The Crossing to Port Vila

18 May 2015

Blog entry from Captain Mike on board the Rainbow Warrior.  Rainbow Warrior has been transformed into a 2 TEU container ship to offer assistance to the people of Vanuatu in the aftermath of cyclone Pam.

Our plan is to deliver aid from the main relief agencies in Port Vila to some of the remote islands where no-one has been able to reach due to the lack of available vessels.

size port vila

The containers of 10 tonnes each were loaded in Port Kembla, Australia. Additional lashing points welded to the deck and stability calculations checked against actual draft marks before departure. The main staysail was set when the harbour break water came abeam and by the time the pilot disembarked we were under full sail with no engine. It was Saturday evening we left and the sun set red upon the sails as Warrior leaped ahead with a bone between her teeth (a breaking white bow wave).

For 6 days we held a north-easterly course that took us across the top of the famously treacherous Tasman sea. Apart from a rather rude ridge of high-pressure that overtook us, stole the wind and left us rolling about in a sloppy sea on Tuesday – we have had fine southerly winds. We rounded the Isle of Pins on the southern tip of New Caledonia on the following Saturday morning. And then as if in conspiracy with the Rainbow Warrior the wind backed as our course changed for the final run up to Vanuatu. There was no need to jibe.

Motion has been mostly comfortable and heeling to port on a starboard tack. The rudder has worked curiously harder and we wonder if this is a result of the extra weight we carry on the stern. Internet has been patchy at best but that’s down to three radio-operators on board who are fiddling with the servers. Crew have been aloft a lot – tending to the furlers on both stay sails. Life has been normal.

We’ve had fire drills and crew meetings. We’ve watched what we eat and agreed to just one meal a week of meat and one of fish and to bolster our belief that diet is impacting our environment we watched the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’. Days have mostly ended with a choice of either yoga on the heli-deck or cross-fit in the hanger.

And now we’re here. We have just dropped anchor in Port Vila. It was a night time approach with the anchor down at 20h42 on Sunday 17th May. It has taken 8 days and 5 hours to reach here. 1359 miles under sail, 125 miles on the e-drive. All in all a good crossing with 91% of distance sails only.