Monday, 5th. August

We furl the headsail and bring in the mainsail outside the reef because we are not sure what to expect around the headland as we come into Port Resolution at Vanuatu. We are not able to make contact with the yacht club on the HF radio.
Ross says he is a bit nervous coming in here. The “C” map shows no entry through the reef and the chart plotter puts us on the land. Fortunately the “South Pacific Anchorages” has a small sketched map that is helpful, but not precise. Sighting is the only safe way and fortunately it is sunny. However this is difficult as we can only see in the sea about 4 m. ahead of the boat because of  the sun shining off the surrounding water. We feel reassured knowing Cook came in here with his ship “Resolution” and had no problems.
Local fishermen
Impulsive anchored at Port Resolution
The tone of our stay here is set right from the start when as we are looking to drop the anchor securely 2 outriggers come over and these fishermen offer their advice. They give us a great deal of information including where to take the dinghy ashore and how to find Stanley who will advise us about customs etc.
Coming ashore there are 3 very vivacious young children with their large dark brown alert and happy eyes. They want to help tie up the dinghy. (We are amazed they are down by the water with no supervision being only 3 and 4 years old).
Yacht Club
Sweeping at Port Resolution

Walking at Port Solution

We clamber up a steep path to find the traditional style yacht club on top of the cliff. It is the most picturesque setting among the cocoanut palms and with magnificent views. The village here is very attractive and beautifully kept – they even sweep and rake all their paths. The tropical gardens are lush and colourful.
Many young children are playing and having fun, and help us find Stanley who is very efficient. He organizes us to come in at 7am tomorrow to be taken in a 4WD to Lenakel for Customs and Immigration, and for a trip to the volcano later in the day.
We have an interesting dinner tonight at the yacht club. There is a group of nine people here, staying in the traditional bungalows which are very basic. They are a group of Rotarians, men and women, from N.S.W. in Australia and have come here as a team to help complete a new hall for the Primary school. This is a very impressive project. They work hard but are all enjoying the experience. Different teams come and offer their expertise. The school is putting on a concert for them on Thursday evening which we are invited to but are sorry we will have moved on.
There is no moonlight tonight so it is a very dark, and quite a distance to find our way back to the dinghy. Our anchor light is very bright and the one other yacht anchored here is near Impulsive and still has lights on. We enjoy catching up with this German crew again. We have met up with them at Palmerston, Niue and in Tonga.
Suddenly I feel very tired and my body seems to be craving a whole night in bed. We have a delicious deep sleep after 3 nights at sea with night watches.
Ross is disappointed when he finds the generator won’t start this morning. He soon realizes the fuse reset switch is off which must have happened when he turned it off last night. That’s one problem we didn’t need.
Driving by the volcano
This morning we are up early to be ashore to meet John who is driving us into Lenokel. Stanley comes too as our agent. It is a beautiful drive but extremely rough with huge, deep ruts from the torrential rainfall experienced here.  It is very interesting when we drive by the foot of the volcano with the boulders of different sizes strewn everywhere and the dark ash covering all the surrounding surfaces.
John is a very competent driver and knows the road well. It is early in the morning so we see many children going to school. We also see many primary schools enroute and several of the 5 secondary schools. There are many men and women starting off their day. Some of them are walking miles and miles apparently and the majority of them have bare feet. John gives several a lift in the back of the truck with Ross and Stanley. John is like many of the people here and speaks 5 languages – French, English, the language of the island, the language of his village and that of his wife’s family’s village. Mobile phones are popular here with everyone seeming to use one.
During the trip we see cows, goats and pigs. It is amazing the chickens and roosters run free and are not attacked by the dogs.
A woman wearing a "Mother hubbard" dress

The cargo ship

This trip takes 2 hours. Lenakel is a small but major town. The cargo ship is tied up at the wharf and it takes 2 days to unload. The roads are unsealed so it is very dusty. Today is not a major market day but we are able to buy a few provisions including pampelmousse. The few stores here have very limited supplies.
A typical thatched roofed house
With Stanley
Ross fills in endless forms at the customs office. The Immigration Officer isn’t in.  We drive some distance out of town but the quarantine officer isn’t there either. Stanley makes a few calls and we are told it is alright if we complete the immigration forms in Port Vila. Everything is very relaxed and casual here and this would not have been allowed anywhere else.

Soon we are on our return trip. During this time Stanley tells Ross he is keen to come to Australia to work hard for a year so he can save up to buy his own 4WD. He has been quoted an enormous price for one of these vehicles so Ross offers to check out his options. We learn later that when he was 15 a yachtie from Sydney offered him a trip to Australia. He went for a month and had a wonderful time. He was offered work there by this same person when he was older. Stanley wanted to accept this offer but tragically the couple were killed in an accident. Hopefully he can work something out because he wants to provide for a better life for his wife and 2 gorgeous little girls. His traditional house, like the others here is very basic.

