Saturday, August 15, 2015

Underway Again, FINALLY!

After almost a month in Peterson Bay, Santo we have finally got the anchor out of the mud and moved out. It was a pleasant stay there. Michael completed the big sewing project and now "Pukupuku" (our dinghy) is covered. We saw a rodeo and enjoyed the festivities of Independence Day. And Barbara managed to get over a bout with not feeling well (that was the reason for the extended stay). But all is well now and we left on Thursday afternoon to get out of the tricky and narrow cut during high tide. Then we anchored outside near an island and had a very pleasant evening. It is always fun to discover a new anchor spot that isn't listed in any of the books!

On Friday morning, bright and early, we pulled the anchor and sailed to the northern part of Santo and anchored in Port Olry. This was a very pretty anchorage that we snuck way back into over a few small reefs. It was that pretty place with a white, white sand beach and water of various shades of blue. Very pretty. We got visited by Marcus from a boat that was a bit further out in the bay. He needed help with his computer and Michael was able to give him a hand. Unfortunately our plans wouldn't allow us to stay in this spot - though we will probably come back.

Our goal for this year's trip to Vanuatu was to get to the Banks Islands...well we finally did. We left Port Olry at 0630 and made the 50 mile passage to the island of Gaua, also known as Santa Maria. The trip was interesting – the predicted 19 knots of SE winds ended up being anything from 8 knots of East winds to 22 knots of NE and some SE thrown in as well. That meant lots and lots and lots of sail changes. We put our downwind/whisker pole up and down three times! Of course the sea was very confused and the two plus meter "significant" waves made these pole changes challenging! But we were able to sail the entire way and got here by 1630 (4:30 pm).

We are anchored in the Lakona Bay near three villages. As we approached the anchorage, two canoes headed out towards us and met us. They told us we could anchor pretty close to shore and that the bottom had no rocks – just sand. We are settled in about 20 feet – but unfortunately, it is a rolling anchorage. There is a steady swell that works its way into this bay and hits the boat on the beam giving us a nice steady roll. We invited our canoe greeters aboard for a cup of tea and got some of the island info. We came here because on this Thursday and Friday there is a big festival. On shore, the women were practicing the "water music" which is one of the events for the festival. This is supposed to be one of the nicer events in Vanuatu and we are looking forward to it. It is a two day event filled with music, dancing, arts and local food. We will learn more when we meet today with the festival's director (who also came by in a canoe later – but we had just sat down to dinner (our only meal that day).

Today is Sunday, so we will go into the village of Tolav later today and get our official permission to be here and get more info about the festival. It is a pretty grey and drizzly day (like yesterday), so hopefully that is not indicative of this particular island's weather pattern. It is a relatively high island with what looks like lots of rivers and waterfalls. But we'll will be good to get off the boat as much as possible simply because of the roll aboard.

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