Monthly Archives: July 2024

The Island of Tanna

Our first port of call in Vanuatu is Port resolution on the island of Tanna.  It is beautiful, green, and full of friendly people!  As we were approaching Tanna, her beautiful, active volcano, called Mt. Yasur was showing off.

The top photo shows the volcano and the little bay (to the right) where we are anchored.

Port Resolution is a beautiful bay with black sand beaches, hot pools, and smoking caves.  We go ashore to the Port Resolution Yacht club (also known as Nipikinamu Yacht Club) first because we have to clear in.  Lucky for us it gives us a chance to walk around afterwards.  In the lower photo you can see the school on top of the ridge.

The Nipikinamu Yacht Club was recently destroyed in a cyclone so they have a temporary space set up for gatherings.  This is Werry and he and his brother, Stanley run the Yacht Club and its services.  Super nice people.

The new yacht club has the foundation set.  They are making progress but it is difficult and expensive to get supplies to Tanna as it is such a remote island.

There are several bungalows that are part of the yacht club.  But these have been damaged during the cyclone as well.  Their priority is to finish the yacht club and then begin work on the bungalows.  A few of these bungalows have amazing views of the anchorage.

The Locals

Lots of fishermen were out and about in the bay.  They fish from their homemade outriggers using nets. It is really a beautiful process and an act of patience.

We walk through a few of the villages but there are not many people out and about.  Evidently there is a large wedding that most of the locals went to today.

We stop by the school and medical clinic to drop off donations.  Ben is the principal and he was thrilled to receive the glasses, books, and medical supplies.

Super cute little boy.

Exploring the Island

Matt and I take off down a path hoping to do some exploring.  There are lots of paths on this island.  We ended up on the opposite side of the island on a beautiful beach.

Along our walk, we stumbled across White Beach Restaurant which looked vacant but well kept.  Surprisingly, we ended up meeting the owner back at the boat (he was fishing) and he said it is very much open.  We did not expect to find restaurants in Port Resolution, Tanna.

You will encounter loads of cows, some pigs, a few happy locals and beautiful settings no matter which direction you explore.

Across the bay are several hot pools spewing steam and smoke.  We had to go investigate.  

It was a super amazing first day on the island of Tanna.  We are so excited to be in Vanuatu and we look forward to sharing our experiences with you.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred during the end of May.  Did you read about our passage from New Zealand to Vanuatu in our last blog post?

Answer the Call of Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean nation made up of roughly 80 islands that stretch 1,300 kilometers.  It is tiny in comparison to most countries but it is packed full of amazing one-of-a-kind experiences.

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Vanuatu faces frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  But despite this, it ranks as the happiest place in the world in 2024. The ranking is based on self-reported well-being scores, life expectancy, GDP per capita and carbon footprint.  The Happy Planet Index noted factors like tight-knit communities, a peaceful political system, and a serious stance on environmental issues as some of the reasons Vanuatu came out on top.

We are entering the Vanuatu Island chain in the south end at Tanna.  We will go further south to Anatom/Mystery Island after we clear into the country.  Then we will make our way North/West to the other islands.

WWII History

During World War II, Allied military bases were established on the islands of Éfaté and Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. While the Solomon Islands experienced both land and sea battles, Vanuatu was spared from much of the actual fighting.  Remnants of WWII were left in Vanuatu as a stark reminder of the tragedy that struck this beautiful country.  One of the most famous wrecks is the Wreck of the Coolidge in 1942 which is now a very popular dive site.

Many fabulous things to do in Vanuatu.  Here is a list of the top 20 adventures.  We plan to see a lot, but we our primary goal is to hike Mt. Yasur, swim with the dugongs, witness the land diving, enjoy a few blue holes, and dive the wreck Coolidge.

Because we just arrived, the photos below came from other sources, but rest assured, we will take our own photos of each experience.

Mt. Yasur

Vanuatu is most known for of the worlds most accessible active volcanos, Mt. Yasur.  You can get as close as 150m of the crater and its spewing lava.  This volcano stands 361m above sea level and is 400m in diameter.  Matt and I plan to visit this amazing volcano during our visit in Tanna, so stay tuned for that blog post.

Image taken by AlluringWorld.com

Image taken by AlluringWorld.com

Land diving  

Vanuatu is said to be the originator of bungee jumping — but they call it land diving.  This is a right of passage for men and is only held during a few months out of the year on the island of Pentecost.  Men tie vines to their ankles and leap off platforms to show their manhood. We specifically came to Vanuatu to see this act of bravery.

Image provided by freedictionary.com

Image provided by freedictionary.com

Blue Holes

Vanuatu has more freshwater blue holes than any other place in the world.  Found hidden amongst the lush emerald rainforest, these iridescent blue holes are a direct result of Vanuatu’s unique geology. When it rains, water from the islands’ volcanic mountains flows underground into limestone caves, which corrodes the limestone and creates underground streams. Eventually, these streams resurface as freshwater springs, or what we know as the blue holes. The waters in these blue holes are incredibly clear, creating a dazzling luminescent effect that seems almost too perfect to be natural.

Dugongs

I’ve always had a soft spot for manatees but have never had the opportunity to see one.  In Vanuatu, they have the manatee’s cousin called the Dugong.  They look remarkably similar, yet they are very different. My goal is to find a few and swim with them in their natural environment.

