Monday, June 06, 2011


Tanna is a very high volcanic island which appears to be constantly covered in cloud. Officially we are in the dry season but from our experience so far and from what the locals say, they rainy season hasn't really ended yet. The water tanks are full at least. We spent a day ashore doing the washing which is the last we will see of the fleece and icebreaker for a while. I think the locals were much amused at our feeble attempts at hand washing! The village at Port Resolution is mainly made up of thatched huts with only a couple of concrete buildings. Lots of chickens, pigs and dogs running around. Unfortunately a recent cyclone has destroyed a lot of the village crops particularly the bananas and the continued rain makes planting veges etc difficult. Citrus appears to be plentiful but other fresh food is scarce although we have managed to get some huge avocados.

Everything is arranged through the local chief, Stanley (although we suspect his sister Naomi may be the better organizer). There are two toyota utes based at the village, which are used for both tourist and local transport across to Lenakel and up to the volcano. If you are lucky you get to sit inside, if not you are in the back tray. The 'road' is a dirt track which is only negotiable by four-wheel drive and sometimes that seems marginal. Constant heavy rain has produced several washouts and I think it is a constant battle to keep the road passable. We were in the back for our trip up to the Mt Yasur, surrounded by locals and their shopping. One small boy (and Mike) thought it was hilarious every time Jim whacked his head on a bit of overhanging foliage. By the time we reached the entrance to the volcano, it was raining and low cloud obscured any actual view. We walked up to the top of a ridge where we stood in the rain listening to incredibly loud booms followed by an intense orange glow. It was quite eerie not being able to see anything. The next day we had another attempt at seeing Mt Yasur. After a very late start due to the late return of the ute from Lenakel (the road has got even worse) we headed off. Apparently the volcano was quite active so we were only allowed to go as far as a viewpoint halfway up the road. Just as we got out there was a burst of bright red sparks from the mountain. Some lumps of rock were glowing for quite a while. We stood and watched and saw a couple more showers of sparks and some orange glows. Eventually the cloud from the volcano and the obligatory rain cloud obscured the view and we headed home (in the rain).

At Tanna we went for several snorkels and two dives. We were very impressed with the coral. On the reef nearer the yacht there are lots of large formations of all sorts of different kinds of soft coral, not very colourful, but lovely shapes including flower coral which we haven't seen before. The reef off the sandy beach has more colourful hard corals and more anemone fish per square meter than we have seen before. The two dives were both excellent with good vis on the second on a beautiful reef with lots of colourful fish and I even spotted a shark.

In total we spent about a week at Port Resolution before moving on to explore more of Vanuatu...and find some sunshine!


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