G'day, Family and Friends,
We are indeed safe and sound in Scarborough, Queensland, Australia, almost half way around the world! But before we tell you all about this incredible country "down under", we will bring you up to date since August 30 (where did almost 3 months go?).
We should thank our "boat guests" Ed and Belle Blumenstock and LeAnn Vargo for an very extensive touring of all the islands in Vanuatu. In Tanna we had the experience of a life time on the slopes of the VERY active Yasur Volcano! All the villagers in Port Resolution Bay Yacht Club (we are life members now with cards and a burgee!)prepared us a delicious feast with fruits, "laplap", and cooked pig for us with singing (John Frum singing) and some dancing afterwards. It is so hard to believe that these beautiful smiling friendly people were cannibals until about 1967!!!
We left Port Resolution, Tanna on September 7, arriving at Port Vila, Efate Island on September 9 (35 years for us!!!:) after stopping at Dillion Bay on Erromango Island. We spent the next few days making repairs, washing (I am getting very spoiled because the ladies do all my washing for me...here and in Fiji), cleaning and shopping for food for seven people for the next two weeks! LeAnn, Ed and Belle arrived on September 14 in absolutely TERRIBLE weather with wind and rain! What a welcome!
After a nasty wet and windy weekend, we all went to the banks and bought food, were out of Port Vila about noon time and were anchored in Havannah Bay (which sheltered over 50 battleships during the war) about dinner time. We had quite a feast after catching two large ahi (yellow fin tuna) as we sailed around Devil's Point with 30 knots of wind, 3 meter swell with the tidal current downwind!
We traveled to Lamen Bay on Epi Island, but no sign of the resident friendly dugong, even though we snorkeled for a long time. On to Banam Bay on Malekua Island where we enjoyed a wonderful ROM dance presentation and "Laplap" for refreshments! We also enjoyed snorkeling out on the reef.
We stopped for one night in Crab Harbour as we headed north to arrive at a mooring at Aore Resort, which is across the Segond Channel from Luganville, Espiritu Santo Island, on September 22, just in time to snorkel at Million Dollar Point before Ed and Belle flew out on September 24 to catch their flight from Port Vila the following morning at 7am. The water and the land holds many relics remaining from WWII, because up to September 1945 more than half a million military personnel, mostly Americans, had been stationed here prior to sailing off to battle elsewhere in the Pacific. As many as 100 ships were often moored off Luganvillein the Segond Channel, which was protected by mines. During this time, roads, 40 cinemas, four military hospitals, five airfields, naval repair center, torpedo boat base, jetties, market gardens, and many quonset huts were all built to accommodate these servicement. We were able to see hundreds of tons of US military equipment (bulldozers, aero engines, trucks, jeeps, boats, crates of Coca-cola and canned food) which was literally bulldozed into the ocean after the War. It is very difficult to comprehend this apparent incredible waste, but apparently the US had offered the local planters and the Condominium government the chance to buy all of this war surplus at the incredibly low cost of 8 cents in the dollar, and when they continued to stall, the US just dumped it all. We had excellent visibility and were even treated to a visit from a dugong!
LeAnn received her open water scuba diving certificate while there, so she and Eric dove on the SS President Coolidge. "The President and the Lady" by Peter Stone narrates the entire sage of this ship. On October 26, 1942 SS President Coolidge, a luxury liner refitted as a 5,000 man troopcarrier, sunk in 85 minutes after hitting two American mines in the Segond Channel. The captain tried to run onto the onshore reef; however, the ship slid backwards and sunk into deeper water. There was only one casualty.
Unfortunately, we needed to head south to be in Port Vila for LeAnn's departure on October 9th. We sailed to Maewo on September 28, spending that night at Narova and then to Asanvari, where we really enjoyed the villagers, purchasing their beautiful baskets, a delightful walk to their waterfall which adjoins the bay, and the snorkeling. Eric SPEARED a dog tooth tuna there! What a delicious dinner and quite a accomplishment for Eric! The villagers put on a Custom Dance and Dinner for several of us which happened to be on October 1! They sang Happy Birthday to me! Unfortunately, it was raining, so the dance was held in the nakamel hut and the dinner was at the yacht club. Also, their kava is so very strong, so many did not have a chance to enjoy their dinner!!!
