Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rethinking chili as a passage dinner (Fiji to Vanuatu)

Mystery Island, pre-cruise ship

As we were leaving Fiji to head to Vanuatu, we overheard a conversation on the VHF radio between an approaching freighter and the Port Authority about a possible tsunami warning. We had cell phone service just long enough to find out that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake had hit just south of Vanuatu (the direction we were heading). We were right at the pass out of the lagoon, heading towards the ocean, which would have been a bad spot to be if a tsunami had come.

Obligatory no-pants fish picture...

Out in the open ocean, we would most likely float right over a tsunami wave without even noticing it. Similarly, a lagoon like the one we were leaving offers some protection to boats anchored well within it. As for us, we were smack in the middle of a channel with open ocean in front of us, but a rapidly shallowing bottom under the boat and reef or land on either sides. A tsunami in that spot would have been the proverbial irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
Catherine from The Southern Cross and Mark reading
the Memorial plaque in Anelghowhat
We called our friends on The Southern Cross, a few miles behind us, to make sure they knew about the situation and then decided to keep going. At 6.5 knots of motoring, we had no chance of outrunning a tsunami, and we were just as close to safety in front of us as behind. We never saw a tsunami wave (the warning was cancelled) but Perry got a good knocking around anyway, from the confused seas on top of a ten-foot swell combined with higher-than-forecasted 30 knot winds. We took a bow wave that washed into the cockpit, which has only happened once before. On the plus side, we were making good time, averaging 9 knots.

Produce for sale in Anelghowhat

The conditions remained rough for the rest of the day.  Fortunately, before we left, we pre-made chili to have for dinner underway. Unfortunately, Conrad upchucked said chili 30 minutes after eating it and didn't make it out of the main cabin (think floorboards with gaps around the edges, filled with chili remains). This was the second time Conrad couldn't keep chili down on a passage, so we should probably rethink it as a go-to meal for awhile, despite his request for more of it the next day.
This huge canoe was built to prove a point in the dispute with
New Caledonia over two nearby islands. It was never used when
the Vanuatan government decided not to press the point with France

Eventually, the wind backed around and calmed a bit. Conditions mellowed and we even caught two yellow-fin tuna. The remaining two days were pleasant, and even relatively fast. Three days after leaving Fiji, the high hills of the Vanuatan island of Aneityum greeted us and even provided a much-needed rainfall to rinse the salt from our decks.
A plane about to take off from Mystery Island. We got blasted
when the plane turned around and throttled up.

We have been resting and enjoying the sights. And doing a bit of floorboard removal and deep cleansing as well (otherwise known as Operation De-Chilify).  The people in the main village of Anelghowhat are friendly and welcoming, though in general more reserved than the native Fijians. We met some of the friends that Field Trip made during their visit here earlier this year and scored some pamplemousse, which we haven't seen since French Polynesia. 
Much of the village income comes from visiting large cruise ships. One of them is scheduled to arrive/invade this Sunday.  We are interested to see what happens to the sleepy, adjacent Mystery Island when the ship disgorges 3000 Australian "marshmallows" (a term used by a fellow cruiser to describe the cruise ship tourists: soft, plump, white and easily burned) onto its tiny shores. 
A beach goes all the way around Mystery Island

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised that Conrad still had an appetite for chili after what had happened.


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