Part Three


Port Resolution, Tanna






August 30, 2012

Port Resolution: 19 31'.61S 169 29'.72E


Beneath a bright blue sky, Tenaya inched her way into the anchorage at Port Resolution on August 4. Shallow and poorly charted with bits of reef and bommies scattered about, it is open from east to north and exposed to an easterly swell. Some yachties are doubtful of this dastardly destination, but we were delighted to be here. Tanna is one of our favorite places on the planet.



Mount Yasur, an active strombolian volcano, spews smoke high into the sky a short distance to the north. Steam rises from several fumeroles along the steep green hillside. Boiling pools at the waters edge attest to more emissions from the spry old guy.

Along with the bats that fly overhead at dawn and dusk, and the barren ash plain amid dense jungly bush, there is a very primordial feel about it all. Have we sailed back in time?



People live much as they have for centuries in houses made of bamboo and pandanus topped with woven leaves of coconut trees. Each person has a garden and every family has chickens and pigs. People eat what they raise or hunt. Women wash laundry in hot water provided by Yasur. Men fish with nets or lines from their handhewn dugout canoes. A few, like Nowar below, spear turtles with simple but effective tools. The irony of these men paddling up to Tenaya asking to have their mobile phones charged brings us back to the 21st century.



Following the radiant red glow of Mt. Yasur in the night sky, Captain Cook sailed into this natural harbour on 5 August 1774, one day short of 238 years before our arrival. In his journal, Cook noted...In the night the volcano threw up vast quantities of fire and smoak (sic), the flames were seen to ascend above the hill between us and it, the night before it did the same and made a noise like that of thunder or the blowing up of mines at every eruption which happened every four or five minutes; a heavy shower of rain which fell at this time seemed to increase it. The wind blew from that quarter and brought such vast quantities of fine sand or ashes that everything was covered with it, and was also exceedingly troublsome to the eyes...

Indeed, Mt. Yasur, the beguiling, belching, behemoth banishing billions of bits of blazing bullets is the main reason most people visit Tanna. (Yes, I'm blatantly bastardizing Tom Robbins' brilliant alliteration).



The prevailing winds are from the southeast but occasionally, as a front passes, the anchorage becomes rollier and fine ash falls from the sky, permeating everything. Tenaya was anchored in Port Resolution three weeks last year and four weeks this year and only experienced the fallout twice. Not really a big deal except for those that feel any unpleasantry while on a boat is a big deal. A stern anchor placed into the swell kept us comfortable while other boats rolled miserably.



While we were anchoring, Charlie and another older man paddled up, welcomed us and assured us we were in a good spot. His son Tomson, Tom for short, met us last year. Apparently their family is the greeting committee from the village of Yakupen, up the hill half way around the bay.

We hurried ashore to see our friends. Stanley is the yachtie liaison and an assistant chief of the village of Ireupuow, Yetukuri nakamal, the main village of Port Resolution. Johnson, a nurse at the dispensary and also an assistant chief, is his older brother. They had both been very kind and helpful and we looked forward to seeing them again.



The first person we saw was Stanley. We apologized for not saying goodbye when we left last year and he explained that if goodbyes are not exchanged, you will meet again. He said he knew we would return.

His youngest sister, Marie, and Johnson's wife, Carolyn, were preparing lunch when we eyed each other. Without introductions or reminders Marie exclaimed "Katie!" With huge grins we ran to each other. Carolyn jumped up smiling too. I sat down to chat and picked up a knife to help chop onions. Soon Meriam, another of Stanley's sisters, joined us. When the preparations were done, they invited Jim and me to have lunch at Rocky Island Bungalows. What a warm welcome!



Our plan was to stay on Tanna just ten days or so. When Carolyn told us Johnson was in the bush with Ron, Meriam's son, who had recently been circumcised, those plans evaporated. There would be a big circumcision ceremony at the end of the month and we were invited. Ron had been on Tenaya last year so we had to see his ceremony!


Meriam with daughters Shirlie and Melva, Marie with Richard, and Noumi, Stanley's oldest daughter.


Our friend, Lori Lynn, was due to arrive any day from California to spend three weeks on Tanna. As with nearly everyone, the main attraction was the volcano. Now she had the opportunity to see a kastom circumcision ceremony as well. Perfect!













Marie loves chocolate cake and Richard's second birthday was coming up. Lori Lynn and I took her out to Tenaya where she baked her first cake. When we said someone had to lick the bowl and utensils to save water she quickly volunteered.

The cake was a big hit at the birthday party. After we'd sung Happy Birthday, Richard made his wish, blew out the candles and cut his cake. Kids learn to use knives at a really early age here! I'm glad I stocked up on festive cake carriers at Walmart that I could give away. They are almost as popular as their contents!


Richard, Ruben, Marie, Noumi, Stanleyson


Port Resolution is a popular place for yachties. Everyone wants to see the volcano and those that didn't check in and get vatu at Aneityum can do so across the island in Lenakel. So it only makes sense to gather on various boats and on shore to see old friends and meet new ones.

The most convenient places to congretate are the Port Resolution Yacht Club and Avoca Restaurant. Serah owns Avoca and offers Tanna coffee and tea, with a snack, any time of day. She will also prepare a delicious lunch or dinner with advance notice.



We stopped for coffee many days and booked a dinner with the crews of four other boats one evening. Many local dishes were served, giving us the opportunity to taste new foods and learn how to prepare them. It was all quite delicious!


Having coffee with Alene and Bruce on Migration and Michael and Christine on New Horizons


Sometimes local people are invited on board a yacht in the anchorage, but often the kids are not. They are all very curious about these sailing boats that appear in their bay with white people coming and going for a few days before moving on.



One day we went ashore and found Anneth, another of Stanley's sisters, was the only adult around. A man had died in Mainsori, the village at the head of the bay, and all the adults had gone to pay their respects. She stayed back to watch the children. We asked if we could take some kids out to the boat. She agreed. When asked if she would like to join them, she politely declined. Lori Lynn suggested we'd given her a break and she was going to take full advantage of it.



Not all the children would fit in the dinghy at once so we spit the rapidly growing group. Girls first, boys second. Fifteen girls came out and eleven boys. Lori Lynn had dance music on her iPhone and the girls went wild. Emulating Jim's more sedate behaviour, the boys remained more reserved. They were interested to see the engine room and check out everything on deck. The Ni-Vanuatu kids are so sweet, so polite and smile so easily, they are a delight to be around.



Although there is no market in Port Resolution, you will not go hungry here. People are quick to offer papayas, choco, taro and coconuts, and will reciprocate with all kinds of other fruit, vegetables and herbs when you help them. Sometimes men paddle through the anchorage selling produce and once in a while they will have a freshly speared lobster.



The pages we put up about Tanna last year are very descriptive. I don't want to be redundant on the pages we add this year, so here are some links if you'd like more information.


Port Resolution 2011

Port Resolution Hot Springs 2011

Mount Yasur 2011

My Friend Marie 2011

Market Day/Lounapkomai 2011


Photo Gallery Port Resolution 2012


Go to August 2012 Part Four - Jim Goes Back to Work - Port Resolution, Tanna


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