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Monday, August 10, 2009

August 10, 2009 - Arrival in Vanuatu

During the radio Sked last night we heard that 4 boats had arrived and were anchored at Oyster Island, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.  We were 100 miles out, anticipating arrival around mid-day Monday.  When it is Monday here it is Sunday in the USA.


We were both operating on sleep deprivation in spite of napping throughout the day, and were ready to be there.  At 2:30 AM we entered the first pass through Vanuatu's western islands of Pentecost and Maewo.  Frank was on watch.  I was fast asleep and fighting to stay that way. When my watch began at 6:00 AM, he informed me that we were in Vanuatu's waters but still at least 6 hours from our destination at Espiritu Santo's Oyster Island.  I set the hand line and within an hour and a half had a fish on the line.  I woke Frank to tell him I was going to clip on the tether to reel it in.  He decided to get up anyway; I guess he was too charged up to sleep so he grabbed the camera and measuring tape as I set about bringing in the fish.  It was a Bonito that was crawling with sea lice.  Blaah! Yuk!  As Frank was tossing it back I reset the line.  We had just settled into the cockpit and were halfway through our first cup of coffee when I looked up and said, "Frank we have caught another fish".  Out came the camera, the measuring tape and the towel, as Frank brought this one in.  He was a large Skip Jack Tuna.  No sea lice, but we don't much care for Skip Jacks so over the side he went.  He was a pretty thing though.  We did not manage to catch any more fish yet that was all right with us.  Our freezer is full. 


We had one more pass to enter before arriving at Oyster Island and were informed that this one was a bit tricky, was very shallow and could be dangerous, however, special markers guiding the way in had been requested.  Knowing our draft, the ICA leader informed us that we would be fine getting through at this time.  We had an hour to go before low tide.  It is a good thing that someone had seen fit to clearly mark the entrance because all of our chart data was far off the mark.  There were three sets of red & green poles sticking up out of the coral laid out in a zig zag pattern marking the way through, the first set being the easy one.  The way they were laid out resembled a Croquet field in that each set of markings resembled the "wicket".   It was like threading a needle, entering the second one.  I was up high on the front spotting, and noting that this was almost too shallow for our dinghy!  Frank was calling depths to me, and just after he called "3 feet", we heard CRUNCH!  We scraped right over a coral head but continued moving forward.  We cleared the second set and just eased through the third with clearance to spare.  Frank radioed John and asked if we were going to make it to the anchorage.  John informed us that we were home free!  We found a spot in the crowded anchorage, were met by shouts of greetings from folks on shore, set the hook and breathed a sigh of contentment.  We are here!  

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