Young children playing freely - 2 are Stanley's
Driving past the volcano
The visit to Yasur volcano is amazing and can be frightening when it grumbles and then gives out a loud explosion followed by the fiery magna thrust up into the sky like a fantastic fireworks display. Black smoke rises up like a large spiraling cumulus cloud. Every explosion produces a different formation. It is this ash that settles far and wide including on yachts  anchored at Port Resolution. Impulsive will need a good hose down at Port Vila.
Level 2 volcano
Today the activity of the volcano is gauged at level 2. If it reaches level 4 no-one is permitted up the volcano.

Wednesday, 7th. August
With a change in the forecast , with the wind coming from SE, to E to NE through to NE, to NNE, then N, we have decided to have an overnight sail to Port Vila rather than breaking the trip and stopping at Erromango Island. We enjoy a relaxed morning at port Resolution. Some fishermen come by hoping we may have some fishing tackle for them. Our supplies are down but Ross finds some helpful pieces for them. We take some rope ashore for one of the women whose cow has broken its rope. We have often been asked for rope but usually for boats. We meet with Stanley at his house. He has a beautiful garden. After we spend time on the lovely surf beach on the other side of the village we go to check out Stanley’s new outrigger. He has spent a great deal of time with his cousin building it but it has developed a split near the bow. Ross gets him some fiberglass and resin from Impulsive and we hope this will fix the problem.
We have had a lovely time here and have had a lot of interaction with the people who live here and their gorgeous children. There is a very relaxed and happy atmosphere  even though everyone seems to work hard.
The bolt rope is fraying again so we tape it and re-thread it into the track in the foil. We up anchor and put up the mainsail but unfortunately the bolt rope comes out which means we are unable to use the mainsail for this sail. The spinnaker pole is out ready and we get underway once we are clear of the reef motor sailing with the headsail up and follow Tanna Island’s east coastline, basically a NW course the whole way from Tanna. We can see the volcano and hear it roar a couple of times.
Later the wind drops out and we lose boat speed for sometime . This changes at 0130 hours when the wind comes up on the beam and there is a cross sea. Ross brings in the headsail and we have a very rough and rolly time for a while once we leave the lee of Erromango Iland.. It settles again after an hour and we can pole the headsail out again and motorsail averaging 6 kts.
We are just 2 hours late arriving as the NNE wind comes in and we have a rough and sloppy sea. We bring in the headsail just 13 n.miles out and motor sail. I am not prepared to go out on deck to help bring in the pole so we can just have the headsail out. There are huge rolls out here. Actually the sea soon calms as we are in the lee of Efata island.
We come into Port Vila through the channel markers. We are very surprised and pleased to hear David and Sheryl, our Australian friends, call us on the HF radio as we come in. Eventually the Yachting World marina answer our calls and send their boatmen over to help us tie up at the wharf in the centre of the town. It is always a great feeling of relief to be securely tied up. We give Impulsive a hose down to wash off all the salt.
It is fun tonight catching up with David and Sheryl, along with Kevin from our neighbouring boat who is waiting for his crew to return, his partner and her daughter.
Even though I am tired I don’t sleep well. We are excited to have Heather and Paul and their children arriving tomorrow.

Saturday, 10th. August

This morning  the town is buzzing . Saturday is the main day at the market and also it is the University’s open day and there is a parade with floats through the main street. The boat is ready and the provisioning done before we go to the airport to meet Heather, Paul and the children. They are staying at Poppy’s Resort by the nearby lagoon.

The market

Buying raspberries

With David and Sheryl

Anna relaxing at Iririki Is.


Lunch at Iririki Is.

Ross in the 4WD (Tanna Is.)

We have the most wonderful week with the family. We pool our ideas and come up with plans that cover most of the places and activities available here.
These include:
Taking the small ferry across to Iririki Island to walk there and enjoy snorkeling and lunch

