchored at 3000 meters!. We
were now drifting (in the right direction :-) with the bow to the wind with a
speed of about 2 miles pr. hour. I have never had a working wind speed
instrument but after discussing it with Sabrina and trying very hard to be real
in an environment where it would be easy to think it was a hurricane we estimate
it to only 35 to 40 knots. I am sure we could have sailed out of the shit but
because of the gust's and the rain it would have been impossible to use the
wind-steering or the autopilot and there is no way I were going to hand steer
Talking about hand steering, while I was putting on rain gear and deploying the
sea anchor Sabrina had been steering all along, she were in her bed-time clothes
and really brave and I suspect really, really cold too. I don't think you can
understand how rainy and cold a squall can be but if you would like to know get
yourself a motorcycle and get up in the middle of a rainy night and drive around
for a couple of hours with only panties and a small top on. To determine how
fast you should go hold your hand out and if you can see the palm of your hand
you are going too slow. (the salty rain is supposed to blind you) For a moment
Sabrina thought she had lost me because even though I was wearing yellow
raingear and had a flashlight she could not see me while I was up at the bow.
(15 feet). While i am talking about this i have to brag about Sabrina, she was
dead serious and completely focused on the task ahead, showing no sign of fear
we had things under control there hours had gone bye and it was 03.00 in the
morning. I went to bed up in the 'V' berth because it was the only dry place and
Sabrina tried to sleep on the floor in the middle of the boat. Thanks to my
sleeping disorder I was able to sleep a little from time to time but I don't
think Sabrina got much rest, poor girl.
Arriving in Vanuatu:
The timing of the arrival in Port Villa, Vanuatu was in my opinion perfect, we
were supposed to arrive at 6 o'clock in the morning and at time there should be
a little light so we could see the markers and spot the quarantine mooring area.
As usual the engine would not start so we had to sail in. I had great waypoints
and pictures of the harbor on my pc but the sun seemed to be late today and we
were about 7 meters from the reef when we spotted the red marker who's light
were not working. Once we were through the dangers and having used the outboard
to help us tack trough the dangers the dark gave way for light and we could see
where we were going, by now it was over 7 in the morning and I had done the
classic mistake of forgetting that since we had done over 500 miles due west the
sun would rise about one hour later, how lame is that?.
I don't know what is next. Vanuatu is not that great but I have the same feeling
I had in Tonga and there it took me a year to get the inspiration to move on so
now I really don't know. What I do know is that the timing for Torres and
getting Indonesian cruising permit's in order is not working out so that is now
out of the question. I will prepare the boat for sale and start to think about
going home to live a normal life again. To excited family members I have to add
that that does not mean that I am coming home tomorrow, selling a boat in
Vanuatu is not that easy and I might have to sail to a better place first.
Parrot fish cleaning