Saturday, 24 November 2012

Episode 13 Central Vanuatu


Welcome to Episode 13 of the Hog Blog.

Just to help with the read $1 Aussie = approx. 100 Vatu

At the end of Episode 12 we were in Port Vila after a fantastic 3 weeks visiting the Southern Islands. We were waiting for a new alternator to arrive from Australia and were doing a mixture of exploring the town, re provisioning and maintenance on  Lorelei.

Port Vila - Final Days

In the last few days at Vila the weather cleared up after nearly a week of drizzle. We spent some great times with John and Jenny off Sharkface over a meal or a cocktail or two during “Happy Hour” at the local Waterfront Bar.

The beach front at Iririki Resort was popular on the weekends with weddings and Friday night fire twirling exhibitions. We had the closest mooring and a prime seat to view the festivities.

 Every afternoon we had a large school of these unusual fish swimming around the moored yachts with their heads sticking out. There were 1000’s of them. They were very weird.

On our last night we went over and had drinks on the catamaran “Cool Change” from NZ owned by Don and Marilyn. The cat is unusual as it has 2 free standing carbon wing masts that they designed & built themselves and work very well on all points of sail. Paul had read about her and was very interested in the rig, much to Don’s delight.
For those that followed “The Race” in 2000 (a non-stop, no limits sailing drag race around the world), the rig is similar to the infamous Pete Goss’s Team Philips cat that sadly never made the start line.
We had a fantastic evening with Don and Marilyn. We have vowed to catch up with them in their home - The Bay of Islands, NZ in 2013/2014.

While in Vila we went to the Dentist. It is a state of the art facility with Western Specialists. The bill was A$25 for Paul and A$100 for Lisa who had some previous work done in Brisbane replaced. At that price we’ll never go to a dentist back home in Australia again.
No prescriptions are needed here and its super cheap so we did a major restock on the boats medical kit.

We sailed out of Port Vila on the morning of the 30th Oct – on purpose!
This was the day for voting for Vanuatu’s general election. We wanted to be out of the city by that day. With a few days to go there was a lot going on in the town and you could feel the tension rising from rival groups campaigning on the backs of processions of trucks roaming through the streets.
There was a lot of trouble in the city directly after Vanuatu elections back in 2004 and we didn't want to be around if there was a repeat performance this time.

As a note to that – one week later there was still no decision made and the main candidates including the former ousted prime minister were demanding a re-vote.
Politics! – It’s the same the world over…..

Havanah Harbour, Efate Island

Havanah Harbour is a large, long protected harbour that runs most of the West side of Efate Island. It was a staging area in WW2 for the American Fleet of Battle Ships and there are a lot of relics still around the shoreline.

We rounded the corner of the entrance at noon and saw Sharkface anchored up off a beach and close to “Paul’s Rock” which is a popular diving spot. With a name like that, we just had to explore it so we anchored up as well and the 4 of us went for a snorkel. The reef rises from 60m up to a series of bommies in only 4m. The viz was excellent and so was the fish life and caves. The charter boats must feed the fish here as they were very friendly and if you cupped you hands they would come up and look in to see what food was on offer.

Jenny having fun with the fish.

That arvo both boats made their way further into the bay for better overnight protection. We had dinner onboard Sharkface and had some of the Mahi Mahi they caught trolling on the way. It was massive and spanned the width of their cockpit. John had to use a deck winch to haul it in!

The following day we took both RIB’s across the bay to Lelepa Island for a Snorkel on the outer side. On one point was an immense school of bait fish that would completely engulf you if you swam into it.

That arvo we said goodbye to John and Jenny (the second time in 72 hours…) as they took off for an overnight sail north on the full moon.
We elected to go further up into the Harbour to explore for a few more days.
We had a great kayak at Esema Bay.  We found a small inlet and creek that we managed to kayak up for more than 1km. We stopped at a small village and asked permission to go further up and asked about Crocodiles. Fortunately there are none in this area. The rainforest was dense and as the creek became smaller the canopy closed right over the water.

