Sailing Around The World

Archive for June, 2014

We Made it!

Well we made it to Darwin! Now Sleep !


Day 15 Passage to Darwin

90 nautical miles to go and they are turning out to be some very difficult miles to go. We have a 3.5 knot opposing current slowing us down to 3 kts and the wind is becoming less and less. We still have to sail through a narrow channel called Howard channel which unfortunately will be at night once again . We are also 5 nautical miles right of course trying to inch our way back to our course line without having to tack the boat. If we have to tack we will being going the wrong way and any chance of making it to Darwin by mid morning will be lost. I sure hope that we can pull our current route off and maintain 6kts of speed so we can clear in tomorrow with customs. I sure would like to have a beer on land tomorrow. I miss land, its just so stable and refreshing to walk more then 20 feet in the same direction don’t you think?

Big Smile,

Thanks,

Jacques

Current Position: 11deg 35.2min SOuth, 131deg 34.5min East, COG 186degM, SOG 6.2KTS, WS 12.5 ktss ESE, Clear Skies, Swell less then 1 meter


Day 14 Passage to Darwin “Holy SNAKES!”

Ok, so we are cruising along the coastal waters of north Australia anywhere from 100 to 4 nautical miles out. Today was the third time that we saw a sea snake on top of the water. It was a large snake about 3 or 4 feet long with black diamonds on it back and a tan/white under belly. At first I thought it was a small log but when it swam quickly away from the boat I was shocked to see a snake. Cary and I have our minds running wild about snakes on boats now. We have slowed down to 4 knots to time our passage through the Dundas Straight and then onto the Clearance Straight as the current can run up 6 knots. Sense we are going so slow all I think of is a snake crawling up on our sugar scope which is only a few inches off the water and has direct access to my buttocks. So now we have to deal with sea snakes and soon salt water crocodiles in Darwin Bay, I am starting to wonder why I am sailing into Australia. I am not even on land and there’s so much that can kill me.

Current Position: UTC05:50, 10deg 48.4min South, 132deg 49.5min East, COG 260degM, SOG 4.2kts, Wind 12kts ESE, CLear SKies

Thank you,

Jacques


Day 13 Pasage to Darwin “Seagull”

Well to add to the list of hitting thing on this voyage we had another little incident. As we were eating our dinner in the cockpit we noticed like most evening night seagull’s trying to land on Dragonsbane but they always fall off when the boat rolls or jumps or whatever. But this seagull thought it would be a good idea to try and land on the back of the wind generator. I had shut the wind gen down a few times as I notice the seagull trying to commit suicide flying into the blades of the wind gen. But the odds finally ran out on this seagull and as he cleverly flew up to the wind gen all I heard was a loud bonk and the seagull was down floating dead on the ocean. I sure do feel bad for the bird that was just trying to take rest way out here in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately I didn’t notice in time to save that birds life. As for the rest of us we are doing well and looking forward to the rip currents and channels that await us in the last 340 nautical miles to go. I sure hope that we catch the tide/currents in our favor as we come into Darwin. I was told by our cruising friends off Calico Jack that there is a 20 foot tide in Darwin which makes things a bit difficult.

Current Postion: UTC02:44 10deg 45min South, 135deg 17min East, COG 261deg, SOG 6.8kts, WS 12kts SES, CLear SKies

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 12 Passage to Darwin “Fish Net!”

