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Fiji to Vanuatu.

     Sabrina:   Happy birthday to Sabrina on the 30 of July. Thank you for sailing with me and for all the fun we had. I hope you are having a great time wherever you are now. kjell




     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).

On day 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.

 After 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 all night.

    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 or hesitation.

 When 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?.


What's next?:

     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. Cheers...


Park                                               Parrot fish cleaning


The sail




Musket Cove



Port Villa



Cleaning up




Old man fishing




Me and Sabrina




Sunset, port vila










Kjell O. Stave


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