Miele Cascades

 Miele cascades

A visit to Mele Cascades. Lachie, Anna and Lucinda swim in the beautiful waters here near the base of the 20m. high waterfalls. The surrounding lush, tropical gardens are beautiful to walk through.
A sail up to Havannah Bay and staying overnight on the yacht. We snorkel off the back of Impulsive at Lelepa Is. on the way. The reef isn’t easy to spot so we stay outside it. Once moorored in Havannah’s Bay (Ross manages to organize this in Port vila) we take a long walk to a village and
to a small WW2,s relics museum. There are some very attractive houses along this road, set in their well kept large, tropical gardens.  The following morning we have a lovely snorkel and then walk along the beach to have an early lunch at Francescas, a new and modern restaurant on the water front.
Lunch at Francescas
The sail and motor sail there were fine and calm but coming back the seas are against us and it is a bit
rough. Lachie can now manage the dinghy on his own.
An excursion in the beach buggies,  including driving through farmlands, kayaking and snorkeling.
A visit to Lelapa Island across the Hilliard Channel. Our young guide lives on this island. We climb up to the enormous limestone cave at Natapao point and see some paintings on the walls there which are hundreds of years old. We walk the length of the village along its well tended paths by the sea to the primary school. Unfortunately the school children have broken up for holidays but we are introduced to one of the school’s committee members so we may give them some gifts of books, notepads, textas etc. for the children here. Ron, our guide is studying hard at university hoping to win a scholarship to do Medicine. It is interesting for Lachie, Anna and Lucinda to see the classrooms. There are 300 people living on the island and so only a small number at the primary school. The secondary students go to school across the channel so board there during the weekend and come home at the weekend.
Life on this lovely island isn’t easy eg They have some tanks to collect rainwater but if it is a dry season they have to row their canoes over to Efata Island to collect water.
     The Fire dancers -  at Mele beach. This is a beautiful setting looking over to Hideaway Island. Tonight is very calm and the fire show is excellent.
We all have many visits to Au Peche Mignon a favourite patisserie. There is a great choice of delicious, and very well presented patisseries here.
Wining and dining here has a great reputation. We particularly enjoy Mangoes, Tilly’s, the restaurant on Iririki resort, a Chinese restaurant and the island-style Waterfront Bar and Grill which has live singing and music every night. Impulsive is tied up neat the Waterfront bar and grill so we often enjoy the music coming from here. We have several meals on Impulsive as well.
With the steep hills around Pt. Vila every where we go we see wonderful views over the nearby islands and across the surrounding seas. The transport system is great and very efficient. Minibuses cruise the streets all day and night offering to pick you up and they are very cheap.
This has been a marvelous place for a family holiday. Everyone has been openly friendly and welcoming. Lachie, Anna and Lucinda all want to come back some time.

Lucinda at Poppy's
The blue lagoon - Ross doing double sault with high degree of difficulty
Ross swinging
Paul catches Lucinda

Lucinda at dinner


Fire dance night
Buggy venture - Ross and Lucinda

Anna at Pt. Vila exposition

Anna and Lucinda sailing


Anna sailing


Paul and Lucinda
We look forward to seeing Heather, Paul and the children in Australia soon. It certainly brings the boat to life having the children aboard.

Ross has the usual frustrations with organizing work on the boat. He particularly wants to have the engine checked. Also he discovers our pump to change the oil filters for the engine is broken but this is the main problem because we are unable to locate another one. He misses one of the activities with the family to sort this out but with no positive outcome. Finally the workmen promise they can do it on the Monday morning while we are away but it does not happen. Fortunately a boat comes in we were moored near in Fiji and can lend us one so Ross is able to do it himself.

With impulsive securely tied up in Port Vila we take the short flight n.west to Espiritu Santo. We do this rather than sailing there because the passage down to Noumea  would be too difficult as there too

Sandy Cay we ventured out to in canoes to snorkel
much southerly in the course.
We have a very relaxed few days staying at Oyster Island, a very small and attractive island with only 9 bures. Santos is drier and has less dense forests than Efatu Island. We see many large cocoanut plantations. Often these plantations are combined with cattle grazing.

Small ferry across to Oyster Island
Gardens at Oyster Bay
Oyster Island
Walk around the island
On several occasions young men tell us they are aware of the poor economy in Vanuatu
and that they plan to have smaller families than usual in the villages so they can educate the children they do have well.
Champagne beach
We kayak up the river to the magnificent Blue hole and have a refreshing swim in these stunningly blue waters.
We spend half a day at Champagne Bay which is a glorious white sandy beach with pristine turquoise waters. It is about an hour’s drive north of Oyster Island. Some are lucky enough to swim with a turtle. We organize this trip with a few others from the island. We enjoy a local lunch at Lonnoc beach just a short drive further on again with lovely views over the sparkling waters.

Valit Bay
On the return drive we call into Valit Bay at 15 south to take in its spectacular views. There is a restaurant here by the sea and it has a huge cocoanut plantation and hundreds of cattle grazing over the property. Parked in a nearby hanger is the ultra modern small plane, all owned by a European.
We wonder where all these contrasts in lifestyle will lead : the well developed places eg port Vila and Santo, and the small villages with their subsistence farming. There is also a problem with foreigners buying up and now having 75 year leases on 90 percent of the beach front around Efate. We actually see very little resentment here, but people are prepared to work hard eg go to Australia or New Zealand to pick fruit for 9-12 months to save money.
It is only a 50 minute walk around Oyster island  along the rainforest walking trail. There are several beaches to enjoy and some snorkeling spots including over a crashed WW2 plane. There is a resident dugon here and sometimes a turtle – we miss both unfortunately.
Olly, who manages the resort with her husband, explains that they are unable to grow fruit and veges on the island because of the porous coral soil. They do have beautiful indigenous gardens.
Their fruit and veges are grown nearby on the main island and by women they know. They like to support the local community and have a sustainable community involvement.
Oyster Island is famous for its oysters but they are not available at present because they have been over harvested.

