Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dancing with Pele on Tanna, Vanuatu

Hi there,

Madrona and crew have been for the last four days happily at anchor at Port Resolution on the island of Tanna, in Vanuatu. We had a slow overnight sail from Anatom, and as we approached Tanna the plume of steam and ash from Mt. Yasser drifted downwind above the island. We anchored and went into the village to see the lay of the land.

After doing some trading to make up some needed cash (the Vatu), we arranged to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle bring us up to the volcano on the evening of the 30th. It was mostly clear and with SE winds. The landscape here in Vanuatu is verdant and beautiful. Along the way the trees grew shorter and more windswept as we gained altitude. Steam rushed out of the soil along the road cuts.

Then the cone of the volcano revealed itself as the vegetation fell away, and the surrounding ocean stretched off in all directions. We parked and climbed up a steep pat to the rim of the crater. Actually the mountain has twin craters. A few other folks and ourselves (including Dennis and Nikki from S/Y Nauti Lady), stood transfixed as deep booms and rumbles punctuated by sharp exhalations of steam heralded a rush of lava high into the sky of the near crater.

In short, the experience was amazing. Dennis, Nikki, and I walked a half mile along the rim of the far crater and looked down into a boiling lava lake that constantly heaved and belched incandescent ropes and filaments high into the air. We were transfixed, despite chocking sulfur fumes and fine ash the got under our eyelids and penetrated clothing. Then one especially large blast sent lava arcing over our heads. Somewhat like a mouse must feel when an owl is swooping down for a kill, we watched the twisting and spinning red streaks and tried to determine which way to run. Lava landed where we have just walked and behind us. We decided then to rejoin the others at the westernmost crater.

As night fell lava shot high into the sky in violent fountains which fell back onto the crater's concave sides and gradually cooled to black. We had Tamsyn and Griffyn sit once darkness fell, and we were only a couple feet from the edge, and anyone that fell would roll all the way into the molten mouth of the volcanic pipe.

Needless to say we took lots of pictures and video. When we got back to the boat late that night we were tired and quite happy with the day. Each morning here outrigger canoes come out to the boat to see if we would like to trade anything for fruit of vegetables. We have made friends with many people in the village, ad Tamsyn and Griffyn especially love the baby fruit bat that one family is raising until it can fend for itself.

So all is well and we are starting to think about moving on northward. I will get some weather info tonight, and see where we are at with that. Everybody says hi.


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