Around 03:00am traveling within the charted shipping lane I approach the first of two large ships that transmitted a AIS signal but didn’t identify vessel type. The ship did appear to be at anchor just outside the shipping lane with multiple flood lights. As the ship disappeared behind me I could see the same type of ship about 5 nautical miles ahead all lit up like Friday night lights. About half way between the two ships I struck a fish net that had large floats on it but because it was pitch black out I could not see it laying in the water. This was a clear shock because I am in the shipping lane. The net hooked first the keel and began sinking and I could hear the horrible sound of the net sawing across the bottom of Dragonsbane then slipped off the keel and hook the rudder, completing the second abuse to Dragonsbane. At that point all was on deck to see what the heck was going on. The net popped off the rudder and we continued down the center of the shipping lane. At this point I thought that we must of hit a drift net that made its way into the shipping lane. With Everybody on edge we continued for an hour and I handed off the helm to my dad for his shift 04:00 am to 08:00am. At this point we were parrel with the second 200 meter ship. As I was heading down to go to sleep we ran into the same MFing net. I jump onto the deck looked out and you could see from the side of the 200 meter ship a massive fishing net be retrieved or being held off the ships mid deck area. I was so pissed off at this point and the net once again scrapping across our haul sounding like we were ripping the boat apart snapped off the bottom of Dragonsbane. Not one VHF radio call from the dam fishing vessal was put out to us or any visual light aids indicating that the two fishing vessel had a 5 mile long fishing net strung accross the entire shipping channel. That was some world class bullshit and I just want to say WHAT THE HELL! During our the morning SSB radio net control a cruising boat that is about 30 miles ahead of us noted the same experience and there rudder has a collapsible hydraulic lift. There rudder collapsed when they hit the same fishing net. Not sure were I can report this but I may be wrong but I am pretty sure you cant have a fishing net across an entire shipping lane. Anyway everything appears to be in working order and all is well on aboard as we make our last 500 nautical miles to Darwin through this never ending gauntlet of shit.

Current Postion: UTC05:30, 10Deg 41min SOuth, 137deg 32min East, COG262degM, SOG 6kts, WS 16kts ESE, Swell 1 meter, Cloudy Skies,

Thanks,

Jacques Henry


Day 11 Passage To Darwin “Shipt Dead Ahaead!”

It was a very exciting evening last night when I took over watch at midnight from Cary. Cary was have the time of his life traveling 10 to 12 knotes with current racing through the shipping lane. When I came out on deck and looked ahead it was difficult to make out navigational maker lights and the shore lights were lit up like a Christmass tree. So Cary waited for me to get my bearings on were the shipping lane was and the forth coming nav aids. It was funny how Cary put it “its like riding blind on the line”. Its funny because at night you cant really see anything in front of you, you rely on your compass, nav lights, and charts that you have drawn a line to follow. So after Cary went down to sleep I was alone yet again on a beautiful star lit night.

About 30 minutes into my shift I was approaching the Prince Whales shipping channel at the very tip of Queensland Australia Province. The VHF radio erupted into shipping chatter and the one indication of a ship in front of me was a small sailing vessel nothing more. So I continued hugging the far right side of the shipping lane. Then a hale to a sailing vessel sailing south bound please respond. I looked at my compass and I was heading west bound so gave it no thought. Yet again the cargo ship haled and I responded not knowing if I was the sailing vessel or the one a mile in front of me. I was told to pass red to red running lights and continue. At the same time I had the radar running and looking up the channel I could see something that looked like a Island right in my path on the wrong side of the shipping lane. Looking out over the water I could see 3 red lights one blinking, and two sold red. SO I new the blinking had to be a nav aid and the other two had to be ships. Between the radio chatter and the speed at 10 knots the situation was escalating fast so I maintained my course when the cargo ship radio to say they could only see my green running light so a turn 90 degrees straight out of the shipping channel confirming he saw red and then a great big ship appeared out of the dark night and passed us with in a two boat length. The ship was deadhead of us the whole time and he was taking up the entire shipping lane. Then right behind him was another tug boat pushing a barge through the channel which I navigated without a problem because he was on the right side of the shipping lane. Finally after we made it out of the channel and back into the ocean we calmed down and everybody else went back to bed, what a exciting night.

CUrrent Position: 02:39UTC, 10deg 33min South, 140deg 30min East, COG 270degM, SOG 5kts, CLear Skies, Swell <1 meter

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 10 Passage to Darwin

Well we made it through the hole in wall to the Torres Straight. We have begun our weaving around and between rocks, islands,shallow water, and coral reefs that are so close to the shipping channel that you could pee off the deck and hit the beach. We are starting to see shipping traffic and have been contacted by the Australia Coast Guard twice. Once a helicopter flew over and around us, radioed us for our current information which we provided. So far our arrival in Australia waters has been a good experience and we are looking forward to landfall in Darwin on Monday. But for now we are sailing through a narrow shipping channel littered with obstacles so night sailing will be much more exciting to do. Most of all after not seeing land for 9 days I woke today to see a island covered with trees and we all have become much happier to finally see real progress.

Current Position: 06:25UTC, 10deg 21.9min South,142deg 42.3min East, COG 245deg M, SOG 7.1Kts, WS 19kts, Swell >1 meter, Party Cloudy Skies, Air Temp 89deg, Water Temp 93deg

Thank You,

Jacques


Day 9 Passage to Darwin FISH ON!

