Vanatu
Godforsaken Sea

4 Aug 02 Left Santo, Vanuatu headed for the Torres Straits of Australia. A few hours out we lost our fluxgate compass, and hence, the autopilot would not work since the fluxgate is an electronic input to the Auto. We turned around in strong winds and headed back to the mooring in Vanuatu. We had a spare fluxgate compass and a new Ratheon computer on board - THANK YOU RATHEON! After installing them all night we were ready to set sail on 5 Aug 02. After sea trials and calibrating the new systems, we successfully set sail for our >1400 nm to Thursday Island, Australia.

6 Aug 02 Nice sailing today, smooth sunny conditions with 12 kts wind SSE. Caught a nice fish for dinner.

7 Aug 02 Wind picked up from the SE at >20 kts. Sailing with a double-reefed main and jib and making a good 7 knots.

8-10 Aug 02 Wind still increasing to Gale Force levels blowing 20-30 kts and we saw gusts of up to 45 kts.

10 Aug 02. Godforsaken Sea: The Sea will find any/all weaknesses of your boat! We found a hydraulic leak in our steering system this morning at the hydraulic ram. The rudder bolts are also in need of repair as 1/4 has sheered off. The high winds have taken their toll. Gui and Dave are able to tighten up the hydraulic ram and slow the leak. Thank goodness, we don't believe we blew the gasket. After re-rigging our interveness (IV) hydraulic system again (i.e., from our Pacific Crossing mishap days), we are able to feed Auto and get the autopilot well fed with fluid and back up and running. Gui rigs a new through-bolt as a temporary fix for the rudder bolts that should hold us until we get to Darwin.

11 Aug 02 Things are settled now and the temporary fixes seem to be holding. All is well onboard Galatea with many miles still in this crossing.

12 Aug 02 After one week enroute from Vanuatu to Torres Straits and Thursday Island, Australia we have covered a total of 1,041 nm with individual days of (120, 150, 150, 166, 150, 160, 145). This is good mileage for us and all is well. We're in close radio contact with our friends onboard Mahe, Warna Carina and Gipsy. Mahe is headed for New Caledonia and has had these strong Gale Force winds on the nose. They are making headway, but what an uncomfortable crossing. Warna Carina and Gipsy are enroute from Somoa to Fiji and have entered the Convergence Zone. Gipsy saw 55 kts guts and broke their steering cable. Warna Carina is lying a hull (without sails) and Gipsy is hove to waiting for the convergence zone and harsh weather to pass before they can enter the channel (last 200 nm) filled with islands on their way to Suva, Fiji.

13 Aug 02 All is well on Galatea and we are in the Gulf of Papua a few days out of Bramble Cay (the Northern most point of the Great Barrier Reef). We still have about 4 more days (24 hr/day) of sailing through trechorous waters (reefs) to reach Thursday Island. Warna Carina was able to set sail again this morning enroute to Fiji. Gipsy had to change course and set sail for Vila, Vanuatu since they were not able to make the Easting necessary to enter the island passages leading to Fiji. They have about 700 nm to go to Vanuatu on an emergency tiller. We check with them daily for updates on their progress. Mahe has safely made it into New Caledonia.

An active volcano on Ambrym Island was illuminated red as we approached the pass at 4 am on the way to Santo. It was wonderful and emotional to see a living volcano while sailing by the island. This photo is just after sunrise looking back on Ambrym with the volcano smoke over the island.

Dava with more dancers and the 3 young boys who are learning the traditional dances from their elders.

We savor all of Nature from the largest to the smallest and this butterfly was majestic.

Gui and Dava with the Vanuatu natives from the Torres Islands who put on an incredible display of warrior dancing.

With over a hundred different languages spoken, past French and English colonization, Vanuatu is a nation of many languages. The government has declared Bislama (pidgin) the official language. Here are signs to keep Luganville clean (klin) and an advertisement to learn French (Franis).

Galatea at the mooring at Aore Resort off of Aore Island, Vanuatu, which is 3 km across the channel from the second largest town of Luganville (or Santo) on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Luganville reminded us of a late 1800's American town since the U.S. has left quite an imprint on the place since taking it over during WWII. The remains of the infrastructure from that time are what constitute the town today. The President Coolidge ship is sunk right in the channel to Luganville and we enjoyed diving the wreck, which is the largest intact sunken wreck in the world. The night dive we had on the Coolidge was the best dive of our lives with the flashlight fish in the dark, floating in free space - very ethereal.

Song and music boomed from the stage during Vanuatu's 22nd year of Independence celebration. We enjoyed people watching at the park in Luganville.

Pentecost Island is shown at sunrise. This is the island known for the original 'bungee' (actually vine) jumpers. It must be selection of the fittest.

The typical Vanuatu mode of transportation that can reach a few knots with one of two rowers.

 

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