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Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu, June 3rd-7th 2007 (by Bart)
This crossing started as often. Lots of swell, strong wind, sea sick and uncomfortable. You ask yourself why do I do this? But the second day everything was already a lot better and the third day whooaa everything is forgotten and it's all clear again, this is very special! Welcome in Tanna, Vanuatu.
From far you could see the smoke coming from Mt Yasur Volcano. When we got closer, we saw the small bamboo and palm huts on the beach next to the entrance of Port Resolution, named after the ship of James Cook who dropped his anchor here once.
One boat "Argus' was anchored in the well protected bay, just behind the volcano. Port resolution, is actually 7 small villages where they live very traditionally. This is about as far away from play station, television as you can get. Everybody lives from the nature where they get their food , building materials, firewood and water.
I talked to one of the villagers about there houses. They build their house in a few weeks time. Almost everything comes out of the jungle, except some nails. The roof is made from woven palm leafs, which they have to renew every 3 years. So in a few weeks time they own a house. In the modern world the average citizen works and pays for his 'own' house about half his life. So you can ask yourself, who is wealthy and who is not?
The first morning we pumped up our boat and had to go right away with some other yachties to the others side of the island to clear in at customs and immigration. This was a spectacular trip with the only 4*4 the village owned. There is one road going from Port Resolution to Lenakel, a rough unpaved track going through the forest, past the volcano and over the mountains to the other side. This trip took us all day. While we were there to clear in, we had a chance to visit the local market and buy a load of fruits.
The next day we went to see chief Ronnie ( see below) and his village. At night we ate with our boat friends from 'Argus' and 'Wings and Strings' in a tiny 'restaurant' ( read small hut with oil lamp) on the beach next to the village. Lea prepared us a local dish with yam, sweet potato, green bananas, wild chicken and some other unidentified veggies. The food was very good and tasty, and there was a special atmosphere.
While I had a bike ride up the mountain. Dagmar and Soleil visited once more the village to see how the women weave the mats and baskets. I found that a bike is even more of a highlight on this island, than a car. Every village I came through I had 30 kids running with me as far as they could.
At night we visited the Mt Yasur volcano. Another jungle trip with the 4*4, all the way up to the rim of the crater. There we could see inside this explosive volcano. You could see the lava down in the crater and every few minutes there was an explosion, sometimes small, sometimes terrifying loud.
First a pressure wave than a big bang and than the lava was flying high up in the air , sometimes passing by real close.
Port Vila, Efate Island, Vanuatu, June 8th-11th 2007 (by Dagmar)
After leaving Tanna we had to do another customs clearing in Port Vila on Efate Island. We bought fruits and veggies on the local market, which is always well stocked on Saturdays. The bustling market is located in downtown Port Vila. Ni-Vanuatu women in their brightly colored 'Mother Hubbard' dresses sell fresh fruit and veggies from Efate's many villages. In town you will see several local artworks on the walls. We had an excellent high speed internet connection in the cyber cafe, so we could update our website.
Lamen Bay, Epi Island, Vanuatu, June 12th-13th 2007 (by Dagmar)
On our way to Ambrym, we stayed for a day at Lamen Bay on Epi Island. The bay is home to several dugongs (sea cows) and they are known to swim with snorkellers. We could see their backs from the boat, so they were in the bay, but we didn't see them snorkeling. The people on Lamen Island are daily paddling with their canoes over to Epi Island and were often using 'sails' to cross faster.
After leaving Epi we past the active volcano island of Lopevi, followed in the channel by a school of dolphins.
Ranon and Ranvetlam, Ambrym Island, June 13th-15th 2007 (by Dagmar)
Ambrym is first and foremost the 'black' island because of its volcanic ash and its 'black' magic steeped in mystery. In the villages the ancient customs play a significant part in day to day living. The 'Man blong Majik', the sorcerers, are treated with utmost respect and practice sorcery and magic beyond all imaginings. The twin volcanoes Mt. Marum and Mt. Benbow build an enormous central caldera, which is totally devoid of vegetation.
The island is often devasted by cyclones and the eruptions of the volcanoes have wiped out whole villages.
Ambrym is famous for its magnificent tamtams, slit gongs, sculpted out of tree trunks.
They are the most impressive items of art in Vanuatu. The dancing areas in the traditional villages are decorated with this slit gongs, made out of the bread fruit tree trunk, planted in the ground, which can measure several meters high. They are used to beat the rhythm for the singing and dancing during ceremonial rituals. Therefore we sailed to the anchorage of Ranon, where we visited the village. This village and the neighboring village of Ranvetlam are known for their exceptionally fine carvings in wood, stone and fern tree.
The trail in-between the villages is lined by huge banyan trees. At the entrance of Ranvetlam we were greeted and shown around. We met the local wood carver, bought one of his Rom-Tamtams and had the possibility to see and here the tamtams at their ceremonial ground in the middle of the village. The sound the slit gongs out of the trunk of the breadfruit tree are making is amazing. On our way back to the village of Ranon we traded rope for fruits and veggies and a mask. They needed the rope for their horse.
Homo Bay, Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, June 15th-16th 2007 (by Dagmar)
Pentecost Island is particularly well-known nowadays for its land-diving (Nagol), which is one of the most impressive rituals in the whole Pacific and celebrates the annual yam harvest in the month of April and May. Pentecost men take this jump in memory of Tamalie, victim of his wife's cunning. According to custom, the men fertilize the earth upon touching it with their shoulders. The first jump was initiated by Tamalie's wife who refused to consummate the marriage and ran away, with her husband in hot pursuit. Endeavoring to escape from him, she climbed on top of a banyan tree, then threw herself into the void when her husband tried to grab her. Tamalie followed her down, but killed himself on landing, whereas she got up unscathed, having tied herself to vines by her feet. Ever since the custom has been a man's prerogative. Every year the men in the South of Pentecost build a huge tower made of vines and timber around a tree with its branches lopped off. The tower can reach up to 35m.