Today was another exciting day of reading and catching a huge fish for Cary. To back up a bit I left my hand line out over night to see if I could land a fish during the night or see if I could catch something weird. When I checked the line that is made of 1000 lbs strength para cord tied to a steel cable I thought I would not lose anything. The steel 1500lbs cable with lure attached had been bitten off during the night by something. Anyway this afternoon Cary grabbed the reel and hooked into a huge Mahi Mahi. Cary battled the fish for about a hour and finally got it close enough to the boat for me to gaff and kill it. It weighted in at 30.1 lbs and was about 4 feet long. Not bad for a days work out on the blue ocean, the freezer is full.

Thank You,

Jacques

Curret Position: 5:33UTC, 9deg 38.7min South, 144deg 38.5min East, COG 318degM, SOG 7kts, Current 1.5kts, Cloudy Sky, Swell <1meter


Day 9 Hit a Whale OOOpss

Late in the morning day Cary was on watch and we were sitting in the cockpit looking out over the ocean. Dragonsbane as normal was rolling back and forth in the ocean swell when something odd happened. I realized that Cary is one attractive guy, he hits fucken everything logs, cocnuts, WHALES! We both heard a loud thud and the front of Dragonsbane shift as if it was hit by a large wave witch we thought had happened. But I was thinking that it was a very odd sound to make and then we saw a whale. I jumped up looked off our port stern and saw what looked like a Sperm Whale blow air out. Then right behind us was a huge bloom of brown, black, and yellow matter that looked like the whale crapped his own pants. Then I saw the whale go down again and disappear. I quickly went below to do a inspection of the forward bow area to see if there had been any damage or water coming through. My dad had been laying in the front bow bunk and said that was a really loud wave. I said we hit a WHALE,MAN! He then checked the hull too but we found nothing. Based on the depth of the whale and impact I believe that it glanced off our port bow right below the water line and doing so crapped his pants in shock of hitting something in the middle of the ocean. I think we shocked the whale just as much as we were and he looked to be in good condition just a bit shocked. Besides hitting a whale all is well onboard and we are 50 nautical miles from starting our entrance into the Torres Straight. We will be entering the hole in the wall of the great barrier reef around 2am or 3am and then the fun begins. We will be on the look out for reefs, rocks, ships, whales, and logs for the next 1000 nautical miles. I am kind of excited to just see spits of land here and there as the only closest thing to land we have seen in the last 9 days is a cargo ship.

What a Smile!

Thanks,

Jacques

Current Position: 06:03UTC, 10deg 50.9min South, 146deg 13.3min East, COG 280degM, SOG 7.1kts. Swell 1-2meters, Air Temp 95deg F, Water temp 92degF, Cloudy Skies, One Whale


Day 8 Passage to Darwin Aus

The wind has eased up for us and is now down to 15 knots or less and the swells are 1 meter or less. We still have the problem of pitch poling back and fourth which is so frustrating when cooking or moving about the boat. Tried fishing today but only had a small bit with no fish to show for it. We also ran the water maker and made some fresh water. Sense we made more fresh water we all took a long salt water bath and then washed down with fresh water. Finished another book called the Unbroken and it was a great read. Anyway all is well onboard. 1,212 nautical miles to go!

smile, SMILE!

Thanks,

Jacques

Current Position: UTC 04:48, 11deg 35.8min South 148deg 37.9min East, SOG 5kts, COG 280degM, WS 15kts, Swell>1meter, Cloudy sky with a few squalls around us, Air Temp 95degF, Water Temp 92.1deg F


Day 7 Passage to Darwin AUS

Not to much to talk about today other then making 150 nautical mile days will put us in Darwin in 9 more days. We 1326 nautical miles to go and the ocean is still lumpy and bumpy as we rock are way across the Coral Sea. Last night around 3am we crossed paths with two cargo ship heading Australia. We were hailed from the first ship then sail behind it and then we hailed the second ship and sail in front of it. It was kind of cool to thread the needle we out here in the middle of the ocean.

