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Friday, October 30, 2009

October 25 -31, 2009 - Hello Norfolk Island and chance encounters!

I am never surprised by the fact that although two people will have the same experience (together), they may take away different memories and perspectives of the event. If anyone is reading our blogs, you will note that Frank has gotten over his "writer's block" and has recently been inspired to get back to journaling. In reading the posts he'd sent in I had to laugh because what he highlighted in his notes were a bit different than what I would have (and vice versa).

So we left Noumea with a small group of yachts determined to sail direct to Opua, NZ, but planned a contingency stop at Norfolk Island. Besides being a choppy journey with the wind on our nose most of the time, I remember mostly that the fuel leak reared its ugly head again. It is no picnic being in rough seas anyway. Then you add to that recipe these factors: can't open hatches or portholes because the water is washing up over the yacht… this makes it real stuffy below…fuel leaks leave ghastly fumes that can't go anywhere but up the companionway and into the cockpit when the hatches are all closed…generally we are in the cockpit or sleeping in the saloon during a crossing so the fumes pervade every breathing space. This was my most vivid memory of the 3½-day passage to Norfolk Island. We were very happy to see this tiny little island in the middle of the ocean, perfectly situated halfway between Noumea and Opua. We did not stop because of the fuel leak. We stopped because we needed to get out of the "washing machine seas" and wait for the winds to shift around for a better shot into Opua.

Norfolk Island has a very interesting history. It reminds us somewhat of Niue, which has ties to New Zealand. Norfolk Island was originally discovered and named by Captain Cook, claimed by the Australians, used for a penal colony and then later to relocate the Pitcairn Islanders. The Pitcairn Islanders were the surviving mutineers from The Bounty. Fletcher Christian's bloodline is alive and thriving here on Norfolk Island. It is tiny, but loveable! There is a beautiful golf course, which Frank and John from "Windflower" played along with Toby and Kath from "Solstice". While they golfed, Lynn (John's wife) and I went touring. There are prison ruins, lots of museums, shops, boutique hotels, B & B's, spas and duty-free shopping galore! There are many very good restaurants and sweet shops. It is a jewel in the middle of nowhere, and we are so glad to have found it. The 1300 or so islanders are mostly all related to the original settlers - either of the penal colony, the military & supply ships that wrecked here or from the Bounty. They are adorably friendly and hospitable. The entire island is nothing but a holiday & vacation venue for loads of Aussies and Kiwis with a few Americans and other nationalities thrown into the pot. One local man and his wife left a car at the wharf for any of the cruisers to use who need transportation. There really is no crime here, no worries of car theft or otherwise. The livestock, cows mostly, just roam free and all driveways and roadways have cattle guards to keep the cows from where they aren't supposed to go. It is simply beautiful.

Our second day at Norfolk, while bringing the dinghy into the wharf one of the local men walked over to Frank, offered him a hand and spoke to him like they were old friends. I did a double take, realizing it was Dean Burrell from Hutcheson Boat Builders down in Tauranga, NZ. I walked over to him, leaned in close and said, "Dean?" He threw his head back and just laughed, gave me a hug, saying what a strange coincidence it was to see us. He had grown up here, and is a descendent of one of the original families. He and his wife had recently bought a holiday apartment complex and had just relocated here from Tauranga to raise their little boy. He had heard there were yachties in Cascade Bay, so he wandered over to find out if there was anyone he knew among us. The World just keeps getting smaller.
The only downfall is that the anchorage is the rolliest we have ever encountered in our nearly two years out cruising. Many of the yachties are on seasick meds while at anchor. I asked Frank if it is possible to suffer a knockdown while at anchor. He just shrugged and said, "Well, I guess it is possible". When we do go into town, someone in the anchorage is always on watch for the boats in the bay. We do not leave the boat at night, although Dean had offered us complimentary use of an apartment in case we wanted a calm night of rest. We declined his offer but were deeply grateful.

It is looking like the winds are favorable for a Sunday departure. All Saints Day - well, perhaps they will be looking out for us on this next 400-mile leg of our journey back to The Land of the Long White Cloud. In the meantime - Happy Halloween to all back home.

