Lat:18 32.158′ S
Lon: 173 43.399 ‘ E


Well, after two full days at sea, I finally feel up for typing. It seems like the week and a half that we spent at the marina was enough to wipe out our sealegs. Between the motion created by the steep quartering & confused seas and the constant 80+ degree heat inside the boat, all of us have been pretty wiped out. The breezy cockpit is definitely the place to be, but with rain on and off throughout the last two days, we haven’t been able to enjoy it as much as we would like.

This afternoon the wind died down from 25+ knots to around 10, and with that came a much calmer sea. Although that’s not great for us in terms of speed (we’re struggling to keep up 4 knots now with the jib and full main), it helped all of us zombies to come back to life. Dallas talked to Martin on the SSB (he’s about 100 miles behind us) and shared with him the good news about the Lakers championship victory (thanks to Brett for the timely e-mail update). Ash started pulling in the trolling line and discovered that we’d caught our first fish! It was a tuna, not a very big one, but more than enough for Colin to filet and prepare for dinner.


As expected, the wind continued to die, but not before we got a full night and morning of light wind sailing. We didn’t move far, but we did get some rest. Around noon, not even the spinnaker would stay set. It tore itself on some bow rigging and we dropped it to drift until the wind returns. The seas are calm, so drifting is pretty comfortable. Colin, Ash, and I got in a couple card games and everyone had a jump in the deep blue (8000 feet to be exact) to cool off. At our current drift rate we should be in Tanna in just over 3000 hours (we’re actually not drifting on a course for Tanna, but the GPS says to be patient). Luckily, the tradewinds should fill in before too long and give us a nice sail in.

This morning for breakfast we added malaria pills to the hot biscuits and fruit that Colin whipped up. He’s already cooked two breakfasts on passage and survived the rough start without puking, so he definitely gets passing marks as offshore crew. Malaria pills will be a daily tradition for us for the next 6-7 weeks or so as we’re stopping at several places in Vanuatu where malaria is present and the pills have to be taken daily for 30 days after any exposure.

To backtrack just a bit, we obviously checked out of Fiji and are headed to Port Resolution on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The customs guy at Latouka bent a couple rules for us. He let us check out with the boat at Vuda Point instead of bringing it to Latouka and let us check out the day before leaving. That’s usually not an issue, but he told us that although you have 24 hours to leave after clearing customs, you only have 1 hour to leave after clearing immigration. Even though his demeanor was a little grumpy, he stamped our passports with the next day’s date and told us to have a good passage. I was happy to be done filling out Fiji paperwork. It’s been the worst country for paperwork since Panama. The Fiji customs forms are just New Zealand forms (which are very detailed — 4 pages to check in or out) with a different symbol at the top. The difference is that you have to fill in the same form multiple times in Fiji, so I’ve had a chance to fill out 20+ or so pages of forms moving around and finally leaving Fiji.

We’ll miss a lot of the friendly Fijians we’ve met, but won’t be missing Vuda Point too much. There’s a convenient swimming pool at the resort next door and good, reasonably-priced pizza, but 10 days is a long time to be in the hot, windless boat harbor with all the mosquitos and the tens of small flying cockroaches that land on the boat every day (I fear we’ll be smashing those for a long time).

All in all the repairs went well. We seemed to improve the water pump situation after replacing the pump and getting a nice T-valve from Martin. We’ve made the reefing system simpler, but we’ll see how it goes when we actually test it at sea. Ash & Colin re-stitched the tramps, and Colin and I were able to seal up the instrument area so the we shouldn’t have any more GPS drop-outs due to rain. I was able to fix the top oven burner by cleaning the thermocouple contact at the gas valve. That was a pretty involved process that involved taking apart most of the stove/oven, but Lauren can now use the oven with both the top and bottom burners staying lit for the first time in months and months. Lauren & Ash polished the stainless rigging, and I was able to replace and tighten a belt on the port engine so that the raw water pump starts every time now (it was about 50% before and I’d have to jump down in the engine room and get it spinning by hand). The rudder turned out nicely (even Martin gave it high marks) and after the challenge of dropping and re-installing it in the nasty Vuda Point marina water I’m hoping we stay clear of reefs for a while. On a side note, the small area of new timber in the rudder is mahogany. Mahogany is pretty prevalent here, and the joinery guys working in the marina shop gave me a piece for free. They actually thought it wasn’t good enough for a rudder, but consented to let me use it since I was covering it with glass and epoxy. The first village we visited had an entire shack made of rough mahogany timbers, and I can guarantee you the residents were far from affluent.