Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - Repair Successful, Back on Course

August 31, 2011 - Day 2 to New Caledonia

Time: 0645 UTC, 5:45 p.m. New Caledonia Time
Latitude: S 16 43.747
Longitude: E 167 20.091
Course over ground 193 at 4.7 knots
Wind Speed: 20 knots from 163 degrees South East
Waves: 1-2 meter swells from South east 8 seconds apart

We pulled into Southwest Bay at 6:30 this morning, anchored, had breakfast, made necessary repair to windvane's rudder post by 10:00 a.m., worked on some other damage control including the beginning of a tear on the mainsail, ate lunch, showered, and left by 1:00 p.m.

We are going slower as we are sailing instead of motoring which means we will probably not make it to New Caledonia until late Saturday, early Sunday. Our windvane rudder post just can't take the vibration from our engine throttled up. Hope the new weather files don't change much. We like the eastern edge on the wind as we are headed due south on an uncomfortable port tack (boat works better on starboard tack), close hauled with nose to waves off our port. The wind is good, but the wave angle slows us down. The wind is supposed to be 15 but it's closer to 20 and gusting to 27 knots. We have a double reef in the main but still have a lot of heel. The sail is much better than yesterday, but there is no two ways about it. This run even at its best is one we haven't looked forward to because of wind and wave angle. Nevertheless,

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - Sh@! Happens - Plan B

August 30, 2011, Change of Plans

Time: 2155 Zulu, 9:00 p.m. Vanuatu Time
Latitude: S 166 12.173
Longitude: E 167 05.185

As you know, we left Luganville this morning (see today's earlier update)heading directly south to New Caledonia. Check our FIND SPOT Route on the blog to see our course.

As our afternoon progressed, we found ourselves in a west setting current. In order to compensate, we had to head more southeast, right into the wind and the current. The wind picked up as did the wind waves. We revved up the motor and were bucking into the sea at about a 5.5 knots. This is the closest I've come to being sea sick. The motion was nauseating. I couldn't bring myself to eat dinner, and I was in a cold sweat. Waves were crashing on the bow, so we had everything buttoned up and it was sweltering inside the pilot house, 87 degrees and 60 percent humidity.

As the sun was setting just before 6:00 p.m., Russ and I put on our safety harnesses to make any adjustments necessary. Basically, we needed to tighten down the main, grab the hand held GPS, put the throttle in neutral so we could adjust rpm from inside the pilot house for the night. Russ didn't think he was going to need me, but I harnessed up just in case. Always the Girl Scout...be prepared, even when you think you're going to barf.

He had just gone out when our "radio net" alarm went off indicating that our friend's net was going to start in 2 minutes. I made my way to the radio not sure I would be even able to speak as by this time my hand was over my mouth. I turned on the radio and could hear Pincoya and Skylight talking with one another. I was waiting for a break to call in when I thought I heard Russ shouting. I opened the slider watching for breaking waves and gully washers. "Did you call me?"


BAD NEWS

"Yes, I need help!", he shouted. Oh sh#@! Here we go. I dropped the radio, clipped on to the jackline, flipped on the deck lights as it is getting dark, and scurried out to the back deck. Russ was hanging on to Hydie's rudder post which was no longer perpendicular, but angled 45 degrees to starboard. The rudder post pin had come undone with all the vibrations of the motor. Russ was trying to steady the rudder post and wanted to go down the back swim ladder (which we never swim off of by the way)to take the pressure off the rudder. Our ladder gets a lot of traffic fixing Hydie and dangling dinghies though!

I put the motor in neutral so that we could forereach and stop the wild bronco ride W.e were still hobby horsing but not as frantically.

GOOD NEWS

Fresh air, slower motion, no time to barf, and adrenalin got rid of my nausea. Amazing, but I wouldn't recommend it!

BAD NEWS

After a couple of failed attempts at trying to lift up the rudder post and cocking it side ways, Russ was more determined than ever to climb over the back deck and down the ladder and disconnect the rudder pin. He would be on the last rung, and I remembered one other time he did this, lost his grip and swung away from the ladder. He has been suffering a bit from shoulder pain which has been trying not to exacerbate. It looked to risky. I was just as determined that he wasn't going to do that. It's scary enough for him to do that kind of rescue during the day, but by now it is pitch black. We hooked a double line through the mizzen boom and tried hoisting the rudder and post up this way.

GOOD NEWS
Yes, that worked. We secured the post at an angle and the bottom of the rudder was just out of the water. Unfortunately, once we started motoring again, the rudder would still be in jeopardy with engine vibration.

BAD NEWS
Russ was still going to have to go down the ladder and disconnect the rudder.

GOOD NEWS

But not as far. So we made our plan, got our head lamps, double harnessed Russ with a line to the winch, and he descended the ladder, looped a double line through the rudder handle on the top and over the back rail which I secured to the mizzen mast. He cut the safety line from the rudder which holds it to the rudder post in case the rudder pin breaks, and we hoisted the rudder up and over the rail. Hydie's rudder was covered with slipper green seaweed, yeck! It was a good thing it was tied on to the mast, or it would have slipped right out of our hands. Russ got back on board safely. We secured the back deck and came in side to re-evaluate our situation.

Russ wanted to stay the course and keep on going so that we could make it to NC by Friday. Nope, that wasn't my vote, and since I'm the admiral (rank does have some privileges) we are headed into Southwest Bay on Malacula Island. Yes, we probably would do a lot more motoring and wouldn't need Hydie, and it would be better for her rudder to be out of the water, and yes this does slow us down.

On the other hand, if our auto pilot or engine conks out, we wouldn't have a backup auto steering system. We may need to put Hydie's rudder on while at sea, but at least the rudder post would be secure. We downloaded some new weather files earlier and took a look at them. Surprisingly, they look better than the earlier model so our window doesn't look quite so tight. On the other hand, these damned weather files are never right! We've been waiting for an east wind and thought we had one. Nope! not yet.

For the moment, we are heading to a calm bay to reset the rudder post if possible. We are pounding straight into the waves and wind but moving slowly so that we can get some rest. I've got first watch. Russ is sleeping. We should arrive at SWB by dawn. We'll reassess the situation in the morning, and keep you posted.

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind

Monday, August 29, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - On Our Way to Noumea, New Caledonia

August 30, 2011 - Goodbye Vanuatu - Hurry Up and Wait!

Latitude: S 15 50
Longitude: E 167 90
Wind Speed: 10 knots from SE, Motor Assist
Course over Ground: 180 S
Boat Speed: 6 knots
Waves: On the nose, 1.5 meters

We left Luganville this morning. Yesterday was the perfect day to leave, however, there was an unexpected holiday that no one seemed to know about except for customs and immigration. Of course, they were closed when we got there bright and early. So we had to scrap our plans as we could not leave without clearing.

We were back at customs at 7:30 this morning with a handful of other cruisers chomping at the bit to check out as well. If we weren't back on the ferry by 8:30 to Aore resort, we would be stuck in Luganville until early afternoon. So we were on a mission to get cleared in one hour. We had picked up the exit paperwork when we checked in a couple of weeks ago and had it all filled out. Customs was pretty fast because we were prepared. We went directly to the port captain's office only to find the door locked. After sitting for 10 minutes, thinking he would be there at 8:00 a.m., we asked one of the dock workers what time the port captain opened. He told us "When he feels like it!" Great!

