Mischief - Up to Mischief again: Log 58 Further adventures of S/Y Mischief through the eyes and ears of Chas Baynes

Tuesday, 10th July 2018 - Arrival Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

So we did indeed go through the night flying the spinnaker. Luckily, there was a little light from the stars, just enough to see the outline of the spinnaker. Initially, it was behaving itself as the wind was fairly constant in strength and direction but later on it started to fluctuate from behind the beam to in front and the sail then took on the characteristics of a petulant child, needing constant attention. However, that said it was definitely worth the effort as it was giving us at least another two knots of boat speed at 6/8 knts in relatively light winds of 10 - 15 knts ENE - SE and flatish seas.

2400 Position: 19 degs 36.3' S 170 degs 15.9' E W: 11 knts E C: 270 SOG: 6 knts DR: 422 nm DTR: 44 nm

At midnight we passed at 2.5 miles the tiny island of Fotuna which is nothing much more than the cone of an inactive volcano sticking out of the water rising to around 650 m. It certainly appeared to be closer than that as we passed to windward of it in the gloom. There was a single house light ashore on the western corner which proved it was inhabited but then again it was in the middle of the night!

I came on deck again at 6 am by which time the island of Tanna was profiled against the still dark skyline. You could make out the mountains and one in particular, Mt Yasur, was extremely prominent as it glowed orange with the occasional yellow bursts as it erupted - it is a constantly active volcano and a trip to the rim is planned for later on today!! Quite an astonishing sight from the sea in the dark.

We crossed the finish line at 0701 am on a set latitude 2 nm off and motored into Port Resolution bay, with only two boats ahead of us Lunatix a full-on race boat and Mad Monkey a Grande Soleil 56, again much quicker than us and was only just dropping anchor as we arrived. There was a string of other boats coming in behind us and by 10 am most boats were in and anchored.

Port Resolution is a small bay sheltered from most wind directions with shallow mud and sand holding. It is surrounded by trees and sedimentary rock formations with hot springs issuing steam all along the shore. In the background are mountains, one of which is Mt Yasur an active volcano covered in cloud and smoke as I speak, which we are due to visit this afternoon - can't wait!

We went ashore at lunchtime to clear Customs who had made the journey over from the other side of the island, a trip of some 4 hours over rough tracks - there are no roads to speak of here, so that was quite an effort on their behalf. Whilst there we had a cold beer on an honesty box system in the 'Yacht Club' where Rally Control had set up office (an open shelter with yacht flags from previous visitors adorning the walls and ceiling); take a beer and put a tick next to your boat name and pay later once we have been able to change up some local money. We then took a quick stroll around the village, which we are due to do more fully tomorrow, but met a few of the locals all of whom were very pleased to see us. Winston, a local chap, was insistent on showing us their beach with yellow sand and crystal clear waters inside a small reef line - really lovely. These people are so friendly and appear very happy; the tour guide suggests they are the happiest peoples in the South Pacific, yet they have very little, if anything and were devastated by Hurricane Pam in 2015, which took what little they had away with it. I did see something that struck me as incongruous - a small solar panel with a cable running into one of the huts for presumably a mobile phone. That's progress I suppose, but very out of place with the surroundings.

We went back to the Yacht Club for the start of our arranged visit to the Mt Yasur volcano and piled into various 4x4 trucks to make the 20 minute journey over the rough track 'roads' to bottom of the mountain which looks quite touristy compared to anywhere else we have seen. There was a TV film made about it a couple of years ago and since then it has been a tourist destination in its own right. We were greeted by tour guides who made a ceremonial presentation of Kava to a local chief and there was a greeting dance by local dancers before we were shown to further 4x4s for the short very bumpy trip up to 'base camp' where we walked the short distance up to the crater. The volcano was grumbling away to itself all the while with steam and smoke coming out of it, and an occasional roar. The volcano really came to life when it started to go dark; the crater was lit up orange and frequently it would rumble and blow off steam and sulphur vapour which stung your eyes. There is no Health and Safety here; there are no fences or barriers, just an open crater and fall down it at your own peril and you would not be climbing out again. As it got darker the volcano sprouted forth huge spurts of magma into the air, far enough away to be safe enough but unbelievably spectacular! To use the word in its true sense, it was truly awesome to behold.

The ride back was equally bouncy but great fun standing in the back of the 4x4 for a buffet dinner in the yacht club (at vast expense of £2 a head, again on tick!) before making it back to the boat as we were all absolutely knackered!

