|Fi McCarva - the ships assistant cook gives
us her impression of the voayge from Vanuatu to New Caledonia:
Wed 26/9 - Erromango,
Arrived at Dillons Bay, west of Erromango
island en route to Tanna from Efate. Although we only had a half day, it was a welcome
break after a choppy night. Boats went ashore and villagers took crew on a leisurely walk
by the river to the fruit and veg gardens - each person has their own crop to look after.
Our guide pointed out taro, pineapple, sandalwood (which Erromango was once famous for)
and kauri trees which is a hardwood similar to mahogany. He then shimmied up a coconut
tree and cut open a young green coconut filled with creamy milk and gelatinous flesh. This
island was once renowned for cannibalism and the unfortunate missionaries had named it
Martyrs island but they were wonderful hosts.
Leaving Erromango in the late afternoon, a shout went out
dolphins on the bow and sure enough there were 30 or so swimming alongside,
silhouetted against the yellow afternoon sun. Some with young, some jumping each wave with
a kick of the tail, others catching the surf.
Thurs 27/9 - Tanna, Vanuatu
Anchored at Port Resolution (Cook anchored here in 1774) early in the morning and crew
went ashore to take advantage of the cooler morning. Outrigger canoes were out fishing in
the bay and kids were walking the beach picking black berries that tasted of liquorice.
The famous dugong has since died and its skeleton is housed on the beach. The yacht club
sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the bay and a small Western gravestone from 1894 lies
close by, dedicated to ACP Watt (Misibran). We were met by Stanley whose father is
Assistant Chief Ronnie and he explained that this was a missionaries wife who didnt
believe in the power of the local belief system of kaston and one day a villager placed
one of her personal effects on a holy Tannese stone. She quickly became ill and died but
the story goes that she must have been a strong Christian as the stone cracked in two!
Nowadays the people in Port Resolution are Jon Frum Cargo Cult believers.
As we walked through the village, ladies were preparing
laplap in a hot rock oven and palm frond hats were being woven. The path to the beach
crossed a nakamal (custom place for men to congregate at sunset for kava drinking).
Stanley warned it was tabu for women to walk through after 3 in the afternoon.
Its said that Mt Yasur is one of the most
accessible volcanoes in the world and we were able to get a bush taxi to the
ash base which looked like the biggest carpark in the world! Another 100m and we were
walking the rim of the breathing volcano. It was very smoky but as it got darker, the glow
of red hot lava permeated the plumes of sulphur.
Back at the Port Resolution yacht club, the village put
on an amazing feast of chicken, fish, yam, taro, island cabbage and papaya. We were
welcomed into the village and each presented with a woven hat - the lady seen earlier had
made 30 hats in one day! For the remainder of the evening an informal band of guitarists
were accompanied by women and children and everyone was up dancing. Tanna has been my
favourite place so far and Id love to return.
Sun 30/9 - Grand Terre, New Caledonia
Arrived in Noumea after a wonderful 2 day sail from
Tanna. After customs clearance, the Soren sailed to Amedee island which has the worlds
largest iron lighthouse imported from Paris by Napoleon III. The island is riddled with
colourful sea-snakes and an adventure for the amateur snorkeller!
VOYAGE CREW RETURNING HOME: Scan and email
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