Sailing the Pacific

09 November 2010
07 November 2010
05 November 2010
26 October 2010
19 October 2010 | Somewhere between Fiji and Vanuatu
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
03 October 2010
15 September 2010 | Vava'u, Tonga
02 September 2010 | Vava'u, Tonga
08 August 2010
29 July 2010
25 July 2010 | Bora Bora
20 July 2010
16 July 2010 | Moorea
16 July 2010 | Moorea, Society Islands

Tanna, Vanuatu

26 October 2010
James and Isabelle
We arrived at the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu, after a three day sail from Fiji. We had two days of beautiful sailing in calm seas, spinnaker up, sunny days and moonlit nights. Then, after a period of calm, the wind started building and the last 24 hours was fairly rough but quick.

Tanna is an island down near the bottom of the chain of islands that make up Vanuatu. Captain Cook, in the Resolution, came here to the bay we anchored at, Port Resolution.

The island is one of the most primitive we have seen. The villagers nearly all live in thatched huts still. Oddly though, many have mobile phones ,having made the leap straight from no phones to mobile phones, skipping land lines in the middle. Huge Banyan trees dominate the forests with sprawling branches and canopies, and endless root systems shooting down from the branches. They reminded us of the trees in the film Avatar. The Island is known for having one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world and at Port Resolution the villagers were able to cook some of their food in the hot springs, boiling eggs, yam and other vegetables.

We came here mainly to see the Volcano 'Yasur'. We went at dusk yesterday. It's about 350m above sea level. We drove most of the way and then it was a short walk to the rim. As we were climbing up, there was a deep rumble in the earth below and we saw a rock flying out sideways from the top! Walking up towards the crater, the earth was strewn with boulders which had been spat out at an earlier stage, just a little disconcerting. It was all black sand/dirt and rock, desolate. Like you'd imagine the moon to be.

Standing on the rim, we watched smoke billowing up and then heard a roar like a jet engine followed by a boom, felt a shock wave and then a shower of molten rock came flying up from the central crater. Enormous amounts of lava would fly high into the air, and we saw big, glowing blobs of it separating in mid-air like toffee on a confectionary hook. It was incredibly spectacular. Awe inspiring. The sonic shock waves kept hitting every 30 seconds or so. Sometimes it was quiet for a while and then there'd be a great big rumble, boom and a huge explosion. Sometimes a mushroom cloud of ash would drift towards us causing our throats and eyes to sting with sulfur.

Our local guide told us that they rate the activity of the volcano on a 1 to 5 scale and the day we went was a 2. He said if it had been a three, we wouldn't have been able to go.

We just kept thinking, we would never be allowed to do this if it were in Australia. The guide told us of a number of tourists who had been killed visiting the volcano. One just last year.

As it got darker it became even more spectacular. The best fireworks show we've ever seen.
Vessel Name: Dagmar
Vessel Make/Model: CAL 39
Hailing Port: Melbourne, Australia
Crew: James Thomson and Isabelle Chigros-Fraser
Hello and welcome to our new sailing blog! Our dream is to sail across the Pacific Ocean this year starting in Costa Rica and finishing in Australia. [...]
As we have been told by fellow sailors, when you live at the mercy of the elements plans are like "Jello and Sand"- wobbly and unsteady like Jello (jelly for us aussies) and when you write something in the sand often it will be washed away with the tide. It is for this reason that we didn't finish [...]
'Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' -Mark Twain
' I felt my pulse beating with suppressed excitement as I threw the mooring bouy overboard. It seemed as if that simple action had severed my connection with the life on the shore; that I had thereby cut adrift the ties of convention. The unrealities and illusions of cities and crowds, that I was free now, free to go where I chose, to do and to live and to conquer as I liked, to play the game wherin a man's qualities count for more than his appearance. 'Maurice Griffiths, The Magic of the Swatchways.