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Oct 17 - 24, 2009 - Noumea, New Caledonia

The exodus continued each day as we bid farewell to many dear friends who were departing for Australia. In the meantime, we were on a mission to find a venue somewhere in Noumea to watch our beloved Denver Broncos play the San Diego Chargers in Monday Night Football. Frank inquired everywhere we went around town and his request was often met with a glazed over look from the locals - what was he talking about? What is Monday Night Football, and why does he want to watch it on Tuesday at 11:30 AM? What is ESPN? Ha! It was pretty funny. He was not to be denied and continued the quest until he found that there is a casino outside of town at the Meridian Resort that may have cable/satellite TV. So we jumped on a bus Tuesday morning, along with all the locals, taking it to the end of the line. We walked into the casino to find nothing but blinking and flashing slot machines. In the middle of the room was a small snack bar with plastic tables and chairs - this was a high dollar outfit! There were video monitors suspended down from the ceiling on two sides, playing New Caledonia's version of VH-1. Frank walked around asking anyone who may understand a little English if there was a place in the casino to watch American Football on ESPN. They again didn't seem to know what we were talking about, so finally a man came along who thought he could help us out. He took us to a manager who went behind a locked door into a control room. After flipping the channel several times to various soccer games, watching us as we shook our heads telling him "American Football…ESPN", behold he found the game! We were the only people in the snack bar at the time so the manager switched two of the four screens to our game. We were in Heaven! It was like we had a private viewing room, but with the bells and whistles of slot machines in the background - there was no sound, just the audio but we didn't care. And the Broncos won! It was nearly the best part of our visit in Noumea!

Afterward we walked for a few kilometers along the beach road, watching kite surfers and surf sailors. This is a haven for those sports and the masses were out! It was a pretty day, so we strolled over to the famous Aquarium for a visit. It was well worth the price for admission. Finally we caught another bus back to the marina. That night we had invited Tanja and Bernd from "Upps" over for dinner. I must say I fixed a superb fresh prawn curry dish that was a huge hit. I hope I can remember how I prepared it so I can do it again. The local prawns here are outstanding.

Most of our time in Noumea was spent getting the boat ready for departure , getting laundry sent out and having dinners with friends. Noumea houses a vast seafood market just a block from the marina, and then next to that is an even larger fresh foods (fruits, veggies, etc.) market and then next to that is another market for jewelry, clothing, shells, hand crafts - you name it. There were even several French pastry and coffee shops. We really liked Noumea and would have enjoyed spending more time here, and probably will next year if we pass this way again. I was able to refill some of my prescriptions and get other medications for far cheaper than back in the States, so we restocked some of our med supplies at the local pharmacy.

Wednesday night we all gathered at the yacht club for a passage briefing and steak dinner. This one is a "real" yacht club. The Port Captain and his wife were invited, and seated at the table with Frank and I, so we had to behave. The plan was set for our departure on Friday, when we were to check out of the country, after which we could receive our duty-free fuel, and then be on our way to NZ. Fortunately, Customs gave us a 36-hour departure window, because conditions were not good for a Friday departure, AND we do not generally leave port for any passage on a Friday (sailors superstition). So we fired off goodbye emails to friends and family and had an early night to bed. Saturday at 6 AM we left the dock. First stop was the fuel dock to top off the tanks. If all went well, we planned a stop mid-way to New Zealand at a small Australian territory called Norfolk Island, three ½ days out.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oct 12 - 16, 2009 - Baie de Prony & Noumea - Saying Sad Goodbyes!

We left Ils des Pins on Oct 12th, headed northwest for Baie de Prony, which is located on the southernmost part of Grand Terre, New Caledonia's main and largest island. The Gribs (raw weather data) had indicated we would have a good day of sailing. Gribs are often not what they seem. The winds were very light, but we had a nice motor-sail journey, arriving around 3 PM. This area is known for its red soil. In fact the soil is so red that you will not get it out of your clothing or off your shoes. The topography is vastly different than anything we have seen outside the USA. The bay is very large, tranquil and looks like a lake in either North East Texas or Georgia, with red clay hills all around and water that is rather brown - not clear. Not blue. It is not what we would call attractive by South Pacific standards, but held another kind of beauty. It was peaceful! The only sounds we would hear were for three days were hundreds of birds - not chirping or screeching, but singing melodiously morning and evening, and fish jumping and splashing, causing ripples and ringlets across the waters. The water was calm, and if the sun hit it right on a clear day you could see mountains of delicate stag horn coral just underneath the surface off to the sides of our boat. Anchoring is dicey because of the delicate bottom, and we only anchored in depths marked far clear of the coral areas.

We took this opportunity to work on deck, polishing and cleaning. Then while Frank finished around the outer hull, I got down to some serious scrubbing of floors and lockers inside. We were getting Destiny ready for passage.