Undine Bay, Nguna Island

Undine Bay is a large bay situated right at the top of Efate surrounded by 4 Smaller Islands with the most northern and largest one being Nguna Island which is based around an extinct volcano.
We sailed for 4 hours to get there and had to search along the Nguna Island shoreline for a suitable anchorage in the NE winds. We found a fantastic sandy spot surrounded by coral bommies just off a beautiful beach and a small village. The excited villagers were out in canoes before we even got our anchor down. Their village faces south and is exposed in the regular S-SE-E trade winds meaning very few yachts ever come here.
We had a great snorkel and met a young lady named Tinit who explained that the lack of decent rain meant the island was very close to being devoid of all fresh water. Their tanks were almost empty and they were all praying for some heavier rain to come soon.

Part of our welcoming committee…

Leaving Nguna Island and the extinct volcano.

Once the wind swung to the east again, we left to continue north. We decided on a 35nm run for the day stopping at Emae Island overnight before continuing for another 35nm from Emae to Epi on the next day.
On the way we trolled and on the first day we got a big powerful run on a large skirted lure but it didn’t hook up. From what we saw it looked like a Marlin but weren’t so sure. About 1 hour later we got a second run and this time landed a nice Wahoo which tasted great and got turned into lots of yummy meals.

We trolled again from Emae to Epi and hooked a Blue Marlin on the way. Once it realized it was hooked, it came tearing up the side of the boat and put on an amazing aerobatic show that was the best we have ever seen from a billfish. We just stood in awe watching the performance.
The Marlin was big and we both called it in excess of 450lbs. It then took off and within a few minutes had peeled over 750m of line off the reel and didn’t even look like slowing down. With only 250m left and still tearing out, Paul had no option but to increase the 24kg line’s drag on the Tiagra from 8kg up to 12kg and hope for the best. The end result was the line breaking at the snap swivel. While Paul wound back in the 900m of line the Marlin decided to come back towards the boat with a series of wild jumps before realizing it was free.
It was our first experience with a Blue and it looked awesome all lit up. Paul has wanted to catch/tag a Blue for a long time as this would give him the trifecta of Blue, Black & Striped. Oh well maybe next time, and a bit smaller would be nice.
We lost a $100 Marlin lure but the experience, adrenaline pumping action and grins from ear to ear for ages afterwards more than made up for it.
There is A$50,000 cash up for grabs for the first boat in Vila that can catch and weigh a Grander Blue Marlin (over 1000lbs). From what we have seen it would take a well oiled crew a lot of luck to boat one of these powerful kings of the ocean.

Lamen Bay, Epi Island

Lamen Bay is at the north-west corner of Epi island. It is a beautiful bay and home to “Bondas” the large resident Dugong.
We did a couple of great Kayaks in the bay to explore and to try and find Bondas. The locals said he comes and goes, sometimes for weeks at a time and I guess we were unlucky not to see him and to be able to have a swim with him.  

On the last night at Epi we were downstairs around 9:30pm when we heard a series of loud booms that we assumed was thunder. Lisa went upstairs and to our amazement we could see the 2 active volcano’s on the neighbouring Ambryn Island spewing red molten lava high into the sky. The eruption lit up the sky and the underside of the clouds over the island with an eerie bright red glow. The sight was incredible! We weren’t sure if this was normal, unusual or a rarity but either way it was a little daunting even if we were about 12nm away.
We had read the twin volcanos keep volcanologists’ from around the world constantly on alert. The next morning we went outside to find the decks covered with a fine layer of volcanic ash (and some flying fish).
We had contemplated visiting the island but now we are not so sure as the two main anchorages are downwind of the volcanos.

The day we left Lamen Bay turned out to be a long testing day.
It started with an early kayak in glassy conditions and we got some great ½ and ½ photos of the area.