On a cooking note I baked a loaf of bread and made pizza for dinner. I have not tried ether so who knows if its going to taste good. It also seems that my computer is starting to do all kinds of odd things so I hope its not going to crash on me, knock on wood. The ocean loves to eat electronics even if you keep them dry the salt in the air just eats them. The salt air also eats your cloths as I am finding out in the last few month. Most of my cloth are so bleached by sun and salt I can see through them. I know when I get home I think I will burn all my sailing cloths or maybe they will just desegregate into thin air.

Current Position: UTC05:49 12deg 12.1min South, 150deg 49.9 min East,COG 276degM, SOG 6.5kts, Swell 2 meters, Cloudy with chance of Squalls, Air temp DAM HOT!

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 6 Passage to Darwin AUS

We had a bit of a scare today when Cary was on shift. My dad and I were down below reading our books when a loud bang, thud, bang, bang, boom was heard under the hull of Dragonsbane. I jumped out of my bunk and went top side to see a large log float away from our starboard side. My dad and I went below to look for any signs of sea water or cracks in the hull. We found nothing and I went top side and looked down the hull and saw nothing. The incident did allow us to discover that our main bilge pump float switch is faulted and the bilge was full of sea water. I turn on the manual switch and the bilge emptied out the water. We now keep an eye on our bilge and run the bilge pump every few hours to make sure its clear. Looks like something else to fix when we get to Darwin.

This evening as we ate our dinner in the cockpit together a bird tried many time to land on our radar tower but came more close to the spinning wind generator. I turned the wind generator off a few times because I was worried he would hit the thing and blow it up sending bird guts everywhere. After many tries the bird finally flew away or at least I think it did.
We have 1500 nautical miles to go and the sea is not making one mile easy on us to date. We still are rolling, pitch poling, getting sprayed by waves, and now the closer we get to the Torres debris in the water is becoming very common. I saw a nice looking flip flop floating, coconuts, and two more logs. Looking ahead at the Indian Ocean I am thinking it will be much long then I have in mind.

Just Smile and Keep ON.

Thanks,
Jacques

Current Position: 12deg 50.1min South, 153deg 19.6min East, COG 289M, SOG 6kts, Swell 3 meters, WS 30kts, Cloudy Skies, Air Temp HOT


Day 5 Passage to Darwin

What an exciting day today to start off I hit my head on the wall trim as I was trying to sleep. I flipped over and the boat move before I could lay my head down on the pillow and cracked my head off the trim edge. Then the sea grew and the wind blew. The wave got as high as 3 meters and the wind was gusting up to 30 knots. We sailed off course for 10 miles to make the sailing condition a bit more relaxing. When turning back to course the headsail sheet got stuck on the forward bow cleat. Then because it was stuck the sail wrapped itself into the roller furling and became jammed. I ran forward and had to pull all this shit apart well we pitch poled all over the place. Now as I am writing its dark out and there is something banging around on deck. No idea what it could be. For dinner I made beans and rice witch is interesting because the pressure cooker is a bit big for my stove so when the boat pitches the pot get wedge between the boat hull and the burner. Anyway making food for the last 5 days has been a athletics event or in Cary’s explanation “its like being a human pin ball inside the game” I agree and have the burns, bruises, and cuts to show. My favorite part of cooking is dodging the knife left on the table as it flies across the floor or off the counter to your feet or is it the pot of boiling water?

Smiling BIG!

Thanks,
Jacques

Current Position: UTC05:28, 13deg 36.2min South, 155deg 55.6min East, COG 291degM, SOG 7.5kts, Sea state 2 meter sweels, Air 90deg F, Cloudy Skies


Day 4 Passage to Darwin

Finally the ocean has become somewhat organized and despite yesterday’s slow speed we still pulled off another 150 nautical mile day. We had heavy winds at night 20 to 25 knots keeping us at 7 plus knots sailing all night. The weather has been great thus far and I am looking forward to sailing into the Torres Strait. Right now there is about 30 knots of wind in the Torres area but hopefully that will slow down a bit for us. Anyway we only have been seeing birds and flying fish to keep us company to date. I was told on the morning SSB Radio net that there was some marine traffic close to Papua New Guinea area but that’s a few days away. We may try and fish tomorrow but for now we are trying to eat up all our frozen beef so I can shut off the power hungry fridge. Cary and Dale say hi to everybody out there, still having lots of fun.

Smile!

