Day 104, Year 2: Day 4 of Passage to Vanuatu
Date and Time: Monday, August 6, 2007; 1800 Fiji Time
Weather: Winds SE 5-7 Knots; Another Sunny Day with Temps in the Upper-70’s
Latitude: S 19 degrees 20.872 minutes
Longitude: E 170 degrees 26.733 minutes
Miles to Go: 53.9 (We have come 428.)
Location: Passage from Lautoka, Fiji to Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
We have certainly had a mix of sailing conditions on this passage. We had a blustery start, followed by a great downwind run yesterday, and today almost no wind. We are motoring on flat seas, and although we would rather be sailing, we are enjoying the quiet time. We are anticipating arrival in Vanuatu tomorrow morning, but already we can see one of the out islands–Futuna. It looks like a volcanic cone with the top flattened and it is just a few miles ahead to port. Sometime while we were in
Fiji, a boat that we had met in Tonga was lost on the reef off Futuna. The captain and crew survived, but the boat was lost. We are giving this island wide berth. One little mistake out here and you can lose it all, so you have to be constantly vigilent.
The more we read about the culture in Vanuatu, the more we are intrigued. We will arrive in Port Resolution on Tanna Island tomorrow. This is one of the southern most islands in the chain. Captain Cook arrived in Port Resolution in the 1700’s and named the bay for his ship the HMS Resolution. He was drawn to Tanna because of the active volcano there, Mt. Yasur, but he was never allowed to climb to its rim. I would say that he was just lucky not to be eaten. Cannibalism was rife in Vanuatu at
that time, but somehow he and his crew got away. Today there are more than twenty languages spoken on Tanna, with the pigeon English/French Bislama being the equalizer. I’ll just have to keep saying, “Me no save.” That means “I don’t understand.” Somehow I’m sure we’ll figure out how to communicate. Tanna’s population is divided into thirds–one-third Presbyterian, one-third cargo culture, and one-third kastom (custom) culture. The John Frum culture is most interesting. Sometime in the 1930’s
a man named John Frum (from the United States) visited Tanna. He was a black man and he told the people to reject the teachings of the missionaries and return to their original lifestyle. During World War II, black US soldiers in Luganville became the ideal for these people. The black soldiers had all of the things that come with modern life, and the John Frum villages still fly the US and Naval Ensign Flags and are awaiting the second coming of John Frum. The kastom people live according to
old traditional culture. Some say kastom means that the people run around naked, and that is basically true. The men wear a leaf penis sheath attached to a highly decorated belt. The women wear only a grass skirt. And then there are the Presbyterian women in the Mother Hubbard dresses. Add to this that we will be able to visit the world’s most accessible active volcano that nightly throws up car-sized boulders, and Tanna sounds like a most “interesting” destination.
We just finished talking to White Swan, Maggie Drum, and Ranger on the radio. White Swan and Maggie Drum will arrive in Tanna 24 hours after our arrival. We will arrive early tomorrow morning and then the explorations will begin. I have been spending a great deal of my time today cooking fresh vegetables in the hopes that they will not be taken from us if they are cooked. We are not sure about the frozen meat. Hopefully, they will not take that. I’ll have a full report tomorrow night on what
it is like to check-in in Tanna. Check-in means taking a truck across the island to Customs, and that in itself should be quite an adventure.