We had been in touch with Morning Light, thinking that they were leaving Noumea around the 18 or 20th for Australia. So we spent 3 blissful days in Baie de Prony, but then we received an email from them indicating they had a "weather window" much sooner and would probably leave on Thursday the 15th! Early AM on Thursday we made tracks for Noumea in a desperate attempt to arrive before they left port. We arrived around noontime and managed to catch them on the VHF 16. They were still here. There was no room in the marina so we anchored in the next bay over. They had decided to leave very early the next day instead. We were thrilled! After getting settled and having lunch we dingied over to see them. We spent the rest of the afternoon together and then had a farewell dinner with them and Dave and Jan from "Baraka". Afterward Frank and I walked Jaime and Christine back to their boat and had a teary goodbye. They tried one more time to convince us to come with them to OZ and we made a final attempt to change their minds as well. At the end of it all we hugged and vowed to make plans to see one another many more times wherever we are. Friends for life.

On the 16th, they departed early in the morning. We hailed them on VHF 16 when we awakened at 7:00. They were already far outside the reef pass, but still within range. We bid them fair winds and following seas. At around 8:00 AM we called the marina and were given a berth - it was the one vacated by our dear friends! We got settled in and went to shore to get set up with the marina, get an internet card, and take care of general business. It was nice to be on shore power again and to have the convenience of the marina.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

oct 3rd, 2009 - Going to Ils des Pins AND Decisions, Decisions…Where to go? OZ or NZ? Nearly stepping on Sea Snakes!

Side note to my blog...When we received the tsunami warning the other day we had been very concerned for our friends Glen and Sally aboard TDM.  The last time we had heard from them they were in Western Samoa, which was near the epicenter of the earthquake.  We had sent an email to them inquiring about their welfare. Their response to us was both upsetting and comforting, as they were in fact directly impacted yet remained unharmed.  She detailed their personal experience on her blog.  A link to the blog, "s/v The Dorothy Marie", is listed here on the left-hand side of my blog page, for anyone who would like to read about it.  Also, sadly, we heard that a boat called "Sunshine", whom we had met in French Polynesia was in Pago Pago during the Tsunami and was thrown onto a reef and completely destroyed. We did not hear whether they were onboard at the time.


The day before our departure from Ouvea, Frank and I had a big discussion.  We had already obtained our Australian multiple-entry visas and we had booked and paid for a marina berth in Bundaberg, Australia.  We had changed our insurance, which must be done whenever there is a destination change. We had been making arrangements to sail down to meet some friends in Sydney, November 18th and to book all kinds of great stuff over the holidays and through New Year's in Sydney.  We had lots of plans for Australia (affectionately known in these parts as "OZ").  But I was having misgivings.  When Frank and I sailed out of New Zealand in May, it was with every intention of returning there for another season.  Then after arriving in Fiji, various dynamics came into play precipitating a change of plans and so we committed to sail to OZ during the off-season instead.  My heart still wanted to return to NZ yet I just did not want to endure that passage.  That was the bottom line and this thought:  If we carry on to OZ then we will more or less be committed to leave the South Pacific and continue toward Indonesia.  I for one was not yet done with the South Pacific or with NZ. Frank wasn't either but he was less inclined to change everything AGAIN. Many of our Kiwi friends were expressing disappointment that we were not returning and were trying their best to gently, and sometimes not so gently nudge us back there.   After speaking to John Martin on s/v Windflower, AKA the head guy for the ICA, AKA our Rally Leader, AKA Frank's golfing buddy, we decided that we would put our faith in him and God and return to NZ with the ICA Rally.  We created a stir of mixed emotions and reactions from friends and loved ones over that decision.  This time we stand firm.  We cancelled the marina berth in Bundaberg.  We cancelled our plans in Sydney L, and we changed our insurance once again.  New Zealand, here we come!  This decision also gave us an extra week or so in New Caledonia, so we can slow down a little bit.  Yachts departing for OZ normally begin the exodus in mid-Oct.  Boats departing for NZ start looking for weather windows the last week of Oct.


