We departed New Zealand with a crew of 6 — 3 from Yap, 2 from Tahiti and a Fijian. After a bit of delay because of being held in by the weather, we were on our way on the 23rdof August. Estimated time to get to Port-Vila was set at 7 to 10 days.
Got off to a flying start with favorable winds to get us North. Sail plan was to drive North as fast as we could, then ride the tradewinds into the warm tropics towards Vila. 5 days out we were forced to head East as winds were forecasted to be hard out northerlies, not ideal at all. We took it on the chin and prepped ourselves for it by heading East of our North course line in anticipation of the northerlies. Before it had arrived we placed ourselves around 174’E and when it arrived, we tacked over and headed SW while trying our best to steer as close to the wind as possible. We lined up well, coming close to Matthew Island and Hunter Island, the SE Isles of New Caledonia. Passed right between them. I have crossed these ways many times, and it was my 1st time to lay my eyes on an island within New Caledonian territory. Mean, another cross off the list!
We bounced around in the northerlies and 2m swells for a good 36 hours until the wind eased and backed to the NW, then West and finally to the SW. Back in our favor we set up our sails and back on the rhumb line we ran at an average of 7kts. Vanuatu was drawing near. 8 days after leaving Aotearoa, we had Aneityum island in our sights (southernmost island in Vanuatu). We made it! Excitement all around, especially for our crews that are around these ways for the 1st time.
Next was Tanna island, one of my favorite stops to date, home of the most accessible active volcano in the world. Unfortunately no stopping here this time as time wouldn’t allow. We came as close as we could to Port Resolution, waved at our wantoks, and sighted the mighty Mount Yasur (volcano on Tanna island, 361 m high above sea level on the coast near Sulphur Bay). We watched the pumping as she does, took in a whiff of the volcanic smoke spewing out, and I shared a bit of what I knew of the place while we sailed by.
Currently passing Erromango island now before we make our turn for Pango Point, Efate island, our destination for this leg. A good sail with a good mix of crew. We shared a lot, learnt a lot, and even though we have been together for a while, we bonded even more as family rather than just fellow crew. A fulfilling sail for sure. We look forward to seeing our ni van voyaging whanau tommorow morning, and our fiji whanau who have now called Vanuatu their home.
Another run down in the history books. In the words of a great voyager and navigator, “you will never sail with the same set of crew again”. I will always have these memories etched in my mind for as long as I’m around – the good times, grumpy times and the ups and downs, and most of all the happy times, which is always.
Born to be here, born to voyage, the bound that keeps the fire burning within. Bless.
Blog post by Angelo Smith, Captain of Okeanos Messenger