Monday, September 11, 2006

1000 Days .....

Current Location: Maskelyne Islands, Vanuatu
Current Position: 16°32.05' S 167°46.19' E
Next Destination: Malekula or Ambrym, Vanuatu

1000 days .. as of today that's how long we've been
cruising! It seems unreal to both of us, especially when we
start to reminisce about everything that has happened over
those 1000 days. Just yesterday I was archiving pictures
and in doing so scrolled through our hundreds of pictures
from our first season out; Mexico, Marquesas, Societies,
Suwarrow, and Tonga. What a time! I can't help but miss
those places, but I also can't help but think, what will the
next 1000 days bring???

But back to the current .....

After our outstanding time on Tanna, we sailed back (aboard
Island Sonata) to Port Vila with stops at Aniwa and
Erromango. We were starting to wonder what our fishing
problem was, until Chris & John finally pulled in a Mahi
Mahi on the way to Erromango .... it was about time,
especially since Chris had just about guaranteed us that one
of the lures was absolutely sure to catch a fish!

Back in Vila, it was nice to see Billabong still safely
moored and to be back 'home'. We spent the next six days
just living the 'town life' with provisioning, laundry and
internet. For fun we enjoyed drinks with our friends on
Roxanne, a cultural show fundraiser by USP (University of
South Pacific), and a snake dance performance at a local

By Tuesday (Sept 5th) we were ready to venture north. We
started with a day sail around the corner from Port Vila to
Havannah Harbour. Unfortunately about one hour out, the
engine started sputtering and thumping. Luckily by then we
had just made it out of the harbor and into some wind, so I
took over the sails while Chris went to investigate the
engine. Bad news -- we had a broken water pump. Over the
next couple of hours Chris managed to jerry-rig a fix, while
I kept us sailing along. With the "fix" in place we were
able to run our engine, but were hesitant to do so for any
lengthy period. The anchorage was littered with coral
bommies and not very good holding, so anchoring, especially
since we were trying to do it fast and under pressure, was a
bit tough, but we finally managed. We ended up a little
close to a five-foot deep coral bommie, but didn't want to
have to start the engine again, so instead opted for a
second anchor off our bow to keep us from swinging too far

The next morning Chris found the road and managed to make
his way back into town (Port Vila). Luckily he returned
with a proper fix, and all was once again well on Billabong!

With a working engine we sailed on to Epi for a one night
stop before continuing (the next morning) to the Maskelyne
Islands on Friday. During both sails we had tons of HUGE
fish activity behind the boat; we saw a the pointed nose of
a Marlin and a shadow the size of our dinghy trailing our
lures (we believe it was a tuna, because Chris saw its
'wings' spanned out as it surfed through a wave). We didn't
hook anything we wanted to keep, but Island Sonata managed
to bring in a Wahoo the first day and a Tuna the second, so
we've been gorging on fish for the last few days. (Both
fish were caught on the lure that Chris had talked so
confidently about on the way to Erromango!)

The Maskelyne's are gorgeous ... there are hills, beaches,
and palm trees. Big islands and small. Mangroves, coral,
and white sand beaches. It seems no matter what type of
scenery you go for, you could find it here! The tiny
anchorage in the SW corner is crowded, but we've managed to
squeeze in. Locals do the rounds daily; rowing about in
their home-made outrigger canoes, asking if we need veggies
or fruits. On our second day here we walked along the south
west beach, where we found hundreds of their "magic rocks"
and numerous shells. According the "magic rock" story, if
you pound two together you'll see a flash of blue light, and
then watch out, as a storm will be a coming. That night
John pounded his together .... more than once. We did see a
flash of light, but it was closer to orange/yellow than
blue. And can you believe it --- the next morning we were
surrounded by thick clouds and thunder heads! That day we
did indeed have thunder, lightning and rain! We haven't had
thunder or lightning since we arrived in Vanuatu -- could
those rocks really be magic??? Let's just say Chris and I
will be keeping our magic rocks well separated!

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