We arrived in Ranon on the island of Ambryn when the Cruise Ship was there, so we had a large selection of their woodcarvings. We purchased quite a few and so did LeAnn. They are very interesting with much history. Unfortunately, the weather was deteriorating, so we were not able to visit their volcano. We also needed to head south. We sailed to Lamen Bay and Havannah Harbour and were sailing in very uncomfortable conditions of 25+ knot winds with 3 meter seas, but we had a schedule....so we had to go! We arrived in Port Vila on October 7, just in time for LeAnn's plane flight at 7am on October 9 (taxi at 5:30am! in the RAIN).
We prepared for our passage to New Caledonia by making passage meals and the Australian flag (I already had a French flag for New Caledonia). We also had many lots of wash done after our guests left, and we shopped. We had also obtained one year multiple entry visas for Australia at their embassy in Port Vila. Many of our friends who had been waiting for weeks left on Saturday, but we had not checked out from on Friday since the weather was so horrific with 30-40 knots and 4-5 meter seas between New Caledonia and Vanuatu. We checked out, purchased food and duty free diesel and left early on October 15, arriving at Port Moselle Marina, Noumea, New Caledonia after lunch on October 17 with 30 knots of wind pushing us into the slip!
We enjoyed visiting the Museums, St. Joseph's Cathedral, and the Aquarium in Noumea and tried to discovered places where my Dad might have been. I did manage to discover that he was stationed here for about 3 years beginning about February/March 1942 after traveling on a ship, transiting the Canal, ppicking up more supplies in Australia before arriving in Noumea. He was Master of Supply, dealing mainly in clothing. If anyone has any more information, pictures, etc. concerning that time in Dad's life, we would really appreciate hearing from you. We sailed on Baie du Kuto on the Isle of Pines on October 21, where we enjoyed the absolutely exquisite beauty of the white sand beaches. We hiked to the top of Pic Nga where a cross has been erected in memory of the American soldiers here during the War, where they commanded a radar station. We snorkeled at many of the motus, but didn't have time to find a perfect spot with excellent visibility, but we did see many new species of fish. We continued to make preparations for our trip to Australia, making passage meals, etc. We returned to Baie de l'Orphelinat near Noumea. We cleared out of Customs, purchased a few items (but stocked up completely on our last French baquettes!!:(, and left early on October 30 with 9 other boats!
We arrived here at Scarborough Marina on November 4 about 10am, with many boats right behind us, as we beat the gale which arrived that evening! Since then we have been BUSY! First we needed a good night's sleep after we were cleared in! I spent several days doing all our wash....no one here to do it for me! We purchased a cell phone. We rented a car and drove to Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. We are scheduled to be in a slip there on November 30. We purchased a car after many days looking....definitely harder and more expensive to purchase a car here compared with last year in New Zealand! We have traveled to Brisbane, but only to purchase books and to look at opals. We went to the Gem and Mineral Show yesterday at Buderim! We have been walking every afternoon (it is WARM here...in fact there is a drought with bush fires like in Colorado last summer) and enjoying seeing rainbow lorikeets in the trees and galah cockatoos feeding on the lawns in the parks along the ocean. We still have to see a koala and a kangaroo (there are warning signs for them along the road!). We are planning to go see Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Man at the Australia Zoo. We are sure that you have seen him on tv!!! We have lots to do and see!
We are presently at Scarborough Marina, Queensland but will
be moving to Mooloolaba about December 1, so as soon as we know the correct
address we will send it out! Our cellular phone number is: country code (61)
405 761 819 and it should not cost that much to call, so please do!
Hopefully, I will be working on updating the website at www.peaceandaloha.com soon and will add more pictures, hot news and ports of call soon. Julie has placed wedding pictures at the following sites:
Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to those of you who had celebrations during the last three months! We wish you all a Joyous Thanksgiving....we do have much to be thankful for at this time! Please be patient with me and I will continue to answer all your nice emails. Please continue to keep in touch. Remember...don't forget us