The wharf in Lamen Bay

After breakfast the conditions were still glassy and the forecast was great so we set of with the trolling gear out and started motoring the leisurely 20nm to the Maskelyne Group of Islands on the south eastern tip of Malekula Island, stopping at 2 reef systems to fish on the way.
With 6nm to go to the Island, we had an ugly looking front go over us that brought 30 knot winds and generally ugly conditions. We were very glad to enter the safety of the passage into the group an hour later.

There are only 2 decent anchorages in the group. We went to the first one and it was exposed to the south and very rough and windy so we aborted.
We continued to the second and were just putting the anchor down when an idiot from Tasmania and his mate (who were “working” with the villagers…) & the village chief pulled alongside in a dugout.
We had a bad experience with these guys which resulted in us leaving pretty much straight away. The chief seemed quite embarrassed about it and asked us to stay but we declined. We lifted the anchor at 4pm and sailed out of the Maskelynes with a bitter taste in our mouths. We had planed to stay there 5 days and ended up being there for less than 2 hours.
We sailed 15nm north and anchored up in Port Sandwich in a calm bay at sunset with a beautiful outlook. 10 minutes later a group of very friendly guys came past in a boat to welcome us and invited us to their village tomorrow if we wanted to.
We were anchored and safe but completely stuffed after a long day.
Port Sandwich has a total swimming/diving ban as the place is infested with large dangerous sharks so we didn't bother staying long.

Coming into Port Sandwich on Sunset

Banem Bay, Malekula Island

The next bay north was Banem Bay which was only a short 1 hour run up the coast. The bay is stunning with gin clear water, fantastic reefs and a great village. The main source of income is Copra which as we found out is damn hard work to collect. Cocoa Beans are another source of income and we were fascinated to see where chocolate originates from.
We were greeted by an elder of the village Jon-Eddie who had organized to lead a trip to the local waterfall that arvo with the people from the only other yacht in the bay that was from Noumea. We gladly accepted and made our way into the beach at 1pm on our kayaks. The villagers were very interested in the kayaks so we offered them to have a go. You have never seen the kayaks launched so quickly, and one by one they all had a turn.

We stored them under a tree before we left to go for the walk and when we returned they were there – just facing around the other way.
Obviously they still had some fun on them even after we had left.

The walk to the waterfall was great and we went through the school, past the gardens, meet heaps of people and even saw some large wild pigs.

Pumpkin “lap lap” cooked on the volcanic stones in a fire

Part of the old colonial Copra plantation. The trees are so tall.

The waterfall was pumping after yesterday’s rain storms and we had a great swim and managed to sneak in behind the curtain of water for some photos and fun. There were lots of freshwater fish in the pool too.

Whilst we were in Banam Bay we also went spearfishing for a day on the outer reefs and took the fish into the village for dinner. They were very appreciative as surprisingly they do not fish and prefer to tend to their gardens and raise chickens,pigs & beef. They like the fish but they just don’t get it often.

We feel we made a real connection with this village and in particular a couple Songi and Anna and their son Eldin. We are now inducted into his family as new “brother and sister”.

Songi and Eldin with Lisa onboard Lorelei

Port Stanley, Malekula Island

Port Stanley was our last stop on Malekula Island.
We had a downwind 30nm sail before turning through a pass between 2 islands and motoring up into the port. The guide has 3 recommended anchorages. We tried the first one which was a small key hole surrounded by shallow coral reef. You would struggle to anchor a 4m tinny in there it was so tight! We had to do a 3 point turn in Lorelei to get her turned around and back out. The second anchorage was not much better and the third was full of bommies and solid coral on the bottom.
On the way out of the third we found a small spit/reef that had a sand ledge before dropping into deeper water so we anchored off the back of that and hoped the wind would not swing to the north.

Carl from the local village paddled out to welcome us and invite us to his Island Village the next day.

We went into the village twice the next day. Carl was waiting for us on the beach and took us to meet the chief and a stack of the guys who were building a new house for him.