Tuesday 20th. August
We leave the island in time to visit Luganville, the capitol of Santo. It is a small town built either side of the main street which runs along the water front, with shops mainly run by the Chinese.

We have been fortunate with all our travels through the South Pacific to have missed the large sailing rallies coming through and also any of the cruise ships. One of the rallies is due in to Port Vila next Friday so we have just missed them.

A typical tree fern sculpture

Wednesday, 21st. August

We only provision for the couple of days sailing coming up because quarantine is very strict in Noumea and all fresh and frozen foods will be taken and you have to pay to have them fumigated.
Ross has the usual busy time with customs and immigration and organizing to re-fuel.
We need to leave by 10am so we come through the Havannah passage in New Caledonia at slack water in 2 days time. At the height of the current it could run at nearly 5 kts. against us.

The weather forecast is for very calm seas and light winds, but against us. It seems we have a lot of motoring ahead. We need to be in Noumea to meet Prue and Bob and the winds are forecast to come up stronger against us in the next few days.
It is lovely to be out at sea again. We have the mainsail up and when we can, the headsail. Night watch the first night out is a treat with the calm seas and under a full, golden moon. Later the moon is white, large and very bright shining out over the water and the sky above. We can even see all the cloud formations above and across to the horizon. It is wonderful going to sleep up in our forward cabin hearing the bow of Impulsive cutting powerfully through the water. It is reassuring also to hear the continual purring of her strong engine as she glides though these calm waters. There is no sign, even on the radar, of another vessel out here.
This morning is even calmer and we are enjoying the warm sun especially as we have just received an email from Heather saying it is bitterly cold in Melbourne.
The conditions continue the same until 1700 hours when the wind and seas come up,  and it becomes very rough and Impulsive is slapping into the waves.
Ross uses the turbo charger to get us through it so we arrive at Havennah channel on time for the slack water.
Just as Ross is settling for his first sleep I detect a boat just appearing on the radar which is set on a 6 n. miles scale so call him to check it with me. It seems from the AIS it is a large vessel and traveling at 15 its , heading for Port Vila. It really is very close to a collision course so we change our course until it passes by us very soon and is certainly quite close by.
We haven’t sighted any other vessels but on this same watch another vessel appears on the radar. It is a pilot boat also heading to Port Vila. I just work out there is no problem with this vessel on our starboard side and I can see off our port bow navigation lights. This hasn’t yet shown on the radar (which is strange) but soon it is obvious we can pass safely between these vessels. Again we appreciate the light from the moon.
Without any explanation the lights and power go out 70 n.miles from the chanel. This includes all the navigational equipment. Fortunately this all came back on just as quickly. It will be checked in Noumea.
Ross takes us through the channel on time an hour before high water but  instead of the expected 1.3 kts. it was 4.7 kts. The speed through the water was 3.3kts so the speed over the ground was 9.5 kts. We wonder what it would be like mid-tide? Apparently there are many disasters here – a local fishing boat came to grief last week.
What has happened to the weather? It is cold and I have to find a tracksuit for night watch. This morning is cool and overcast. I am embarrassed to wake up and find it is 1030 hours ( I must have been exhausted). Ross needs a sleep now because he has been on watch since 4.30 am.
We check the fridges for quarantine while we are still out at sea. It “hurts” to throw out good limes and we are concerned they will take the pot plant we have had since Raiatea. Apparently the officers charge to fumigate fruit, veges., and meat/fish not cryovaced and dated that are found on board.
Being tied up at Port Moselle marina is very pleasant. It is soon apparent French is the main language spoken here, compared to Vanuatu where it is English. The staff here are very friendly and helpful. Audrey, our agent, and Herve who runs Noumea yacht services are particularly obliging. We are delighted the quarantine officer doesn’t even come inside the boat. He takes our tiny bag of rubbish from our lunch and says we can keep the pot plant as long as we don’t take it ashore. Apparently some of these officers are stricter than others.

Favourite recipes this leg: (a local dish using local produce)
Fresh local fish with a tomato sauce
Chokoes – gently fry finely diced onions and crushed garlicp, add the sliced chokoes and cook through gently; add coconut milk
Served with green salad

Banana fritters
Drizzled with lime juice and fried in a hot pan

Favourite fresh fruit breakfast:
Peeled and diced: papaya and oranges (from Osea)
                              Pineapple (from market in Fiji)
                              Bananas (from Stanley)
                               Pampelemousse (from market in Vanuatu, at Lenokel)
Served with plain yogurt and muesli