In Homo Bay we met Sam and his two children. We showed interest in seeing one of the towers, so he offered to show us a land diving tower. We followed him for 1/2 hour thru the jungle, crossing small streams, until we reached a clearing.
The last days we had lots of rain. All the trails were really muddy. Our slippers got stuck many times. We figured out that the land diving nowadays is foremost a tourist attraction and lost the ritual background. Sam offered to jump for us for U$ 400.-, but that's totally out of our budget.
Bart followed a school of dolphins in the bay.
Waterfall Bay, Melsisi, Pentecost Island, Vanuatu, June 16th-17th 2007 (by Dagmar)
Upon entering the bay of Melsisi you could see the waterfall in the distance, carrying a lot of water due to the heavy rainfalls of the last days. Isaac, a local from the nearby copra plantation guided us to the falls.
Asanvari, Maewo Island, Vanuatu, June 17th-19th 2007 (by Dagmar)
Right away after breakfast we left the bay in Melsisi. It was a very calm day for sailing, so one in a while we had to motor towards the island of Maewo. More then halfway we spotted a huge school of dolphins, more then hundred...As we got closer, they left jumping westwards...
Asanvari is the first bay you see coming from Pentecost and heading north along the coast of Maewo. We heard already from other yachties, that this anchorage is one of the favorite in whole Vanuatu.
Ashore we got greeted by chief Nelson. His granddaughter Leah showed us around in the village. In the center of the village, like in most villages you will find the 'nakamal', the village clubhouse or clan hut, where men meet to talk, manage village affairs and drink kava, but nowadays in some villages women are welcome, too.
The people were very friendly and we felt welcome right away. Lush green vegetation surrounds the anchorage, a beautiful waterfall close by to have a nice refreshing swim... The people here live in a paradise....
At 7am the next morning Christopher Columbus, the baker, passed by LUNA in his dugout canoe with fresh warm bread, later Leah and Naomi came with papayas. We felt fortunate.
Their canoe filled up quickly with water while they were on board LUNA. The coconut shell was not big enough to scoop it out, the bucket too big, so Naomi while entering the canoe lost balance and went for a swim.
But the girls were in good mood, still giggling and laughing, leaving to collect pandanus leaves for weaving baskets and bags. After finishing school for the day, we took Soleil for a hike thru the village and up the waterfall.
The trail was really slippery and muddy, due to the amount of rainfall in the past days. As we heart, the island receives the highest rainfall in Vanuatu. In the afternoon Bart gave shoes to Chief Nelson and arranged a night dive with his son Nixon to catch lobster. He came home with 3 big ones, yummy........
Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu, June 21st-23rd 2007 (by Dagmar)
On the way to Waterfall Bay we stayed overnight at Sola, the capital of the Banks Islands, but the anchorage was so rolly that we were happy to leave early the next morning for Waterfall Bay on the western coast. The Banks and Torres Islands are the northernmost islands of Vanuatu, 180 km south of the Solomon Islands, not very well known, but are reputed for the friendliness and warmth of their inhabitants and the beauty of their surroundings. In Waterfall Bay two magnificent waterfalls, the Sasara Falls, cascade down from the top of the rocks into a beautiful natural pool, close to the sea.
The bay is inhabited by four families, each family living in their own cove. Upon anchoring in the bay we got greeted by family members in canoes offering veggies and fruits. Chief Kerely Malau, upon our arrival at shore, sang for us with his whole family and his wife Elizabeth put Hibiscus flowers behind our ears. They are living on the left side of the falls and he owns the small yacht-club.
We had a refreshing swim in the pool of the falls and went after for a visit to see the family of Chief Jim Edword on the right side of the falls.
On Saturday evening Kerely's wife Elizabeth cooked for us freshwater prawns and crayfish with rice. The boat crews of "Zwerver" and "Scorpidio" joined us at the feast. Soleil and I could have a look into Elizabeth's kitchen.
Before we left, Janet, Kerely's and Elizabeth's daughter, visited us with her canoe at the LUNA.
Ureparapara Island, Banks Islands, Vanuatu, June 23rd-25th 2007 (by Dagmar)
Ureparapara Island, an old volcano no longer active in the shape of a horse shoe opening out into the ocean, offered for us the unique opportunity of going right into the heart of a crater by boat.
The sailing trip was very rough and with the waves getting right into the bay we were not sure upon approach, if we could anchor safe in the middle of the crater. "Zwerver" right in front of us went first and their boat was dancing roughly on the high seas. But we saw a boat already lying in the anchorage, so we went for it and we figured out that it was much quieter there. It still rolled a bit but not comparable to the anchorage in Sola days ago. The anchor got hold right away in the dark volcano mud. Strong gusts up to 30kn were blowing down from the crater rim, counter to the prevailing winds. But we felt safe in the bay.
Chief Nicholson was very happy about the two bundles of Fijian kava we had as a welcome present for him. He showed us around in the village, presented us to Andrew, the best wood carver on Ureparapara and showed us the football field.
Most of the boys and men are playing in the league. We were always followed by a lot of children. Not so many boats are coming to this anchorage. Soleil started playing football with Patterson, Morgan (the son of the chief) and the other boys from the village.
... grilled breadfruit....
On Sunday we could see two of their custom dances, The Dance of the Snake...
and The Dance of Toba... also called 'the dance of the chief'...Toba, short for the province of the Torres and Bank Islands...
We left Laroup Bay, the anchorage in the volcano, on June 26 to continue our journey to the Solomon Islands...
Last modified: September 02, 2008