Lat: 15 45.167 S

Long: 164 25.409 E

From Malekoula, we sailed 40 miles north to Luganville, the jumping-off spot for cruisers headed to Oz. It is the 2nd largest “city” in Vanuatu, and after the village in Banam Bay, it certainly seemed well developed, but it was still very small by American standards. The main street was pretty quaint with lots of cafes, and each of the little grocery stores sold baguettes, indications of the historical French presence here.

guitar I found a home for the second hand guitar that I picked up in NZ

The Americans’ former presence here can be seen as well, although I wouldn’t describe the evidence as quaint. They (or we, as the case may be) used Vanuatu as a landing point for equipment during World War II, and at the end of the war, decided it was cheaper to leave it here than to ship it back to the U.S. More precisely, they drove a million dollars’ worth of trucks, tanks, cranes and miscellaneous equipment out onto a jetty that they then blew up. While Dallas went for a medical investigation yesterday (in response to our cajoling), the rest of us snorkeled the Million Dollar Point and found it to be pretty interesting, although most of the debris is now unrecognizable. We could make out the wheels of a truck, a crane, and two distinct ships that were wrecked there along with tons and tons of what appeared to be scrap metal (part of the jetty?). As unsightly as the whole scene was, there was a healthy crop of colorful coral that had attracted several large schools of fish. The most beautiful sights (more colorful coral, larger fish) were around the ships and could only be seen by free-diving 20′ or so. That depth is not a problem for me anymore, but once I get there, I only have time for a quick glance around before I want to return to the surface.

fish wheels

The snorkeling was the extent of our recreation in Luganville, with the exception of a few evening beers at the resort. Dallas had selected July 6 as our departure-from-Vanuatu date (in keeping with our long-term schedule), so with only two days to prepare for the passage to Oz, we had to get down to business quickly. Quite frankly, it was a little stressful for all of us, and with the discussion of three different crew changes in a period of 48 hours, I started to feel like I was on a reality TV show. A cruising boat really would be ideal for such a show. There is always potential for drama with several people sharing not only a small space but also limited resources (e.g., food, dinghy, stereo). Add to that the fact that we are constantly on the go, far away from the people and places that are familiar to us, and thus relying on each other’s company both on and off the boat, and you have a recipe for some fairly intense interactions and relationships. The five of us represent three different countries and very distinct and different personalities, so it’s a miracle that we’ve been able to create a sense of community in such a short time, albeit not always a fair and balanced one. We are learning that, as with any relationship, communication is the key.

Now that everyone has said their piece and we are back at sea, there’s a very calm atmosphere aboard Pura Vida. Of course that might be because everyone slept for most of the first 24 hours! No one is sick, but the unfamiliar offshore motion seems to have the effect of a rocking chair to a baby. Nevertheless, we made great speed yesterday, knocking off well over 100 miles. Today we are flying the asymmetrical spinnaker for the first time since leaving NZ and moving along at 3-5 knots in 10-20 knots of SE wind.