We went back to immigration to see if they could call the port captain. Instead, they decided to let us pay there and stamp us out....what a concept! Why didn't they do that in the first place? Of course, we have to wait in line again. It was now 8:10, and we still had to get to immigration which was on the way back to the ferry. We got to immigration at 8:15, had more paperwork to complete and then while Russ was finishing up, I hiked back as quickly as I could to the ferry dock to beg for a few more minutes. I got there at 8:24, Russ got there three minutes later. We made it with a few minutes to spare! Yes, things were looking up.

The boat was there but the captain wasn't. Swell! He was running late and we didn't leave until 9:00 after we helped him load the boat with groceries for the resort. South of the Border time makes Island time look like a speed warp. Now we had to get across the channel, check out of Aore Resort, unleash ourselves from our mooring buoy, and try to get out of the channel before the incoming tidal current got to strong. Had we left yesterday in the afternoon as we planned, we would have been carried out with the current. We pushed the throttle forward to a 7 knot cruising speed and by the time we got to the western end of the channel we were doing 1.5 knots against the inbound current. It was a little squirelly as we went through swirl pools that pushed the bow 30 degrees to starboard, we had to crab through the current. OK! We are now 24 hours behind and are going to have to push so we can get to NC before a weather change comes in by weekend. Instead of lolling at our normal slow speed, we want to average about 6 knots an hour.

Right now the wind is light and with sails only, we were only going about 3 knots, so we've got Lehman running, the main and the mizzen up, and auto pilot on. We started off with 15 knots of east wind, Hydie hydrovane steering, and were bounding along between 6.5-7.5 knots. We're hoping the wind changes back to a more easterly 15 knots which is what we thought we would have from our weather files. We'll see. In the meantime, we are off. There is a high overcast, mild wind, mild seas for the next few days, then it starts to pick up a bit. We'd like to be on the inside of New Caledolnia's reef early Friday. That's the plan for now. The wind and waves at the moment are right on our nose and we are hobby horsing down the course. But...

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind

Monday, August 22, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunami, Diving, Caving, and Canyonning - Another week in Vanuatu.

River of Prehistoric Time

Latitude:      S   15 32.231
Longitude:  E  167 10.830


Sunday,  August 21, 2011

We have been in Luganville environs for the last week.  It is Sunday afternoon as we lounge around resting our tired bodies after an extraordinary adventure yesterday.  I have a pumpkin cake in the oven, and I think a tsunami may have just passed under us.

Earthquake and Tsunami

On the net this morning we heard that there were two earthquakes in the islands near Tanna.  No one knew much about them.  We had felt an earthquake five nights ago while we were on our boat.  A loud rumble came up the mooring chain and vibrated the boat for several seconds.  We thought at first it was a nearby boat motor.  When we went outside, we saw nothing and all was quiet.  The following morning, some of our shore companions asked if we had felt the earthquake?  At any rate earthquakes are quite common here in the Pacific Rim of Fire.

No one gave much thought to the earthquake report this morning.  I was sitting on the back deck with some iced tea at 2:30 this afternoon, and I heard a breaking wave noise coming from behind Worrall Wind.  We are moored in 98 feet of water along a coast line of Aore Island and tucked behind a point that protects us from the prevailing southeast waves and winds.  There is a deep water channel that runs from east to west between us and the main island of Espiritu Santo a couple of kilometers away.  For the most part other than some tidal currents, Worrall Wind is resting in calm waters, so this noise was unfamiliar.  The boat was facing the Aore shore with her stern to the channel.

I turned around and saw what appeared to be two very long waves, no more than a few feet high, resembling the wake from a large tanker (but there was no large tanker).  It looked like the waves were rolling down the channel and had curved around the protected point.  It was curious, but not scary as the waves were not very big, but they were rolling and breaking in different parts as it came in our direction.  Both rolled right under us in quick succession lifting the boat gently and continuing on to shore.  When the waves shallowed out, we could see them splashing up on shore…then all was quiet.  Gloria on Pincoya yelled in our direction…..I think that was a tsunami!  Sure glad it wasn’t a big one. (postscript:  the Aore Resort confirmed our observation - they just opened their email with a tsunami alert, a day after the fact!  Yipes)

THIS WEEK has been busy.  Luganville was the primary staging ground for Pacific Troops during World War II.  Over 100,000 GI’s were here.  Now a sleepy worn out third world little town, Luganville was once a thriving Quonset hut metropolis with over 50 cinemas to entertain the troops.  In 1942, the SS President Coolidge, came from San Francisco with 5,000 troop reinforcements and medical supplies for Guadacanal, hit some mines in the Luganville harbor entrance, blowing holes in the bottom and sinking the ship within two hours.  During that time, the captain ran the ship with the equipment and the men into shallow water on a reef so that the men could be evacuated and as many medical supplies as possible saved.  There were only 2 casualties and the rest of the men were safely evacuated.  The ship rolled off the reef and sank.  It is now considered the premier wreck dive in the world. 

Wreck Diving

We have taken two dives on the Coolidge, seeing only a fraction of the massive ship.  It is quite interesting and eerie.  Our friends Claudia and Brian dove upward of 30 times while they were here.  They are both dive masters and wreck divers used to going down quite deep.  We explored what we could without descending below 100 feet.  Even that was deeper than our open water certification, but we went with experienced dive masters and extra air tanks.  Our friends Gene and Gloria on PIncoya that did the Puddle Jump with us joined us on the second dive.  

Our first dive was on the outside of the wreck, where we examined the coral encrusted bow, equipment on the decks, barrels with gas masks, shoes, rifles, helmets, artillery canons and ammunition.   Our second dive was deeper and in cargo holds and latrines.  It was weird to see rows of toilets side by side.  The Coolidge was a first class passenger ship designed for 900 luxury passengers in suites.  After being requisitioned by the government, during the war, modifications to the interior had to be made to accommodate 5,000 men.  The rows of toilets in the cargo holds were one of the modifications.



To reach the dive, we had to walk in from the beach then descend.  It was pretty windy and rough on the surface the second day we went out with Gene and Gloria.  With breaking waves, it was pretty challenging and exhausting just getting our gear on.  Gloria had some tank issues and ran out of air.  Fortunately, the dive master had extra so she trailed behind him tethered to his air tank.  We had an interesting time dropping into the holds which were fairly wide open, but somewhat dark and claustrophobic.  We decided that wreck diving is not really our favorite activity.

Between our first Coolidge dive and our second with Gene and Gloria, Russ and I dove in an area called Million Dollar Point.  At the end of World War II, the Americans offered all of their heavy equipment, jeeps, front loaders, trucks, tractors, to the Brits and the French for a price.  The Brits and French decided not to buy the equipment, believing that the Americans would just leave it anyway and they would get it for nothing.  The Americans recognized their strategy and decided to be peevish about it by dumping millions of dollars worth of equipment off the point into the sea so that no one would get free stuff! 

