Log of the Argonaut

25 July 2012 | Orcas Island
19 October 2011 | Orcas Island
04 August 2011 | Orcas Island, U.S. San Juan Islands
14 June 2011 | U.S. Southwest
20 May 2011 | Durango, Co
19 May 2011 | Durango Colorado
21 March 2011 | Washington State
24 February 2011 | Between South and North
13 February 2011 | Aussie
17 January 2011 | Bundaberg, Australia
24 November 2010 | Bundaberg Australia
18 October 2010 | Noumea
06 October 2010 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
09 September 2010 | Between Port Resolution and Port Vila, Vanuatu
03 September 2010 | Tanna Island, Vanuatu
27 July 2010 | Mamanuka Islands, Fiji
21 May 2010 | Malolo Island
05 April 2010 | EnZed
06 March 2010 | Marlborough District
26 February 2010 | EnZed: South Island

Maw of the Monster

03 September 2010 | Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Slogger: Cooler than Fiji. 80 day/70 night
Maw of the Monster: Vanuatu first impressions.

We officially checked out of Fiji at Lautoka on Wednesday August 18, 2010. It's a long way from Lautoka to the Navulu Pass and the open ocean. More than half the day is shot before we're in the open. Cat's Paw IV is about a mile ahead of us and stretched the lead to 30 miles over the next three days. We're more comfortable with less sail when the wind is forward of the beam and in the grand scheme of things. The minute the breeze comes aft a bit, we take off. No point in banging your head against the wall unless you have to. It all came out even as we both had to time a dawn arrival. I have snail trails for Port Resolution but why chance going in in the dark?

For reasons unknown, Airy, our Aries Windvane was acting up, leaving us with Geraldo, (Yak, yak, yak. Blah, blah, blah) our electric tiller pilot, was forced to carry the ball. This is sometimes a problem in larger seas. Geraldo outdid himself. Good boy.

Arriving at the crack of dawn, we were greeted with an eerie orange glow lighting the steam and ash cloud hanging over an active Mt Yasur. Entrance to the bay is straight forward with no dangers. Anchoring in depths of 15 to 20 feet in volcanic ash over coral sand. As it was Sunday, there was nothing much to do until we could check in at Lenacal, on the opposite side of the island.

There is very little sign of habitation from the bay but a trip ashore reveals several rather large villages. Indeed, Tanna is the second most populated island in Vanuatu. Village life here reminds me of Tonga. Houses built of sticks covered in coconut fronds, chickens running everywhere, little pigs underfoot and children everywhere. English is spoken and for the most part excellent. French is also taught and spoken exclusively by some in some sections of the same village.

Monday was check-in day. This requires a harrowing two and a half hour ride in a 4X4 pickup from one side of the island to the other... over a mountain... on roads more suitable for Off-Road Racing than passenger traffic. Eight of us were crammed in the back, seated on narrow planks bolted along each side of the bed. Handholds are steel bars welded to the outside of the bed. By the time we arrived, everyone's butt was beat up around their ears, but cheer up! There's a couple of hours to recover before the trip back.

Everything in Vanuatu seems to be based on a thousand bucks. A thousand Vatu equals about ten bucks US. Immigration= $3000, Customs = $3000, Ag and Quarantine = $3000. The ride over and back = $4000. Expensive compared to everywhere else in the Pacific, but this is a poor country trying to make it in the world. A dubious proposition if not for the gobs of aid coming their way from Australia, New Zealand and (shudder) China.

Everyone survived the ride over the mountain, so we all decided to hike to and up the volcano the next day and peer into the Maw of the Monster. Mount Yasur. Vanuatu has several active volcanoes and is a hotbed of activity along the Pacific Ring of Fire. We're all acutely aware of the constant risk of earthquake, Tsunami and volcanic eruption to our plans.

No one mentioned that this was six or seven kilometer hike through the bush or that you can also pay a few bucks to ride up. I might have opted for the chicken ride but we learn by experience. The hike wasn't easy for a sixty six year old accustomed to a sedentary cruiser lifestyle, who was coincidentally suffering a mild bout of the flu. I was all out of up by the time I was up but the reward made it all worthwhile.

There are few places in the world where you can stand on the crater rim of a very active, and occasionally dangerous volcano, booming and hissing and spitting ash and flaming globs high into the air. This is National Geographic stuff and we get to be right there, on every page!

