We are still in Port Vila and doing lots of walking around and picking up odds and ends. There are lots and lots of small shops here – it seems that the Chinese are the "merchant class." All the stores have similar items. They are filled with every type of flashlight, LED light, plastic buckets and bins, and every type of flip flop (sandal, slipper, zorie or whatever you call them) made. In fact, you can get "name brands" like Nike or Adidas sandals for a mere 400 Vatu! Such a deal! It is irresistible to go in each shop! We both were under the weather with some stomach flu for a few days – but are back up to speed. Luckily the stove went on a hiatus from working while we were sick so it wasn't missed too much! Now after going from one hardware store to another, from one end of the city to the other, Michael has the stove (it was the propane solenoid) all restored to working order.
We have enjoyed lots of social time with other boaters, playing games aboard Lady Nada and dining aboard Gannet; inviting folks over for sundowners and coffee from "Good to Go" and "Tuarangi" and sharing Happy Hour beers at the local hangout with the "Anni Nad" crew and meeting new folks. We reconnected with the Dutch couple we met in Peterson Bay, Ben and Astrid from Gaia. And our buddies from "Gypsea Heart" are right around the corner and we hope to see them before we leave the anchorage here. It is time for us to move on – as the mooring is costing us daily and we tend to spend money on things like ice creams and beers when in a town! But it's good to do for awhile...but now back to zero dollar days!
We are waiting for a good weather window to continue south down the Vanuatu chain to the island of Tanna for the Mt. Yasur volcano. But the country right now is in a spell of heavy wind 25-30 knots from the southeast. So we'll wait until it settles as we have to head in that direction and don't want to smash into it for the 150 miles or so. It will hopefully settle down to more easterlies or at least lighter winds over the next week of so. In the meantime, weather permitting, we will head back towards the Esoma Bay/Havannah Harbor area to wait. Unfortunately that means going around Devil's Point at least two more times!
Since we've been here, there have been three large cruise ships that have come into the port. It is great entertainment to watch all the visitors come ashore in the water taxis and see them roaming around town. It is particularly fun to watch them attempt to get the jet skis up on a plane – some have eaten too well at the buffet tables aboard!!!
Weather-wise it is quite chilly – a blanket is required at night. It is winter here after all! We have also seen quite a bit of gusty wind and rain squalls over the last four days. Not enough for collecting rainwater, but enough that we have the new exercise program aboard opening and closing hatches.
There is a small crisis here in Vanuatu. The last shipment of gasoline was bad. There is a chemical in the fuel that is supposed to be a 4% and this batch had something like a 16% concentration and the fuel smells like acetone. The chemical can reek havoc on engines – especially the o-rings and rubber hoses and bits. We feel bad for the country as they aren't getting another shipment for a week or so and meanwhile generators, chainsaws, weed-eaters, outboards and cars are suffering. We need some gasoline for our outboard – but will take to rowing before we buy this stuff and ruin our outboard. We wonder if some other country pawned off this bad stuff on Vanuatu.
We should be underway in a day or two...until then, we'll enjoy the big city.
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