Thanks,
Jacques

Current Position: UTC03:40: 14deg 06.3min South, 158deg 55.32min East, COG 278deg M, SOG 6.8kts, WS 18kts, WD East, Sea 1 meter Swell, Air Temp 85F, Water Temp 88deg, Cloudy Sky


Day 3 Passage to Darwin

Another day of pitch poling and mind numbing rolling. The good news is that for the last two days we have been averaging 150 nautical miles per day. But today we had a few hiccups that may have slowed us down. We tried raising the spinnaker and the wind picked up right as I was opening it. We also didn’t have the port sheet in a snatch block and almost ripped the safety line off the boat. Between trying to drop the spinnaker and getting the line into a block we tore the spinnaker in two places only 5 inches in totally but we had to drop the shut and fix it. We also broke an old block and I rope burned my hands fighting with the spinnaker. All in all it was a good learning day for everybody on how not to raise and lower a spinnaker. We are back to our headsail and staysail making 5.5 knots. I fear running our mainsail because the waves are rolling us so much that the sail violently slaps back and forth which has a high risk of breaking rigging and gear, not worth the gain. SO we will go a bit slower tonight but it will be safer in the long run of thing. All is well onboard.

Better just keep Smiling!

Current Position: 14deg 42.2min South 161deg 28.9min East UTC 05:11, COG 270, SOG 5.5kts, WS 11kts, Swell 1-2meters and mixed, Skies clear, Temp 94F, Water 90F

Thank you,

Jacques


Day 2 Passage to Darwin OZ

Well still sailing as you may have guessed and we are rocking and rolling, pitch poling all the way we go. The wind is right at our back and waves are just off our quarter making it the worst motion on the ocean. I have to say that the south Pacific never gets organized as far as sea state goes or wind. It just a big old washing machine and we are in it.

Sailed with the spinnaker today for about 12 hours then switch back to the main and jib configuration for the old man. Saw nothing but blue skies, blue ocean, and hot weather as we make our way.

Keep Smiling!

Thanks,
Jacques

Current Position: 15deg 06.84min South, 163deg 41.70min East UTC 05:07, SOG:6.5kts, COG:280deg-M, Sea Height 1 meter, Clear skies, Air temp 93degrees, Water temp 91 deg, Wind speed 15kts,


Day 1 Sailing to Darwin Australia

At 12:00pm today we pulled the anchor in Santo Vanuatu to begin our 20 day sail to Darwin Australia. Dale, Cary, and I onboard will complete the 2289 nautical passage to Darwin Australia with a average speed of 5 knots or better. Right now the sea has us rolling all over the place and we may have to do a little change in our direction to keep from rolling.

Current Position: 15deg 42.96min South, 166deg 47.19min East Course over Ground 271deg magnetic, Speed 6.5 knotes, Over cast sky, waves 1 meter, Wind Speed 18 knotes

Always smile!

Thank you,

Jacques Henry


Millennium Cave Adventure Vanuatu

On the island of Santo Vanuatu the local community works together with the help of the New Zealand and Australia Government to create this cave tour. The tour was designed after the discovery of the cave back in 2008 thus the name Millennium Cave’s. By creating this tour they have a good way to raise money to build schools. The money also goes to each child that cannot afford the the cost of a education. So we had to do this tour and enjoy the hospitality of the local Vanuatu people one more time.

On our way to the Millennium Caves. We had to drive on the old WWII airstrip that lead to the village that starts the cave trip.

On our way to the Millennium Caves. We had to drive on the old WWII airstrip that lead to the village that starts the cave trip.

Arriving at the local village.

Arriving at the local village.

All the kids where checking us out as we started our hike through there land.

All the kids where checking us out as we started our hike through there land.

Just as we started the school bell rung and they all took off to line up for school.

Just as we started the school bell rung and they all took off to line up for school.

Before we could enter the cave we had to get face paint from our guide. It has been thought for many years that the caves where taboo, so the face paint would protect us from any bad things.

Before we could enter the cave we had to get face paint from our guide. It has been thought for many years that the caves where taboo, so the face paint would protect us from any bad things.

Looking good dad.

Looking good dad.

Yup, Vanuatu Face Paint.

Yup, Vanuatu Face Paint.

Cary and his camo!

Cary and his camo!

DOwn into the canyon we hiked over slippery rocks and ladders made of bamboo.

DOwn into the canyon we hiked over slippery rocks and ladders made of bamboo.