Our guide, Sam, told us we had to be off the crater rim shortly after dark as it is difficult to see the molten chunks of lava being lobbed skyward. One could drop in on the unwary tourist in the dark. Roast hiker might have found its way on the menu a few hundred years ago, but has fallen out of fashion these days.
Scratch one off my Bucket List.

Vessel Name: Argonaut
Vessel Make/Model: Cal-40
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Mike & Liz
Mike: I guess I've been sailing for more than 40 years; always with the idea of cruising to far away ports firmly embeded in the back of my mind. Reality, in the form of raising a family and making a living kept me out of the game until one day... [...]
Extra: It has been an amazing journey. I could have stayed home, or gone no farther than Mexico but I knew I'd never see this any other way. If there were only re-runs... The lesson is: If you wait until you're ready, you'll never go. So get off your butt and do it - whatever IT is.
Argonaut's Photos - Wishful thinking (Main)
Looking back at five years voyaging across the Pacific
12 Photos
Created 25 July 2012
Mix of Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival and home re-do project
25 Photos
Created 28 October 2011
Around the house
20 Photos
Created 4 August 2011
Tiki Tour through the Southwest
16 Photos
Created 14 June 2011
Trip on the Railroad
7 Photos
Created 20 May 2011
Seattle to Durango Colorado
12 Photos
Created 19 May 2011
Pacific Nortwest
13 Photos
Created 21 March 2011
On our way home. Australia to Seattle
6 Photos
Created 24 February 2011
Oz from Bundaberg to Sydney
23 Photos
Created 13 February 2011
My Adventures in Oz
8 Photos
Created 19 January 2011
Noumea New Caledonia
22 Photos
Created 18 October 2010
Port Vila to Port Sandwich
29 Photos
Created 6 October 2010
Port Resolution to Port Vila
12 Photos
Created 10 September 2010
Tanna Island, Vanuatu
29 Photos
Created 3 September 2010
Touring: Dunedin to Picton
17 Photos
Created 25 March 2010
South Island road trip
16 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 26 February 2010
8 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 30 January 2010
Continuation of New Zealand travel 2009/2110
40 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 13 January 2010
New Zealand 2009/2010
22 Photos
Created 19 December 2009
City and Raintree Park
19 Photos
Created 14 December 2009
A Yankee Thanksgiving in Kiwi Land
12 Photos
Created 7 December 2009
Tropical flowers
28 Photos
Created 14 November 2009
Boat ride, hike and lunch.
15 Photos
Created 3 November 2009
Foods from across the Pacific. From the Marquesas to Fiji and New Zealand
30 Photos
Created 25 October 2009
Samoa/Tonga/Vanuatu quakes
3 Photos
Created 20 October 2009
Likuri Island
6 Photos
Created 15 October 2009
Musket Cove Regatta Week
22 Photos
Created 11 September 2009
North from Musket Cove
25 Photos
Created 11 August 2009
Musket Cove: Mamanuka Islands, Fiji
13 Photos
Created 7 August 2009
Viti Levu/Mamanukas
16 Photos
Created 16 July 2009
First days in FIji
6 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 17 June 2009
1 Photo | 1 Sub-Album
Created 1 May 2009
Minerva Reef shirts and maintenance projects
12 Photos
Created 29 April 2009
Chacala, Guayabitos, Los Ayala, Lo de Marco, San Pancho, Saulita
36 Photos
Created 21 April 2009
In and around San Blas. Didn't take many pics. Too busy doing damn little.
9 Photos
Created 14 April 2009
Mazatlan to San Blas
27 Photos
Created 10 April 2009
Boatyard Wars
21 Photos
Created 30 March 2009
End of the road trip 2009
21 Photos
Created 25 March 2009
City, museum and gardens
18 Photos
Created 26 February 2009
Pics of our road trip
29 Photos
Created 23 February 2009
Hiking along the geothermal Highway
15 Photos
Created 19 February 2009
Hauraki Gulf. Classic Yacht Regatta and AC boats
17 Photos
Created 17 February 2009
Mexico to the South Pacific
52 Photos
Created 1 February 2009
8 Photos
Created 22 January 2009
15 Photos
Created 6 January 2009
Independent Samoa
12 Photos
Created 6 January 2009
Pacific Festival of the Arts/Pago Pago
12 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 6 January 2009