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J Composites 2022 - J99 LEADERBOARD

Freedom and Adventure: Returning to Havana Bay Vanuatu

by Andrew & Clare Payne 8 Aug 12:44 UTC

A big surprise

Before I talk about the trip, I want to tell you about the surprise we had when we went ashore for a walk. Just as I got out of the dinghy a sea snake came slithering out from under the fuel tank in the bottom of the dinghy. We have no idea how it managed to get into the dinghy and I'm only glad it didn't show itself during our trip to shore as this might have caused a bit of a panic on my part. Andrew hooked it out with a stick and threw it back in the ocean.

So now for the trip

For our journey south to Havana Bay on the island of Efate, we did three day sails. First was forty miles to Port Stanley on Malakula Island, then 38 miles to Port Sandwich on the south end of Malakula then 80 miles to Havana Bay on the main island of Efate.

The sail to Port Stanley was so calm I did the washing (including sheets and towels) hang them on the rails and got them dry before night fall. The highlight of the trip the following day to Port Sandwich was catching a Mahi Mahi.

The next morning we left from Port Sandwich at 6am to do the 80 mile trip to Havana Harbour. We had up to 22 knots true wind, sailed at 60 degrees apparent in somewhat confused seas, Late afternoon we had a decent squall with very heavy rain. We arrived around 7pm in pitch dark but fortunately we had our tracks to follow, from when we left the bay 2 weeks earlier. We were pretty well done in by the time we dropped anchor.

The only other boat in Port Havana is a sturdy 80 foot sailing ship built by the Polish owner who speaks limited English. He is sailing alone but has Polish friends arriving next Wednesday. We went over to say Hello or Dzien Dobry (good morning) which is the only Polish I know. He invited us onto the boat. He is very proud of his vessel, which is grand and very solid, Andrew said it would be worth millions. Our Polish friend's sailing experience would be totally different to ours, he can steer from inside in air conditioned comfort.

Our Polish friend was short of vegetables and so I gave him some bok choy, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, bananas and grapefruit. The next morning he came over to our boat with a freshly baked loaf of bread. Totally unexpected and thoroughly delicious.

We have had a number of local boats come to Eye Candy for a chat or to deliver fruit and vegetables from their gardens. Others come wanting things, which we give them if we can. We had a family last night looking for bait to go fishing. We gave them our last piece of MahiMahi which was probably passed it's use by date for eating.

The people below rowed out to the Polish boat to meet the owner. They said they couldn't understand him, but together they did a lot of laughing. They then rowed passed our boat and Andrew offered them a tow back to shore. They accepted readily and laughed all the way to shore.

We went across to Tasiriki Village on the far side of the bay. We were met on the beach by two villagers who gave us a tour of the village.

We walked to the school and met two of the six teachers. Friday is a half day and so all the kids were on their way home.

Many said hello, gave us high fives or shook our hands. Some of the little ones are very cute with big brown eyes, big smiles and fuzzy hair sticking out in all directions.

The village is very neat and tidy and the houses are good quality. Many of the men from this village have been fruit picking in New Zealand. Some we met have been to NZ for seven seasons. It's quite a sacrifice being away from home for a six to nine month for picking season. They spend the money on education for the children and a better lifestyle for the family with a nice house and a boat with a 40 horse outboard.

Andrew has been busy today changing the bolts in the chain plates. This involves undoing all the rigging at the deck. He brought the new bolts back from Australia. The bolts he replaced weren't too bad but now we have brand new ones.

So what's next

Tomorrow we will leave this peaceful bay and go around to the much busier Port Vila Harbour. From here we will start looking for a weather window to go to Noumea in New Caledonia. We have to leave Vanuatu by the end of August. We are hoping to find a light North East Wind to carry us down to New Cal. So until next time stay safe and our love to all.

This article has been provided courtesy of the Freedom and Adventure.

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