OK.  That said, on Oct 3rd we sailed an overnighter down to Ils des Pins with Morning Light, Baraka, Free Spirit, Special Blend and Priscilla. It was a good trip.  We arrived in Kuto Bay, which was nearly as beautiful as Mouli in Ouvea.  This was a fun place, with resorts nearby that served fabulous food!  We had access to a small grocery store and bakery that cranked out fresh baguettes daily.   There were a couple of boutiques des gifts that sold fairly pricey items.  Well – everything in New Caledonia is pricey.  When you get right down to it if you want to come here you just can't let that stuff bother you.  You will pay $25 for a hamburger, $100/day for a car rental (only $70 for 6 hours though), and dinner out is approx $100/pp without drinks.  These are US dollar equivalents.  Any place owned by the French is going to be expensive.  So you suck it up and decide whether you want to spend a little money to get out and enjoy yourself, or be budget conscious.  We bit the bullet a few times and ate out.  Our favorite was to head over to Kanumera Bay for a cheeseburger (in paradise!) for lunch – it was very, very good! Kanumera Bay is an easy walk from Kuto along the beach during low tide and at daylight (close via the beach, quite far via the roadway).  Their dinner menu featured some Ils des Pins specialties, such as escargots, local land snails, so we made a reservation for dinner with Jaime and Christine (ML) for the following night, including a car service to pick us up.  The car arrived, took us to the restaurant where we dined in style and had an excellent dinner and then walked back to reception desk for our ride back to Kuto.  There was no one there except workers who were piling into a van to go home.  Finally a lady came out to the front desk, and when we asked about our transport back she just giggled and shrugged, as though we were either the funniest people she had ever encountered or she had no idea what we were asking.  Frank tried to "mime" our needs, as she continued to giggle.  Then he asked the workers if they would mind giving us a lift.  They joined in the laughter, and continued to look at us as though we had asked something quite absurd!  Finally, Frank said, "Fine, then we will just walk back".  They all seemed to understand this and nodded as if in approval.  Christine and I had worn fairly nice shoes and dresses, so we were not as amused as everyone else.  We set off for the beach.  It was very dark and the tide was on the rise, slamming into shore.  Thankfully, Jaime carried a pocket flashlight.  We all took off our shoes, I held my dress up and off we went, along the beach sidestepping branches and debris that was washing up to shore, when all of a sudden one of the branches began slithering!  Oh my god!  We nearly stepped on a 3 ft long sea snake!  He was swimming and sliding along the edge of the beach with the incoming sea wash.  He wasn't bothered by us in the least so we maneuvered around him and continued onward.  We still had quite a long, dark walk ahead of us and although we did not encounter another snake, we decided one dinner there was enough.  We did return for burgers at lunch though.


Tsunami Warning # 2!  We awoke the next morning to Déjà vu!  A general announcement was made over the VHF that an earthquake had occurred in the ocean off the shores of Vanuatu and that a Tsunami was imminent.  Alas, Ils des Pins is surrounded by intricate reef systems and isn't quite as easily and as quickly evacuated!  Yet, at 7:00 AM we were raising the anchor to rush out to sea.  This time we had even less information and the Gendarmes were not letting us back in until they had news of the situation from Noumea Radio.  I didn't' mention that we still had no internet – no link to the outside world other than SSB and VHF radios.  Thank goodness, Frank's daughter and son send us email updates about what is going on "out there", albeit most of them have some reference to Denver sports teams.  So, we danced and bobbed in a holding pattern until nearly 11:00 AM, when we were finally given the all clear to return to the anchorage.  We still do not know what exactly happened with that quake; however, we know that it did not happen in New Caledonia.


Our time with our friends who are heading to OZ was coming to an end all too soon.  Martha from "Special Blend" was having a birthday while in Kuto, so on our last night with ML still there we went in to the resort for dinner (the one in our bay) to celebrate with Martha.  After another fantastic French meal, we were all walking back to the wharf to collect our dinghies, when Jaime decided to turn on his pocket light for us to see the planks.  Oh my Lord!  Right where Frank and Jim were about to step was the biggest sea snake any of us has ever seen!  This thing had to be 3 inches in diameter and about 6 feet long.  This time we were a little more intimidated.  Sea snakes are deadly and we did not want to aggravate this one.  We quietly and carefully stepped around him and ran for the dinghies, shining Jaime's light all around to make sure none had crawled up into one.  This place was literally crawling with the buggers!  By the way, these two weren't the only ones we saw, just the only ones we nearly stepped on.  You encounter at least one a day around these parts.  And they do like to come onto land. 


