ende

2024
07
Jun

Spitting Lava!

Mt. Yasur, Tanna, Vanuatu

This volcano on Tanna is easily reached with a (bumpy) 4WD ride from Pt. Resolution. It was a very impressive experience to stand right above the spitting lava pools and not just hear the rumbling but feel the shockwaves of the explosions below!

(36 photos)

2024
05
Jun

Cleared in!

Yesterday morning we left Anatom at 5 o’clock in the morning as we expected light winds for the 50 mile sail up to Tanna and we wanted to arrive with daylight. The winds were stronger than expected and it was a fast, close-hauled sail (5 to 7 knots), so we got to the anchorage just after noon. Port Resolution is a bay located on the east side of Tanna and approaching the bay the easterly swell was breaking spectacularly on the volcanic cliffs and pinnacles that make up the shoreline.
Coming from the south you can’t see the bay until you’re already past it–imagine what it must have been like for the first explorers on their tall ships to find such an unexpected haven in a rough coastline. I would have named it Port Surprise instead of Port Resolution…
This morning the officials came over from the main town Lenakel to check us in–a very relaxed procedure in the Tanna Yacht Club which is overlooking the bay. Now we’re ready to explore Vanuatu!

Some details for those planning to check in here this year: We read that EU citizens get 3 months stay without visa, other nationalities 30 days, but it seems that (at least in Tanna) every arriving crew gets 4 months without additional fees. We paid 5000 Vatu for Customs, 5000 for Biosecurity, 4.800 for Immigration and 3000 for their transport to Port Resolution from the office in Lenakel on the other side of the island. Transport costs seem to vary: yesterday they arrived in 2 separate cars (so 6000 vatu transport), but we got lucky as another yacht was cleared in the same day, so we could share the transport costs.
There are no ATMs on Anatom or in Pt. Resolution, so we exchanged Vatu in Fiji. It wasn’t easy, most exchange offices refused to deal with us as we had neither a ticket to Vanuatu to show, nor a bank account in Fiji. “Singapore exchange” finally accepted the clearance as proof of us going, but then we nearly failed again as we didn’t have a receipt from the ATM, so better bring both ;-)

2024
01
Jun

Still not checked in

We’ve been in Vanuatu now for 5 days, but we still haven’t been ashore, as we haven’t been able to officially clear in yet. The cruise ship for which the officals were meant to fly in was canceled, another one was possibly scheduled for yesterday, but didn’t show either.
It’s been blowing 25 knots for the past few days, so we were working indoors, I wrote an article and Christian was programming. Then we wanted to repair our Pitufa banner (the letters were coming off), but Miss Pfaff quit during this job (with smoking motor–scary!!), so Christian tried his luck as a sewing machine mechanic, but hasn’t found the problem yet (we’ll probably need internet for more research on that).
It looks like the conditions will calm down sufficiently for us to sail up to the neighbouring island today, so we can finally meet the officials and get cleared into the country…

2024
29
May

Arrived in Vanuatu

We arrived yesterday at 2 in the morning after a stormy, splashy last sailing night in the cozy protected bay between Anatom and “Mystery Island”. Anatom’s not a port of entry, but you can check in (with pre-authorisation as we had) whenever the officials come here to clear in a cruise ship. Yesterday morning we got an email saying that today’s cruise ship stop was canceled and that we were to sail to Tanna instead–awkward as we were already at anchor at that time…
A local boat stopped by and told us though, that there might be another cruise ship coming on Saturday, so maybe we can check in then.
Yesterday was a public holiday in Vanuatu so no response from the immigration/customs office in the capital, but we’re awaiting news today.
In the meantime it’s howling and raining outside, so we’re happy to stay put inside and get some work done.

2024
28
May

Islands ahead!

It has been another fast sailing day. After ages we have managed to catch a fish again (a smallish barracuda) and we have already processed it and made preserves in the pressure cooker. It’s generally more lively here with little petrels circling the boat and swishing over the waves. We can see Futuna to the north and Anatom ahead, but we still have 45 nm to go and it’s already 5 in the afternoon, so we’ll arrive long after dark.

2024
27
May

Racing with a little break in between

Usually it’s a nightmare when the wind dies down after a strong blow, as you’re left with high waves and a madly bucking boat. Yesterday the seas calmed down along with the winds, so we used the welcome break to air the boat and do some domestic chores (baking bread, straining a batch of kefir for banana smoothies and Christian even managed to shave without cutting himself ;-) .
At noon the wind picked up, Pitufa accelerated from 3.5 knots to 6 knots again and we’ve been racing along ever since.
100 nm to go!

2024
26
May

More than half the distance done

The night was still fast sailing, but now going’s getting a bit slow. According to the grib the wind should pick up soon again. Finally some rays of sunshine this morning! No fish yet…
230 nm to go

2024
25
May

Going fast!

It has been a bouncy night with winds of 25 knots+ from the Southeast and confused waves–one of them managed to swamp the cockpit (a very rare occasion on Pitufa). This morning it’s grey again–some sun would be nice.
360 nm to go

2024
24
May

Underway to Vanuatu

Our blog entries from underway will come to you via old-fashioned SSB and will be automatically sent on to pitufa FB (we haven’t given in to the temptation of Starlink yet, I call it Stinklink because of the air pollution all those rockets taking up satellites cause), so there won’t be any pics while we’re at sea. It looks like a rough, fast passage, should take about 4 days to Anatom.
500 nm to go!

