The next hop was 50 miles to Dillon bay on Erromango island. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to do this in daylight hours, there is just 12 hours of daylight here. I weighed anchor just before sunrise and had a nice view of Mt Yasur the volcano “pothering” out its smoke.
The forecast had been for 10-15 knots from SE but it was stronger than that so I was able to keep up a good speed and 11 hours later I had dropped anchor in Dillon Bay. I was very pleased with that.
David from the village paddled out in his outrigger dugout canoe with a gift of bananas, pawpaw and the biggest lemon I had ever seen. I gave him some flour and rice, the supply boat only visits once a month so they run low of things at times
He has built a “yacht cub” ashore for visiting cruisers. Next day I visited him there, he has set himself up as a guide. He showed me the village, the gardens and a delightful swimming pool in the river where I had a lovely dip. He told me the names of the trees and their uses some as a source of incense (sandlewood) others to use as lamps, and which trees they made their dug out canoes from. I was surprised to learn that there are Kauri trees here and they have created a protected zone for them. Afterwards I had lunch with them, rice , yams, fried bananas, manioc, a stew/soup of beef and cabbage fresh squeezed lemon juice and of course pawpaw. Again I learned a little more off the island. Although it is quite a big island there are just 2 villages and there is virtually no development on the island and it is largely off the tourist track.
Some strong winds arrived so I stayed put for a couple of days as the forecasts were for 20-25 knots and very rough seas and I didn’t fancy getting beat about.
It was 80 miles to Efate, the next island and the capital Port Villa, so it was to be a night time passage. Setting off late afternoon once the weather had eased I was hoping for a quiet and peaceful passage, trouble was the wind had eased so much there was virtually none. I had to resort to motoring, at least the seas were calm, shame about 12 hours of engine noise though. Still arrived in Port Villa and was soon secured to a substantial mooring ball.
Ashore it was a bit of a culture shock, shops, banks, restaurants, busy with traffic, all the trappings of a tourist town and the place seemed overrun with Aussies. Well I suppose it’s just a fairly short hop for them, a bit like Brits jetting off to Spain or Greece for their holidays. Still it was good to replenish the stores on things that I had run out of or was running short off. There was a strong French influence about the place, some french supermarkets and the bread was baguette style.
With such a sheltered & calm mooring field here I thought it ideal to clean off the bottom of Sea Bear after all she had been in the water for 6 months now. I was lying in the dinghy, arm in the water scrubbing the waterline when the moorings boatman spotted me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse to clean the hull for me for a very cheap price. So now we have a nice clean hull again, it makes quite a difference to the sailing performance.