The next morning, ML and Baraka departed to make their way up to Noumea (the capital city) in order to check out of the country and get ready for a weather window to leave for OZ.  The weather wasn't good for sailing so we decided to wait a few days before following them.  We stayed and really didn't do much of anything but polish stainless, play Rummikub and read books.  It was nice to have some quiet time.  Before we left, we joined our friends from Special Blend, Free Spirit & Priscilla for one last $25 cheeseburger with fries!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sept 26th - Sailing to New Caledonia and Tsunami Evacuation! – Ouvea

Our passage to New Caledonia only took two nights.  Leaving at 5 PM from Port Vila we enjoyed about an hour of perfect sailing, then when we passed the protective barrier of the mountains and exited the bay for open water the bash began!  For about 14 hours we rocked and rolled in 2-2.5 meter seas with 25+ knot winds.  I told Frank that he would have to live on muffins and brownies, nuts and fruits because I wasn't even going to go into the galley, much less make an effort to heat up prepared meals.  He was OK with that, being a junk food junkie at heart. 


Then on my first Watch of the night, as I went below to grab something to drink I became overwhelmed with the smell of diesel fumes.  I had a flashback to last year's fuel line leak and at first I put it off as residual vapors from our recent fill up.  After a few hours of heeling to starboard, however, I could smell the fumes wafting up through the companionway.  Crap! The fumes grew stronger and began to pervade the entire salon and galley area.  When I awakened Frank for his watch I voiced my fears that our repair of the former fuel-line leak last year in French Polynesia had been compromised.  I knew there was nothing I could do about it while alone on Watch, so he dove into the locker to check. Yep – we had a leak!  So far about a cup of diesel had accumulated in the refrigeration compressor locker. We spent the next several hours mopping and tossing sodden paper towels overboard, then washing the locker with grease cutting soap.  For the rest of the night this was the drill – mop, sop, clean, toss, tighten the fittings, then come up for air.  It was absolutely nauseating!  For a while even Frank got queasy.  Eventually all we could both do was to sit in the cockpit, keeping the locker open to air out until the nausea passed and we could start the operation again.


By mid morning the leak was sealed but the fumes were horrendous!  We sprayed air fresheners, wiped the area with vinegar, Simple Green, lemon, dryer sheets.  It was so bad that I had removed everything from the entire area – top, middle and bottom shelves and spent the day re-organizing our food and supplies.  Thankfully the seas had settled down and we enjoyed a beautiful day of sailing.  We moved canned goods into the locker, and called it good.

Our second night out was lovely! We had a fantastic trip the rest of the way. We arrived in New Caledonia at the island of Ouvea, in The Loyalties, at daybreak and were anchored in time for a nice breakfast and a generous pot of coffee.  Our anchorage in Mouli Bay was as pretty as a picture.  Many cruisers compared it to the Bahamas.  I have not been to the Bahamas so I just compared it to Heaven!  The sand was pure white and so soft I couldn't get enough of burying my feet into it.


On September 30th we were scheduled to take a group tour of the island beginning at 10:00 AM.  We were happy about the prospect of sleeping in a little.  At 6:50 AM we were awakened by a blaring air horn!  I turned to Frank and said, "What kind of jerk would do such a thing at this hour of the morning?"  He said, "Well it's probably Lizzie, they always blow the horn when they leave an anchorage, so they must be leaving and saying goodbye".  (Lizzie is a huge custom motor yacht that is part of our rally group.)  He rolled over to go back to sleep.  I got up to go to the bathroom and saw through the porthole that several yachts were leaving.  So I casually remarked, "Well, it looks like a parade out there – lots of boats are leaving".  Then we began hearing more horn blasts real close to our boat.  I went over to turn on the VHF, and immediately heard several boats hailing us. They had been blowing the horns to get our attention!  A Tsunami warning had been issued and all boats were ordered to evacuate. We jumped to it; Frank started the engine as I headed forward to raise the anchor.  While Frank was negotiating our way out of the bay I phoned my brother and Sis-in-law on the Sat phone to let them know of the evacuation in the event something happened and they would need to inform the family. We were out of the bay within minutes, heading for deep water.  Fortunately, this atoll is surrounded by very deep water – fathoms!  It didn't' take long to get far enough away to feel reasonably safe.  Many of the boats threw out fishing lines and used the opportunity for some trolling. We made coffee and began tuning into various radio stations on the SSB to try to get some kind of report in English because Noumea Radio was broadcasting in French.  All we knew was that a deep ocean earthquake had occurred off the coast of Samoa, which triggered a Tsunami that was headed our way.  We waited in deep water until around 10:00.  Thankfully it turned out to be a non-event.  Nothing happened here in New Cal.  So we made our way back and got re-anchored.  I am immensely proud to say that this was our first experience responding to this type of emergency situation, and we handled it with amazing calm and order.  We were a unit, working in concert with one another.  In fact it felt a little exciting, although neither of us wanted to admit that until later when it was all over.


