Well, Harrys place was next door so why not start there. Eased up to the bar and this long haired blond with a knock out figure and very low cut top immediately comes over to take my order, I ask if she is Dora and she said yes in a Swedish accent. I told her I had seen her notice for crew position and that I quite possibly might be looking for crew and did she have time to talk a few minutes. She said she had plenty of time, but English not so good. I explained that my wife might not be able to make the trip and that I was just trying to get a heads up on crew. Dora explained that she had sailed here with her boyfriend from Sweden, they had a fight so she left the boat, had only the clothes that she was wearing and a two bikinis in her hand bag. She had friends in Brisbane but had to find a way there. Of course she wanted to know what kind of sailboat, I told her it was a motor boat, I’m not sure she understood it didn’t have sails, because she kept saying that all the sails and things made it hard to get a good tan on her boyfriend’s boat. She did ask if I minded topless sunbathing and I of course said no problem. Her other hobby is cooking and she was very excited when I described the kitchen and stove. Dora wanted to come out and see the boat, but told her that it was premature. I said I would drop back by in a couple of days if I was going to be forced into getting a crew.
I really didn’t see any reason for further interviews. Maybe she could help Martha with the cooking?
Aug 17, 2008
Captain's Log #7
Yasur is the world’s most active volcano. There are few places that would allow visitors to stand on the top edge of the cone and look into such a cauldron of fire and molten rock. I guess Vanuatu just doesn’t have any lawyers yet. If it was in New Zealand you would be able to bungy jump into it, they have some kind of limiting liability law. The United States Park Service would not allow anyone within 10 miles of the place.
Night viewing is the most dramatic. Visitors are actually forced to climb the last couple hundred yards up the steep incline, our “taxi”, a Nissan 4x4 with no springs had already negotiated slopes worse than the climb. I think it had to do with the value of the truck. The climb was rather humiliating. I have had an ongoing problem with the hip on my right hind leg, so I was taking it easy on the climb. As I was standing beside the path gasping, a guide helped an 80 year old woman past me. I did beat her to the rim, barely.
The guides told us to stand facing the eruptions and watch for glowing boulders and rocks. He warned us not to run, but to stand so as to dodge left or right as needed. I wondered if this was “theory” or if had been “field tested”??? A lot of big rocks and boulders littered the rim and they didn’t roll up there.
The roar is like Jurassic Park, the movie, X100. It starts with a trembling of the ground and moves into your body and becomes sound with-in as well as out, similar to setting next to a low rider at a traffic light with Hip Hop blaring. Then the visual takes over. Red rocks, lava, sparks, and fire spew with increasing sound and fury hundreds of feet in the air. This takes place as visitors are standing about 6 feet from the edge, close enough to see the floor with all the bubbling stuff; all the time, staying on the balls of their feet so as to dodge the big stuff, if it should come their way. In Florida we have observed the forces of nature up close and personal, but this display of sound and visual stimulation blew away anything I have ever witnessed.
There were probably 25 or 30 people on the rim watching, everyone a little jumpy. I decided to move over near where Tom and Susie were. As I approached from the rear, with the right leg dragging, I didn’t see the small boulder. My right leg/foot hit the rock; I pitched forward into the guy on Tom’s right. I grabbed him on both shoulders to steady myself and to keep from knocking him forward. That man knows scared. It was dark; I hope they don’t ever find this blog.
Aug 11, 2008
Captain's Log #6
Toms Kava Ceremony
Normally I wouldn’t write a captains log on the day of arrival into a new island group, especially one with such a unique heritage as Vanuatu. One part of a day and I’m in love with the country and people, the volcano that is spewing black smoke and ash over the harbor is real and makes rumbles during the day. Anyway getting way ahead of myself.
This true story happened today between anchoring and pig roast tonight, and I’m afraid if I don’t tell it now I may not feel up to it anytime in the near future.
Tom of Tom and Susie of sailing vessel “Priscilla” fame announced soon after out arrival that we were invited to a kava ceremony. Now kava drinking is big thing throughout the South Pacific. All the guide books tell everyone to buy this powered formulation to present to the chiefs of villages, then he invites you in for the ceremony and everyone bonds and you are made welcome. I had not experienced the kava ceremony and was looking forward to my first. Tom said he had purchased some kava and had given it to the host. I’m all in.
