Friday, May 23, 2008

May 20, 2008 - Port Vila

The morning after we arrived in Port Vila one of the two slower boats that left Tanna on Saturday with us straggled into the harbor. We noted that they had taken a mooring nearby and went back to making breakfast. It was sometime later that we realized that something was terribly wrong with their rig. As a ketch, they left Tanna with two masts. When they arrived in Port Vila, they only had one.

When we spoke to them later in the day, they were shellshocked. They had weathered cyclone season in Fiji only to lose their rig on a routine overnight sail. A spreader broke, causing the rigging to slacken, and that was all it took to snap the mast in relatively benign weather. In an instant, their plans for this cruising season were scrambled, and now they are taking a good look around Port Vila as they are going to be here a while. There is a boatyard here, but it isn't a place to do serious work. They will need to either ship a mast in from Australia, or put the boat on a ship and send it to Australia to be repaired. Either that, or start loading drums of diesel on the deck to motor to Australia.

Nothing sends us scurrying up the mast to check our rig like the sight of a demasted vessel. Although I was up there a month ago, we thought it would be good to check and make sure that nothing had changed during the passage from New Zealand. We've also been having some trouble with our VHF. Our output is fine. People can hear us. We just have trouble hearing them if they are more than a few miles away. So I hoisted Sten up the mast by running the main halyard around the windlass. It was his first time to the top and he quite enjoyed the view. While up there, he checked the VHF antenna connector for corrosion, but it was fine.

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