Apparently, some enterprising Aussies were able to salvage some of the big front loaders (how we aren’t sure!) from the sea, and these became the key pieces of equipment that started one of the largest earth construction companies in Australia.  The remaining equipment is a huge surrealistic junk pile with 60 plus years of sea growth.  Corals and sponges have molded themselves around tires, truck chassis and warrior rubble.  It’s quite surrealistic to be 100 feet down looking up at the surface of the water and seeing mauve and blue coral encrusted truck chassis with wheels suspended vertically toward the surface.  Small and large schools of fish call this home, darting in and through the wreckage.  We all enjoyed this dive so much more than the Coolidge.  It was in the open so no one suffered from claustrophobia and the lighting was better.

Caving, Canyonning, and Swimming the River

Our friends, Brian and Claudia, on Skylight told us that one of the best things they did was go on the Millennium Cave Trip while they were on Santo.  While this is an ancient cave, it has only been open to tourists since 2000, hence the name Millennium.   They said the scenery was fabulous. 

Without hesitation or investigation we signed up to go on this “awesome” trek and trudge.  Gene and Gloria came too.  We knew we would be hiking and trekking through a cave with running water and would be swimming at some point.  I wore my hiking sandals as did Russ with swim suits under our shorts.  Russ wore his pith helmet and looked quite jaunty.   I took two trekking poles with pointed tips,  as I suspected it would be muddy, steep, and slippery.  It felt like we were off to find Dr. Livingston.

We expected a certain degree of rigor, but were really not prepared for how rigorous a trip this would be. It took nearly an hour by 4 wheel drive up to a high plateau to the interior of the island before we could actually get started.  From there we were met by our Ni-Vanuatu guide, Christian, whose communal village owns the river and the caves.  We hiked from the lower village to a higher village crossing some bamboo bridges over deep gullies.
Bamboo Bridge


The entrance fee was 2000 vatu per person $24.00, most of which goes towards school fees for village students.

Map of our Adventure
Once we arrived at the higher village, we were met by the chief who assigned to us some additional guides and dry land transporters.  The chief took a look at my two hiking poles (bi-polar, ha ha) or the wrinkles on my face and determined I was “handicapped” and would need some assistance.  At first I was a bit taken back and offended that he wanted to assign me with my own guide.  Little did I know how strenuous a trip this would be and was extremely grateful that I had a strong helping hand along the way.  With two guides, two gear transporters, and six hikers in our party, Russ and I, Gene and Gloria, and another young couple, Laurel and James, we set out on our adventure.
Intrepid Explorers - Russ, Gene, and Gloria
First off, my guide took my backpack so I didn’t have to carry it.  Okay,  so maybe a few wrinkles and hiking sticks have their advantage!  We walked a couple of kilometers through the jungle until we reached a steep drop off.  Before we descended down to the cave, our guides painted our faces with mud as traditional respect for the cave spirits.  We were told to leave our backpacks and anything we didn’t want to get wet (like my camera) with some village guardians who would dry transport our gear to the cave exit.  Again, I was without a waterproof camera.  Drat!


The Descent

After we were properly painted and shed of our gear, we started descending down a series of hand hewn branch ladders with the rungs at least two feet apart, so each step was a massive stretch with one leg and a deep knee bend with the other.  We went down, down, down, down into a canyon, sometimes hanging on ropes down rocky steeply inclined walls.  My guide Sala preceded me down the ladders and the rocky, muddy path.
Guide, Laurel and James descend down, down, down
Where the ladder rungs were broken, Sala would find an alternative footfall for me.  When the track was steep and slippery, he would prop one of his feet next to mine so I wouldn’t slip. When there was a rope hanging down a cliff, he would go down first, stretch out the rope and give me a taut handhold with him as an anchor at the bottom.  Had it been just Russ and me together in terrain like this, I would have been hanging on to Russ and we both would have had difficulty.  Russ was fending for himself and was grateful not to have to worry about me.  

The Cave

Finally we reached the bottom of the cliff where there was a rocky crevice that we squeezed into, and we were inside a mammoth cave, 20 meters wide and 50 meters high with a river running through the center.


 We waded in knee to hip deep water with a mild to moderate current.  Once we turned the bend from the entrance crevice, it was pitch black.  Everyone had torches.  My guide had a big torch big enough for the both of us so that I could use my trekking poles.  He shined the torch upward so that we could see the beautiful water carved limestone walls and hanging bats.  Sala walks this cave everyday barefoot and knows every crevice and footfall.  We were at the end of the pack.  Russ was just in front of us, then Sala, and me.

For quite a while we were altogether, but eventually the front group disappeared into the dark.  Our torches only illuminated the immediate area in front  of us.   Russ had no one to follow, so Sala asked him to drop back behind me which helped Russ better navigate the dark river bed.  Sala by this time had taken one of my trekking poles so that he could grab my hand and better assist me.  He preceded me and then would shine the torch in the inky water where I was to place my foot or my fanny and slide down a boulder into a pool.    One step would be ankle high, the next might be up to my thighs.  Russ was able to watch our path and the depth of the water so he too had a better perspective of where to place his feet and his fanny.

We proceeded this way for about half a kilometer, wading, boulder hopping, and enjoying interior waterfalls that showered down upon us.  The water was probably about 65-70 degrees F, pretty chilly.  Eventually we could see some natural light in the distance through a 50 meter crevice.  The slit of light reflected down the length of the river illuminating the rest of our group who were just ahead of us.  We all exited the cave pretty grimey and wet.


The cave waters joined another small river perpendicular to the cave, but it was spread over a shallow rocky base, so the last wade was only up to our shins, but moving fairly swiftly.  The village chief spotted me coming out of the cave and guided me across the last stretch of the river.  I think he was relieved to see me come out.

Lunch and Bail Out?

Once we were out of the cave, we spotted our gear on the bank of the river.  Another huge group must have exited the cave only a few moments before as they too were picking out their gear and looking for their lunches.  We rested on the grassy slope across from the cave and I was able to retrieve my camera for a few pictures.  Fortunately, Gloria had taken her waterproof camera, so we do have some additional photos of the trek to share.

One of the village elders came and sat down beside me to assess my stamina and willingness to continue.  There was a dry escape route alternative if I wanted to opt out.  No, I told him.  I was doing fine and yes I could swim which was the next part of this iron man adventure.  There was one lady who was celebrating her 45th birthday.  She was pretty hefty.  I think they advised her not to continue as we never saw her or her group again.  Given some of the very tight boulder bridges we had to squish down, through, and under on the next part of the trail, I think she simply would not have fit.  Once again, I had to abandon my camera and our gear would be transported back to the base where it would stay dry.

Canyonning - I thought it said canoeing trip!

After our lunch, I was looking around for the canoes! Ha!  We were each given these little kiddy pink, orange, and yellow blow up rings that we were to wear around our necks while canyonning and then as an aide while swimming down great lengths of river. They were definitely not US Coast Guard approved personal floatation devices, but they did relieve a little anxiety in that we would have something to hang on to as we died of hypothermia.   For the next 30 minutes, where we walk in the water when we could, but more likely than not we couldn’t as the drops through the canyon were big and the water would disappear into big holes, pools, and over cascading waterfalls.