The village was truly a village, foot paths, pigs, chickens, and kids everywhere. The houses are thatched roof shanties. I’m thinking should’a worn shoes, looks like a hookworm factory. We exchanged gifts and things, then Tom and myself accompany the chief and his two sons along a footpath to the mens “custom” area. The chief brings some water in a 3 gallon paint bucket, a couple coconut drinking cups, some leaves, woven mats, coconut leaf, sticks and some other things.
We set around on some logs and they pull out some root things and start cleaning and peeling them, I’m looking at the water bucket wondering if we are going to drink water out of that? Will the Malarial medicine kill hookworms? Where is Tom’s instant Kava powder?
I awaken to the fact that the root things are what Tom bought. How then are they going to grate them into small pieces? No fire, so how are they to cook the small pieces?
This new guy walks up and reaches into the pile of cleaned roots, grabs one and takes a big bite. I almost said something to him, I mean he didn’t even ask, and these guys working hard to clean these things up. Then other people start taking big bites and we are encouraged to do same. I guess that since Tom didn’t bring the instant stuff we were going to treat it like chewing tobacco. Anything to keep from drinking that water. Everyone talking and asking if lips tingling or tongue numb?? Everyone trying to see how much they can put in their mouths, not pretty sight, I’m being conservative because it’s a long way back down that mountain path. Not much to this, just got to wear shoes next time.
Then someone brings some special leaves, hands one to each, and then everyone regurgitates all their stuff onto these leaves and I get a real bad feeling.
Cat puke is the only way to describe this mess, It was mixed on some porous bark, water poured through it into the two cups. Tom and I got the two cups and were told to drink it all up, one time. We did.
I think we are tribe members now, and the threat of hookworms does not seem so ominous.
Captian's Log #5
Aug 5, 2008
Me- Good morning, can I get a cup plain ol’ coffee, with cream and sugar.
Waitress- yep, yep,-----------yep.
15 minutes later
Me- Miss, I didn’t order this cup of froth stuff with the chocolate on top, I wanted a cup of plain coffee.
Me-Do you have plain filter coffee?
Me- Thank you.
15 minutes later
Me- Miss, In the USofA we call that little ol’ cup dark, brown, thick stuff “Cuban Coffee”. I would have to run around the building a few times if I drank that.
Me- Can I have some filter coffee that is not so concentrated?
5 minutes later
Me- I guess I take the little cup of bitter stuff and pore it into this cup of hot water?
Me-What about cream? There is none on the table to put in this vile stuff. Could you try again to get me a cup of filter coffee with cream and sugar.
Me- Thank you.
20 minutes later.
Me- thank you Miss.
Waitress- Yep, yep.
Me- This soup bowl of frothy, creamy, stuff with sprinkles forming a fern leaf is exactly what I had in mind.
Waitress- yep, Yep, (big smile) Yep.
As you see from this “true life” ordinary daily communication excerpt, New Zealanders are fond of the word “yep”. We were watching a movie that was filmed in the USofA the other night and the writers had probably not gotten past the 6th grade, the only adjective they knew was the “F” bomb. It got me thinking that a New Zealand movie could be written with a hand full of nouns, a few adjectives, two pronouns, and 22,543 yeps.
Captain's Log #4
Run Out of Town
I think Special Blend and crew have worn out their welcome in New Zealand.
The last log had us at wet slip at River Side Marina with a port side leaky stabilizer, kinda like when we got here last year. Charlie at Dockland 5 (dry dock) cheerfully agreed come in and pull us out on Saturday.
Tony our stabilizer man agreed to drive over on Saturday and pull stabilizer fin, great plan, but I could sense every one getting tired. We were going to do this on the lift, quick. Saturday morning we get a call from Tony, he has hit hail on the road, lost control, truck is upside down, totaled, and Tony thinks he’s OK. Says he’ll be here Sunday, but we know when he tries to get out of bed on Sunday his body won’t let him.
Charlie now has to come down on Sunday and put us in a cradle.
We have to move back to home at Channel Vista. Owners Paul and Braia just got the place cleaned up for new renters.
Brad and I pulled out leaking stabilizer and the Company in Auckland that had rebuilt fin had screwed up. Lucky us had a backup new fin from Wesmar. Brad and I reinstalled.
