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Mico Verde
Passage: Fiji to Vanuatu

"I have in a cask a most magical wine. A vintage that's blessed every ship of the line. It's ground from the brood of the sailors who've died. Young white bodies adrift on the tide ... " Sting -- Soul Cages

Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu
August 29, 2006

(Wojo) We knew that we were in for an awakening of some kind considering we'd not made sail in nearly ten months. After dodging the customs man for a couple days in Fiji post check-out, we finally set sail from Musket Cove and headed for the big pass near Momi Bay. The weather was simply beautiful. Crystal clear skies with virtually no swell and a gentle ten-knot sou'wester.

As soon as we were in the pass things started to change quickly, however. We even joked that we'd probably have to take a first reef almost immediately.

"... and a galloping line of white horses said that soon we'd be in for a race ... " - Sting -- Wild, Wild Sea 

Only a half mile out we started to feel the urge of twenty foot swells and thirty-knot winds. I knew that we were heading somewhere and it was going to be West since we certainly were not beating back to Fiji in these seas. Reef down, hold on, find religion.

The first day was just a hazy blur of tension and general uneasiness. Mico was making a steady 8.5 knots (10+ on the surf) reaching under double reefed main and yankee. I remember thinking, if we keep this up we'll be the first Westsail in history to turn a 200 mile day noon to noon.

" ... and the gentle sigh turned to a howling. And the grey sky she angered to black." - Ibid

I felt the effects of mal de mer almost immediately. A combination of cross swells and nerves laid me down hard. I tried to fight through it and managed to at least get out on deck through my watches and hang onto the windward rail. I reassured myself that these were exactly the conditions this boat was designed to take even if the crew was not. I thought about all those pilot cutters that wore a groove in the Channel that sired Mico's lines, and took a little comfort.

By first light the next day the seas were less furious and the wind was in fine tradewind form at fifteen knots SSE. The cross swell that is so famous on this leg of the Pacific was still present, however, and this caused discomfort still for ship and crew. My mal de mar was still intense and 48 hours later I'd not eaten and was getting very dehydrated. I couldn't believe what a lubber ten months in soft beds had turned me into!

During the night of the second day I was awoken by a rustling amongst the lockers and chart table. Carrot was rummaging around and pulling out little bits of plastic hose, clamps and funnels. I wondered what she was at. When I asked, she said, "You haven't kept any water down in more than two days and we don't have anything to make an emergency hydration drink. I've heard that it's possible to absorb water from your colon -- I might have to give you an enema." I began to start feeling better immediately.

By the third day we continued to reach in heavy seas and started to complain about the fact that if we'd been able to (for once) sail the rhumb line from Fiji we'd be there by now. Carrot made some excellent roast beef and I'm convinced that it saved my life. Feeling much better I even had the gumption to try out a "magic" lure given to me by Wes Vaughn in Vuda. I caught a nice big mackerel only an hour later. Sashimi and huge fish filets followed that evening.

The next morning, as the sun dawned on day four, I was so inspired by Wes' tackle that I started fishing at dawn while Carrot slept below. I had my first strike after only fifteen minutes and hooked another mackerel after an hour. I roused out the off-watch to assist in the landing of the big fish at seven knots. She wasn't too pleased that we'd have to clean and cook this monster at eight in the morn but she acquiesced after I cleaned up the rails and handed down the nice fillets. We had fish for breakfast and tons left over for green curry later in the day.

At noon we finally raised Tanna on the starboard bow. What a beautiful sight she was. We were not home free yet, of course. We knew we'd have to tack around the point to get into Port Resolution and who knew what conditions would be like once inside with these huge seas running. I hailed for any yacht inside the bay but received no response. Finally we rounded the point enough that we could see inside. Things looked calm enough and five yachts rolled in the reflected swells.

We furiously set about dropping the sails and motored into the inner harbor in 25 knots of wind with 20 foot breaking seas on either side. The island was beautiful and nothing like Fiji. Later I regretted not having sailed in. It was irresponsible to put so much faith on our old blue Mrs. Perkins in these make-or-break conditions. Our sails are very dependable and in a pinch we could have simply come about and made for sea again.

" ... the Captain cried. We sailors wept, our tears were tears of joy. How many moons? How many Junes? Had fall'n since we'd made land? Salty dog, this seaman's log. Your witness my own hand." - Procol Harem

We sighted our friends Fatty and Carolyn Goodlander from sy Wild Card inside. This is their second circumnavigation, so we decided that they had chosen a good spot and simply fell in line. What a feeling to have arrived here. I won't even bother trying to describe it but you can safely bet I'd not have welled up with tears in my eyes had we stepped off a 747. 48 hours later we were sipping ice cold Heinekens at a pig roast.

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