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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 8 - 9: Vanuatu Passage Part 3

Neither of us got much sleep as the storms and squalls pelted us throughout the night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Sometime in mid-morning the waters laid down as well as our fantastic sailing winds and we settled in to day 3 of the journey. John Martin from S/V "Windflower", who is our rally leader, made a VHF announcement that Oyster Island Resort (our destination in Vanuatu) has decided to sponsor a fishing contest and is offering prizes to the largest fish caught and the most fish caught during the passage. First prize is a free night at the resort. You could nearly hear the scampering as fellow cruisers ran about their boats to get their lines in the water. We of course joined in the action. I lumbered out to the aft deck to set our newly rigged hand line. Before long we heard yachties reporting in that they had caught: a bill-fish (either a Marlin or Sword), a 1.5 meter Mahi Mahi, a large Skip Jack, and so on. "Free Spirit" reported an amazing catch; two double-header Mahi Mahi's (that's two lines rigged with two lures each meaning they caught 4 fish at one time). Wow! By mid-day, we snagged a beautiful 42" Wahoo. As I was skinning it Frank yelled down to me to stop deboning and skinning because we were to be judged on total weight. Hmmm. Where to put a fish when the fridge and freezer are full? This leads me to wonder what should we do if we catch a lot of fish? But we continued nonetheless, not catching anymore this day. We continued hearing the announcements as various yachts called in their catches. Some of them were using monster lures landing 8-10 foot billfish. We could not possibly compete. This passage has produced the best stocked fishing holes we have yet to encounter since leaving the US. I think my ex-husband would be in heaven were he to troll these waters!

Saturday night we heard "Kiss II" check in on the Sked. They were mobile again and in the fleet. Great news! The lack of wind became monotonous, making it difficult to stay awake on watch. When there are storms and high seas at least your nerves are alive and adrenaline is up so that there is no difficulty staying alert.

Sunday, Frank and I both finished our books and he announced that I really must read "Getting Stoned With Savages", because it is the author's account of living in both Vanuatu and Fiji. Been to Fiji, heading to Vanuatu so I snatched it up and could hardly put it down. Although Mr. Troost sometimes gets caught up in his impressive literary genius and expansive vocabulary (lots and lots of verbs and adjectives I have to look up), it was a highly informative and entertaining book. He has a great knack for writing. His tales of Vanuatu had us rolling in laughter and quivering in fear. Apparently there are a lot of deadly creatures there, such as a venomous 2 ft. long/2in. diameter centipede that ventured into his home that must be smashed to smithereens to kill because if you just chop at it each piece will continue to thrive independently and regenerate. He eventually was stung by one and became very ill and nearly paralytic! He mentions other dangers that we had read about in our cruising and travel guides such as an alarmingly high rate of malaria and dengue fever, seriously shark infested waters and lots of volcanic activity. We read on Noonsite that swimming at most beaches is not recommended, especially at black beaches and wherever you spot a red buoy in the water. The red buoy is laden with bloody meat to attract sharks! These people are nuts! OK, we are warned but we are also looking forward to discovering the beauty and allure of Vanuatu. If the TV show "Survivor" can allow participants to do a stint in Vanuatu then I think we are going to be just fine.

This was to be another day of motoring with light squalls on and off throughout. We have had some difficulty getting through on the HAM to post our position report, but Sailmail is working for emails. We received sad news that our friend from Denver, Jeff lost his father to a fast attacking and deadly battle with cancer. Our hearts are heavy for Jeff and Jeri Lyn.

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