We canyonned (climbing up, down, over, around and through) huge one and two story high, slippery moss covered boulders and deep crevices.  The village tribe had carved out footholds and installed chains and knotted ropes from which to hang and belay backwards.  Again Sala was indispensable as he lead the way, showing me the notched handholds, footholds, and carrying my little floaty for me.  There was one part of the trek where we dropped down into a boxed crevice.  It looked like there was no way out until you were at the bottom and discovered a rock you had to slither under in a doubled over position so that you could get your legs in front of you to stretch over a bottomless hole that you could hear the river rushing under.  We referred to this tight bend afterward as the pretzel.  I jokingly asked my guide if we had completed the “easy” part of the trek.  I couldn’t imagine it getting any rougher.  He smiled and said, “yeah, yeah.”  Oh great!  I could only hope that his “yeah, yeah” was the typical response of islanders who always wanted to agree with their guests and not really mean that there was harder stuff to come.

The Big Swim

After 30 minutes of dropping down the river canyon, we reached a more level part of the river. Finally, we would get to float.  My legs have not ever had a work out like the one we had just gone through.  The air temperature was pleasant and we had worked up a sweat canyonning to the river basin.

The walls of the canyon were vertical and now hundreds of meters high, and overgrown with moss and jungle foliage creating the atmosphere of a soaring arched cathedral with stained glass windows of green and blue filtering the sunlight to the canyon floor.   Still pools of deep green flowed quietly through this prehistoric cathedral.  The only sounds were the occasional birdcalls resonating against the canyon walls. 
Float through Time Forgotten

The limestone carved by millions of years of water flow and dusted with a fine moss was an amazingly beautiful sight.  Waterfalls trickled and cascaded down the sides and free fell from the overhangs showering us with crystal cold water.  This is a place where time stands still, and we wouldn’t have been surprised to see a dinosaur drinking where the river widened out over shallow rocks.   This is truly one of the most inspirational and beautiful places on the planet.

Our float experience was 45 minutes long of float, swim, get out and trek a few hundred feet, then float some more.  By the last float, our teeth were beginning to chatter.  Getting out of the water felt good, but now our muscles were cooled down and our legs felt tired and heavy.  The hardest part was yet to come. 

The Ascent

It was now time to deflate our floaties and ascend out of this canyon.  Those 100 meter walls aren’t so beautiful when you are going straight up them.  The tribe had picked an ascent route up through a waterfall where they were able to notch out handholds, footholds, ropes, chains, and bamboo ladders in some solid bedrock.  Trying to hang on to these holds with cascading water numbing our hands and feet added to the challenge.  By now, my legs were really, really tired as were my arms.  When going up these inclines either by notch or ladder the steps are deep.  When your quads start giving out, you have to pull with your arms.  When your arms start to give out, your stuck.  I had visions of dying on these ladders withering like a hanging vine.
The Last Ladder!
Fortunately, Sala was like a monkey.  He would scamper up a few steps through the bed rock barefoot, grab my hand and give me an assist up some of the steepest parts when I simply thought I couldn’t go any further.  I could hear everyone ahead of me groaning and grunting as they pulled their way up the cliff…. only a couple more ladders. … only one more ladder.  Huff, puff, pull, push, groan, moan,  and we had made it!  If only we had the strength to do a happy dance.

There were successive victorious but feeble whoops when each person reached the top.  We trudged another kilometer or two back to the village along the high plateau through the jungle.  Villagers who saw us coming nodded and smiled at us acknowledging our accomplishment.  If there had been a tattoo artist at the top, I would have gotten another right of passage tattoo on the spot.  Fortunately, Mom, there wasn’t a tattoo artist there.  I think I would have liked a volcano and a waterfall on the back of my right shoulder or a big heart that said “I love Sala!”

When we reached the base camp at the top village, there were jugs of hot coffee, tea, and sweet and juicy pumpelmus waiting for us.  We changed into dry clothes had some refreshments and still had a 30 minute hike to the bottom village where our driver picked us up and took us back down to Luganville. 

This was an extraordinary adventure.  Had we known the difficulty beforehand, we may have opted out.  Not knowing however, we went with it, and don’t have a single regret.  It may be a couple of days before we can walk, sit, or go up stairs again without our muscles and joints screaming out in agony, but the incredible beauty, viewed only by a handful of people on the planet was well worth the effort. 

Monday, August 22, 2011 – Waiting for a Weather Window

We are now recuperating and sitting out some stormy weather.  Last night a rainstorm filled our water tanks while we played cards with 2 G’s on Worrall Wind.  We taught them how to play Fiji Rummy.  Gloria is quite the card shark and blitzed us. 

We had hoped to leave for New Caledonia sometime this week, but it’s looking doubtful wave wise, so we may be here another week even though the skies are lighting up.  Last night we had gusts of 40 knots through the channel and the boat rocked more than normal.

We have learned that whatever our weather forecast predicts, we add 40% more to the average.  Right now the average is for two to three meter seas in terms of wave height and 25 knots of wind speed with a trough (unsettled weather) running right through the middle of the Coral Sea between Vanuatu and New Caledonia.  We interpret this as three to five meter seas with 35 knots of wind…pretty ugly and possibly chaotic.   The wind direction looks good, but that’s the only positive attribute.  So for now, we are being patient and waiting.  We may go on a few more dives and land expeditions while we wait for a tolerable passage window.

We will be parting company with Gene and Gloria today as they rejoin their rally group.  The rest of their group tried to leave this morning for one of the eastern islands with 35 knots of winds on the nose and big seas.  They all turned around because of the conditions.  That’s one of the problems with being on a rally.  The leader has generally made arrangements for the group at one place or another and is often driven more by schedule than weather conditions. 

This will most likely be the last time we see Gene and Gloria for a while, unless we are still in New Caledonia when they arrive around September 24.  Slowly but surely our Puddle Jump 2010 group is dissolving.  We’ll have to schedule a reunion in 2020 for all of us in Puerto Vallarta Mexico, when we all have RV’s, live aboard sailboats, or condos, and the biggest adventure of the day is opening and closing the little umbrellas that come in our drinks.

All is Well with the 2 Sail R’s on Worrall Wind

Friday, August 12, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - Malua Bay to Aore Resort - Espiritu Santos

August 12, 2011

Latitude:     S    15 32.231
Longitude:  E  167 10.830



This morning, August 12,  2011 at 10:15 we tied up to a mooring at Aore Resort across the straight from Luganville on Espiritu Santos, the big island of Vanuatu.    We had traveled just a little under and hour and a half from our anchorage on Ratua Island.  With a strong east setting current we flew down the channel towards Luganville at 10.5 knots!

Here’s our Vanuatu week in Review.


Monday,  August 8, 2011 – Malua Bay, Blue Hole and Workshops

On Monday morning, we went into the Malua Adventist School about 10:00 a.m. in the morning.  It was a sunny, beautiful day.  Gerry the headmaster was waiting to take us for a hike up to the blue hole.  It was a short walk of only 15-20 minutes through the jungle passed his personal garden.  He said that family members of the students helped to take care of his relatively large plot so that he could conduct his work at the school.  By the time we reached the blue hole, we were ready for a dip.

The hole was a beautiful deep blue green with a small waterfall cascading into the pool.  Unfortunately, we had left the camera on the boat so we didn’t get any pictures.  Russ and I enjoyed a cool swim.  The water was a bit chilly but incredibly refreshing.  Close to the waterfall, it felt as if we were swimming in champagne bubbles.  It was quite lovely.  On our way back from the swim we passed a garden where there were three teenage girls from the school clearing the jungle for a new garden.  They had huge bush knives and were whacking away at the vines and trees.  The headmaster said these girls had broken some rules (skipped classes) and were doing some hard labor as a punishment.

