Vanuatu and the preparation for Australian Biosecurity
Vanuatu was yet again another stunning Pacific island, however on this occasion we didn’t have time to check it’s beauty out as LUSH was in prep mode for our entry to Oz. I spent four days with my head in the bildges sorting through our food stores and listing everything for the Australian biosecurity.
There was no point buying much food there as we were running down our food stores as much as possible for Australia. This killed me as the market in Vanuatu was absolutely massive, much bigger than any of the other islands. Its open 24 hours a day 6 days a week and the stalls are run by different families each day. They walk miles into town with their fruit and veg to sell staying all day and night till they have sold everything. It certainly was a poorer country than the others from the bit that I saw of it. With over 100 distinct languages Vanuatu must be one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
It hosts some of the most spectacular and active volcanoes on earth. Most of the rally boats went to check the main one out and returned with tales of mini eruptions to clouds of smoke and vibrations on the mountaintop where you can stand closer to the crater than any other active volcano in the world!! We were certainly sorry not to have time to explore the country however that’s been the case throughout this trip, so many stunning islands and cultures to see and yet the trade winds wait for no one, we have a boat to maintain with crew and guests to feed and entertain. This is a round the world project at the end of the day and moving onto pastures new with the seasonal prevailing winds on our back is as much a part of this adventure as spending time on the islands.
Luckily for us there was a 20min scenic helicopter flight on offer right by the quay and we treated ourselves to a quick spin in the air taking in all the sights from jungle to waterfalls and off course reefs and beaches galore (Paul included some of the pics on his last blog entry).
Passage to Australia, through the Great Barrier Reef!
On studying ocean meteorology prior to this trip and from doing a course with world famous meteorologist Chris Tibbs one thing was clear … the further west you go in each ocean basin the more breeze you get!! This was certainly the case on route from the Caribbean to Panama, and Vanuatu to Australia lived up to this same prediction. We recorded winds of 45 knots plus with massive following seas. Sailing on a course dead down wind didn’t help as LUSH just rocked and rolled from beam to beam all the way to Oz!! Oh man… it sounded like Eddie was back onboard playing his beloved drums with the sounds coming from the galley cupboards!!!
Thankfully the breeze eased off a bit for the final day or so just in time for us to sail through the Hydrographers Passage on the world famous Great Barrier Reef. Wow this really was special, stretching some 1,400 nautical miles (2,600 kilometers) this is the worlds largest reef system and navigating our way through it at night was indeed tricky, skipper hardly left the deck for a solid 6 hours till LUSH was safely through. In the morning and now on the leeward side of the reef we were greeted by loads of humpback whales. Humpbacks are the acrobats of the ocean, breaching, lob tailing and slapping water. Ranging in length from 12 to 16 meters and weighing around 36,000 kilograms this really was a sight to behold. A breach is when they literally jump up with intent to clear the water. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get any decent pics of this and most of the time you just see them playing on the surface as opposed to breaching but man when you see a breach it truly is a tremendous sight.
Pulling into MacKay we had no permission to step on Aussie soil until we passed this dreaded biosecurity inspection (and customs off course!). I was nervous about this and while we had managed to eat all the meat from our freezer and had no veg or fruit left there was still a chance that they might confiscate our dry stores… I was as organized as could be and took the inspector through my 9 page list of all the dry foods, he inspected a few of my storage boxes especially where I store my flours and was satisfied that the yacht was safe and free from all dodgy things/pests or whatever it is!?!! I had myself all worked up before this especially after chatting to other rally boats in Vanuatu about food allowances and everyone had an opinion on it! Well, all I can say to any of you cruising here in the future is that it was all very straightforward and the customs and biosecurity were a pleasure to deal with.
Australia is a massive landmark for us on our world voyage and certainly a proud moment for skipper and crew to be over half way through our adventure on this most magnificent yacht and thankful to have all yacht systems in working order along with the decent hand of weather we’ve been dealt. Certainly, we’re sad to say goodbye to a most wondrous Pacific Ocean along with her beautiful people, wildlife, islands and vegetation…
As I mentioned in an earlier post there’s a hell of a lot of dots in the Pacific when you look at any map of the World back home. We managed to visit 25 of them dropping the hook in various anchorages around each island. As there are 20,000 or so islands in the whole of this ocean, we’ve left a lot to return to some day that’s for sure!
Glad you lot have been enjoying Pacific weather back in Ireland and the UK this summer!! Long may it last!
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- Oh man we do make a Volvo 70 look small!!! Here we are moored next to Green Dragon in Vanuatu!! Give me an Oyster any day 😉
- Paul looking over the wiring diagrams before fitting new electrical relays!?!?!
- Such concentration from skipper keeping ahead of potential problems all the time!
- Check out the Great Barrier Reef on our chart plotter…errr… doesn’t look like there’s a way through does there?
- Half way round the world, according to our map in the crew mess!
- Biosecurity only managed to take our refuse sacks away to quarantine leaving all stored food intact, thank God!
- Paul best buds with the customs gals… well whatever it takes!!