Image provided by Smithsonianmagazine.com

Image provided by Smithsonianmagazine.com

14 Facts You May Not Know About Vanuatu:

  1. Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of about 83 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, located about 1,750 kilometers east of northern Australia.
  2. Vanuatu was known as the New Hebrides before gaining independence from joint British-French rule in 1980.
  3. Vanuatu is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, with over 100 indigenous languages spoken across its islands.
  4. The official languages are Bislama (a creole language), English, and French.
  5. The capital and largest city is Port Vila, located on the island of Efate.
  6. Vanuatu is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and has several active volcanoes, including Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, which is one of the world’s most accessible active volcanoes.
  7. Vanuatu is known for its rich cultural heritage, including the annual Nagol (land diving) ritual on Pentecost Island, which is considered a precursor to modern bungee jumping.
  8. Vanuatu’s population is approximately 300,000 people, with a mix of Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian heritage.
  9.  The economy is primarily based on agriculture, tourism, and offshore financial services.
  10. Vanuatu’s traditional music features bamboo flutes, drums, and slit gongs, with lively dances and songs accompanying various ceremonies and celebrations.
  11. Kava, a traditional drink made from the root of the kava plant, is widely consumed in Vanuatu. It plays an important role in social and ceremonial occasions.
  12. Vanuatu has been ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world.  This despite its economic challenges, due to strong community ties and a rich cultural life.
  13. The island of Espiritu Santo was a major military base during World War II. Remnants of the war, including shipwrecks and military equipment, can still be found there.
  14. The country has several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Chief Roi Mata’s Domain, which is significant for its cultural and historical importance.

Come along with us as we explore this spectacular country called Vanuatu.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occurred around the first of June.  Did you read about how we got here?  Check out our post “6 days at sea.

6 Days at Sea

Matt and I left Marsden Cove Marina on a beautiful day.  We cleared out with Customs and had to leave immediately after fueling.  No time to dilly dally.  The passage from NZ to Vanuatu was scheduled to 8 days according to Predict Wind (using our customized boat polars).  Ugh…being at sea is my least favorite part of being a cruiser/sailor.  Sounds ridiculous right? But we are only at sea about 20% of the year and the other 80% is truly enjoyable.

Our first day started out rather nice. We had consistent, medium strong winds (18-20kts) on the beam with a 1m swell both coming from the SW.  Pushing us along really nicely.  In fact on the first 24 hours we averaged 8kts and we made the elusive 200nm day.

Alas, it is still super cold so I find myself bundled up and hiding from the wind.  A few of you have inquired as to what we are wear during these cold and chilly passage days at sea.  Long under garments (merino wool), pants, and my foul weather overalls (plus socks and rain boots). On top I have 2 merino wool long sleeve shirts, a jumper (sweater), and my foul weather jacket plus ear coverage.  Matt has long undergarments, jeans, 2 shirts and his dry suit on.

The moon is almost full and lighting our way at night which is lovely.  

First Breakage

Day 2 found our first breakage.  Our pretty new Harken jib car lost a nut and the piece broke off.  We had to do a “make-shift” solution until the sun came out and we could fix it properly.  Of course our jib sheet is under a lot of pressure as the wind is howling!

There is a lot of pressure on the working jib sheet which then gets transferred to the jib car.  Now she has a backup line in case she decides to quit on us again.  Which she did the following night.

With so many storms came lots of rainbows and even a moonbow at night.  Night 2.

Night 2 at sea

Night 2 at sea

Doing our daily dance with the squalls all night.  At least it is a full moon so we can see to the horizon and prepare ahead of time.  The two photos on the right are from sunset night 3 and the one on the left is the beautiful moon at daybreak on day 4.

Day 5 at Sea

Somewhere in the early evening of night 4 we lost the wind and could not find it anywhere.  We knew this was coming as it was on our weather models but it still was a bit disappointing.  We had such great conditions and boat speed for almost 3 days.  Running the motor has its pros and cons.  Pros: still gives us forward movement and it gives us a good night shifts as you don’t have to worry about constantly trimming the sails.  Cons: it is loud, vibrates the boat, costs money and we don’t go as fast as when there is wind in our sails.

We flew both our 125m2 and 175m2 parasails to see if they could fly in the light winds and the answer was not really.  So not even enough wind to keep our light sails full.   This is our brand new ISTEC Parasail and she is gorgeous!

Day 6-6.8

The wind tried to come up several times.  Each time we would unfurl the genoa bring back the engine and give it a whirl.  It would last for a few hours and then the wind would disappear again.  This went on until our last night.

On our last night the wind picked up!  At first we thought it was a massive squall but to be honest we were not sure.  We were seeing 30-35kts of wind and 3.5 meter seas.  Absolutely horrible conditions.  We really wanted to arrive after day break so we kept furling the genoa (the main was already down).  Finally around 3am we rolled up the genoa and turned on the engines and kept them in neutral and we were still making 6kts! Crazy.

We had all of our equipment on using them for navigation into this new pass.  (2) iPads, (2) computers, Garmen, B&G, and my phone.  Each had a different chart of the same area.  This ensured we stayed safe and off the reefs.  Lucky for us, the winds calmed to 20-25 kts and the seas came down to 1.5-2 meters.  We had a safe entrance and are anchor down.

Vanuatu

Port Resolution is on the island of Tanna.  It is famous for Mt. Yasur a very active volcano.  As we approached the island we could see the bright red and plumes which was so very cool.  On the top photo you will see the volcano and the little nook (far right) where we anchored.

Passage Stats:

  • Total Moving Time:      6.8 days (marina to anchorage)
  • Total Miles Sailed:      1,030 (only had a 17nm cross track)
  • Estimated Miles:         1,013
  • Max Speed:                 14.7
  • Average Speed:            6.4 (first 3 days average speed was 8kt)
  • Sails Used:                  Working sails (main & genoa), 125m2 & 175m2 parasail
  • Hours Motors:            Port: 30 hours & Starboard:  34 hours

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual events. This passage at sea took place the  few weeks in May.  In our last blog post you can read about formalities clearing out of NZ and clearing into Vanuatu.