We returned to the school house about 11:30.  School was out at 11:45 and the workshops were supposed to start at 1:15.  Men were already milling around the school yard with generators, chain saws, and weed eaters waiting for the workshop. 

They were eager to start.  Word had spread about our workshops.  Turned out that in addition to the teachers at the Malua school, five other schools were sending teachers for the professional development workshop I was to conduct. 

We had a hard time getting away and back to the boat for a little break and to pick up our gear.  We had promised one of the teachers Mr. Isacc and his son Joses a trip out to the boat, along with a couple of other young ladies who had enquired.  One of the girls was an eighth grader (class 9).  Viana said she had to get her other friends.  Turned out they were the ones up in the jungle doing some hard labor punishment.

We told Viana she was welcome to come, but we didn’t think it was appropriate that her friends who were being punished should have the opportunity.  So the five us, Russ and I and our three visitors went out to the boat.  We had just enough time for a quick tour, pick up our gear, and pack a lunch to go before heading back to shore.  As soon as we got to shore, we were escorted to our rooms.

We each had about 15 participants in our workshops that lasted until 4:15.  Russ gave both a lecture about electricity and then guided the men with the broken equipment through a troubleshooting and fix it process.  All of the participants, with the exception one of the men with a chainsaw, got their equipment in working order, and were delighted.

I arranged my room in a big circle so that participants could see and talk with one another.  This in itself was a learning for them, as they never have the desks arranged except in a face the blackboard arrangement.  These teachers face the same classroom discipline problems as in the states (bullying, fighting, disrespect of property, blurting, being noisy, walking, talking, etc.) and have only a few rudimentary techniques at classroom management and student motivation. 

Most of what I taught them was pretty standard in America but very non-traditional here in rural Vanuatu.    They seemed to be very receptive, but without on site guidance I would be surprised if more than 10 percent of what we talked about is implemented.  I showed them how to arrange their seating for classroom management, teacher proximity, group work, planned walking, talking. 

We talked about the need for young people to talk, walk, move around, learn by doing.  For those of you who are teachers, Vanuatu students rarely get beyond the second level of Blooms Taxonomy.  Knowledge and comprehension are about it.  We talked about the importance of the teacher to walk around the room and not sit at his/her desk.  We talked about corporal punishment and discontinuing its use.

Vanuatu has quite a bit of domestic violence in this male dominant, kava drinking culture and corporal punishment seems to confirm that violence is an acceptable means of discipline and making people do what the bully wants them to do.  The bully could be the father or the mother, or the older sibling, anyone bigger holding the switch.

I showed them how to play some active learning games, pattern clapping to gain student attention, caught you being good incentives, etc.  By the end of the day, Russ and I were exhausted and exhilarated.

We were invited to the principal’s house that evening for a thank you dinner.  Actually, the principal’s wife Irene prepared the meal but it was served on the minister’s front veranda spread out on woven mats on the floor.  Irene had hoped to come to the workshop herself, but cooking a feast over an open fire took the better part of her day.

On behalf of the school and community we were presented with beautiful lays made from frangipani, and a very old, handmade traditional tom-tom.  One of the teachers told us that he believed we were sent to them as a blessing from God.  We were warmed by their acceptance of what we had to share with them, and never let on that we were just every day Americans who happened to be atheists.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 – Happy Anniversary Snorkel


Originally, we planned to leave on Tuesday, but decided to spend our anniversary just relaxing and doing some snorkeling.  Russ’s skin infection on his shin was finally under control and the water clarity was incredible.  We had a great afternoon snorkeling and just hanging out. 

We did have one visitor.  One of the young men from the Joe family, and his little son paddled out to the boat in their dugout canoe.  He had a converter that wasn’t working and asked Russ if he could see if it was putting out a charge.  It wasn’t, and he couldn’t fix it.  In so many ways, these folks are caught between the old world of their agrarian ancestors and the new world of technology that they do not really understand.  Before he left in his dugout, he took a picture of our boat with his cell phone.  What a kick!

Wednesday,  August 11, 2011 – Goodbye Malua Bay, Hello Ratua Island


We were on our way out of Malua Bay by 7:30 in the morning.  As we left, there were several school children on the beach.  Russ blew our horn a couple of times, and the villagers rang their bell.  This will be remembered as one of our favorite places.

The sky was a bit overcast as we left and the sea was like an undulating grey satin ribbon without a single wind ripple.  We motored the entire way to Ratua Island which is on the south eastern side of Aore Island.  As we came into the straight, we spied a couple of large turtles.  The tide line was filled with bobbing coconuts, but every once in a while one of the coconuts turned out to be a turtle head popping up for some air.

The bay we anchored in is pretty small and there is probably only enough room for one or possibly two boats to anchor safely in deep water without bumping into a coral head.  Fortunately we were the only boat in the bay.  We dropped our anchor in about 40 feet of water, around noon, ate lunch and spent the afternoon snorkeling on the reef.  The soft coral and tropical fish were beautiful.  There was just enough dappled sunshine coming through the high overcast to see the rainbow of colors.  We looked for the turtles, but didn’t see any.  Maybe tomorrow.



Thursday, August 12, 2011 – Diving with Rays and Turtles


We had a leisurely morning.  I made some papaya/blueberry coconut milk pancakes for breaksfast.  Yum!  Afterwards we took another snorkel and look around, but still no turtles.  By this time, another boat Riga II from Switzerland with Richard and Gabby aboard had come into the anchorage.  We stopped by to see them.  They looked pretty close to some of the coral heads.  Turns out they have a swing keel and could raise it out of harms way.  We invited them over for some sundowners around 5:00 p.m.

After snorkeling in the morning and still not seeing any turtles, we decided to dive down off the reef where they reportedly hangout.  We got out the dive gear and dinghied over to a buoy marking a huge coral head.  During our dive, not only did we spot a huge turtle, four-five across, but we also saw a large ray and a cuddle fish.  Mission accomplished!  Sure wish we had an underwater camera.  Without our friends Brian and Claudia taking photos, we can only tell you about these fish stories!

We enjoyed our evening with our anchor buddies from Switzerland.  They too are traveling around the world.  They left from France four years ago across the Atlantic to South America and 50 miles up the Amazon, through the Panama Canal, South Pacific, New Zealand, and are heading to Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand, then probably around the cape of South Africa over to Brazil and complete their journey in the Caribbean.  It is amazing how many people are out here doing what we are doing.  We look forward to seeing them again as at this point they too are planning on the Sail Indonesia rally next July.

Friday, August 13, 2011 – Moored at Aore Resort


We left this morning from Ratua Island and came around the corner to the west side of Aore Island across from Luganville on the south end of Espiritu Santos.  This resort has moorings in 98 feet of water, so we don’t need to worry about our anchor.  Or so we thought! 

