We have been in Port Vila for almost 2 weeks, and now that Frank has fit the new freshwater pump that arrived a couple of days ago from Australia, we are mobile again & more than happy to move on.
However, that persistent sou’easterly continues to blow hard and fast, and whilst we check the weather forecasts each day, hoping and praying for a weather window, there appears to be no lucky break for us to make the 500 mile passage comfortably to Fiji.
After our recent experiences of rough passages and equally rough anchorages, we had vaguely wondered whether to stay on here in Vanuatu, but then we received an email to say that our son Paul and his wife Jenny had booked their flights to Fiji in order to meet up with us on July 11th! Paul only has 2 weeks of holidays he has been able to take before starting a new job, so it was a case of these dates or no holiday at all.
The decision has been made. This morning, we filled up with water and diesel, and will clear out of customs on Thursday in order to leave Port Vila this Friday. Admittedly, the weather does not look great, after a week of very strong south easterlies (what’s new!!), but by Saturday, the wind looks to decrease and become more southerly for a couple of days. We will make the best angle we can towards Fiji, allowing for the wind changes, hope that it will not be too uncomfortable or rough, and that we will be close to Fiji after 3 days of sailing.
We have quickly fallen into a pattern of shopping at the local outdoor markets for our fresh supplies and I have made friends with some lovely women who recognize me as the lady with ‘blue’ hair, who is happy to stop and chat for awhile.
The Nivan people are cheerful & resilient, despite the ongoing repercussions of Cyclone Pam that damaged & destroyed so much of their city just 3 months ago. Re building and repairs are evident all over town, with many buildings still displaying damaged roofs protected by tarpaulins or just left bare to the elements.
In the markets, fresh local fruits and veggies are supplemented by produce brought in from islands further north, so there is a limited amount of fresh lemons and oranges, banana, papaya and root vegetables that were all but annihilated in the southern islands that were worst hit by the cyclone. The choice of produce is far more limited than normal however and the prices are accordingly much higher.
The immediate need for assistance post cyclone has dropped off but there are a number of boats that come and go from Port Vila delivering food and building supplies to more remote islands that are still struggling. Commercial plus private power & sailing boats offering their services, are loaded up to capacity from charity aid group warehouses, where donations are still sitting waiting for delivery.
The craft markets are back in full swing and cruise ships that come into port every few days certainly augment the income for both these stall holders and the majority of the population in Port Vila, though I notice the prices increase then too and bartering becomes necessary if you don’t want to pay the inflated prices.
So we relax for the next few days whilst we deliberate when to make the sail to Fiji and keep our fingers crossed for a safe passage. Until then……….