Before leaving Vuda the staff gathered on the dock and sang me a farewell song.
It was about 20 miles to Navula passage, out through the reef. By the time I got there it was growing dark, the wind had picked up and was blowing hard I knew it would be rough outside and the smoke from a fire on the hillside was obscuring the leading lights. I didn’t feel like passing through the reef in those conditions, so although you are not supposed to I turned into Momi bay and anchored there for the night. Much refreshed next morning I set out again, the wind had dropped and I had an easy passage out through the reef and could set course for Vanuatu, 450 miles away. I was aiming for Aneityum, the most southerly of the islands. It is not an official port of entry but you can ask for special permission to clear there, which I had done and it had been granted. The great advantage of clearing here first is that you can then work you way north up the island chain without having to beat against the trade winds. The passage went quite well although the 2nd day turned out very windy with rough and at times very rough seas coming from abeam and breaking. Several times waves broke against the boat and into the cockpit. I managed to stay dry in the shelter of the spray hood. We had a full moon for this passage so the nights were far from dark even with cloud cover.
The only other boat I saw was on the last eve, I had just spotted the island about 60 miles a way and shortened sail to slow down to preclude a nighttime arrival when I spotted a sail astern. It soon passed me.
Sunrise of the 5th day out found me about 4miles off the SE corner of the island, just about perfect timing I thought. As I skirted the Southern coast and rounded the reefs there I noticed several sailboats leaving the bay. Great it was the rally boats leaving meaning an uncrowded anchorage. I am not a fan of these yacht rallies of which there seems to be more and more. It means a great crowd of yachts in anchorages all at once. With the rally boats left there was plenty of space for me to choose a nice anchor spot in about 7m of water. My noon to run runs for this passage were all over 100 miles which was pleasing.
After a brew of tea I inflated the dinghy and went ashore. My luck was in, Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity officers were all still here, they are not on the island full time so clearance was painless quick and friendly. A stroll through the village and along the beach completed the day.
Next day I walked along tracks and beaches to the next bay and village, all very delightful.
No real roads on the island, people live in simple woven huts by fishing and farming. They speak a form of pigdeon English though many speak English too. They are mostly a little shy but friendly and welcoming always with a greeting.
I walked up to this waterfall in the forest.
Sammy who I’d met on 1st day took me a village inland from Anelcauhat and introduced me to Ali who guided me there. I wouldn’t have found the way by myself. A vague trail, muddy in places, over fallen trees, under fallen trees, crossing gulleys and across the river on slippery boulders 5 or 6 times and after 2 or more hard hours we got there.
Had a refreshing cold swim in the pool under the falls. I had taken some nuts with me and offered some to Ali. From his quizzical expression studying a cashew nut I could tell he had never seen one before, but he enjoyed them. Having left at 10 I was back on the beach and my dinghy about 4 just a little tired.
The bay is open to the West so one morning when the waves started into the bay and a gentle at first west wind, it was time to move out. Francoise the Frenchman in the other boat at anchor came across with some query about english words in descriptions of other anchorages on the island. We decided to head up to Anawamet bay on the North coast, this should give some shelter from the west. It would also be a handy spot for jumping off heading north
Anchoring here, the village chief paddled out in his dugout canoe to say hi and welcome us and I had quite a long chat with him about his village and the island.