2024
23
May

Good-bye Fiji!!

In June 2022 we arrived in Fiji, uncertain how long we’d stay, but soon we knew that we’d need plenty of time to explore this beautiful cruising area. We were enchanted by the crazy mushroom-like lime-stone formations of Fulaga and Vanua Balavu and enjoyed the high volcanic islands of the southern Lau group, Kadavu and Loma-i-viti Group. We spent more time in the water exploring reefs than anywhere else before (underwater was the best place to be during the hot summer months) and helped install a marine reserve on the island of Matuku.
We got incredibly lucky and didn’t experience any strong winds during our 2 cyclone seasons here–of course we had a plan for the worst case scenario and cyclone holes to run to, but never needed them.
What made our time in Fiji so special though, are the fabulous people we met: Vinaka vaka levu (thanks a lot) to our families in Matuku, Ono and Fulaga! We really enjoyed your hospitality and friendship. Let’s keep in touch, we’ll come back to Fiji at some point!!
Vinaka vaka levu for all the lunches and hikes to Tiko, Penina and the girls in Matuku!


Vinaka vaka levu to Cama, Tuni, Tui and everybody who helped with the Tabu marine reserve!

We had lots of fun with Waqa, Marica and Sai! Vinaka!!


All the best to Maika and Mata in Fulaga!


Vinaka vaka levu to all the other fabulous people who made us feel so welcome here!!

2024
22
May

Replacing the windows of a dodger

2 years ago we published how-to articles in several magazines after replacing the plexi windows of our sprayhood. Now it ripped AGAIN–the material we got in Tahiti was just too thin. At least we could look up our own tips and tricks and how to do this without too much swearing (yes, there was still some involved, wrestling 4 metres of resisting sunbrella really isn’t fun). The trick is to leave the old windows in, sew on the new ones and THEN take out the old material to make sure you don’t lose the shape.
Here’s the magic moment when the old window comes off and reveals the shiny new one!

We spent 2 days replacing all 5 windows this week, but this time with 0.75 mm that will hopefully last a long time!
BTW, our DIY instructions on this kind of job and many more can all be found in our book “Cruising Know-How” on Amazon :-)

2024
19
May

Handy smurf at his make-shifting best!

Our old, feeble deck lights were no longer working and we found a powerful replacement. Unfortunately the new light is square, while the old one was round… Christian make-shifted a solution, literally fitting a square peg in a round hole ;-)
2 trips up the mast and now we have a light strong enough to host a football game on deck! Another task ticked off the preparations list :-)

2024
16
May

Still in Suva

During our first week in the capital we tackled our projects full of energy, but then I caught some bug (the air conditioned shops and offices in combination with coughing/sneezing people always get me…) which rendered me basically useless for a week. On top of that the weather turned windy and rainy, which complicates things as well and keeps interrupting projects.
We hope to be done soon now and then only the wind needs to cooperate for our 500 nm passage westwards to Vanuatu!

2024
29
Apr

Our last day in paradise

We were planning to return to Suva in May anyway, but now we are forced to sail there slightly earlier, because our fridge has developed a leak… As soon as we’re back in the capital we have to have that fixed, then an overhauled pump will (hopefully) arrive from the US for our watermaker, we have to fix our sprayhood (the material we got for the window repair in Tahiti was too thin, so we have to do it again after just 2 years), the wind instrument on the mast no longer works and has to come down and then we have to do a last shopping round, prepare the check-in for Vanuatu and the check-out for Fiji and, and, and…
With all those tasks looming ahead like a dark cloud on the horizon we wanted to make our last day “out on the islands” extra pleasant, so after the usual morning chores (bread, laundry and then some hull cleaning) we took Pitufa out to the reef for the last time to go snorkeling there. We had a great time in the fabulous underwater landscapes of the barrier reef of Gau with some patches of healthy coral and others sadly bleached. Towards the end of the snorkel a sea snake came by and then a well-sized lemon decided to say hi and really make this a special day! So we saw our first proper-sized shark during our last visit to Fiji’s underwater world…
We finished off the day with a walk on the beach and a sundowner on Pitufa with the parrots ashore singing us a good-bye serenade (well, squawking a serenade, but it’s the thought that counts) ;-)

2024
28
Apr

Sea snake!

Here in Fiji we quite often encounter sea snakes while snorkeling and watch them foraging for food on coral reefs and heading up to the surface occasionally to take a breath. They are extremely venomous, but fortunately not aggressive and apparently their mouths are too small to bite something as big as a human (maybe a pinky toe would fit, but they are safely hidden in the fins ;-) , so we are not worried when we see one. All the ones we’ve met so far were less than a metre, but in Gau we saw one that was at least one and a half metres! We looked it up, apparently males grow to 80 cm and females to 1.40, so we must have encountered a fully grown, female yellow-lipped sea krait – exciting!

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