Monday 18 May, 9.31pm (at Port Resolution)

The medical team put in a second good day of work today in the Lenakel region, seeing over 80 patients, leaving us to exit the rolly west coast anchorage and make our way around to Port Resolution where we will rendezvous with them on Wednesday afternoon.

Our trip around started at 7:00am this morning and was a straightforward affair – initially motoring into the SE wind of 15 knots and 2-3 metre swell, and then after a couple of hours we had the wind on our side, making for some lovely sailing. The sky was blue, the sea was even bluer and the lush green coast seemed to climb directly from the beach in a wild and untamed way. The ravines were deep and very rugged looking and every now and then a plume of grey/black smoke would appear from behind the mountain range; evidence of the active volcano (Mt Yasur) just a short distance away. Think Jurassic Park – that’s what the coastline looked like.

On the way around the bottom of Tanna the call went up, “FISH” as the hand line started racing out the back (we no longer talk about sea kittens, it’s putting the diners off) Will grabbed the line and started to slowdown the runout of line, while I grabbed the gloves. From the pull of the line Will felt it was bigger than the last fish and as the monster was brought aside and I tried to to get the net in place, it was clear, in this case … the net was really just a toy.

The next option was the gaff hook – something we’ve had on board for some time but never used. The day had come. There was no way Will could lift the fish on board, and even if he could I’m sure the dead weight would have straightened the hooks or broken the line. So leaning over the side next to Will I put the gaff where it’s supposed to go (I’ve seen those Albie Mangles outback adventure movies) and we jointly lifted the 1.35m long, 30kg Spanish Makeral aboard. This time I’d cleared away all loose items, the clothesline and solar water bag in anticipation of the landing, but I didn’t put the bucket to one side. One flick of its tail and the bucket will now need more than duct tape to put it back together. It was big and we even have photos to prove it.

On arrival at Port Resolution we anchored further upwind of the other 5 boats and set about having a late lunch. We were soon greeted by a few passing dug out canoes, all intent on catching their evening meal, some using nets, some using hand lines.

As Will began filleting our catch, one chap, floating in his canoe nearby asked, have you caught a fish. (Not a bad question, given that we’d used the same opener when we’d started our conversations with them) We held up the beast and it was clear this guy was impressed. He then asked “what are you doing with the head?” We said, “would you like it?” To which he paddled closer and said “that would be very good, we use it in soup.”

Seeing the size of the fish and the slab of meat we had cut from one side, Will and I agreed that it might be nice to cut the other side up into pieces and spread it amongst the canoes. This we did and it was very well received. We chatted a bit with the men in the canoes, and one guy asked if we needed anything, lemons, fruit? I said some bananas would be great, as the ones we bought in Lenakel were still green. He said he’ll be back tomorrow with bananas. So we now have a stack of new friends to add to the ones we acquired in Lenakel.

So tonight we dusted off the BBQ and cooked up some magnificent fish steaks. As they were cooking I said, “what’s it like raw?” Only one way to find out … so with lemon juice and soy sauce we gave it a go.

“Thanks, but no thanks” exclaimed Bob, “Maybe just a tiny bit” said Andrew. But after Will, Kathy and I gave glowing endorsements of the taste, Bob and Andrew relented. Even Bob was seen reaching for his third piece with the exclamation – “That’s really good” – another “Sailing First” for Bob.

By contrast to Lenakel, this is an amazing anchorage. The obvious difference is movement. At the moment it’s so still you could probably play snooker onboard. It’s hard to detect any movement whatsoever. I’ve mentioned the volcano nearby, but right here in the bay there are also steam vents which heat the water in places and send wafts of white smoke up through the bush at the edge of the bay and in places along the beach. The lush green 3000 foot mountain in the distance is sliced with deep ravines and strikes an imposing backdrop to the bay which is almost fully enclosed. As I think I’ve mentioned, Captain Cook sailed his ship, the Resolution, into here back in the 1770s. The bay is apparently shallower now than it was then – the product of volcanic uplift or some such thing. Makes me a bit nervous having an anchor that digs in so well. You get the feeling that if we make a hole too deep it might open up a steam vent – just a joke, no, that’s not going to happen!!

As we came up the coast, Andrew was looking at the chart and noticed there was an underwater trench a relatively short distance offshore that’s over 10,000 metres deep – 10 kilometres!

Once more it’s time to go to bed. All that sea air is making me sleepy. We had a call today on the satphone from Shelley and Robbo who run a breakfast radio show on the Christian channel Vision Radio. It was pre-recorded so it may find it’s way onto the airwaves this week sometime. Apparently they received a link to our website, from … “Jason Toppin, from Boronia (Knoxbrooke) in Victoria – he’s one of our regular listeners”.  So thank you Jason!! You’ll have to send us a comment on the website.

Another piece of news I promised I’d mention … on the beach late today we chatted with a chap, Jonathan, off the yacht Wakoa (I think that was it). He left New Zealand on 4 May and will be cruising around the islands for the next few months. We’re bound to see him again. He even offered to take any extra medical staff, if we didn’t have room aboard Chimere.

 

So that’s about all for now.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and may all anchorages be like Port Resolution

Rob