Launching the boat from Port Vila Boatyard
We arrived back in Vanuatu on June 3rd, almost 7 months after we left, and were ready to make preparations to get back on the water. The two biggest jobs were going to be cleaning everything, and examining the rudder. It turns out that Vanuatu is a lot wetter than we expected, or at least it was this past cyclone season, and it stays cloudy so things never dry out. The impact of this was a lot of mould both inside and outside of the boat.
Our first week back was mostly consumed with laundry, cleaning lines, cleaning the deck, wiping inside of cupboards, under the floor and so on.
We did get out to a fun restaurant in town for the Pizza Special on Tuesday night. The beer was cold and the pizza was pretty good.
The Port Vila Yacht club is open on Sundays for lunch, drinks and some dinghy sailing. It’s located right at the boatyard, so we met a bunch of nice people there and took an afternoon off from our labours.
Our rudder consists of a metal rudder post with metal plates attached to it (think of a capital letter “E”). The whole thing is encased in fibreglass. We noticed a small crack in the fibreglass where the rudder post comes out. Water had been able to go into the crack, so we became concerned about the condition of the metal inside. We’ve heard horror stories of people’s rudders being nothing but rust on the inside. We dropped the rudder and the Port Vila Boatyard team went to work. They drilled 3 large holes so we could inspect everything inside. Everything looked fine inside, so the holes were patched and the crack fixed up. This work involved a bit of new fibreglass and then some new bottom paint.
We also thought we'd try a little surfboard wax on the propeller to keep barnacles off. This is the inexpensive solution, as opposed to buying the very special propeller paint.
We took an afternoon off from working on the boat to attend to some other tasks. Primarily, we had to extend our Visa’s past the 30 days they gave us when we arrived. After a short wait at Immigration, and a medium sized fee, we’re allowed to stay in Vanuatu until November 2017. Next stop was the wholesale distribution place we were told had the best prices on wine, beer and liquor. The really nice lady there confirmed there would be no charge to deliver right to our boat and no service fee to use a credit card, so Dina addressed the need to have wine on board and Malcolm went a bit crazy on the liquor purchases (13 litres worth of crazy) and mixes. The next morning they delivered our goods, and even carried them up the ladder into the boat.
At this point we were ready to launch. Port Vila Boatyard has a trailer, similar to the Boatyard in Tonga. There are lots of hydraulics to control the steering and the height, and a reasonably sized tractor to move the trailer around.
It took about an hour to get the boat into the water and another 30 minutes to disconnect it from the trailer (it was strapped in tight) and pulled over to the mooring ball.
Good news! Our batteries are all fine, no repeat of last year’s issues. The rudder post comes up into the boat through a water tight gland and attaches to the steering.
We’ve been afloat for more than 24 hours now and it looks like we reassembled it properly as not even a drop of water has come in through the rudder gland. The engine started okay, and Tubby’s outboard motor runs fine (after cleaning the carburetor).