We had a look at Carl’s place. It was the best set-up we have seen in a village. He had a long house with 3 rooms on a concrete slab, lights, solar, generator, etc. He had a separate cooking house, a fantastic courtyard area with cover, beautiful plants and a large vege garden going up the slope behind the house. It was private and he built it all himself. Not bad for a 25 y/o single guy with very limited resources.

Lisa in Carl’s Cooking House

Eating pineapple in Carl’s garden.

Paul going for a paddle with Menzies.

The villagers gave us a stack of fruit and made us very welcome.
That arvo we came back again for dinner. The chief spent the arvo catching fish for the village dinner.

Paul went off with the boys to drink Kava (and got smashed with them…) Lisa went and hung out with the girls and helped with some weaving. They gave her an island dress & a woven bag and the young girls loved playing with and platting her hair.

Mincing up the fresh Kava Root.

For dinner we all went into a large eating house and we sat with the villages around 2 large prepared meals and ate with our fingers.
Lisa made a chocolate cake for dessert and it was a big hit.
We finally left after many fond farewells at 10pm.

The fun then started as we had to navigate the RIB back through the coral reefs to try and get back to Lorelei. We only ran aground 3 times….

We have decided we would like to come back to Malekula some day and spend some more time interacting with the locals from both the villages at Banem Bay and here. They are all great people.

The morning we left was an early start as we had a 50nm run to get to Luganville on Espiritu Santo Island.
We motored up the inlet and as soon as we rounded the top island the wind kicked in so it was sails up and off we went – motor off and sailing by 6:30am – Stoked!!
We put the trolling rods out and put on a small green/gold skirt as that is what one of the village elders said to do as there were a lot of Mahi Mahi around.
Sure enough within only 5 minutes the rod with the skirt went off and we landed one by 7am. We had it filleted, in the fridge and the rods packed away again by 7:15am.

Paul slept most of the way (something to do with being slightly hung over from too much Kava…).

Luganville, Espititu Santo

We gybed and sailed into the Skorff Passage at lunch time. It was dead flat in the passage so we set up the table for lunch in the cockpit as we sailed in past Million Dollar Point and the wreck of the SS President Coolidge. We were so excited to be here. A dive boat with a couple of Aussies came up past us as we were sailing through with lunch spread on the table. We got some funny looks and comments from them.

We sailed right up to Aore Island Resort and picked up a mooring right in front of the main jetty. There were only 2 other yachts in the bay on the moorings and guess who they were – Sharkface and Just Magic.
It was great to catch up with them again and we had them over for dinner to eat the fresh Mahi Mahi and some fresh fruit. Between the 3 boats we could open a fruit market!

For us this is where the sailing dream all started and ironically it was 20 years ago to the day on a dive expedition here back in 1992.
We know it was 20 years as last week was the 70th anniversary of the Coolidge’s sinking. The first time we dived it was a week after the 50th anniversary.

On our first full day there we went into the resort to have a look around and caught a ferry into town.

At Aore Resort waiting for the ferry. Lorelei in the background.

Aore Resort from our mooring.

We spent the day exploring and going to the dive shops to find the best deal that suited us. We had lunch with Ben and Wendy in a cafĂ© on the water’s edge. Meals were 200 vatu each and a freshly squeezed fruit juice 60 vatu. So cheap!
After much consideration we went back to Mal at Santo Island Dive and signed up for a stack of dives starting the next day. He is the only one in town who has boats (3 of them), so he could pick us up straight from Lorelei and take us wherever we wanted to go. We could do the Coolidge and Million Dollar Point but also the USS Tucker wreck, a WW2 plane and a number of great reef dives which the other dive shops do not do.

