From Ambrym to Ouvea – Storm in the Pacific

Vanuatu - Posted On

Nadège writes:

A last stop in the small island of Emae offers us a big fishing party with the locals. We enjoyed as well the custom done to the ocean, which welcome us in his reef for fishing.

It’s time then to sail back to New Caledonia. From Efate, we jump into the great ocean for two or three days of navigation. The problem when you sail is that you know when you start but you never know when you will arrive. Unfortunately, after leaving, winds and waves gets considerably much stronger than what we expected. Without any automatic pilot, night watches are very difficult, as we have to hold the wheel outside on the deck, getting wet at whatever water comes to you, either from the sky (cold rain but fresh water) or from the sea (warm waves but salty). Beside, it is almost impossible to sleep inside because of the noise of the waves beating the boat’s hull. Moreover, because of the strong wind, we can’t keep the sails out and therefore the right direction to Noumea. It’s too late to sail back, we have to fight Poseidon’s anger. 

After three days in the storm, everything inside the boat is salted and wet. We are exhausted. That’s why we think about finding a refuge in the Ouvea lagoon. But, for that, we have to pass trough a narrow entry. It’s a dark night and the wind pushes us against the reef. We trust the engine to help us to keep the good direction through the pass. But this one coughs and die, in a fearfully silence... right in the middle of the pass, with the dangerous reef 100m down wind. We are left alone in the battle. We keep our panic inside ourselves. Hidden from the others, I send some prays to the sea. “Come on Odyssée, you can do it!” Olivier is in a big battle with the wheel, trying hard to lead us until salvation. And at last, we pass. Safe, the crew explodes with joy “We are alive!!” 

This sea adventure will stay in our mind forever. 

A few days later we are back in Nouméa, ending here our three months odyssey on the Odyssée through the Vanuatu. 1500 nautical miles and a lot of human and wild challenges are behind us.