09/09/2014 – Vanuatu

As John wrote in Sunday’s log, we had put two reefs in the main to slow us down. We were still going too fast and our ETA was creeping earlier and earlier. While going fast is normally a good thing, I know, we didn’t want to arrive in an unknown port, with dubious reliability of navigation lights, in the dark. We put the third reef in the main at 1800. At 2300, first watch changeover, we decided to alter course towards the southwest because we were making 6 knots with the smallest amount of sail unless we experimented with the storm sails! The course alteration would make our trip to Port Vila longer as it would involve another change of course to bring us back up towards our destination. By the 0500 watch change it was time to alter course again and I had strict instructions to wake John up when we were 1nm from our waypoint. We were still sailing a bit too fast so he only got 21/4 hours off watch but at least it was now daylight! Part of our timing concerns were related to the possibility of having to pay overtime. We were congratulating ourselves on having got it just right with an ETA at the quarantine area of 0830 when we discovered Vanuatu is UT+11 so we were still going to be an hour early! John checked the working hours and found that the offices opened at 0730 so problem solved. We anchored close to Trillium who had arrived the previous day (it turns out that the authorities are not very pro-active about working overtime!) and waited for Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity to arrive. Customs (Simon) and Immigration (Jimmy) arrived and dealt with Trillium first, as they had called up first, then they came to us. They were very friendly and explained that Biosecurity was very busy and would be along in a few hours. Jimmy said they would probably remove vegetables, fruit, fresh meat and cheese. EEEEK! To be honest, we knew the fruit, veg and fresh meat might be a problem. Jimmy and Simon left with the parting comment “Eat as much as you can before biosecurity arrives!” We had already eaten egg and bacon with grilled tomato (the last one) for breakfast. I set about cooking up 500gr of mince with as many of the remaining vegetables as I could reasonably use, I didn’t think cabbage would be quite right and 8 onions and 5 cloves of garlic might be a bit over the top! I layered about half of the mince mixture with thin slices of aubergine (eggplant), a bit like a lasagne, grated lots of cheese on top and put it in the oven. The rest was simmering on the stove when Biosecurity (Tom) arrived. The only items he wanted to see were fruit bought in Fiji. We only had 4 oranges left which I had bought in a supermarket….produce of Australia so we got to keep them. He asked about fresh meat so John showed him the 2 lamb chops in the fridge, he said O.K. Thanks to Jimmy, we have two cooked meals in the fridge and it’s lamb chops tonight. In the afternoon we moved into the mooring field, led by a chap from Yachting World, who found a suitable buoy for us. When the officials were on board, I couldn’t find our Vatu (local currency), I’d safely tucked them into my purse when we were on our shopping trip from Vuda Point! We set off in the dinghy to go to pay Biosecurity, which are a long way out of town, then we went towards the opposite end of town to find Immigration. Flomaida, another World ARC boat, had been anchored near us waiting to clear out and suggested meeting ashore for sundowners then walking up to a Chinese restaurant they had discovered. In the event, there were 5 boats present (10 people) comprising 1 Swiss, 2 German, 1 US and us. We had the 25,000 Vatu set meal comprising at least 10 different dishes which was excellent. John and I also had a bottle of wine costing 24,000 Vatu. Dinner cost us 74,000 Vatu, about £50 and well worth it. Today, Tuesday, has been a grey day. We went shopping, dodging the showers, and found both the supermarkets and a good butchery and caught a (mini)bus back. The bus slows down beside you to see if you want to hop in, the driver asks where you want to go then explains they are going somewhere else first to drop off the other passengers! It was quite a long detour to the commercial port area where we dinghied yesterday to pay Biosecurity, but it was dry. The fare is a fixed rate of 150 Vatu in town. Back on Starblazer it started raining quite hard and is also rather cool which is why I am lurking below writing this. Now it’s time to cook dinner. No rest for the galley slave! Joyce P.S. In town John left me in a souvenir shop and came back smiling. The pharmacy next door had some scales and he has lost about a stone and a half, we can’t remember the last time he weighed just under 12 stone! I was pleasantly surprised that I have only put on one stone, I thought it was going to be a lot worse so I’m on a diet, sort of…..

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