Don't slip buddy.

Don’t slip buddy.

Looking back on our last light before total darkness for 400meters

Looking back on our last light before total darkness for 400meters

The cave ceiling was very high and covered in bats. The rocks below were covered in bat poo!

The cave ceiling was very high and covered in bats. The rocks below were covered in bat poo!

No picture of inside but, I was glad to see the beach at the end of the cave.

No picture of inside but, I was glad to see the beach at the end of the cave.

Now for a fun swim down the river cayon or so we thought.

Now for a fun swim down the river cayon or so we thought.

We had to climb over more rocks and huge boulders to get to the flowing river below.

We had to climb over more rocks and huge boulders to get to the flowing river below.

Now we float slowwly and comfortable down the cayon looking at the beautiful views and jungle surrounding us.

Now we float slowwly and comfortable down the cayon looking at the beautiful views and jungle surrounding us.

Cary even took a waterfall shower, no mud left on him.

Cary even took a waterfall shower, no mud left on him.

after a 45 minut float we had to hike straight up hill for 20 minutes to get out of the Canyon

after a 45 minut float we had to hike straight up hill for 20 minutes to get out of the Canyon

We then hiked through cow pastures and farm land.

We then hiked through cow pastures and farm land.

Made it back to the  Village

Made it back to the Village

Thanks,

Jacques


Land-Diving With Vines

The men of Pentecost have been jumping off these towers for a 100 years plus. The legend is that a woman was running from her husband because he wanted her. She climbed a tall tree and tied vines to her feet before her husband caught her. She then jumped off the tree and the man jumped after her. He fell to his death but the woman survived because she was tied off. So every year in the month of April, May, and June during the yam harvest the men jump to prove there courage and that they are real men.

After watching this event I was really worried about the safety of the men and was glad they all made it safely down. Luc who was the Chief of the village told us that they only jump in April, May, and June because any other time is deadly. In the 1970’s the Queen of England came to this island and they jumped for her but it was in January. Two men jumped and they both died. So no more jumping after that happened on off months.

The Tower is roughly 35 meters high. Constructed out of trees and lashed together with vines.

The Tower is roughly 35 meters high. Constructed out of trees and lashed together with vines.

Looking back down the high on our way to the land diving tower. You can see DRAGONSBANE anchored right off the beach.

Looking back down the high on our way to the land diving tower. You can see DRAGONSBANE anchored right off the beach.

For the event the local people dress in there native cloths.

For the event the local people dress in there native cloths.

As the jumper prepares himself the women and men dance and sing to make sure the jumper stays safe.

As the jumper prepares himself the women and men dance and sing to make sure the jumper stays safe.

The jump master would tie the vines to the feet and make sure all was well before the jump.

The jump master would tie the vines to the feet and make sure all was well before the jump.

The jumper did a chant and pumped himself up before he jumped.

The jumper did a chant and pumped himself up before he jumped.

One last wave and chant before lift off.

One last wave and chant before lift off.

Off he goes to see if the vines will hold.

Off he goes to see if the vines will hold.

Looks like a good landing as he hit the ground.

Looks like a good landing as he hit the ground.

Even jumped from the highest point.

Even jumped from the highest point.

These men are very brave. This was the last jump of the day and it all went fine.

These men are very brave. This was the last jump of the day and it all went fine.

Thanks,

Jacques


What a Beautiful Passage

We made it to Pentecost Island off the village of Wali. We sailed for 25 hours and arrived at 4pm and meet some new friends that I have been chatting with me over the SSB Vanuatu radio net. Patrick and Amanda are from the UK and were very happy to see us join them for the land diving tomorrow. Dad, Cary, and I paddled ashore with our new friends to meet up with Luc who is an old man in his 60’s to go over what the plan for tomorrows land diving will included. But before I go over that I want to think back about the last 24 hours.

