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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Provisioing, Snorkleing, Caves, Shells, and Broken toilet.

Efate Island Vanuatu- September 7, 2007.

Havana Harbor Anchorage
17 degrees 33 minutes South
168 degrees 17 minutes East

Port Vila was great with superb restaurants, lots of socializing, great shopping, secure mooring for the boat, internet and simple pleasures like fresh bread and coffee shops. Having checked off nearly every item on our numerous lists we now feel ready for the many months ahead in the remote Solomon Islands. We've provisioned with the mindset that aside from some basics be better bring it with us. A few of the items we purchased for both our consumption and for trading purposes: 24lbs cheese, 55lbs rice, 44lbs sugar, 12lbs pasta, 8lbs flour, 4lbs butter, 4lbs peanut butter, 2lbs salt, 40yds of fabric, fish hooks, fishing line, 8 fillet knifes, canned meat, and clothing for trade. We also purchased a small gas powered generator, small air conditioning unit, scuba tank and sewing machine. Right now the boat is jammed full of stuff.

A day sail away from the busy Port Vila harbor we are now anchored off the North end of Lelepa Island in an idyllic anchorage of truly crystal clear water making for spectacular underwater visibility. The reefs are pretty barren and we think the 1993 cyclone destroyed the fragile corals as the beach is piled high with coral fragments. Snorkeling after breakfast around 9AM this morning we investigated alternate exit routes out of this very tight anchorage. Along the way we saw a huge grouper, a crown of thorns star fish, many sea anemone with requisite clown fish, small pink and purple corals, green and yellow soft corals, turtles and numerous reef fish of every description. Not a bad way to start the day.

Yesterday after arriving we went on an adventure to explore the many caves that line the limestone cliffs, snorkel and look for rare shells. The caves are plentiful and very large however we did not locate any burial caves filled with skeletons such as those we explored on Erromango Island. We did find some amazing shells including two golden cowries shells, a nautilus shell and giant clam shells to name a few. According to a shop keeper in Port Villa selling golden cowry shells, these sell for up to $800+USD and none had been found in Vanuatu in over 14 years. Seems like a good sales pitch and since we've been looking for months it seems possible. We mostly just admire the shells as it's not practical to have shells displayed aboard a sail boat for fear of breaking them.

Just to prove that the cruising life is not all fun and games the toilet broke down the other morning and required a three hour rebuild. Pretty much the most disgusting job you can imagine as during the disassembly of the sewage pump the contents of the tubes and pump spill out making a revolting mess. Not fun but I suppose if I want to think positive about this, at least it didn't happen on passage.

Yesterday I completed the installation of an additional rain catching device to supplement our water supply. Catching or making our water will be essential once we get up to The Solomon's and Papua New Guinea. The system utilizes the flat surface of the solar panels to catch the rain and I added little curbs around the edge to direct the water to tubing running to the water tank. The problem with tropical rain storms is they are usually associated with strong winds so the rain blows not falls. The new system is a great improvement over the old system which was a tarp with a tube attached to the middle. The problem with a tarp is that no matter how well you suspend it over the deck it always flaps in strong winds shaking the water off before it drains to the tube. It is also noisy when it flaps and requires about ten minutes to install. Unusually, those ten minutes are during a deluge of rain so again not to fun to get soaked and try to handle the flapping tarp.

The wind is shifting make our idyllic anchorage not so idyllic so we'll be moving on to a more protected harbor.

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