Posted by: catamarantwooceans | June 1, 2011

Port Vila – Vanuatu

29.5.11 – Sunday – We left Erromango yesterday after dinner, motoring out of the bay into calm seas with very little wind. As we got out of the lee of the island the wind came, behaving nicely, just as the forecast promised – 10-13  knots. Sailing wing and wing was really pleasant and I was having the fantasy that maybe this leg will be sailed wholly with full sails. Ha! During Volkmar’s watch, around midnight, I woke up to the sound of a violently flogging jib, wind shrieking and waves hitting the hull. I rushed outside in my underwear, the airline eye-cover askew on my forehead, to see Volkmar fighting to control and furl the jib. We were 50 degrees to the 27 knots wind instead of having it from behind, the main full and luckily set for following wind, thus spilling the wind and lessening the pressure on the boat.

It took a while to put “Two Ocean” back in the groove and we ended up by sailing with the third reef, not so much because of the wind strength but more to have a smooth ride and avoid arriving Port Vila before daybreak.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and at 0950 we dropped anchor in the quarantine area of Port Vila harbor. Since the marina office is closed on the Sunday we have to wait until tomorrow and not go ashore.

Port Vila - marina area

We used the time for a few boat jobs, there are always so many of those on the list! First we dealt with the windlass, which in the last days was operating in the “anchor up” mode intermittently. The suspect was the relay, a unit transferring the big current into the windlass’ electric motor. For the layman a relay is a mysterious closed black box you replace when broken, but for the electrical engineer there are the innards, electronic components that one may be able to fix.

Volkmar took the relay apart carefully, found corroded contacts therein and instructed me to clean them with sandpaper and the contact spray cleaner. He assembled the lot and – hallelujah! It worked! He also made a sketch for me so I could take it to a vendor when I buy a new one.

Relay sketch

I cannot praise enough the contribution of Volkmar to the running and maintaining of “Two Oceans”. The man does great work whenever it is needed. He also made lunch today. His special fried veggies with eggs. THANKS VOLKMAR!!!

Chef Volkmar

30.5.11 – Monday – At eight A.M we motored to the “Yachting world” marina and tied stern to the dock. Office business concluded quickly by the efficient Lemara.


Port Vila is a relatively big town with a lot of traffic. Every other van is a sort of bus that you can hail and say your destination. The driver will take you there for 150 Vatu. On the way to immigrations we found the big, colorful market, in which we immediately bought some stuff for the boat.

Port Vila market

There are some big “Bon Marche'” supermarkets in addition to the regular Chinese shops and quite a few big hardware stores. I had to go to customs, those in Tanna are not enough for some reason and then made good on my promise to send David the pictures I took of him and his  yacht Club. In the evening we looked at the menu of the marina’s restaurant – expensive! Main courses are 2800 Vatu, that’s 33 U.S$, so we went to the town center and found a nice place that had decent Pizza.

31.5.11 – Tuesday – This was the day of the Hot Water Tank Project. You may remember that there was a leak from the safety valve of tank and I that disconnected it to prevent losing all our water. Now was the time to fix it, especially since the lady of the manor is coming on board and she NEEDS hot water! I was sure I could find a valve like that in one of the many hardware stores in town, after all this is a standard item in every household hot water tank.

First I had to dismantle the faulty part, which took up considerable time, having to locate all the suitable tools for the different parts. Then I went to the big hardware store I spotted on the way to customs. The time was 1215 and the store was closed! Apparently they close for lunch. An Australian expat couple, who came to shop too, took me to another, open store. The man in charge of plumbing goods couldn’t even begin to understand what I was talking about, in spite of me presenting the required part. Another shop, specializing in plumbing equipment did not have it either.

It was then that it occurred to me that I may be able to save the old part. I thought that the valve got stuck open due to dirt and calcification and that I could make it work by giving it a nice bath in diluted Spirit of salt (Hydrochloric acid) that I had on board. After an hour in the solution the valve came out looking clean and seemingly operational.

I reassembled the whole system and filled up the tank. I could see no leak. Next I started the engine and let it run. The engine cooling water pass through the tank and heat the water. I saw a small leak of coolant, shut the engine down and went back into the engine room to tighten the leaking part. At the first movement of the spanner I heard a sickening noise – the brass fitting I was turning just cracked. No worry, this is a part I can surely get. I’ve been in and out of the engine room countless times, I’ll do it tomorrow.

In the pits

Volkmar had some “interviews” with potential skippers looking for crew. One that I thought could be great for him was Jeff, a Kiwi man who was moored to our port on his 48 foot Grainger catamaran. He is planning to go from Vanuatu, via the Solomons, Papua New Guinea, Darwin in northern OZ, do the Indonesia rally and end up in Thailand.

1.6.11 – Wednesday – Part found, put in place. Engine run – no leak. The real test will come when the engine will be operated for a long period and the tank gets hot. We may check it this evening when we charge the batteries.

As I write this the rain is coming down as it has been doing with short breaks since early morning. These are the Tropics! We want to go out to one of the bays in Efate tomorrow and hope for better weather.


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