Tony was able to come on Wednesday, certified Brad's and my work, Charlie agreed to launch us again, but he suggested I contact Carl at Riverside and see if we could go there, he had heard we had sunk their floating docks when we left.
Carl was not a happy camper, was talking about having a crew work two days in this cold water. Something about rope and 10 ft tide, I really never understood. They allowed us to come back under strict supervision, and an understanding that they would supervise our leaving. They were pretty nice under the circumstances, but I sensed they were a little edgy.
At Riverside Tony did the calibration and stuff for stabilizer system, was in the process of tweaking starboard fin when we saw that it was leaking, this is true, I would not make this up. I had to leave while Tony talked to repair Company in Auckland, hurt my ears. The Company agreed to do repair next morning (today). And Tony will drive over today or in the morning. We will ask Charlie to pull Special Blend. Tony, Brad, and I will install repaired again fin in an hour or so and relaunch. We haven’t told Charlie or Carl this plan yet.
Meanwhile weather window now looking iffy.
Bright side is we have finally moved in, heater works great. First time we have been warm in 2.5 months, and everyone seems eager to do whatever to either help us leave or make us leave.
We think New Zealand has had enough.
Captains Log #3
July 8, 2008
Good things happened yesterday; the fins got installed and time confirmed for last minute launch. Just goes to show that good things happen to those that are uncomplaining and patient as I always try to be.
This morning, the fact that the truckers of New Zealand picked our launch time to demonstrate their displeasure with current laws and taxes by tying up traffic over the whole country did little to dampen our eagerness. We came sliding in just in time to jump on as Special Blend hit the water.
Friends came to watch launch, dockland 5 manager showed us the way up the river, and at new wet marina more friends showed up, grand time by all. The fuel dock manager kept giggling as the fuel pump reached its max and had to be reset. 6 times it had to be reset, 4000 liters is a lot of fuel. We get a 12.5% discount of the GST tax, whatever that is; plus we get about 25% saving because we are Americans and our dollar is worth more. Still works out to highest price I have heard of, approximately half as much as we spent on the entire trip last year. But so what, we’re headed to Fiji.
With many helpful hands we were secured in our dock space. We immediately set to work on the many chores to be completed for the Monday high tide departure. At one point I dropped a screw and it rolled into the bilge, lifted a hatch to recover the screw and found water, yep stabilizer fin leaking.
I think I saw this movie 9 months ago.
Captains Log #2
July 1, 2008
Now I know what a Christmas Turkey feels like, 4, 5, 6, 7, now 8 weeks and seem to be no closer to getting stabilizers than when we got here. Meanwhile car rental co, hotel, restaurant, grocery stores, marine supply, welders, painters, and fuel suppliers in town seem to be smiling. This week we reached the maximum time allowance by customs inspectors for a New Zealand boat import. No problem, all of our suppliers (who know customs lady personally) all got together and talked her into giving us a extension. I guess when checks start bouncing they’ll let us go.
Some things we have accomplished while waiting;
Prop Speed applied to Prop (don’t know if works, but good salesman
New Stidd helm chair
New Carpet and rugs through out
Lugger valves adjusted and new injectors
Generator, new SS exhaust elbow
All filters changed
All oil and filters changed, all belts replaced
Autopilot finished install
Day fuel tank removed and repaired
Boat repaired from tank removal
Lines on boom davit replaced
Toilets (hopefully) repaired
Outboard new waterpump impeller
New starter battery for lugger
Exhaust hangers on mast replaced
New dock lnes
New handrails at stern
Bimini top replaced zippers
New personal epirb for Martha
0ne year of provisions for 4 months cruise
New Penn reels, seriously outgunned last year
I think when we get stabilizers in stalled next week (????) we will be ready to fuel and leave.
Really, New Zealanders have been great, they must have a good sense of humor that allows them to live with this crummy winter weather. When we leave (????) we will miss them, but not the weather.
Did I mention how hard it is to get a regular cup of coffee here?
Captains Log #1 2008
Reported from the dry land of New Zealand. I use the term dry land rather freely because at least 75% of the time we have been here it has been raining. 40 days and 40 nights is nothing to a new Zealander.
We have resolved out differences with Wesmar over the stabilizers.
Mr. Cary D Jones,