October 1

Today is the first day of October, only 19 more days till Jonah’s birthday. He is very excited and we have a big party planned, though the guest list is somewhat up in the air <g>. The guests, in fact, will be whomever happens to be where we are on the 20th. Right now it looks like that will be Numea , New Caledonia .  Right now we are at Aore on Santo and getting reading to leave finally. We’ve had a wonderful time at Santo and its surrounding islands and would certainly return if we have the chance.  

Yesterday I spent the morning working on the anchor winch and I think it is running fine now. First I removed all the cables and cleaned them of gunk and corrosion. Then, after calling the Maxwell people who make the winch, I removed the end cap from the electric motor and cleaned out the accumulated carbon dust with some compressed air (a handy thing to have aboard, one of the cans of compressed air found in photography shops and such). The I put the cables back, this time with fat plastic washers to prevent the chance that they would short out on the motor body, which is one of the things I suspect may have been the problem. Anyway, we let out about 200ft of chain (manually) then hauled it back up with no sparking or other problems.  

Meanwhile, we have spent so much time here at Santo that we have determined there is not enough time left to reach Port Vila in a reasonable manner (ie. without having to bust ass sailing into the wind – the proper thing is to wait for a nice calm day with no wind or, even more rare, wind from the Northeast which would make a sail to the SE a pleasurable reach). This, of course, has prompted us to re-think our entire strategy for the next 18months, and develop a new plan. First, we are going to clear out of Vanuatu from Santo so we are free to head for New Caledonia . Then we are going to sail south to Malekula (the next island in the chain) and visit one or two anchorages on the West side. At the SW tip of Malekula is Southwest Bay , a lovely looking spot where we plan to jump off for New Caledonia sometime around the 7th or 8th.  

Its about 3 days to Numea, possibly 4 if we stop at one of the anchorages along the way to Numea, which is on the opposite side of New Caledonia (ie. West -  we are coming from the East and so have to sail through the Southern lagoon to get to Numea). Then we’ll have a week or so in Numea culminating in Jonah’s sixth birthday bash. We have already spoken with “Abel Tasmen” and they are expected to be in Numea then, so we are assured that there will be at least 2 kids at Jonah’s party other then himself.  

After the 20th we will probably head to Iles De Pins, an island about 65 miles SE of the main island of New Caledonia, reputed to be one of the most beautiful South Pacific isles, and spend 2 weeks relaxing in the sun, weather permitting. Then its back to Numea to clear customs and prepared for the trip South to New Zealand . Right now we are planning to stop at Norfolk Island, an Australian possession about 350nm South of New Caledonia and 500 miles NW of New Zealand’s Bay of Islands (our destination in NZ).  

Norfolk was populated by the most difficult cases, the worst of the worst from the Botany Bay ( Australia ) penal colony shortly after it was formed. The island does not have any all-weather, protected anchorages. The main town, Kingston , is on the South coast and this is the primary anchorage. On the North side is another anchorage which can be used when the wind is Southerly, and on the East side is Ball Bay where protection can be found in Westerly winds. Whether we stop or not will depend on conditions at the time and will be based on a complex set of criteria including current and expected weather both at Norfolk and along the route from there to Opua.