Thursday, April 29, 2010

Underway for Vanuatu

April 30, 2010-We spent our time waiting for a good weather window at Musket Cove, where we continued to take care of small projects. I had a lot of varnishing to do, and Steve had boat projects as usual.

The low that kept us from leaving Fiji was heading our way, and it arrived on Saturday night around midnight. We heard the wind pick up and the rain begin so we went on deck to make sure that everything was secure. The dinghy was tied to the side of the boat, but the waves were really putting a strain on her tether so we decided to bring her up on deck in 25 knots of wind and stinging rain. We got her tied down but were now thoroughly soaked and a little cold, which we could not believe because it had been hot again lately. We actually had to pull out a couple of light blankets that night.

Around 3:30 in the morning the worst of the storm hit. We were both sleeping on the settees in the main salon because it was more comfortable. The lightening was flashing, and there was a thunder that shook the whole boat. The winds were now over 40 knots of wind with gusts just over 50 knots. It sounded like a freight train coming through the anchorage. We had put an extra line on the mooring ball, so we felt pretty comfortable, but we always hear stories about moorings that fail. Needless-to-say, it was a long night, and we were short on sleep, but we survived the evening without any problems.

The next day was beautiful and sunny. We were talking to the other boats at Musket and found out that a boat with three guys aboard had left the previous afternoon only about eight or ten hours before the low hit us. We were surprised that a boat would leave with the forecast low approaching and just hoped that they were doing okay.

On Sunday we received a good weather report, so we checked out of Fiji on Wednesday morning. As we were leaving Customs, we saw the sailboat that had left come into the anchorage with everything on the lines to dry out and a shredded main sail. The skipper said that they had been hit very hard, and the boat had been knocked down with her mast under water, which took off the wind instruments. The stove came out of the gimbals, the engine was flooded when water came down below, and his dodger and bimini were ripped off. He also said that the waves were six feet above his head in the cockpit. This has to be one of the worst stories we have heard, and these three guys are pretty lucky. They limped back into Fiji to figure out what to do next. We are just glad that all three are all right.

We motored about 25 miles south to Momi Bay to anchor for the night. John and Renee on sv Scarlet O'Hara, and sv September, with the Austrian couple Hans and Gabriele aboard, were also there. Renee had us pick up two batches of brownies. One was for us, and the other we delivered to Hans and Gabriele. What a perfect way to end the day--with brownies!

The next morning was spectacular with the moon setting in the west as the sun came up in the east. There were beautiful pink clouds against a vivid blue sky-a beautiful day to begin a passage. Also, it was Thursday, which was good because all sailors know that you don't begin a passage on Friday-bad luck. September left just before us headed for Robinson Crusoe Bay for a few days, and Scarlet left just after we did. We left through Navula Pass and headed to the southern Vanuatu island of Tanna, but Scarlet is headed for Port Villa in the middle group. The winds were light so we motored for the first two hours, after which we were able to turn off the engine and sail.

The winds were between 11 and 15 knots all day, but we were still able to make good time. A few hours out, we saw the sea surface just boiling with fish. Steve put out his hand line, but we caught nothing. About a half hour later, we got a strike and pulled in a huge 55-inch Dorado. He was big enough that at one point his pull on the line was affecting our point of sail. We wrestled him on board and threw a towel over his head to calm him down. When we looked down, we saw the hook from the lure lying on the deck because it had broken off. What a loss that would have been. Now we have enough Mahi Mahi for many meals.

The seas were a bit rough yesterday, which finally got to me just as I was about to write the blog so I had to wait until today to work on the computer. There was a full moon last night, and the seas calmed down a bit so everything went well for our first night out. We should arrive in Tanna on Sunday if all goes well and the winds don't die down. I will post another blog in two or three days. Remember that you can click on the Yotreps link at the right to see our position, which we report every day.

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