Cruising Vanuatu

Our sail from Fiji to Vanuatu was 3 days. We left around 8am on Wednesday morning and arrived at the island of Tanna on Saturday morning. Once we sailed outside the reefs of Fiji the weather, wind and seas were decent. About 10pm the first night the winds picked up to 20+kts out of the NE when they were calling for SE and the seas became rough with 3 meter swells turning to full blown waves right at us. We were pounding into it for a good 24 hours or so. Finally wind and seas slowly calmed down and we had a nice remainder of the trip.

As we got closer to Vanuatu we could see the Volcano “Yasur” from 93 miles away at night, through our night vision goggles. What a site! As the sun came up there was a spectacular rainbow surrounding the volcano, just priceless! Here are a few facts about Vanuatu….
• Vanuatu,formerly called the New Hebrides, is an archipelago of 83 islands in the Western Pacific around 1,750 km east of Australia, lying at the end of a chain of volcanic peaks stretching southeast from Papua New Guinea. Espiritu Santo, Malekula, Efate, Erromango, Ambrym and Tanna are the main islands. With a unique blend of Melanesian (Ni-Vanuatu) tribal communities, pristine beaches, stunning active volcanoes and truly memorable diving, Vanuatu has much to entice visitors. There are over 100 different language dialects spoken here but mainly Bislamic. One the main island you can get along with English quite well…thank goodness!
• Left alone by the Europeans for longer than other parts of the Pacific, Vanuatu leapt into the modern age quickly, while remaining a place where the rich Melanesian culture is kept very much alive. It is the chance to experience a little of this fascinating culture that brings most sailors to this country which has been endowed with less cruising attractions than its neighbours.
• One of the greatest attractions of the islands is a visit to the live volcano on Tanna or Ambrym, where one can ascend into the crater, the closest one can get to an active volcano safely anywhere in the world. Even sailing by these islands one can be treated to a spectacular firework display, especially at night.
• Many villages receive little or no contact with the outside world other than through yachts. Trading goods for local carvings and fresh produce is a major source of clothing, school supplies, and currency for these villagers. Carry second-hand clothing, notebooks, pencils and pens, fishing line and hooks, reading glasses, old magazines, etc. for bartering with locals.
When we arrived in Tanna, we entered the Port Resolution Harbor….a large protected anchorage surrounded by mountainous rain forest and a volcano. The anchor did not even hit the bottom before we the locals were approaching our boat in their beautiful wooden dug out canoes. They spoke English which was a relief and were just very interested in the boat and where we had come from. I broke out my supply of lollipops and you can’t imagine how happy they were. From then on we had a train of dug out canoes come to visit looking for lollies during the course of our 3 days in Tanna.
After we anchored we went to shore to speak to the village chief and ask permission to be there, as is custom just like Fiji. Stanley, the chief was very friendly and accommodating. His family offered us fresh eggs and some vegetables, which we thought quite nice. We reciprocated the next day with a Colorado Rockies T-shirt, cigar, some rope, fish hooks etc…. Stanley arranged for us to get a ride to the Volcano the next morning and told us to return in the morning at 7am. Unfortunately for this village, we sailors forgot about the time line we crossed and ended up waking the village at 6am instead of 7am. They were lovely about it.
Off we went on a 50minute 4 wheel drive road to the volcano. From there we hiked a short ways to the rim. OH BOY! They actually let you stand at the rim of this very active volcano as it spews rocks and lave high into the air. You have to be careful and watch where the rocks land as people have been killed here. It was intense, scary, exciting and just unbelievably magnificent to be there! This may be THE most amazing thing we’ve done yet! There truly are no words to describe it. In America, they would have this area and miles around it evacuated. We have many pictures and videos to share but are in the midst of getting our library working proper….stay tuned for the pictures…you’ll not want to miss them.
On our last day in Tanna one boy approached us in his canoe and asked if we had any Bisquick…after several attempts at trying to understand what he was asking for…I just had to laugh at his request. Apparently they had received some Bisquick mix from another American boat along the way and they liked it. Unfortunately, we did not have any but I told him I knew what is was. Stay tuned….Life is Good..

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