USS President Coolidge Wreck

Most of you reading this will know of the wreck of the USS President Coolidge – but for those of you who don’t….
Prior to WW2 the Coolidge was a 660ft luxury passenger liner. During the war she was commissioned as a troop carrier and fitted with 4 large deck guns. On the ill-fated voyage she had over 4000 US troops onboard and the holds were stuffed full of machinery, field guns, jeeps, tanks, aircraft parts, supplies and a stack of ammunition.
The ship hit a mine while entering the top passage of Santo Harbour.
The captain managed bring the stricken vessel close to the land at the edge of the channel. It listed heavily to port before finally sinking 90 minutes later.
 She now lies on the edge of the channel on her port side with the bow in 21m and the stern sitting on the channel floor in 70m. 
She is regarded as one of the world's best wreck dives and can be dived by walking in off the beach or by boat.
With the maximum recreational depth for divers being 40m and standard air being potentially toxic to divers at 56.66 meters, only the very experienced technical divers get to see the aft section and the stern.

Some people struggle to understand our obsession with wreck diving and the greater element of risk it poses. In reality they are just twisted bits of metal on the bottom and we can understand their point of view – sort of. For that reason not everyone will appreciate the pictures below. 

A painting of the USS President Coolidge

 An old photo of the troops scaling down ropes to safety

Our 2 guides for our whole time here were 2 funny locals - Simo the dive guide and Jimmy the boat minder/driver.
The first dive was a checkout dive and we explored the bow, the anchor winch, the anti-aircraft guns, the entry of holds no.1 & no.2 and the bathroom on the old promenade deck before going up onto the top of the ship past loads of artillery shells. We had a massive Dog Tooth Tuna hovering around us for the 2nd half of the dive.

The Bow

Lisa at the starboard deck gun and artillery shells.

One of 4 of the Deck Guns

The second dive was great. We were the only divers on the wreck and explored the Holds No.1 & 2 and saw stacks of Jeeps, a tank, field cannons, aircraft long range drop tanks, flashlight fish and loads of other things.

The Front Grill of a WW2 Jeep

Drop Tanks and a Jeep Body

The Aircraft Long Range Fuel Tanks.

Just some of the debris scattered all over the floor of the holds.

Simo our dive guide during our deco stop.

Friday – Dive day no.2.
It was a quiet day on the wreck, the wind dropped, the rain stopped, and the viz cleared up.
We only saw 3 others enter the water for the morning dive and didn’t see them at all once underwater.
We went to the most popular location on the Coolidge – The Lady.
This is a small sculpture that use to hang above the fireplace in the smoking room at 52m depth. This is where we saw it 20 years ago. When the room collapsed, they rescued it and moved it to an easier access area that is more secure and is a shallower depth of 38m.

Lisa and The Lady

After The Lady we went thru an elevator shaft past some great portholes, down to the bottom of the wreck, past the port anti-aircraft gun, the massive anchor and all the scattered debris before ascending past the tonnes of artillery shells strewn all over the top of the wreck..

Just some of the scores of Portholes along the decks

A few of the massive artillery shells.

Lisa playing with the Clown Fish on the Deco Stop Reef

The second dive was awesome. We were the only 3 on the wreck (the 2 of us and Simo our guide). We went to the medical room, the hairdressing salon, the laundry, the storeroom containing the large egg shaped aircraft drop tanks before exiting through the second hold. The total dive time was 84 minutes.

Medicine Bottles

One of the chairs in the Hairdressing Salon

No.2 Hold full of Jeeps, Tanks, Field Guns, etc…

Simo, Lisa and Jimmy on our own private boat we had for all the dives

In between dives and for lunch each day we went to Million Dollar Point. We could snorkel, walk or just relax and every day we explored a new area.
This is the place where the Yanks bulldozed all the stuff they didn’t want into the water at the end of the war. The shoreline and under the water is covered with loads of debris, machinery and truck, jeep & aeroplane parts. There is so much glass from soda and beer bottles and now it has all moulded into the reef and compacted down so it’s OK to walk on.
These are some photos above the waterline.

The Lunch Beach on the Eastern Side of the Point

Paul with a bucket dredge

A radial aeroplane engine.