Wednesday 11th July 2018 - Port Resolution, Tanna Island

Dave and I went out in the dinghy this morning to explore the hot thermal springs on the waterline of the bay then headed off to the beach where we met a chap named Donovan who, for a small gift in exchange, took us up the hill to see the origin of the springs and higher up, hot mud of varying colours which Dave and I painted our faces with. Interestingly, there were corals half way up the path which had been deposited at some point by a massive upheaval of volcanic activity, other than that the only explanation was that someone had carried it there; given the small amount, my money is on the latter. Donovan put a little bit of history to the island which was of great interest: Captain Cook had discovered the nearby Island of Fotuna and having done so followed the orange glow in the night sky, which was Mt Yasur, the volcano. He thereby came across this present island which he called 'Ground' which in Vanuatitian means 'Tanna', hence the name and into the present bay which was named after his ship, hence Port Resolution. Initially the natives were hostile, but the chief was appeased by the presentation of a mirror which was unseen previously, and whilst the crew were still candidates for the pot the chief stopped hostilities on the wise belief that these people from afar may be of use to them other than by providing protein, and so they survived to be eaten another day! I may have embellished that a bit, but this is not a proper history lesson and may contain slight literary lincense.

We were back ashore in the village in the afternoon for a tour around the village. The problem we had was that Dave had flooded the outboard engine earlier going to exchange some cash for VT$ with a banker chap who had arrived for the purpose and we, well I, had to row the dinghy but got half way and someone kindly gave us a tow in to the dinghy beach. We made our way through the village and down to the white sand beach where we had gone yesterday briefly and had a couple of beers in the 'Volcano' bar, a shack right on the beach with a trestle table and tarpaulin to keep off the wind. We had the Tusker OP beer this time, 7% proof and two of those was quite enough for me.

On the way back to the dinghy Bones from Emily Morgan said he would have a quick look at the outboard engine saying he had an idea to try out. He picked it up, shook it hard and pulled the starter cord again and Whroom, off it went! It had been Bones'd! He reckoned it was a little moisture in the fuel sitting in the carburetor and a little shake ought to clear it, which it did.

Later that evening we came back ashore to go back to the White Beach restaurant where we had a buffet style meal again, almost precisely the same as we had had in the yacht club the previous evening. It is good wholesome food, if a little bland and the chicken is very boney. Interestingly, the dinner came out at VT$850 a head (£12) yet a small beer cost VT$800. We went back to the yacht club but we split up and as it was pitch black and had been asked not to cross the common area used by the men in the evening for Kava sessions, Dave Wendy and a few of the others got hopelessly lost and took half an hour to retrace their steps. When they eventually arrived Mindy of Rally Control asked if we could settle our tab but we then discovered that the amount of US$ Dave had changed up with the banker that morning was now going to be woefully short - we were told there would be nothing to spend money on so didn't change much up (in fact Dave changed up twice as much as he initially was going to) but the price of beer came as a bit of a surprise and we had clearly overspent on that! When I say woefully short, we are short by VT$8,000, or £56 between four of us but they will take US$ so all is not lost!!

Thursday, 12th July 2018 - Port Resolution, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

I set the alarm for 4.30 am - England V Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals! We motored ashore in the pitch black avoiding the many rocks and bommies, before heading to the village green where the stage had been set up with a projector attached to a computer streaming the game over the internet. We had to supply some petrol for the generator which was not a problem, but what was a bit more of an issue was when the English commentary was lost so we had to switch over to a French broadcast then at half-time the license expired, and the streaming stopped completely. At least we were one nil up by then and playing well. We were immediately invited to watch the rest of the game at someone's home near the yacht club so off we trooped, and all sat in this little house with the game in slow-mo but with English commentary again. We lost a goal in the second half forcing extra time but the Croatians were all over England by then and we lost 2:1…..not a bad effort lads! Allez les Blues on Sunday's final!!

So, we went back to the boat for breakfast and back ashore for a visit to the local school which World Arc sponsor by providing classrooms etc from donations from the Arc participants primarily. The young ones sang songs in the assembly room which was a real highlight and there was an exchange of gifts - we provided all manner of stationery, pencils and the like and then went for a tour around. Really great work going on here. There are a number of different religions here in the school, First Day Adventists, Mormons, Presbyterians and some very unusual ones including a Cargo ship religion and one that worships Prince Philip in the UK (don't ask me)!! They all muddle along together somehow, and all seem very happy.

After coffee in the Tanna Café, we headed back to the yacht club for the presentation of gifts ceremony. There was a communal prayer (Presbyterian) followed by several dances involving stomping and jumping and further songs from the school children we had seen earlier. Really colourful and nice. We were each then presented with a reed woven hat and a lea and there were speeches and presentation of gifts - the Arc fleet had been through their cupboards and bundled together clothes, body boards, and all manner of useful items in exchange for woven bags of fruit and vegetables almost too much to carry away! A very up-lifting experience.

This evening we have the farewell feast and we then leave Tanna for the next island up the chain, Errormango supposed to be even poorer than this one. We leave at first light for the 50 mile trip. The weather looks to be very favourable so it should be a nice sail with the wind behind.