Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ambrym, Vanuatu

We head to Ambrym through super calm seas.  The air is thick and hazy with volcanic smoke for the next week.  The sun takes on a permanent red hue and everything more than 1/2mile from us disappears.  Ambrym is supposed to be a dangerous, magical island, in local lore.  We pass the pointed cloud-wreathed cone of an active volcano to east as we traverse the channel to Ambrym. 
Craig Cove is tiny and looks unprotected, but turns out fine.  Anchor in black sand in 30’.  Pretty healthy coral looks bright against a black sand background.  Lil handmade local ouitriggers are everywhere.  Sunken LCU on shore.  Lil store with rum and cokes, peanuts, and not much else.  We consider climbing the volcano but it is too expensive- $200US.

Tanna volcano
On the way to a picnic

Wrecked LCU

Port Craig

A typical Vanuatu house
Slit drums carved for tourists

Statues in a little ceremonial circle lost in the jungle

Ceremonial statue

Floating in the hottub

Hazy air around Tanna
We Paddle out around the N point of the anchorage.  Super steep beaches, Dip Point- where 1913 eruption lava flow destroyed hospital.  A dugong swims along ahead of us and surfaces occassionally.  We land at a black beach and go for a low-visibility snorket over healthy coral and black sand.  A grossly overloaded boat passes us, full of people on their way to a picnic. 
We go for a long walk through the interior.  We get some weird looks and many people are not too friendly in the villages. 
The next day we head out and stop at a lil anchorage on N Ambrym.  Very calm, then a lil N wind comes up.  This is a very cool volcanic area.  Black sand and rocks with bright red-orange mineral deposits and hot springs coming out all over the place.  Megapode eggs are harvested here, otherwise there is very little human presence in the area. We kayaked around the bay and trailed hands in water to find the spots with hot ocean water.  The was a big 2-3’ deep cove was like a hot tub, with a bottom of black sand that got hotter the deeper you dug your feet in.  More flies than anywhere else we’ve been.  Otherwise, heaven.

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