August 10

We're working hard to get ready to move North finally. Jonah and I returned from the USA 2 days ago and we've been working hard since then to get things in shape. The first thing which needed attention upon arrival was another dead fuel pump on the genset. The last one had failed just a week before I left and the day before I returned the new one had already failed. I had bought a new one while in the US, as a spare, and so first thing Friday morning I installed it and got the genset working again. Why it failed is a mystery to me. I did take the failed pump apart and right away found a hole in the bellows (this type of pump uses a bellows and a set of contact points to open and close the bellows, on each opening it draws fuel into the bellows and when it closes it forces the fuel out the other side). The previous pump had lasted only 280 hours. The replacement lasted only 55 hours. Of course, now we have no spare pump and if this one fails our genset will be out of commission. The pump is rated for continuous duty cycle (which means they manufacturer is saying it is built to handle running continuously). Clearly it is not a very good unit but finding a replacement that will a) fit in the space allocated to it and b) that will not require me to re-plumb all of the surrounding hoses and such will not be easy.

Since then we have been shopping to replenish our food supplies. We stocked up on chicken yesterday. We repacked it all in vacuum sealed bags (we have our own vacuum sealer). We also need more beef which is very inexpensive here. The domestic beef cattle industry here is booming. The island of Espirito Santo (Vanuatu's largest) is almost one giant cattle farm. One of our guide books claims the quality is so high that 85% of all beef from Santo is exported to Japan. The prices are also rock bottom. Beef sells for about US$1.80/lb and they don't distinguish between different cuts, so tenderloin (filet) is the same price as rump roast! The cuts are different though but we have heard that if you are buying a large quantity you can get them to cut it the way you want. We are going to wait till be get to Santo to buy the beef as it is supposed to be even cheaper then here in Port Vila. Pork on the other hand is outrageously expensive compared to beef. My assumption is that this is because it is not produced on a commercial scale and further the pig is considered a status symbol among the ni- Vanuatu who slaughter them in all kinds of cultural rituals and ceremonies. The chicken was not too expensive and was produced locally. Again, the prices for breast was the same as for legs and thighs! We paid about US$4/lb and bought about 15lbs. I may buy more today if there is any left. The stores do not always have it available and yesterday they had just gotten a new stock in, so it is not clear that there will be any left today.

We have a long list of work to do before we can leave. We have winches which need to be cleaned and re-greased, the starboard bow light is not working, some fittings in the bulwarks need to be caulked with silicone as the bedding seems to have shrunk and water is coming in a bit,. On Monday we have to go to Immigration again to get another visa extension then to Customs to get an Inter-Island clearance (cruising permit to allow us to leave Vila and travel North to Santo). Once this is done we will have a permit (also from Customs) to purchase duty- free liquor and other products and we plan to stock up on Rum (Mount Gay Rum sells for US$10/litre bottle duty free) and Coke. Finally we have to clean the dinghy bottom which has been in the water for almost a month straight and is foul with marine growth.

We hope to leave Vila on Tuesday or Wednesday. The only thing which may prevent this is that I have developed a bad cough and cold, most likely due to the long airplane journey and associated air- conditioning and germs. I do believe that cold alone will not cause someone to get sick, but it does weaken your resistance (at least this is my theory) and combined with 24 hours on airplanes has caused me to pick something up I would rather have left behind. If I can whip it quickly we may be able to keep our schedule.

Our flight back was not too bad. On the NY to LA flight we had a triple to ourselves and watched the Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson movie "Anger Management" which was hilarious. Our layover in LA was uneventful and brief. The big flight from LA to Fiji wasn't so bad either. We also ended up with three seats to ourselves and Jonah slept at least 6 hours while I slept about 4. I also watched another comedy called "Head of State" with Chris Rock which was very amusing.

We arrived in Fiji at 5am and after getting out of Immigration (long line) and Customs (short line) we took a cab to the Vunda Pt. Marina where we had spent several months last year. There were a bunch of boats we knew including our friends on Juniper (Peter, Joanne and kids Anthony (6) and Ella (4)). Jonah spent the day playing with Anthony and we hung out by the pool at the resort next door. It was like a stroll down memory lane. The day was marred however when Jonah rode Anthony's bike right off the edge of the seawall. He landed on an aluminum skiff and skidded down the cement wall right into the drink. I was standing no more then 3 feet from him when he went over and immediately jumped into the skiff and pulled him out of the water.

He was badly battered with bruises and bumps on his head, cuts and scrapes over all of his right side and much blood everywhere. He was a wreck after that and I spent the next hour worrying that he had a concussion. He tried to go right to sleep but I managed to keep him awake to eat dinner (he was hungry, good sign) and as soon as I got him into the taxi to go to the airport at 7pm he was out cold. I woke him at the airport and propped him up as we checked in at the ticket counter. He then feel asleep on the baggage scale and while I was speaking with the agent he fell off and hit his head again. I grabbed a nearby wheelchair and put him in it. He feel right asleep again. I wheeled him to the gate where we had about an hour's wait. He slept the entire time. I woke him to board the plane and since I was loaded with carry on gear he had to walk which he did unsteadily. He fell asleep as soon as I put him in his seat.

The flight was thankfully short (about an hour and a half) and he slept like a rock the whole way. When we arrived I woke him and dragged him right to the head of the line at Immigration apologizing to everyone as I ignored them and walked right to the head of the line. By this time he was whining and crying and his knees were buckling so everyone cut us some slack noticing what I was dealing with. After Immigration I dropped him in a chair next to the baggage carousel and he, again, was out cold in seconds. Once I had our luggage on a cart I woke him again and pushed him toward the Customs line which was gratefully short. They looked at our passports again and waved us through without a hassle, probably noticing the boy's condition and not wanting to make my life any more difficult then it already was. Into a waiting taxi we went and in 15 minutes we pulled up to the Waterfront Bar and Grill where Kate was waiting for us with the dinghy. He managed to stay awake for the taxi ride and when he saw his mom kinds limped over to her with a big smile on his face. After we re-dressed his many cuts we poured him into bed and he fell asleep within seconds. Friday he was a bit whipped and limped a lot. We let him relax and watch TV most of the day and yesterday he was much better. Today he seems back to his old self and his cuts are healing nicely. What a trip.