Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo, Pentecost, Ambrym, Malakula, Epi, and Éfaté.
All the islands are volcanic and mountainous and covered with rain forest. Most people live as farmers and they let the cattle find food in the forests. We saw few people living as fishermen. The population is very friendly, and outside the bigger towns they like to visit you in the anchorage in their dugouts and sell their fruit and vegetables. The meat from the cattle is the most delicious we have tasted in the whole pacific.
Like many other island groups, Vanuatu was occupied by the Americans during WW2. Especially in Luganville, the remains in the form of the wreck of the troop transporter President Coolidge, which went on a friendly mine, is lying in the Eastern harbour entrance, and not far from it is Million Dollar Point, where hundreds of tonnes of civilian construction equipment were bulldozed into the water by the end of the war.
Pentecost is famous for the land diving ritual (Nagol). This centuries-old ritual is said to have inspired the inventors of the modern and better known bungy jump. Our visit was not in the season for this ritual, but we enjoyed the beautiful nature and the waterfalls.
At Ambrym we anchored where a hot water spring entered a little lake and the steaming water ran as a river into the sea. The water was so hot that you could only keep the feet in it for a couple of seconds. Malakula and Epi were briefly visited, and especially we enjoyed the sheltered anchorages in Malakula.
Éfaté has some beautiful and sheltered anchorages on the north side. The capitol of Port Vila was very busy compared to the other towns and villages we visited. It is a butifull and interesting town with a good sheltered harbour and well assorted market. No wonder that we saw many tourists.
Pacific passage from Vanuatu to New Zealand (Nov. 2009)
The passage of 1170 Nm from Port Vila to Opua in New Zealand was made in 7 days.
The course is around 170, and the light winds were most of the time South Easterly 8 – 20 knots. The whole passage was upwind sailing, and the first couple of days the waves were short and steep. This gave quite a lot of slamming and water on the fore deck. In addition, most of the time we had a current of up to 1½ – 2 knots against us. After this we moved into the centre of a high pressure where motoring was unavoidable, and after having passed the centre we again got wind, but this time right in the nose. The rest of the passage was done by motor, and the total hours of motoring amounts to 99 hours.