Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Efate to Epi

We dropped off Mike in Port Vila and after a short stay to get gas etc we sailed to Lelepa Island in around 15 knots. The wind dropped as we got in the lee of Lelepa Island and we motored through a narrow pass to anchor in Mallao Bay. We both went for a midwinter swim and snorkel. We stayed here a couple of days doing some snorkeling and walks along the beach. Late one afternoon we followed a track I had seen some tourists heading up earlier and discovered a large cave. We went back to the boat for torches and returned to explore further. The cave went back quite a way and the roof was hung with tiny bats, much smaller than the large 'flying foxes' that we have seen before in the islands. At times the air was filled with them flying close past us but never making contact. We also could get close enough to have a good look at them hanging upside down from the rocky ceiling.

We were originally heading to Nguna Island but on the day we left we had a good wind so decided to make the most of it and head further north to Emae Island. We were followed out of the pass by a catamaran who were obviously having difficulties finding the way out. We had a good sail up to Emae and anchored at Sulua Bay. The first time we dropped the anchor we went for a snorkel to check the surroundings and decided that there was a bommie (coral outcrop) to close in front of us (it wouldn't have been a problem as the wind never swung around from behind) but did mean we shifted to a much better spot. Emae is a high volcanic island with three distinct peaks. From here we were hoping to dive an offshore reef but the weather gods had other things in mind. We spent three windy and wet days here. Eventually we struck a sunny day and the wind appeared to have calmed down a bit so we set sail for Epi. The wind was behind us (SE) so we had a good sail (about 30nm) under a triple reefed main and reefed jib. In the open water it was around 30 knots with a 3m swell. In NZ these would have been quite uncomfortable conditions but the lack of wind chill makes sailing here much more pleasant. Jim sailed the whole way in his underwear! Eventually as we got in the lee of the island and as we rounded Cape Foreland, the wind and swell died away and we sailed the last few miles under full main and jib to Lamen Bay.

The windy weather has continued but Lamen Bay is a pleasant anchorage with just a touch of swell rolling in. There are a lot of turtles here, we have seen several both from the yacht and while snorkeling. I think they are green sea turtles feeding on the sea grass on the sandy bottom. We have also seen a dugong from the yacht but not while swimming yet. Its been a bit colder here lately with the temperature dropping below 25 degrees at night. Tomorrow (all going well) we will head to Malakula and then to Espirito Santo as we need to renew our visas in Santo.


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