Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trip to Tanna

We left Port Vila on Monday morning at 0615 for the 150 mile trip to the island of Tanna in the southern part of the Vanuatu chain. Because we were heading in a southeast direction – the same direction of the prevailing winds, we had to wait for either really light winds or a more easterly component. We were supposed to have both – so it was a good window to head southeast. We motored out the narrow channel of Port Vila, under the power lines and into the bigger swells. Then we were able to sail – close hauled and off course, but it was sailing. We got into some wacky water – seas from several directions and very steep and close together. This is probably because the bottom contours go from 6000 feet to 2000 and in one spot 300 feet. This must create all kinds of wave stacking. We just hoped that sailing in this area known as the ring of fire, that none of these 300 foot mounts would decide to "erupt" at the moment we would pass over! Around midnight, we had to change course, more into the wind so we decided to motor sail in order to be assured of getting to Tanna the next day in light and not have to stay out an additional night. We did this for awhile then the wind turned actually a bit northeast, so we could sail again close to the course. We did this until we would hit the the island of Tanna – then had to motorsail again.

We entered Port Resolution around 1500 (3 pm) on Tuesday afternoon and anchored. The bottom is volcanic sand and it took two tries to get the anchor dug in well. There were four boats here already so we found a good place in about 4 meters.

Port Resolution was named by Captain Cook after he landed here. He sure named a lot of places. This one was named after his ship – he must have run out of people to whom he owed money! It is beautiful with beaches and green hills. The famous volcano Mt. Yasur, the reason we trekked south, is not quite visible from the anchorage though you can certainly see the plume of smoke from it over the hills. You can also hear it rumble...a lot! It sounds like a jet overhead.

After a night's rest, we awoke to a beautiful clear morning and went ashore to set up our volcano expedition. There is a small "yacht club" in the village and run by the village, the "Port Resolution Yacht Club." You can arrange for a meal there and they serve cold beers "sometimes." Beer all the time, the cold is the "sometimes" part! We met Johnson, the man who would take us to Mt. Yasur and set up a trip for later this afternoon. We strolled through the very traditional "kustom" village, met friendly folk, got some free bananas and a papaya (pawpaw) and ended up on one of the most beautiful white sand beaches. There are three small restaurants in the village, a soccer field, school and lots of small gardens. Some men were building a hut for the Chief as the women were weaving the walls. Everyone was pitching in and all were friendly, telling us how they built it.

Jimmy came by in his outrigger and offered us all types of fruits and vegetable – we accepted some incredibly fragrant lemons and traded some hooks for them. We also gave his son Jonah some school supplies. The people here are what we have seen everywhere in Vanuatu – smiling, laughing, friendly and generous.

Tonight (Wednesday) the volcano!

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