Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008 - Port Orly, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

We managed to get out of Peterson Bay at high tide Tuesday morning. But the weather wasn't cooperating. Just as we were approaching the reef, rain started to fall from the clouds gathered above us. This did not make for great light conditions for navigating the reef. We managed to get out without incident, but it was a very tense thing for us. Once we were anchored in the outer anchorage I told Sten that was about all the anxiety I could handle for one day. So rather than setting out for Australia, we day sailed up the coast to Champagne Beach, where we stopped for lunch, and then we continued on up to Port Orly. It is now Wednesday night, and the rain has been pretty much constantly coming down since yesterday morning.

Today's rain was of biblical proportions. Sten washed down the deck, cleaned the cockpit and the canvas, and filled the water tank. Meanwhile, (because it is always a good idea to heat up the stove when one can't open the hatches to ventilate their boat) I pickled the vegetables I picked up at the market on Monday so that we don't suffer from scurvy on the long passage in front of us. This second batch of pickling tops off a rash of pre-passage cooking that included macaroni and cheese casserole, waffles, and chocolate chip cookies. Tonight Catherine and Gavin from Chaotic Harmony joined us for waffle night. Last night we went over to their boat for cocktail hour and a bit of fur therapy with their kitties.

The rain seems to have eaten all the wind, so we are going to be here for a few days waiting for a bit of breeze to carry us west. I spent some time this afternoon plotting our route through the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait. Rather than going all the way up north to Bramble Cay to pick up the Great North East Channel, which is the route commercial ships take, we're going to come in through the less travelled, southern, Raine Island Passage. Hopefully by taking the more direct southern route, we'll avoid most of the commercial shipping traffic and much of the adverse current that gives the Torres Strait its infamous reputation. We should also have a better wind angle and calmer seas for the 135 miles from Raine Island to Thursday Island, where we'll clear into Australia. While I had my nose buried in charts and cruising guides, Sten made us a delicious ginger beef, bok choy stir fry for lunch. After lunch, despite the rain, he went just outside the anchorage to do some fishing. He swears a shark took a swipe at his surface lure.

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