It was about 3am on my watch when I saw a bright red glow that looked like a blood moon rising out of the ocean. I was confused because the moon had already risen, set for the evening and there was not a cloud to be seen. The glow was off my forward port bow and it glowed so intensely I thought the ocean was on fire. I look at the chart and it dawned on me that I was watching the glow of another volcano. What a sight to see, I looked out from under the Bimini and was shocked to see the stars as if they were spray painted across the sky. Stars bright and thick like the Milky Way, on the horizon the glow of a hot red volcano shine across the ocean before me. With just the sails up there was no sound to be heard. The breeze was warm and soft on my face. I was overcome by the beauty of the world around me at that moment that no picture could ever do it justice. For the first time in my life a volcano guided my approach around its shore line as I continued to Pentecost. To add to it the star danced to life and shot across the sky. For once I had nothing to wish when I saw the shooting star, it was magic out here. Dragonsbane glide across the ocean with ease and it was one of the times I just smiled at it all. I wish I could have had everybody I loved with me just for that fleeting moments to enjoy it.

Tomorrow we will join Luc from the local village and go watch 8 young men dive off a 35 meter tower and hopefully they will not die in the process. We will get to watch there ceremonial dancing and see the magic happen. But before Luc let us leave he gave us a cup of Kava that made the Fiji Kava seem more of a joke. After drinking the mud drink my mouth felt like I had just been to the dentist and ever thing was numb. I feel so relaxed and happy. I can’t wait to fall asleep listening to the beach waves just a few 100 feet from Dragonsbane and the insects singing me to sleep. So without another word I leave you to dream.

Good night Friends,

Jacques Henry


Off to Pentecost, Vanuatu Island Land Divers

Finally, after spending three days trying to fill our propane tank for the last time before we head to Darwin Australia we are departing Port Villa. Once again I have to remind myself that this is the south Pacific and things get done when they get done not based on any schedule. Simple task such as filling a propane bottle takes lots of effort and the store owner tells you the propane will be here tomorrow and then the next day and so on. Anyway its life out here and it makes me lough sometime well pulling my hair out.

We are underway to a northern Island called Pentecost. During this time of year April/June the yam harvest is in full swing. It is also the time of the year that the tree vines reach their maximum strength for land diving. That’s right the local village men take part in a rite of passage for the young boy to prove they are men by jumping off a 35 meter tower. They tie vines around there legs and jump from varies heights based on their age, the older the higher they go. If you may recall national Geographic did a spell on these men. I am excited to see how this is all done and will take pictures and post as soon as there is good wifi, may have to wait till Australia.

Hope all is well with everybody.
Cheers,

Jacques Henry


How’s the Local Culture? Vanuatu.

A few day ago based on my dad continued request we found a local man to take us lobster fishing. He had come to your boat on anchor several times asking for gas, and help to fix his lawn whip. We of course helped the young man named Thompson. He grew up right in Port Resolution in one of the four villages that encircle the bay. I have to point out that Port Resolution is not a port town or any major industrial shipping yard. Port Resolution is just the name for the area and there is not really much their other then four villages and the port resolution yacht club that caters to the cruisers as they anchor in the bay to go hike up the volcano. The Port Resolution Yacht Club is just a small palm hut that has a bar were you can buy a very expensive beer and arrange a meal with advanced notice. But all in all the village people and the Port Resolution Yacht Club contains very nice people that don’t have much but seem very happy. Majority of the people live in grass palm huts and the kids run freely among the elderly and farm animals.

Now after meeting Thompson a few times he dropped by with his cousin that was visiting from the center of the Tanna Island which is about 40 km away. His cousins name was Pete and it was his second time visiting the ocean in his life. He was about 30 years old and he had spent his entire life living 40 km away from the ocean in his village farm and family. Thompson wanted to show the boat to Pete and we had them both come aboard. After checking out the GPS chart plotter and the interior of the boat we offered them a beer. They would only take one and I think it was not a custom of theirs to drink beer or spirits of any kind. They would drink Kave but a very strong Kava that makes your mouth go numb and you get hallucinations. This seemed to be a very popular thing to do among the village men only, no women are allowed to drink Kava. After some discussions about different things my dad asked to go lobster fishing or I should say he asked for Cary and I to go learn lobster fishing. Thompson was very excited and said yes.

Before I agreed to go with Thomspon I asked how he went lobster fishing? Thompson described that we would be in about 2 meter of water or less and go at night. We need underwater flashlights, mask, and fins. He said to show up at his hut at sunset, Pete and Thompson would join us and walk to the ocean side were the reef was. I asked about sharks and Thompson side “not a Problem”. I think I should also point out that speaking English was more or less understood between us and Thomspon but Pete had no idea what we were talking about. Well sounds like a plan and Thompson left for dinner in his hand carved log canoe that his father made 20 years ago.