We all hustled into our dinghies to go in for the tour.  When we arrived at the designated spot on shore, however, two of the vans had left having given up on us when they saw all the boats leaving the anchorage, (can't say I blame them!), so half of the group went in the available vans and the rest of us returned to our boats happy to just hang out and do nothing.  We did manage to get the buses back the next day to take the remainder of us. It isn't difficult to see the island in one day – there is one road, one town, one significant resort, (a beauty by the way called The Paradise; very befitting!), and a small airport.  We visited a soap factory where copra is made into soap and washing powder – we made come purchases there.  We visited the lovely Catholic Church, and some sacred lagoons. It is a beautiful island but we noticed that the people of New Caledonia – the Kanaks – are not very friendly.  In fact they are vastly unfriendly to outsiders.  One group of cruisers had rented a car for a couple of days, and when we all had gone into shore for the tour, it was noted that all 4 tires of the rental car had been slashed and the petrol siphoned.  We made a note to self – do not rent a car here – or if you do, do not leave it unattended overnight.


We had seen all and done all that we could here, and knowing that we had three weeks to see New Caledonia, we made plans to leave for Ile des Pins before heading to Noumea and getting ready for the passage to Australia (OZ).
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Sept 11th remembering our homeland as we sail into Port Vila

We wonder if September 11th will always send a chill up and down our spines as we have our morning coffee and ponder how violent life has been in these beautiful remote islands of the South Pacific. These dear people, innocent and sheltered in their own civilizations, protected from the impact of cultured nations have many times over fallen victim to Western, Asian and European Nations' struggles for power. They have known more death and suffering than most others ever will, and that is just because of their location on the map. They have been invaded, dominated and stripped of natural resources by the superpowers and then left to lick their own wounds and to repair their own lands. Amazingly they remain childlike and ingrained in their own traditions and values. They are precious and proud. We have tremendous respect for them. After coffee and a leisurely breakfast we bid farewell to simplicity and then weighed anchor in anticipation of reaching Port Vila in time to book dinner at a nice restaurant.

We had an easy day sailing up around Devil's Point (known for the underwater currents that have claimed many a ship), and into Port Vila. We cheered as we entered the anchorage full of yachts. John on "Windflower" had made sure that a marina berth was reserved for us, and as we were settling in we heard a familiar voice on the VHF; "Destiny, Destiny, This is Mai Miti, do you copy?" James was here! We have somewhat adopted James. Whenever we see him we treat him as we would hope others would care for our kids if they were out and about so far from home. James is the same age as my daughter, Jen, yet in many ways he is far older. He is our peer out here and we consider him family.

To compress our Port Vila experience -
We met with Sam from Kaleva Yacht Services to arrange for the batteries to be dealt with ASAP,
We ate out as much as possible,
We paid $100 for two weeks worth of internet that was crummy but at least it worked about 25% of the time,
Frank played golf,
I sent lots of laundry out to be done (who cares that it cost $15.00 per load!),
We watched two All Blacks Games at the Anchor Inn Sports Bar with James and a bunch of Kiwi friends,
We watched NY Giants play the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday Night Football on Monday afternoon at The Anchor Inn Sports Bar,
We found out that for the second time in 2 ½ years, our very expensive house batteries needed to be replaced,
We ordered new batteries and fought with Lifeline over warranty issues,
Frank played golf again,
We found out that we would be spending our children's inheritances on new batteries to be shipped from Australia and installed,
I uploaded some pictures to our website,
We ate Ice Cream Sundaes at Jill's American café at least 5 times.
We shopped at real grocery stores,
We shopped at the 24-hour open-air market,
Frank played golf,
We went on an excellent shore excursion to The Cascades waterfalls,
We got our Australian multiple entry Visas,
We ate a righteous Sri Lankan dinner buffet at a local 5-star restaurant with Jaime, Christine and James and toasted Andy and Melissa (they are getting married in Sri Lanka in March of '10),
We bid farewell to James as he left for New Caledonia,
We made lots and lots of new friends and had the time of our lives. We loved Port Vila.

On September 26th I baked brownies, banana nut muffins, boiled eggs, and prepared a meal-at-sea and then at 5 PM, we departed for New Caledonia.

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