June 10, 2009 : Officially checked in and ready to roll

We ended up spending a full week in Vanuatu before we were able to actually go ashore. It is not exactly life in the fast lane here. We never made it to shore at Aneityum, the first island we stopped at in Vanuatu. We were a bit nervous about getting off the boat there since there was no way to officially check in and we had read that if the wrong person happened to see you there you could get a big fine and other penalties. We contented ourselves with sleeping a lot and seeing a few visitors – first a local guy, Joseph, who came by in his outrigger, and then with two boats that shared the bay with us over those few days. Probably overly cautious, but we did not want to risk our ability to stay in Vanuatu this year. After an absolutely glorious overnight, full moonlit sail from Aneityum we dropped our anchor on Sunday morning in Port Villa. We were stuck on the boat all day Sunday because customs and immigration don’t work week-ends here and they
 are quite strict about observing the “stay on the boat until checked in ” rule. On Monday morning the quarantine boat came by the anchorage and, after taking away all of my remaining fruits and vegies ( exactly 2 onions and one garlic clove), we were free to go to shore to complete the check-in with customs and immigration. Unfortunately we could not get our dinghy engine to start up and it was too far for us to row the dinghy to shore (it is a big, tubby inflatable). We did, however, move ourselves over to the mooring area with all the other boats. We ended up right next to one of the boats that was with us in Aneityum, as well as Lorna, another Amel Supermaramu (same boat as ours) who we were very friendly with in New Zealand a year ago. Bo, the Swedish man on Lorna, saw us having trouble getting our outboard started and offered to help diagnose the problem. Within minutes it was purring like a kitten and Mark and I hopped onboard and took care of
 customs and immigration. It felt great to walk on dry land and we took care of some necessities – like getting money, a sim for our cell phone , eating lunch out (a thrill at this stage) and finally, for a highlight of the day, stopping at the huge vegetable and fruit market and stocking up on some oranges, bananas and sweet, huge, pamplemousse. We finally feel like the trip is starting. It has certainly been a big setup time – 3 weeks of preparation in Australia, 1 week at sea, and 1 week on land before we are back to our new “normal” life. L.

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