We went ashore to register and enjoy some pool time.  We were keeping an eye on Worrall Wind as she seemed to be dancing all around on the mooring and stretched a long way from the mooring ball, coming dangerously close to another boat.  Was she untied?  We made a dash for our dinghy, hopped in, started the engine and gunned it for the boat.   The two boats were only 5-10 feet apart, stern to stern.  Yipes!  Normally, boats swing on a mooring like synchronized swimmers, bow to stern, but the current in the strait is swirly and the long ends of the boats were nearly touching.  Too close for comfort.  Worrall Wind was tied securely, but the mooring was line was stretched way out from the original position.

We quickly turned on the motor, disconnected from our mooring buoy and found another one further down the beach where we have no close neighbors.  Fortunately, we had a choice as there are only four mooring balls in front of the resort.

The resort here is quite lovely, with a scheduled taxi service back and forth to the mainland.  On the mainland at Luganville, there is only an anchorage that can get pretty rough with easterly winds.  The moorings in front the Aore are better protected and guests can take advantage of the resort amenities.  The only draw backs from our perspective is that there is no wireless Internet and our dancing partners might get a bit close. 

We heard from Brian and Claudia on Skylight on our 6510 0700 UTC Friends Net.  They are leaving Port Vila for New Caledonia tomorrow morning.  They had some news to share with us.  Brian proposed to Claudia while they were on a deep dive.  He used sign language.  Of course, she said Yes!  Woohoo!

Tomorrow, we’ll take the water taxi across the strait to Luganville where there is a coffee shop with free WiFi.  Yes!

All is Well with the 2 Sail R’s on Worrall Wind

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Worrall Wind Update

Worrall Wind Update from Malua Bay, Malakula, Vanuatu

Latitude: S 15 59.499
Longitude: E 167 11.033

We've been at Malua Bay now for five days having arrived on Wednesday, August 3. We are the only boat in the anchorage of this nicely protected little bay on the northeastern tip of Malakula. For the most part we have been protected from the raging winds and large swells that have been passing through. Here is a recap of our week.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - Arrival

After our arrival after a pretty wild ride along the coast from Southwest Bay, we were tuckered out. We did have some visitors though late in the afternoon. When we had first arrived Chief Don came out to greet us in his dugout canoe. We told him that we had some school supplies and were hoping to make contact with Issac, a name of a teacher given to us by Claudia and Brian on Skylight.

Two men in a dug out approached the boat about 4:00 p.m. and introduced themselves as Issac and Gerry (headmaster) of the school. We introduced ourselves and told them we would like to visit the school the following day. We made arrangements to arrive at 10:00 a.m.

Thursday, August 4, 2011 - Meeting the School Leaders.

The school here in Malua Bay is a Seventh Day Adventist School. It is a cinderblock school with openings for window and doors, but with no windows or doors. It's very open. There are cement floors, rustic desks, and beatup old blackboards. Students do a considerable amount of copying from softbound curriculum books into their exercise books (small notebooks with staples).

The Adventists established a mission here and are the guardians of the Bay. Unlike other villages where we seek permission from the Chief to go ashore, snorkel on the reefs, hike their trails, etc., here in Malua one seeks permission from the school leaders.

We arrived at the school at 10:00 a.m. and met with the head master, deputy headmaster, and French teacher, Mr Issac. We delivered the school supplies we had brought from Port Vila. The school leaders were thrilled as this school like most of the island schools we have visited is in desperate need of materials, reading books, supplementary instructional materials (maps, globes, charts, number lines, alphabet posters, etc.

We made ourselves available to the school should they wish to take advantage of any of our teaching skills. We indicated that Russ had a background in engineering and optometry, and I had a background in teaching, administration and professional development. We could do our standard geography lesson and related earth science lesson or something of their choice. Well, that jumped at the chance to have us do some teaching, particularly in classes 7-8-9 which are comparable to grades 6, 7, 8. The school only has a total of 120 students, so classes are small.

They asked if I would teach some social studies on world governments and economics the following day. They asked Russ if he would teach some science and geography. Russ had mentioned that he had helped to fix some generators in Southwest Bay, and would the school want to organize a workshop for some of the local people to learn how to maintain their generators and troubleshoot electrical problems with solar panels?

Why yes! What a great idea. The school leaders decided to make Monday a half-day session for students and workshops for adults in the afternoon. They inquired if I could work with their teachers while Russ was in the workshop. They wanted to know if I could help the teachers with classroom management skills……right up my alley!

After our meeting, it was decided that I would return that same afternoon to observe teachers in their classrooms and get a feel for what help they might need. I observed lots of seatwork, teachers sitting at their desk, kids in the back of the room drawing and goofing off. In the primary grades, students would scream out answers, and the teacher often did not have much control of student behaviors as they jumped around on their seats and desks. I asked one teacher what his response was when a student consistently failed to follow the classroom rules. He said he took a switch to them. Ok, so my ideas about classroom management might be a tad different.

We returned to school after lunch to gather some curriculum supplies to plan our lessons for the next day and do some observations. Later in the afternoon, we visited Chief Don in his village so that Russ could take a look at a solar, electrical problem the chief was having.

We spent the rest of the evening working on our lessons. You know what they say about teachers. We never die, just lose our class!

Friday, August 5, 2011 - Back to School - Love em and leave em teaching....nice!

Since this is a Seventh Day Adventist School, Friday is a half day. Students and teachers return home to prepare for their Sabbath which is from dusk on Friday to Saturday night. This was an unusual weekend however, in that the teachers were heading off for a retreat in a village several miles away.

Russ and I taught our respective classes and exchanged students midway through the morning. It was a very interesting experience in that these students are very shy. Getting them to speak up, ask questions, or answer questions was next to impossible. Their usual curriculum is very structured and both Russ and I were giving them more experiential experience with hands on, mind mapping, etc. The kids seemed to enjoy it, as did the teachers who commented that they too had learned some new techniques of teaching. It was insightful for me in preparing for my workshop on Monday afternoon and made me realize how much I miss being in the classroom. It was fun preparing a lesson and teaching again. But glad I'm not doing it day in and day out. Love em and leave em is pretty nice.

Because the teachers were off to a retreat in the afternoon, they had made arrangements with the pastor for us to go to church the following morning. When the final bell (several hammers on the large welding cylinder) rang, everyone left leaving the beach and school area completely deserted.

I returned to the boat and baked some bread and an apple pie. Russ visited the Chief and did some laundry in the local stream. We spent the evening beginning to think about and plan for our Monday workshops.

Saturday, August 6, 2011 - Church, Lunch, and Lots of Visitors

It was our understanding that we were to come ashore at 11:30 for church. We saw activity starting around 8:30 and by 11:00 we decided to go in earlier than our understanding so that we could change into our going to church clothes…..i.e. Russ zipped the bottom part of the legs of his shorts on to make full trousers, and I pulled a skirt on over my shorts.

Properly attired, we entered through the back of the open air church and were immediately shown where to sit. It's a good thing we went earlier than asked or we would have gotten there just as it finished at 11:35 which may have been their intention. Our 15-20 minutes of the service was in Bislama. The men and boys sat on one side of the church and the ladies, girls, and small children on the other side. When we sat down where we were guided, the ladies side did a little giggling. I wasn't sure why, but I think it was because I was the only lady sitting on the men's side.

After a little preaching that we didn't understand, Bible reading, singing, and prayer, the service was over. The Minister and assistant leaders came down the center aisle from the pulpit and indicated that we should follow their procession outside where they set up a receiving line. All of the church members came out, said hello, shook our hands and headed home.

