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Fiji – Vanuatu

Chris and I arrived back at the Vuda Point Marina which is just out of Latouka, with my teeth issues sorted to what they can be until I return to Australia at the end of the voyage. Greg had been great whilst I was gone and organised some work that needed to be done so that we were all sorted and ready to go. We did some provisioning and with no wind set off under motor for the Monterey resort on the Island of Nanuya Balavu Island. We anchored in the bay and went to shore to find out what the best way to see the Monterey’s that are known to hang out in the pass just north Drawaqua Island. The staff of the Monterey Resort told us that we wouldn’t see any Monterey’s as they had not been around for about a week or so. We decided to just hang out in this tranquil bay for a day and enjoy this small resort’s facilities.

Most of the islands in the Yasawa group have at least one resort on them. these are predominantly accessed by either a cruise ship, shuttle or sea plane.

About 8:00pm the wind shifted to the south east and came up to 15 knots, blowing straight into the bay! This made for a very rocky night that was not very comfortable so in the morning we decided to find another anchorage on the leeward side of the islands for better. This led us to the North West side of Waya. Here we found a very nice anchorage sheltered anchorage right in front of a small village. As soon as we anchored a young boy paddled out in his small canoe to offer us a PawPaw. We traded some fish hooks and a couple of sinkers for this and had a nice chat. He led us back to the village in the dingy and showed us where the chief was sitting. We set about doing Sevu Sevu with the chief as the usual greeting and acceptance

tradition. The only problem was we had not had the opportunity to acquire any Kava. So I presented the chief with four new baseball caps at which he looked at with obvious disdain and said “Where is Kava!” I said I’m sorry but we have just arrived in Fiji and haven’t had the opportunity to acquire some Kava. At which the chief grunted. “Must have kava!” I again apologised and asked him if there was anything else he might like that we would have. The chief asked if we had any fish…. No we just ate the last of our fish…….thinking I remembered that we did have some prawns in the freezer so I suggested this and he agreed for me to bring him some prawns of which we did. Needless to say the next time we were at the markets we got some Kava.

Juan, Brianne and Kurt got a guided tour up to the top of the nearby mountain, while Greg, Chris and I relaxed on the boat and visited with the other yachties in the bay.

The next day we headed back to Vuda Point Marina so that we could go to the airport to pick up my sister Nancy, my son Jordan and Greg Tom. With them securely aboard we headed off to Musket Cove Marina. This was about a five hour sail away but again we had no wind and motored the whole way. Musket Cove turned out to be a great place to let the new crew settle in. It was a quite small marina that held only about 10 boats and was right next door to a very good resort! This allowed us to have a couple of lazy day riding bicycles and swimming in the resort pool with a swim up bar….

Chris’s time in Fiji had come to an end so we headed back to Vuda Point to see her off on a plane back to Australia. We set off the next morning to do some more exploring of the Yasawa Island group. Starting back at the same anchorage on the North West side of Waya as a first stopping point and then headed up to Blue Lagoon. As we got closer to Blue Lagoon the wind picked up to 20 knots and not long before we arrived we decided that the anchorage was going to be untenable and headed back towards Drawaqa Island and anchored on the west side. This gave us another opportunity to snorkel through the pass north of this island in the hopes of seeing Manterey’s. We set up a drift dive through the pass and this time were rewarded with two Manterey’s that swam right past Jordan, Greg and Nancy!!! Along with a white tipped reef shark. I was monitoring the group from the

dingy but managed to also get a glimpse of the Manterey’s and stuck my GoPro in the water just in time to capture them swimming past! What a great experience! We had dinner at the Manterey resort and headed off the next morning back to Vuda Point to get provisions and clear customs in preparation for our voyage to Tanna Island.

It was a four day voyage to Tanna of which mostly we experienced light winds and ended up motoring quite a bit. Then on the last day in the late afternoon the wind picked up to 25 knots and gusting to over 30 knots. This was quite an experience for Nancy being new to cruising. I must say she handled it very well and took it in her stride! We were trying to go slow so that we wouldn’t arrive before sunrise so this did make it a bit more comfortable. The wind

settled before dawn and allowed us to have a very pleasant approach to the well sheltered Port Resolution on the South East side of Tanna Island. You could see the glow from the volcano about 20 miles out. It is no wonder that Captain Cook was attracted to the island and landed in the very sheltered bay now called Port Resolution after his ship at that time.

We had not long anchored in Port Resolution when Stanley paddled out to us in his hand carved dug out outrigger canoe. This was the real deal done in the traditional fashion! He arranged the customs and immigration for us to come from the port of Lenekal on the West side of the island over to where we were to clear into Vanuatu. This is a two hour journey across some very rugged road that ranged from a very rutted and wet four wheel drive road,(which is impassable when it rains) to the ash plains of Mt Yassur to finally a sealed road for the last 30 kilometres. I know

because all transactions around Port Resolution including the fee to see the volcano at Mt Yassur was cash only and even though we had acquired some Vatu in Fiji to pay for this we worked out that we didn’t have enough, so arranged transport over to Lenekal where we could locate an Eftpos machine to get some more cash. This was quite an experience as our transport was a small duel cab truck and on the way back we picked up a couple more passengers so Jordan, Greg and I rode in the bed of the truck for the whole way back!

We spent three days in Port Resolution enjoying the relaxation, visiting the local village, the village restaurants which were quite small and quaint and only having one thing on the menu. We visited the beach and of course went

up to Mt Yassur. This was quite expensive as it cost us 10,000 vatu for the transport there and 7,500 Vatu each to pass through the park gates. But it was an experience of a lifetime! They firstly did a good luck ceremony consisting of a ritual dance to protect over us as we ascended the mountain. Then drove us most of the way up the volcano ending with a final ascent of around a kilometre to the top on foot. We arrived during the late afternoon and the power of the volcano became obvious very quickly! With eruptions ever few minutes some being quite small while others shot lava a hundred meters or so into the air! As the sun set and darkness fell this became all the more spectacular as a light show! We did have to brave the smell of sulphur and the occasional ash cloud hitting us but it was well worth is being an experience of a life time and definitely one of my personal bucket list!!!

The next morning we once again set sail on an overnight sail to Port Villa. We again had light winds, this time from directly behind so once again found ourselves motor sailing along. We arrived in Port Villa and went into our reserved birth at Yachting World Marina…..

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