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New Hebrides but with no hint of Scotland

June 18th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Giselle is not the first sailing ship to arrive here, there are reports of a certain Captain Cook sailing in in 1774 and named the bay after his ship, Resolution.  Still today Port Resolution offers good anchorage for yachts

.  Tanna is Vanuatu’s second most popular island to visit, main reason, it has an active volcano .   First things first though, we have a yellow flag flying so need to check in with the usual customs immigration and health, all of which are in Lenakel, that is a two hour truck trip .  Stanley arranges our truck for the morning , Kirsty, Andy and David leave at seven for the bone rattling off road experience.  I on the other hand have a tidy up, wash up, blow ballons up, feet up then wait up, we have a Andy’s birthday to celebrate.  They arrive with supplies , Tanna beef and veg, off road stories and talk of ice cream.


, had given us a tour of his village, and told us of the no go areas for women, he showed us the house that was being build for his brother, the beach, the coffee shop, and we organised the outing to the volcano, leave mid afternoon back late. He apologised for the cost but that the government had put the tax up. Nothing new there then. What we couldn’t guess was that the next day when we were already for the trip was that one of the two trucks returning from Lenakel had got stuck and the other had something else to do, so we’ll go tomorrow then? Vanuatu time, Stanley often asked us what time we would like to meet, agree then say “well I don’t have a watch, but I’ll see you then.”  Sure enough he would always turn up, if he wasn’t in bed or making the tea. What else do you drink in Tanna but Tanna coffee, which was good, very good, where can we buy it, Port Villa where it is roasted.  Mental note – find roasting house when in Port Villa.

The route to the volcano is on mud roads, at the side there are often sticks showing the edges

, ok in light whats it going to be like in the dark?  The track rises into lunar landscape, black ash with steam oozing out the cracks . The truck parks, we are given our health and safety talk, when you hear an eruption, dont run, look up. We were shown a lump of lava on the path,”that wasn’t here yesterday” Up the path to the rim, Yasur hisses rumbles and spits constantly erupting in minor explosions. The slopes are scattered with boulders, views into the crater have steam and black ash seething, throwing up rocks and molten lava, depending on the wind we are smothered with the sulpur fumes. As darkness came the sights were even more impressive the red rocks like uncontrolled fireworks threw themselves high into the sky . The raw energy was amazing, the sounds frightening and the fumes choking all in all fantastic and not to be missed.

We leave Tanna and head for the island of Efate and Port Villa, the capital.  Like all capitals busy, noisy but it does have some of the things we want, like iced coffee for Kirsty, internet and shops.  The coffee roasting house is not far away by boat so we up anchor and move into the heaviest rain we have seen for some time, it was painful, and very wet and who was putting the anchor down in this? Can’t really complain it was also very warm.  Next day we are off ashore for our wanderings, saying hello to the very friendly locals, and finding the coffee house

. They just don’t produce enough to export to UK. Which is a great shame as it is rather good coffee.

We have deadlines to keep so, up and away again, next anchorage provides opportunity to sail Mouse (dinghy) and swim, and for some to visit the little bar on the beach.  Epi is our next island where in Lamen Bay there is supposedly a friendly dugong well I’m sure he’s been there, but one visiting guest on the beach had been waiting on him for a week and nobody had seen him, maybe tomorrow? I think the dugong gone gone. Kirsty and Andy make an escape to a little island off shore for walk

. The village on Epi is small and sleepy, most folk tend their garden during the day, which may be some distance away .

Around the reef in the morning and a long day sail into Makeluka, our arrival attracts the attention of the chief

and them some of the local men who come out by canoe. We trade for bananas, and are invited to the village in the morning. The shore party are waiting for us, the kids are on holiday from school and all enjoy the ballons . They have their own homemade toys, the wooden car wheel that drives two little wheels, great fun along the concrete path . They all want to know your name where you come from and how old you are.  Some are very shy, always polite though.  David goes off with the chief to see if he can mend Elder Willys solar panel light, unfortunately this time not, some of his little jobs work some don’t, when they do though there is great happiness and often for us the reward of fruit or veg. like the fishermen from Port Resolution who had trouble with their outboard, they left us very happy and at great speed. We sat and chatted were offered the chance to snorkel by the buoy as long as we donated some money to the village. Snorkelling was indeed good, lots of fish,  good coral and giant clams.

Leaving at first light gives us a full day to get to Espiritu Santo and Luganville. In May 1942 more than 100,00 US servicemen arrived and built a city as a base, with air strips, ship yards, hospitals, 40 picture houses and all the rest. Oct 1942 the luxury liner President Coolidge arrived carrying 5000 marines, unfortunately no one told the Captain about the US mines that had been laid. The site is now world famous with divers, as most of the ship is still intact. Another tourist attraction set up by the Americans is Million Dollar point, that is where you can snorkel and see guns, jeeps, tanks and the likes in just a few meters of water,the fish here are probably as good as they get as an added bonus. So why is all this expensive equipment here? After the war, the local planters refused an American “giveaway offer price” thinking they would get it for nothing, the Americans equally stubborn, built a slipway and drove it all off, now it lies littering and rusting on the sea floor. The people of Vanuatu could really use the equipment now, great waste. The good news for us though, we have a great snorkel.

The resort manager, where we leave our dinghy to go ashore is very happy to see yachties, they have the usual laundry service, bar, cocktails and food including pizza, makes a change from fresh veg and fantastic beef. Market in Luganville open six days a week, 24/6. We still cant quite work out when the best time to go is, best bet just now Fridays. You go to see what there is rather than go with a shopping list. Always lots of greens, coconuts, taro and sweet potato, bingo if you hit the aubergines, peppers, pineapples, huge advocados at less than 50p and tomatoes. If you time it right you can have one of the best meals in Santo at the sheds, just beside the market.

Time now to organise a taxi, a trip to the airport, sending Kirsty and Andy off on the rest of their travels. Having them with us from New Zealand was just great, and made me so happy, the extra crew meant shorter watches, and always willing hands for cooking, washing and jobs was such a bonus. We will miss you both. Happy travels. PS Kirsty your computer’s quite neat when did you want it back?

Link to photos

Tags: Friends & Family · Pacific Leg

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 kirsty and andy // Jun 21, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Great to read over our fantastic trip, made us laugh.
    im dreaming of the tanna coffee. Indonesian coffee, has a nice flavour, they just dont seem to think filtering it is a good idea. they make it like instant but with ground coffee! the art of letting it sit and slowly sipping before you get a mouthful of dregs is coming on quickly.

    glad to hear you are getting the use of my comp, dont get too used to it!!!!

  • 2 kirsty and andy // Jun 21, 2011 at 2:15 am

    ps. andy dragged me to another volcano in indonesia. Kelimutu – luckily this one isnt as active, so i was way less scared! It has 3 lakes of different colours, one a turquoise colour – very pretty at sunrise. no looking in the air at the thought of death by molten rocks!

  • 3 Glenys // Jun 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Hello from the Scottish Hebrides!!! We are enjoying a few days in North Harris. Don’t have anything like your stories to tell though!
    All the best to Kirsty and Andy as they continue their adventures.