We sat with the church leaders and few curious parishioners answering questions about our voyage. One of the families invited us to lunch with them. We accepted their invitation and followed them down the road to their home a few hundred yards away. The family has a lovely little compound with several small houses/huts for their sons and families and an open shaded area covered with purple flowers and vines.

They had bench seating around the edges of the arbor. When it was time to eat, the ladies spread out pandanas woven mats and brought out on a large cloth, a bundle of charred taro leaves with the meal waiting inside to be eaten. The women had started the meal at 1:00 p.m. the preceding day, starting the fire, wrapping the foods in the leaves, waiting for the embers and hot rocks to be just right, then dropping the taro bundle on the coals and covering with hot rocks. By the time their Sabbath began, the meal was already cooked for the following day after church.

We enjoyed yams, a huge pumpkin with coconut cream, island cabbage and sweet potatoes, fresh pamplemoose, nuts, laplap (Kasava, banana and some chicken molded into dense slabs that is eaten like a pizza). Everyone ate with their hands and just dug into the bundle of unwrapped food. As their guests they had provided each of us with plates the size of serving platers filled with food and a large spoon. The food was delicious and incredibly filling. I felt bad for leaving nearly half on my plate, but honestly it was a gigantic portion. Because these folks work so hard in their gardens and walk everywhere, even with the huge portions they eat, few if any are really overweight.

Russ asked what they did after such a huge meal. They laughed and said they often just relaxed on their beds. I bet. I was ready for a nap! We thought this might be our cue to leave so they could get to their relaxing. Wanting to reciprocate for their hospitality, we asked if anyone would be interested in visiting the boat? We thought we might get a few takers. Turns out we got the whole family plus some. No nap today!

We spent the rest of the day ferrying the Joe Family of 12, mother, grandmother, father, sons, wives, children, aunties, and cousins out to the boat for a tour. They were fascinated with everything from the stuff we consider high tech to stuff we take for granted like running water in a sink, flushing toilets, cushions on seats, raised sleeping beds, refrigeration, cooking stove with gas, microwave, binoculars, mirrors, and hot water shower. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Belden, the family elder, asked us to stop by the following afternoon. He wanted to give us some produce. We said we would come by.

Once we had the boat back to ourselves, we enjoyed a glass of wine, a green salad for dinner, a hot shower and a video.

Sunday, August 7, 2011 - Laundry and Workshop Prep

The wind was gusting up to 20 knots in our bay today. The direction had shifted just enough that it was coming directly through a saddle in the mountain range behind the bay. We had taken some laundry ashore and washed it in the river that flows to the sea. Once we got it back to the boat, the wind was blowing so hard it was a fight to get it pinned to the clothes lines. The sheets, we pinned on the jib lines. It took several attempts and we had to use almost a dozen clothespins per sheet. The sheets flapped, spun, and snapped at us. Russ commented that in 10 minutes the sheets would be dry or in Australia!

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon working on materials for our adult workshops the following day. About 3:00 p.m., we went ashore for a walk and stopped by the Joe family's home. They were just returning from working in the garden all day. We had brought them an assortment of herbal teas and ginger snaps. They loaded us down with pamplemoose, limes, and fresh eggs.

On our way back to the boat, we stopped to visit a new neighbor in the bay. The boat Kakadu that we have seen in several anchorages in Anatom, Tanna, Port Vila, and Awei had anchored on the north side of Malua Bay. As many times as we had seen the boat, we had yet to meet the cruisers. We met Ann and Graham from Nelson, New Zealand. They are on their way to Southwest Bay.

So tomorrow, we plan to hike to the blue hole on the river and conduct our workshops. If the wind continues to calm down, we plan to leave for Santos on Tuesday or Wednesday. We've had a fine time here.

August 9, 2011 will be our 42 wedding anniversary. It hardly seems possible that two years have flown by since our retirement and bon voyage party at the Berkeley Yacht Club.

All is Well with the 2 Sail R's on Worrall Wind

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - Arrived and Anchored at Malua Bay, Malakula

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Latitude: S 15 59.496
Longitude:E 167 11.035

After looking at the grib (weather) files, it looks like the wind and waves really pick up on August 5, 2011 for several days. We decided to leave Southwest Bay and make it as far as Malua Bay where we will hang out during the blow. We decided not to stay for the "cultural festival" advertised for August 10-11. No one including the chief of Limpinwen village seemed to know much about a festival. It may be happening and then again, it may not. There are other villages around the bay and maybe one of them is planning it. Nevertheless, we felt it was time to move on.

The gribs said we would have 15 knots of wind and 2 meter seas. When we started in the morning this was true, but by noon we had 25-30 knot winds and 2-3 meter seas. We were glad to tuck in, and are now anchored in this bay. It's a bit rolly and overcast, but we will be protected from the increasing southeast winds and building seas. We were greeted by Chief Don in his dugout as we came into the bay. He immediately asked us of if we have a light for his solar powered battery. Ugh!

I think that the villages we just left was one of the best. No one asked us for anything. They were just genuinely welcoming and giving. Not one dugout approached our boat the entire time we were there. It was a refreshing experience. There is a school here and a man named Issac that is a teacher here. We have some school supplies and a hammock from Brian and Claudia to drop off to him.

All is well with the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind

Monday, August 01, 2011

Worrall Wind Update - August 2, 2011

Southwest Bay, Malakula Island, Vanuatu

Latitude: 16 29.523 S
Longitude: 167 25.887 E

On Saturday, July 30, after a great week visiting with friends Brian and Claudia on Skylight in Awei Bay in the Maskelyne Islands just south of Malakula Island, we headed north and Skylight headed south. Once we left the protection of the anchorage, we encountered a mild sea 1.5 meter swells, and no wind. We motored about 30 miles north to a Bay called Southwest Bay. The bay is about 5 miles across and there is a lot of room for boats to anchor both on the north and south sides. Directly in the middle of the bay close to shore there is a reef. Most boats from what we understand, drop anchor in about 30 feet of water. Boats are well protected from the south and north winds, moderately protected from south east winds, and slightly protected from westerlies. The bay is open to the west and there is some reef along the outside of the entrance points that modifies the ocean swell.

There are several villages around the arc of the bay with stretches of sand, cliffs and jungle that drop right to the water. We anchored off the island on the south side called Limpenwen. To the left of the village there is an estuary that leads in to a huge lagoon. Limpenwen claims ownership of the Tisri Lagoon and visitors must receive permission from the chief to enter the lagoon area.

We arrived in the Lagoon in the afternoon. There was only one other boat anchored in the entire bay. We decided to stay on board and relax. Sunday morning, the weather was a little rainy after thunder and lightening most of the night. Fortunately, the weather was around us and not on top of us. Nevertheless, the first two nights in the bay, our computers, sat phone, etc. lived in the microwave and oven. Sunday is church day in Vanuatu with family gatherings. Our boat neighbors had left early in the morning. We finally heard from our friends Ken and Lori on Trim. We knew they were leaving Fiji, but hadn't heard from them. Apparently, they had a horrific crossing with very unstable weather conditions, 30 foot seas, and 40 knots of wind. Now they are in Tanna, sitting out the rain. Glad to hear from them and that they arrived. Brian and Claudia on Skylight are in Havannah Bay just outside of Port Vila.

