|Takapu2 - Our Transport for the Week.
After yet another fun trip of a lifetime then, we arrived in beautiful Surundu Bay and had our first glimpse of our 'transport' for the week. Takapu2 is a 'retired' Navy survey ship, and was one of the chief reasons we opted to see Vanuatu by boat rather than stay at a resort or hotel. Built to overkill standards and with equipment specification to match, this 28.6m (94ft) beauty that has seen more than her fair share of rough seas, would be a very stable platform for my seasick-prone wifey. Size had a lot to do with it too, for we were certainly not cramped for space, anywhere on the boat.
Looks could be deceiving for from a distance it looked just like any other Navy vessel. But step aboard and you stepped into another world. Bill Leckie and his partner Mandy Vernon, along with a willing and dedicated band of family and friends, spent countless thousands of hours transforming the internals of the vessel from a spartan agricultural navy boat, into a luxurious charter boat. Under the watchful eye of the Culham family from Whangarei ship-building company Culhams Engineering, the interior was gutted and replaced with a formal dining room, three ensuited staterooms, a saloon of appropriate proportions, and a galley to die for.
Used for extensive cruising as well as charter work, the boat is purposefully set up for long periods at sea. The water maker, the power generation, the house-size appliances. heaps of refrigeration, ice maker and freezers, the huge pantry, the on-board computerized systems, all ensured guests could be catered for in a manner befitting paying guests. A gourmet cook, our hostess cooked up some incredible meals during that week, including several different 'flavours' of bread. We even had a fondue one of the nights; haven't done that for many many years - and it is still a lot of fun!
Weather for the week traversed the spectrum from heavy rain to sublime heat and the huge aft deck, covered by the superstructure of the next level above, was a nice cool and dry place to hide out during the day. And in the evenings, for we in actual fact spent virtually all our time out there, alternating between snorkeling, exploring, swims off the magnificent swim platform, drinkies, BBQ's and utilising the huge inventory of 'toys' that included a 4.2m/SOhp Yamaha aluminium pontoon-style tender, a 2.8m RIB, water-skis, sea biscuit, fishing tackle, snorkeling equipment, 2 x kayaks and wind-surfer. If all that didn't appeal, there was also a 32" plasma N, DVD and large library of books, CD's, DVD's and games.
Our trip was not all about lazing around in the sun though, for as mentioned we did do a lot of exploring also. While Takapu2 was the main reason we opted for a holiday such as this, it was as much what you could do with that boat that was the real attraction, for we could explore to our hearts content wherever and whenever the mood grabbed us.
WE SPENT THE MAJORITY OF OUR SHIP-BOARD TIME IN THIS COCKPIT EXTRAORDINAIRE. IT CERTAINLY WAS NICE TO BE SHELTERED FROM THE SUN.