Let’s play guess the depth: Vanuatu part 1

DCIM101GOPROHello everyone,

Last we wrote, we had just arrived in Luganville, Vanuatu on the island of Espiritu Santo and we were taking care of things like customs, water refills and general relaxation after being at sea for a week. Over the course of the past 2 weeks we’ve discovered a bit of this island and after a few days going up and down the east coast, we’re back anchored outside of Beachfront resort waiting for two friends, (Tasha and Amanda) to arrive this afternoon with hopefully a working depth sounder.

We tried our best to be good little tourists while we’ve been here. After our initial few days of recovery, we snorkeled at Million Dollar Point and saw the artificial reef growing on a pile of WWII relics. When the USA pulled out of this area after using it as a base to deter the Japanese from any advancement further into the Pacific theatre, they trashed “A million dollar’s” worth of equipment by lining it all up and “driving” it into the sea by weighting down the accelerators with bricks and rocks. Before that, the U.S. tried to sell the equipment to the Vanuatu government at the time, but the French were ruling then and refused, thinking the Americans would leave the equipment anyway…well I guess that didn’t work out how they expected.

We met some fellow yachties when we got back from snorkeling and after helping them load some of their provisions into their dinghy, we found out they were doing the Millennium cave tour the next day. We decided we might as well come along and after a day of climbing up and down a bunch of ladders in the jungle and floating down a river, we were pretty tired for the next two days. This made us realize just how out of shape we’ve become despite what we consider exercise like hauling water and swimming almost daily. It was a great day out and is owned and run by a local village who do a great job.

Andy went on a couple of dives on the wreck of the Coolidge over the next 2 days (no good photos unfortunately) and then we motor sailed up to Hog Harbor/Champagne beach on the NE corner of Santo. DCIM101GOPROchampagnebeach

After snorkeling and kayaking our way around the Champagne beach anchorage, we made our way through an extremely dicey pass to anchor behind Oyster Island (midway between Champagne beach and Luganville). Several people we met wanted to give us the waypoints to get through this reef area, but even with the way points, we would’ve landed over a pretty large coral bommie, so we took it slow and I was at the bow keeping a keen lookout with a pair of Andy’s reef spotting polarized sunglasses. We have no idea how shallow the pass actually was as our depth sounder has been iffy at best and hasn’t worked since Wallis.  Wanderlust stayed off the coral and the bottom and we anchored in a very sheltered spot. We dinghied up a river to the Matevulu blue hole and had a swim in the fresh water.

We left Oyster Island the next day at high tide and thankfully followed our path on the chart plotter from the day before so no coral surprises. Then we anchored down in Pelikula bay and checked out a couple of surface shipwrecks.

Thankfully it is now raining profusely and the scorching day has finally cooled off. We are stocked up with fuel, water and all kinds of tasty treats for a week with Tasha and Amanda and we are headed slowly South to meet up with more friends towards the end of September.

Until next time,

Bre & Andy

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Where’s Wallis?

Hi everyone,

I work fast I know…after reading the last blog about our final days in Tonga, it’s another back logged entry about our short time in Wallis. We left Vavau, Tonga on August 2nd and arrived on the reef fringed island of Uvea (Wallis) on August 5th in the early morning. We then floated outside the reef for a few hours until the sun came up so we could make it through the pass through the reef in daylight.

wallissunrise

Heading for the pass at sunrise

Anyone thinking of going to Wallis, the pass close to low tide is probably the best time to go through as quite a bit of current can pass through the area and on our way back out, it was a bit bumpy where the pass meets the open ocean. Wallis is located NE of Fiji about 200 nautical miles away (241 land miles or 388 KM) 13.2959° S, 176.2057° W. It became a French protectorate in 1965 and now has imported French cheese and baguettes as a result.

We considered going to Wallis way back when we were at Big Mama’s Yacht club at the beginning of our time in Tonga. We heard the snorkeling was amazing and not many people go there so we decided to go to Wallis and skip Fiji. Upon arrival in Wallis, we were surprised that the police (Gendarme) spoke some English as we were trying to practice our French phrases over the 2 day sail and learning to say (we are on a yacht) was proving quite difficult. They were able to stamp our passports for entry, then we waited until customs was open on Monday to complete the proper yacht arrival forms. We did this with our friends Hamish and Ulrika on Adamite who we met when we were originally in the Ha’apais. Wanderlust and Adamite were yachts 57 and 58 to visit Wallis this year.

We were happy to get some baguettes and never made it back to the boat with our first one as we ate the whole thing on the walk back to the dinghy. wallisbaguet

After anchoring in the extremely windy East side of the island we quickly made our way down South where Andy was able to prepare his kite for some kiteboarding. However, the island was in a wind shadow so I dinghied him and his board out away from the wind shadow while he kept the kite up at the 12 o’clock position, then he hopped off very impressively and was on his way. After being spoiled in Tonga with pristine kiting conditions, he was less than impressed, but the snorkeling was beautiful and I’m glad we chose to go to Wallis. We failed at charging the gopro so sorry, no photos.