We didn't want to impose on the locals on a Sunday, and since the weather wasn't great, we stayed on the boat and reorganized all of our food supplies, in preparation of entrance to Australia in a couple of months. Since there are many foods that are confiscated in Oz (grains, flours, egg products...even egg noodles, freezed dried meats, frozen meats, etc.) we need to be efficient about what to use up and eat. By consolidating all of the food, we have a better idea of what to power eat before we lose it. We handed off some food to Brian and Claudia before we left Awei Bay and now for the first time our food lockers are beginning to look reasonable. For a while we had enough to supply a fleet of ships!

Monday, August 1, 2011 - Funeral today

We went ashore around 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The village was quiet, there were only a few families around. We met a man named Harry who was about of our age. When we asked him to show us the way to the Chief, he informed us that there was a funeral in a neighboring village and the chief and most of the villagers were attending. They would be back in the afternoon sometime. Harry gave us a tour of the village. He is one of the deacons of the Presbyterian church and was especially proud to show off the well kept and newly constructed church. We had an opportunity to meet his daughter Helen and her son Joey. Harry told us that if we wanted to see the lagoon, we would need to come back and meet the chief. We indicated that we would probably come back the following day.

The weather on Monday was lovely. Blue sky and hardly a ripple on the water. We took the opportunity to buzz around the shoreline. Just off the southern entrance point of the bay is a reef that we thought would be fun to snorkel, but we would need permission from the village on the southern tip. We thought this might be a good place to go at sunset and were planning on eating lunch, hanging out on the boat, and going out to the reef as the sun dropped lower into the sky.

About mid afternoon, Russ was reorganizing our backpack and realized that our hand held radio was without its antenna. To keep the antenna safe from being bent in the backpack, I had unscrewed the antenna and put it along with the radio and my camera in a waterproof ziplock bag. Apparently, when I had pulled the camera out of the bag, the antenna had been a hitch-hiker and jumped out. We remembered that I had pulled out the camera shortly after we had beached the boat at the village.

Without our backpack or any of our gear, we jumped in the dinghy and went ashore to look for the antenna. We just pulled the dinghy up a little ways onshore without an anchor line. Russ spotted the runaway antenna within 30 seconds and we were just getting back in the dinghy when two men with big smiles came out of the village and hailed us down. They introduced themselves as Collin and Chief Cedric. They heard from Harry that we had visited in the morning and wanted to know if we wanted to go for a ride into Tisri lagoon. The time was good right now as the tide was coming up and the river into the lagoon more passable. Sure, but first I wanted to get my camera which I left on the boat.

Both Collin from a neighboring village and the Chief, got in the dinghy and returned to Worrall Wind with us while I picked up the camera. In all the years that these men have been in the village, this was the first time they had ever boarded one of the yachts. They were thrilled we had invited them and were of course interested in our Honda generator, solar panels, flush toilet, etc. Russ showed them a few of the projects he was working on. One of the projects was repairing our converter. He explained that you had to be a good fix it person if you lived on a boat because anything that can break down usually does.

After a short tour and a camera grab, we were off to the lagoon. Collin and the Chief really knew their way through the lagoon and all of its coves and islands. The lagoon is all sea water, but does get some run off from the steep mountainsides. The water clarity because of the rain was not real good so we could not see the bottom. With both men frequently pointing this way and that for Russ to follow, we were able to navigate this extensive inland body of water without running aground or hitting any rocks. I think both Russ and I anticipated a 1/2 hour tour. We spent the better part of the afternoon in the lagoon.

We asked the chief if we could buy some pampelmoose (huge grapefruit, but sweeeter), limes, and island cabbage. The chief wouldn't hear of us buying anything. He wanted to give us the produce. He directed us to little cove dotted with palm trees on the south bank of the lagoon. We climbed into the jungle where he and Collin found the cabbage trees. They harvested a huge amount of leaves, wrapped them in a big banana leaf and tied them with some natural vine fibers.

By the time we left the lagoon the sun was just setting. We dropped of Chief Cedric and Collin (who is a nurse at one of the local clinics in a nearby village)on the shore. We think Collin has family in this village and was spending the night here. Collins wife whose name is Roselyne is a school teacher and lives across the bay where the school is. During our lagoon tour conversation, Russ had mentioned the fix it workshop Brian had conducted in the Maskelyne Islands. Collin lamented that his generator wasn't working well and was wondering if Russ might take a look at it. We told him that if he could take us over to meet his wife at the school in the village where she lived the following day Russ would take a look at it. Collin had the day off because of the funeral and had to return to work the following morning, but said one of the men from the village could take us to his wife's house the following morning. We said our goodbyes and promised to return the next day. Chief Cedric said they would have the limes and pamplemoose for us in the morning.

Tuesday, August 2 - Rainy and windy again!

We returned to the village in the morning, but it was too rainy and windy to find anyone who wanted to go with us (and we didn't want to go either!) over to Collins village on the far side of the bay. We had kind of figured that we wouldn't be making the trip, so Russ had left his tools on the boat. Not to disappoint us though, the chief had lined up a few other generators that needed fixing! Great!? But first he took us to the pre-school that his daughter had established for the children 3-5 years of age. Russ and I spent about half an hour singing songs with the children and teaching them a few new ones. We had peaked in the windows of the school the day before which had been closed due to the funeral. It is quite ramshackle and dilapidated. At one point I believe it had been a malaria control clinic funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but was no longer used as Malaria is pretty much under control here now. It's amazing how the happy little faces of children brightened up this dim, dilapidated building.

Russ spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon, looking at generators. Just before lunch, we returned to the boat laden with about 20 pampelmoose, ate lunch, Russ to collected his tools to return to shore. I stayed on the boat to do some baking (part of our power-eating strategy) and Russ went off to fix a large generator that was refusing to start. His plan was to guide one of the handiest men in the village to fix it and who would then have the knowledge to help get Collin's generator going, if it had the same problem. Just as I was pulling a papaya coconut cake out of the oven, Russ returned trimuphant. The generator's carburator was dirty, air filter oily, and spark plug needed some clean up. Tim, the village handyman, with Russ's guidance got it fixed and promised to look at Collin's generator when the weather got better. Russ suggested to the chief, that he might want to send one of the men to a technical school in Villa to learn how to fix all of the technology that villagers are acquiring. They use their generators to charge their cell phones and run their DVD players in these remote little villages that would otherwise be considered just a step above the stone age.

When Russ returned from the village, we loaded the dinghy and decided tomorrow would be a good day to leave. The winds are supposed to really pick up in two days from now, and we would like to be in a more protected bay when that wind event occurs. There is supposed to be a cultural festival here the end of next week, but Russ wants to move along and hopes to be in Luganville on the Island of Santos by then. This is where we will check out of Vanuatu before heading to New Caledonia. Our plan is to get to NC by early September, and we've learned that we need to start watching for good weather windows sooner than later. They seem to be few and far between. So when the going is good, we're leaving.

We'll see what the morning brings as it seems to me that the wind is blowing pretty good right now (wind generator is spinning), and this is a protected anchorage. The clouds are beginning to disappear behind us, and we might have a nice sunset.


All is well with the 2 Sail R's on SV Worrall Wind