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Published: August 2nd 2009
On leaving Lautoka, where we cleared out of Fiji, we headed for the most southerly reef pass in light winds. On passing between the islands at 18.30 we encountered fairly heavy, confused seas for the wind conditions which were surprising but a couple of low pressures south of us were affecting the area. Day two turned the seas a little sloppy but we had good winds and by day three it was a little more comfortable - we were flying along with the genniker at around 10 knots much of the time and enjoying a thrilling ride! Landfall was made in Port Villa on Efate at midnight which was a touch unnerving but we had reliable GPS coordinates to guide us in. On dropping the anchor we noted that our friend Leigh on Mi Querida was directly in front of us which hadn't been expected and made for a nice surprise. The following day we awaited quarantine clearance and had appointments with immigration and customs - the whole day accounted for with formalities! Since then we've explored the town, provisioned at the magnificent market and enjoyed meeting some of the locals.
A little about Vanuatu. There are 83 islands making up this Y shaped chain offering volcanoes (some active), coral atolls with extensive sandy beaches, a lovely deep harbour in Port Vila and each island has its own distinct culture and language.
Ambryn is one of the few places on earth where you can see active lava lakes - Mount Benbow and Mount Marum rumble away and smaller vents ooe steam and lava. The lava lake cores swirl and spit in endless fury and create a dramatic night time backdrop from the surrounding islands of Malakul and Epi. The island is known for its fine carvings in wood, stone and tree fern and its colourful custom dances including the Rom spirit dance are a highlight of the cultural calendar. Epi is a peaceful and pretty island with sandy coves and beaches, with inshore reefs and a rugger interior covered in thick rainforest. Dugongs, otherwise known as sea cows are found in a few bays on this island are are tame enough to swim with. This island lies north of Efate which houses the capital Port Vila. Malakula also has lush rainforest and is the second largest island with a tremendous cultural diversity. French is widely spoken amongst the 30 distinct languages ashore representing the variation in cultures to be found. Tanna is to the south of Efate and is a popular tourist destination because of the accessibility of Mount Yasur Volcano. This is considered the safest and most easily accessible active volcano in the world.
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