Friday, 3 July 2015

Tanna Island


 Thursday 25th June, Tanna

We left the marina at dawn in company with Haven 111 bound for Port Resolution on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, 160 miles away.

This was another bumpy and wet passage, best forgotten, and hopefully the last windward work of the trip. An easier route would have been to make our entrance at Port Vila further to the North but we wanted to go to Tanna to drop off most of the donated goods to the locals who had been hardest hit by Cyclone Pam in March this year and to visit the volcano.

Friday 26th June

There are two anchorages where you can clear customs at Tanna. The main one is Lanakel, the Capital on the west coast but this is normally a very rolly, shallow bay.

We chose Port Resolution on the NE tip of the island as this is a deep bay with good protection from the trades with little swell. It is also closest to the volcano. We had been emailing customs and had arranged for a customs agent and emigration agent to come to us. Willy from Immigration and Tiun from customs made the 2 hour trip over on the back of a truck to do our clearance.

Locals netting the jack Mackerel schools

Di with a one day old local
 Later in the day we had our first look at the village and were shown around by Johnson and his brother Stanley.

We were impressed by the persistence of the locals who spent many hours each day casting nets from their canoes into the bay to catch the small Jack Mackerel. These fish turn up for about a month each year but this year fortunately had been around for two months and are a great source of protein.

When cyclone Pam went through this island it not only destroyed a large part of their village buildings but also the slow growing root crops and bananas that they rely on for their basic diet. The Vanuatu government had been supplying basic food items such as rice, flour and sugar but this was to stop on the 30th June. As it will take many months for their traditional foods to regrow they have been supplied seeds for fast growing leafy vegetables such as beans, cabbages, Chinese style veges, tomatoes, corn and chillies. These have been planted under supervision from people from the local agricultural department in Port Vila and have grown like wildfire; the local people have taken to this new style of food supply with enthusiasm and even had enough to bring some as gifts to us. The rebuilding of their village is progressing well but the local guest huts built for the occasional tourist have all been destroyed and this source of income is sorely missed, as tourism has virtually stopped.

remains of the guest houses- just a slab and a hand basin!

damaged house -still being lived in
slow progress cleaning up
a new house under construction
We dropped off supplies to the local school and medical dispensary as well as some children’s clothing. Peter had a treat for the local kids with a big supply of old surfboards and boogy boards.
Surfboards donated by Haven 111
There is a white sand beach on the East coast near the Port Resolution village which has attracted a number of international surfers in the past and the local boys are getting into this sport so the boards were an unusual but very acceptable gift to the village.

Saturday 27th June

The day started with a long walk through two other villages to the hot springs which bubble up onto the beach in the SW corner of the bay. This water is so hot you can cook your veges in the rock pools and the local ladies also do their washing here. The bay has many hot water and steam vents compliments of the local volcano and the area is subject to violent seismic activity.

In 1928 the floor of the bay rose from a depth of over 10 metres to less than 5 metres and now prevents trading vessels from entering. The recent erosion of the surrounding hills during the cyclone has further reduced this depth and we could only access about the first third of the bay in Allusive.

Sunday 28th June

We pottered around the boat in the morning and made a couple of trips ashore in the early afternoon.

We had arranged with Stanley to visit the volcano (Mt Yasur) and in the late afternoon spent a bumpy 40 minutes in the back of a local truck driving over a bush track to get to the ash plain. It was then a steep hike to the rim of the volcano following our local guide Phillip. This was a once in a lifetime experience with the volcano rumbling underfoot and the lava being thrown up to 100 meters in the air not far from where we stood. The glow of the lava in the gathering dusk was better than any fireworks display we had seen.

The long walk up to the top
 This is a fairly popular natural attraction and people fly down from Port Vila regularly to see this awesome display. The OH&S is non-existent and it is a steep drop from the inside edge of the rim into the volcanoes maw on one side and just as steep on the outer side which is a long steep slope down the side of the mountain.

the viewing edge


The volcano is quietly erupting all of the time with the occasional big bang when the larva is thrown up higher than the top where we were standing but drops down safely inside the crater.
This guy had a drone with camera which he was flying over the crater. Luckily it wasn't shot down by flying larva! Note the long drop to the valley floor

Di and I were very impressed by the experience.




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