On our last day in Wallis, we anchored down the southwest side near some fuel silos and the guys on Adamite were kind enough to dinghy us all in so we could clear out and hit the shops. I of course grew tired of walking quite quickly and had read that passing passenger trucks will usually stop for hitch hikers. We all hopped into one of 3 trucks that would eventually take us to the the large supermarket (SEM). If you are reading this and plan to visit Wallis, this giant supermarket is on the main road LEFT after the police station (where the road splits in three) we did not choose this third route when we originally went exploring. We managed to get a giant bottle of red wine for $20 and somehow spent $30 on 4 tomatoes…the fresh produce was expensive, but not that expensive…apparently the scale thought 4 tomatoes weighed 1.5 kg and we didn’t realize until after we were back on the boat…Thankfully, Hamish thought to find out at the supermarket where we actually had to get back to and the people made him a sign for the side of the road. A kind lady in a tiny blue car managed to shove all four of us and her young child into the car and took us back to where the dinghy was. I was actually amazed we made it back to where we started from.

hitchhikewalliswallischurchwallisbanana

We departed Wallis on Thursday, August 10th and had a beautiful sail all the 960 nautical miles to Luganville, Vanuatu.bresleeppassage We even had a bird hitch hike on the boat for 4 consecutive nights.birdpassageThanks bird for decorating Wanderlust with all your poops. After 7 days at sea, we arrived yesterday and we are currently anchored off beachfront resort off the island of Santo in Vanuatu and so far we’ve found the people of Vanuatu extremely friendly. Beachfront is also a one stop shop as they allow yachties to use their wifi and pool if you buy drinks or food. They have a drinking water tap to refill jerry jugs, hot showers, a book exchange, and can send laundry off for us as well.  Everything we could want.

Until next time,

Bre & Andy

 

Viva Vavau!

mounu

Hello Beauties,

We just arrived in Vanuatu (August 17th), but we needed to update the blog for the past few weeks of activity so bear with us. Last we wrote (Sometime in July) we were looking forward to Tash and Patti coming to visit and were feeling a bit annoyed over all the inconveniences of paddling without an outboard and having steering fluid leaking about and an electric autopilot that finally bit the dust.

HOWEVER, we are doing much better and everything is working in our favor these days and we are loving life 100% rather than 96% like that last blog post seemed to insinuate.

Tash and Patti arrived on July 22nd and we enjoyed having them onboard because we went new places and were on the move rather than chilling out in the same anchorage for many days or being on a town mooring for multiple days trying to sort our outboard situation. Unfortunately, our outboard situation was only sorted miraculously towards the end of Tash and Patti’s trip and we got a brand new 5hp mercury for super cheap…amazing I know. We liked to paddle everywhere by then although the paddling wasn’t conducive to Andy’s kiteboarding necessities. Tash and Patti were also able to deliver our new autopilot motor which is working beautifully!paddlingwithTandp

The first day that Tash and Patti arrived, we went for a swim into swallow’s cave and even saw 2 whales on our way.

We anchored for the night near the island of Nuku and went over for drinks on our friends’ catamaran Halo after some snorkeling. DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPROOver the next week we snorkeled at Coral Gardens and swam under a meter wide overhang into Mariner’s Cave. Both were incredible, but the gopro didn’t take good photos because we tested out the red lens and it made everything dark and bloody looking. We spent a few hours down the south of Honga in an area named “blue lagoon” which turned rolly and crazy after a few hours when the tide came up so we anchored in a different area for the night. Andy was able to get a lot of kiteboarding in off the island of Mounu and even tried to teach me some more, but I am not yet able to incorporate the board as I’m still trying to wield the kite appropriately.

Tash, Patti and I went whale watching one day and it was ok, but very windy and choppy so Tash and Patti went again the next day and had a better experience. Of course we went to our favorite restaurant, Aquarium a few times and then it was sadly time for Patti to leave and then Tash departed a few days later.

After dropping Tash off to catch a taxi to the airport, we made our way around to tie up alongside Halo and clear out of Tongan customs on August 1st, get our duty free fuel and prepare for our departure to Wallis on August 2nd.

We had a bit of a bumpy passage up to Wallis which started out by momentarily catching a massive marlin with our brand new, sparkly pink lure…which we promptly lost along with 30m? of high grade fishing line. At least the line snapped and the rod remained on the boat. It was quite the spectacle of jumping and flipping for oh about…5 mins. Overall, we had an amazing 2 months in Tonga and would recommend visiting to anyone. We especially liked the restaurants, Aquarium for amazing food and margaritas as well as Tropicana for anything and everything someone one a boat would need like lpg, book exchange, laundry courtesy flags and the BEST cheese and ham toastie on the best brown bread.

Stay tuned Wallis and passage to Vanuatu post next…

Boat life is the best life,

Bre & Andy