Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stormy Day in Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

Stormy Day in Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

A cold weather front associated with a very large high moved across the island group yesterday. Strong winds and heavy rain buffeted the boat and kept us boat bound the majority of the day. Temperatures dropped to around seventy two degrees prompting a search for socks and blankets to warm bodies not accustomed to such chilly temperatures.

I awoke at six to listen to the Fiji radio net the "Rag" 8.173 mhz and to check with several boats just outside the bay who were waiting for morning light to enter Port Resolution. They were anxious to get into the bay as the conditions outside were lumpy with twenty five to thirty knots and it had been a long cold night of waiting.
Kathy rose to her normal routine of making coffee and a quick egg breakfast and then spent the morning reading up on Vanuatu and finishing a novel. I plunked away on the keyboard updating my blog and then went to work racking my batch of pineapple wine… more on this later. Around nine I'd completed all my planned tasks for the day and instead of bugging Kathy I started to think about making a grand lunch as the stormy weather continued outside. The best lunch idea seemed to be pizza so I set to work making the dough. Kathy did a stint on the computer catching up on email and then helped out with slicing up of vegetables for the pizza. The weather showed no signs of improving anytime soon so we enjoyed a afternoon movie with our pizza.

Around four the rain let up although the winds were still in the twenties and I was getting some cabin fever so we decided to head to shore. After dropping the dingy in the water we made the run to the beach to check out a few of the hot springs and see what the locals were up to. Local men were fishing off the beach and had a hundred yard long net set so as we approached they guided us with hand signals to avoid the nearly invisible net. Before we could get out of the dingy helping hands were grabbing hold of the dingy to guide it out of the small surf. At the sight of our landing kids came running down the beach to greet us. Lots of hand shakes and introductions all around and then the expected question of where are you from? Then our answer, the United States of America "ahh Amerika" they say smiling. I think they really like Americans here perhaps due to the influence of Jon Frum (John FROM America). More likely they are just really friendly people whom welcome everyone with open arms. We asked permission from the fishermen to walk down the beach and check out the hot springs and they pointed the way. The location of the springs was pretty obvious as steaming water around one hundred thirty five degrees was pouring out of the ground creating billowing clouds of steam in the uncharacteristically cool dry air. A mother with five sons aged maybe three to nine were huddled around a small fire roasting sardine sized fish. The eldest of the boys wore a shirt with a soccer ball sized hole in the front and the others were shirtless and the youngest buck naked. Again the weather was cool so they squatted around the small fire greedily consuming the fish. All five of them seemed to have colds as all their little noses were running profusely. A bamboo pole fishing rod with an eight foot length of line lay next to the group and was the obvious means of acquiring the fish. Despite the obviously hungry mouths the mother extended a handful of fish to us, a pretty amazing act of generosity. We obviously declined not wishing to take food from the hungry kids. In one of the boiling hot pools of water some plantains were being cooked to round out the meal. Further down the beach were additional pools of hot water with one being designated for washing and another for bathing. We then met Olsen and had a nice chat. He rattled off the names of each boat that had visited in the last several months and the names of each of the crew members. He answered some questions about each of the boats and it was nice to hear that friends we had been out of contact with for the last several months had arrived safely after their travels from New Zealand. Back on the boat we tuned into the BBC world news on the HF receiver and I was asleep at an uncharacteristically early seven thirty, perhaps still needing to catch up on sleep from the passage. Today we plan to snorkel by some cliffs belching the hot water and then maybe a trip to shark bay where sharks bear their young.

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