Day 125, Year 2: The Move to Sakao Island
Date: Monday, August 27, 2007
Weather: Total Cloud Cover and Rain Still With Us
Latitude: 16 degrees 29.898 minutes
Longitude: 167 degrees 48.351 minutes
Location: Sakao Island, Maskelyne Island Group, Vanuatu

Today/tomorrow, depending on where in the world you are, must be the first day of school for teachers back in Concord, New Hampshire. Oh, my. That is so, so far away from here in both miles and culture. During the three days of the cultural festival on Ambryn, as I watched Napong Norbert, principal of the French secondary school and organizer and leader of the festival, I wondered how students at Concord High School would react if their administrators were to step out of their role and into the
reenactment of history . . . and then this morning as I sat in the cockpit, I tried to find the words to describe an anchorage such as we were in to those who have never been here–a pond-like bay with calm waters surrounded by hillsides of green with draping vines over everything. And add to that a view out to sea. That’s the description, but it just doesn’t paint an adequate picture. From the anchorage, we could watch the “line of pearls” or breakers as they crashed in from the sea to the southeast
of us. At low tide, that “line of pearls” became a graveyard of monolithic stones rising out the sea. From the anchorage at low tide, it looked almost impossible that we had entered through that rubble of stones. The path in was not obvious once we were inside, but it was a most peaceful setting.

The peacefulness of Gaspard Bay was partially broken this morning when Donna on Scot Free II called to let us know that a five-foot gray shark, along with a much smaller one, both with no markings, had just gone past their boat. Just knowing those creatures are about in the waters makes me nervous, and even more so since we were getting ready to move just about a half mile to Sakao Island to go snorkeling. I could only hope the sharks stayed in Gaspard.
Scot Free decided to move on to Uliveo Island and skip snorkeling at Sakao. They moved out of Gaspard around 9 AM. Mark spent his morning working on the dingy engine. This required him to run round and round the anchorage to try out the motor, and in doing so, he met a couple from New Zealand aboard Windchase. They wintered over in Australia last year and got there by joining the rally that leaves Vanuatu and New Caledonia in late October. They were a wealth of information, and confirmed our
thoughts about joining that rally.

Mid-morning, Ranger and Windbird made the move to Sakao Island. We could see it from Gaspard, but the closer we got the worse the weather and the harder to see. The misty rain was so heavy it looked like a light Maine fog. But once we were close, we could see the village mooring balls we were to tie-on to. We came in first and tied off to one of the mooring balls. As Ranger approached, the winds increased, and they had difficulty holding on to their mooring line. Their boat hook broke in two
under the pressure and Mark had to get in the dinghy and go to help. They got attached to the mooring ball, and then Mark went in to shore to check with the New Zealanders who are here building a catamaran for Chief Willie. He wanted to make sure we had both tied to the mooring correctly. They assured Mark that we would be fine, so we went about boat chores on this rainy, rainy day. Not a good day for land trekking or snorkeling, so catching up on boat maintenance sounded like a good idea. An
hour or so after we arrived, we got a radio call from Ranger. Paul had come up from below to check on things and discovered that they had broken away from the mooring and were headed toward the reef right in front of them. They were successful in starting the engine and pulling away, but they were obviously shaken. Only a few seconds more and they would have been stranded on a reef or washed ashore. After taking a few minutes to recover, they decided to come back and try again. They had the
mooring tie-off still on their boat. The tie-off had evidently disengaged itself from the mooring line and needed to be retied. Mark got back in the dinghy to go help and this time he ended up in the water with a snorkel mask to check the tie-offs. I didn’t do a laundry today, but we have a full complement of wet clothing from all of Mark’s excursions.

The knowledge that Ranger’s mooring broke loose has us all a bit nervous tonight. The wind is pushing us one direction while the current is pushing another. With land on one side and reefs ahead and behind, breaking loose from our mooring could be disastrous. We will sleep lightly tonight with regular checks on our position.

The weather just wasn’t conducive to a trip ashore, so we will do that in the morning–even if the weather is still yucky. We suspect that this weather is here for a few days which is unfortunate, but maybe by tomorrow morning we will have convinced ourselves that rain is no problem. Scot Free II reached their destination on nearby Uliveo and we will talk with them in the morning at 8 AM to exchange information about our two anchorages. Paul and Marie came over in the late afternoon and we discussed
strategies for where-to next. After going ashore, and hopefully snorkeling on the reef here, we will make a decision about where to move and when. In the meantime, we will just enjoy our time here on Windbird in Sakao.

070827 Day 125 Malekula, Vanuatu–Gaspard to Sakau