The glass bottles all moulded into the reef.

On the Saturday we had a diving free day as the local guides are Seven Day Adventist and they wanted to go to church.
We copped a wild storm that lasted only a short time.
As soon as it cleared, Just Magic left with Sharkface leaving that arvo.

Sunday it was back into it for a week of solid diving. One of the other dive shops had a small group for the week so we moved the first dive each day to 8am to be the first on the wreck. It worked a treat and we didn't see another diver for the next 4 days.
Diving from the boat was awesome when doing the deeper dives. We simply just chose the mooring line closest to the spot we wanted to go to and dropped straight down before slowly working our way back to the man made coral reef up in the shallows near the bow for our deco stops. By doing this it eliminated the long swim from the beach down to the aft section of the boat to get to the required spot. It gave us so much more time on the bottom and less decompression time.
We strapped on a second tank for some deeper diving to 50m and did the engine room, the control room and through D deck past some chandeliers before heading back up. It was awesome but sensory overload as we just couldn't take it all in.

Some Gauges and just one of the 4 Telegraphs in the Engine Room

 Chandeliers above and below

For the second dive we did A, B and C decks by swimming up and down them in a snake pattern. There were lots of things to see like mirrors, toilets, phones, gas masks, typewriters, guns, etc…

Notice Coral does not adhere to Porcelain or Glass

Shell trails on the Mirror

Tuesday the weather cleared to offshore winds and a flat, sunny day.
  We did the engine room again for a second look and another chance at some more photos. We took a different route to the surface and did a run called the Gauntlet through a series of decks (and tight squeezes) to finally come out though the anchor locker hatch. It’s not for the feint hearted and was pretty full on. Thank goodness Simo knew where to go. Lisa pulled the pin at hold no.1 but Paul squeezed right through to the bow.

Control Levers and Gauges in the Engine Control Room

Lisa coming thru a passage. There's a Sniper Rifle on the left

The tight squeeze up to the chain locker exit

For the arvo we wanted a shallow dive so we chose to go back to Hold No.1 and just explore that area more thoroughly. We’re so glad we did as we missed so much the first time round. We found a great bathroom with rows of sinks and the deck below that was filled with crumbling crates of artillery shells. We got some great photos of the jeeps too.

Wednesday was Lisa’s birthday. We chose to do just one deep technical dive and what a dive it was! We Dropped down to the stern before going into holds No.7 and 8, into the swimming pool and back up along the collapsed promenade deck.
Two hours & 20 minutes later and 3 scuba cylinders each (Lisa only needed 2…) and we hit the surface.
The holds were full of more Jeeps and large field guns and we saw a separate room filled with crockery. The swimming pool still had all the mosaic tiles on the walls and the ladders.
Lisa had a swim in the pool for her birthday!
It was an amazing last dive for us on the Coolidge.

 Lisa in the Swimming Pool and Ladder 

The bottom of the Pool

A Field Artillery Gun (upside down)

Feeding the Fish using Jim's bread rolls

The following morning the weather had gone downhill again with rain and overcast skies. There was a tropical depression to the east of Santo and strong winds to 40 knots and 3m seas were forecast. There was a cruise ship due into Luganville which is not a regular occurance. The locals had gone to a lot of effort with extra staff at most places and extra food made. The captain aborted that morning as he was worried about the ships safety on the commercial wharf and that he might get stuck on it with the wind pushing him on. It was offshore on the wharf all day and the wind didn’t get over 15 knots. The locals were not happy. I guess the passengers were not either. Many had pre-booked snorkeling on Million Dollar Point and dives on the Coolidge.

USS Tucker Wreck

We went to the wreck of the USS Tucker which is close to Malo Island and a 30 minute boat ride from Luganville. The Tucker was a 341ft Mahan Class US Destroyer in service during WW2. It was built in 1936 and sunk when it hit a mine in 1942. It is 1 of only 2 divable US Destroyers in the world. It is broken into 3 parts and lies upright in only 18m of water on a sandy/coral rubble bottom. There is a load of fish on it and certain parts are clouded in glassy bait fish. Very large Manta Rays and Dog Tooth Tuna hover over the wreck. Viz is usually 30-40m.