Cary, my dad, and I left Dragonsbane right after the sun set and as we motored for shore I hit a gill net of one of the local village people. They come out during low tide and stretch gill nets across the areas of the bay and you cannot see them at night. It took me about 20 minutes of messing with the net and got it off the prop. We then continued onto the beach and road the surf in with no issues. My dad said he knew were the trail was and well, it took us a long time to find it in the night. We found the trail to the main road and walked to Thompson house. A woman came up to us and showed us to Thompson who was sitting around the fire with all the other men. He was bundled up in a coat, pants, and sweater saying it was cold out tonight, it was 78 degrees out. The children ran around us saying and smiling asking questions. Thompson grabbed his little spears, Pete, and a bag to hold the catch.

We walked away from the village to the other side of the point and came to the ocean. Pete set out to make a fire Cary and I got ready. My dad would stay with Pete and help with the fire so when we returned we could warm up around the fire. The plan was to hike a quarter mile down the beach and slip into the ocean behind the reef were the white capped waves were breaking over. The best lobster fishing was right behind the reef and we would follow the reef all the way back to the fire and come out. One problem was that my underwater flashlight would not work anymore. Thompson said no problem, his big flashlight was very powerful and we could all see well under the water as he handed the kill bag to me. So in the pitch black night with no moon and cloud cover we dived into the ocean.
Now as we swam out to the reef the water was warm and about 2 meters deep but quickly became shallow. Thompson began swimming right over the reef with the white capped wave breaking over us. The bottom was a few inches under us and we were swimming between the coral in naturel trenches in the reef. Thompson was in front Cary and I swimming next to each other so we could both see in the dark behind the flashlight. The problem was that every time a wave broke over our heads the air bubbles from the wave blacked out the light and you could not see anything in front of you. As we continued to go across the reef I started brushing up against the coral cutting my forearms and biceps. Car was having the same issue and we were both just pushed off the coral with our gloves.

The last thing I was thinking about was sharks, I was thinking don’t push off a rock fish or a black crustacean with long black thorns all over it. Thompson was chasing little tropical fish and spearing whatever moved real simple technique “kill everything that moves”. He finally killed a little yellow fish and put it in the bag I was carrying. As Thompson did so I had to stand myself up in the breaking waves and the force of the wave pushed me right back and I sat in a coral patch feeling the coral break under my weight and scrap my butt up. Then we started swimming again and he saw this little lobster and caught that. This time I positioned myself so there was no coral behind me but a really big wave pushed me a few feet and I fell right back into a coral head racking my back on coral yet again. Buy this time the coral that had cut my forearms, butt, and now my back was burning really bad in the salt water. Cary nor I could see much without flashlights and I was carrying a bag of bleeding fish so 30 minutes into this hunt I told Thompson I was going for the shore. Thompson said ok and we all swam back to the beach and fire. Needless to say I told my dad to buy his dam lobster from somebody else because I am not doing that shit again. It has been about a week now and I still have coral rashes on my back side and my forearms are all scabbed over and itch bad.

I was grateful for Thompson to take us lobster fishing and I kept my cool saying thank you for the experience. Thompson cooked the little lobster on the fire and we all got a nice bit of it. Then we chatted about their life and ours. Pete had showed my dad a flute that he had made sense they didn’t talk much and showed that off again. Pete informed us through Thompson that there were 100 local languages on the small Island of Tanna between all the villages. Pete new 25 of the languages and if they didn’t know the language they spoke pigeon.

On our hike back to the village Thompson asked what I did for a living and I told him but I don’t think he understood me but he seemed pleased with my response. He offered me Vanuatu local tobacco to smoke and I tried it. The local grown tobacco is very strong stuff, it burn the back of my throat, and made my head spin. He asked me if my life was good back home. I said it is a good life and I missed my family, friends, and village. But most of the people from my village work hard to come to a tropical island to have fun and relax. Thompson said that was nice but at least they had money to travel, I won’t ever travel and I would like to do that. I had no good response other then that’s a good point. Thompson only went to school for two years and could not read or write but spent his days providing for his family and village. His life was very simple and from my observation a happy life.
We are currently moored in Port Villa getting geared up to head north to Espiritu Santo Island to hopefully go diving on the SS President Coolidge and the Million Dollar Point. So stay tuned!

Cheers,

Jacques Henry