Vanuatu: haul-out for hurricane season

Photo cred: Ksenia Makagonova
All the work that I had to do in the coming days was a bit too much for one person. A haulout and hurricane season storage require a bit of preparation, and there was just too little time to do everything by myself. The old crew that left in Fiji did not help out with any of these preparations. I had made some friends in Vanuatu and they were eager to help, but the boat yard did not allow any external help, even for free – they want the yachties to use the bopt yard’s workforce, which is far from cheap. Really frustrating when there are people wanting to help for free. The mandatory workforce was killing my budget. I felt drained by the boat yard, and was rapidly losing trust to them. I was about to find out that I should have not chosen them at all.

Daily life in Vanuatu, captured by Jasper Wilde
Apart from the boat haulout, I needed to gather up the personal gear and to send it to Sweden. It’s amazing how much you collect during a couple of years of sailing. Many kilos of gear and personal belongings had to be delivered to the post office. This also took a lot of time and energy, and added to the stress of the last days when I worked basically round the clock. Staying on the land and living on board in Vanuatu for several months could be an interesting plan, but the haul-out drained my budget and I was going to get back to the IT consultancy to raise funds for the continuation of the trip. So I would be flying off to Sweden. 

This is about what it looked like as I left the island - Daily life in Vanuatu, captured by Jasper Wilde
After the hurricane season, I was planning to continue and complete the circumnavigation. However, I co-owned the boat with the crew who had left for Sweden, and he did not want to do the further sailing in the same way. He just took a year off for a kind of exotic vacation, and was not attracted by long distance sailing as a lifestyle. So the current plan was to haul out the boat, get home, and then come back and sail her further after the hurricane season. I could either arrange for a delivery, single-hand the boat, get new crew to join me, or to sell the boat in Vanuatu. I realize now that I should not have let myself get persuaded by the co-owner to also go back to Sweden, and should have stuck to the plan - here is why.

As the boat yard hauled out the boat and put on the hard, it got damaged. I let the co-owner of the boat deal with the insurance company, and I must admit I regret also that. The dialogue was not constructive. The insurance company would not cooperate, he failed with the negotiations, so all reparations were to be carried out on the boat owners’ costs. Suddenly, the boat was much harder to sell. The boat yard did not carry out the needful services, and it was deteriorating fast. Being on the other side of the earth, it was difficult to plan and supervise the reparations, and I could no longer trust the yard to do a good job.

After many disappointing discussions with the co-owner about the service, haul-out, maintenance, selling strategies and much more, I realized I was not getting anywhere. Running costs were piling up, and the cooperation was not working – no constructive dialogue in this matter either. At the end, I signed over the yacht to the guy, letting that cover the maintenance costs and whatever else, to stop wasting time and energy. Boats come and go, and nothing in the world is worth that amount of hassle and negative energy that came from that direction.

Getting rid of the boat does not mean that the sailing is over. I would continue doing the circumnavigation - as part of a crew on another boat, sailing with friends, and as a delivery sailor. This can be made in shorter trips, as I will be doing it during my vacations and free days from my work. Now, it was only the passage to Darwin Straight and crossing the Indian Ocean left before I would be able to turn North and would have circumnavigated the Earth – but I want to go further, and to circumnavigate a few times in the years to past.

As I returned home, I discovered the challenges of sailing in the Arctic and spent a few years sailing Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, Russian Arctic, and Norway’s Arctic (see full sailing log here). I also took on a bigger challenge and competed in Sydney-Hobart. But the circumnavigation continues in small legs, and with each year I am getting closer and closer to the goal of closing that circle. And when I’m done - more circles will surely come.

Here are some reflections I wrote after Vanuatu. And here is a post about coming back to Sweden, a culture clash with the tropics.