The dive was absolutely fantastic. With 30m viz we could see most of the wreck from just lying on the surface.
We spent 70 minutes exploring the 3 sections and the scattered debris in between.
We just cannot believe the wreck is not dived very often. Simo has done it less than 15 times in 3 years. If this wreck was anywhere else but here, it would be a highlight and dived daily. It’s sad that it pales into insignificance because of the Coolidge. Most divers that come here don’t even know it exists because 2 of the 3 dive shops don’t have boats so they don’t talk about it or promote it.
If you are coming to Santo to dive the Coolidge – we’d strongly suggest you look up Mal at Santo Island Dive (he is the only one diving it) and go for a dive or 2 on the USS Tucker. You won’t regret it!

There were Glassy Bait Fish all over the Wreck

That evening we had Simo onboard Lorelei and stuffed him full of dinner, dessert and soft drinks. He loved it as he had never been on a sailing boat before or had much experience with Western food.

For our last few days in Santo we did a light top up and re-provision of food and fuel, explored the town and kicked back at Aore Resort and on Lorelei. 

Luganville Fresh Food Markets

Re-provisioning with fresh food at the markets was fun.
The ladies who ran the stalls were so nice and quite funny once you got talking to them. Food was very cheap.

Want some Bananas? 
Only 200 Vatu and better bring a mate to help carry them out

May contain traces of nuts.... 

Vanuatu’s Mango Crates are environmentally friendly and bio-degradable
If you only want one mango, they are 20c each…

We took 2000 Vatu in and got all this and some change back

Million Dollar Point

We also did one more dive – this time we took our RIB over and dived Million Dollar Point on our own. We waited until a flat sunny day and did it just on the top of the tide. We had to pay Ben the local villager who oversees the site 500 Vatu each to visit the area.
When snorkeling in between dives on the Coolidge we had seen a few things worth having a look at on Scuba. It’s only when we got down to 20m+ that we found so much more. At 30m there was an intact cargo ship with complete engine room, stern cabins and aft deck shrouded with glassy bait fish. Next to the wreck was a large bulldozer.
We saw stacks of trucks, forklifts, bulldozers, boats and other army surplus. It’s sad just how much they threw away after the war.
Surely the locals could have made good use of the equipment.

The bow of the ship we found at 30m

That's a big Bulldozer !!

A large Forklift on its side in the sand

Looking to the Future....

So our plans are still the same as before.
Spend the next 2-3 weeks exploring northern Vanuatu before clearing out of Sola in the Banks Group in mid December.
This should give us just enough time for the 1000nm sail over the equator to Tarawa in the Kiribati’s to be there for Christmas.

We’ve had a great 5 weeks since leaving Port Vila although it has been a little challenging with lack of detailed charts, marginal anchorages and varying weather conditions. We seem to have winter trades one day and summer monsoon conditions the next. But it is our choice to be here so late in the cruising season so we shouldn’t complain. Most Aussie and NZ boats left the country at least 4-6 weeks ago.

We have no idea where Episode 14 will be posted from.
Exciting isn’t it!!!
Hopefully it will be from Tarawa in the Kiribati’s around Dec/Jan.
If not then Majuro in the Marshall Islands in Feb.
Either way somewhere from the Northern Hemisphere in 2013!

So that’s it from the Hog Blog for 2012.
What a year it’s been!!
We really hoped you all enjoyed following our sailing adventure.
 It’s snowballed to over 600 hits a month to the site so we think you are.
Stay tuned for more next year….

Have a fantastic Christmas everyone and a safe and Happy New Year.

Cheers for now
Paul Hogger
Lisa Hogger
SV Lorelei
Currently somewhere in the middle of the Pacific…….

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