Today was her day. People stopped and stared. A way was made. Shyly, yet proudly, she inched down the roads of San Fernando, and men flocked around her to lend a helping hand. Trees were cut down, power lines lifted, cars pulled aside. Nothing could stop her. She felt a little vulnerable, quite naked, really, without the adornments of lines and a powerful mast that would proclaim her a sailing vessel. Yet, she inched forward, ready to dip her keels in that water and finally float.
What could we do, but just follow along and watch - in awe of the reality, the dream, the being that has become a personified part of our family story. As she made her way to the water, the kids found their own entertainment... petting neighborhood dogs, dropping rocks in sewers, sword fighting with the fallen branches - it seems she had not seduced them, yet. Mark and I just kept exchanging glances, not believing she was here. now. with us. splashing. We tried to capture the experience in photos and video, but at some point we just had to drop our cameras by our sides and ogle with everyone else. This was a sight to be seen. She was a sight to be seen. This huge vessel, seeming to be called to the waters.
When we first spotted the water, time seemed to stand still. Men were conferring over plans and safety precautions, I'm sure, but I just wanted to get her into that cool water! The kids were safely behind a barricade watching, so I snuck behind the gates and tried to capture every second of her first encounter with the waters of San Fernando. Slowly, her stern entered, then finally floated, un-aided. As she was pulled out into the marina waters, she seemed to parade by the other boats, announcing her arrival. We were able to sit on board while she went, a thrill for our family, as our first official ride on our new boat! The kids were slowly wooed by her, as they sat in the captain's chair and then moved on deck to feel the wind in their hair! They were smitten!! It was a wonderful moment, as all four of us enjoyed the sun and wind that can only be found aboard.
And Then There Were Three…Antares, that is, in Tanna.
Usually, we do whatever we can to avoid sharing an anchorage with a crowd of boats, but this time we didn’t want to miss it. The World Arc Rally would be swarming into Port Resolution, and we wanted to make it there to see two of Field Trip’s siblings - SV Krystal and SV Two Fish.
The two boats had crossed the Pacific this season, hopping from one island to the next on a sprint of scheduled stops. Vanuatu would be one of their final stops on the track to Australia. It made me tired just hearing about how many miles they’d traveled in such a short time. In total, there are 5 Antares 44i boats (Field Trip, Rehua, Whistler, Krystal, Two Fish) in the South Pacific this season. That is a record!
Last time we’d seen Jason and Gail (Two Fish) was three years ago when we sailed through New York. They’d hosted a dinner for us in their Manhattan apartment and were excited at the time to be preparing for their trip to Argentina to start the…
We’d heard all the hype from other cruisers. We’d seen the overwhelming 5-star ratings on Trip Advisor. We’d read about this tour in guidebooks and novels. Now it was our turn. Us versus the volcano. This tour has been on our bucket list since we first learned of it’s existence.
We anchored in Port Resolution, with the red glow of the volcano visible in the night sky just over the mountains surrounding the bay. Steam vents billowed along the rocky walls lining the shore. All of these signs were small preludes to a sight I will never forget.
Arrangements were made in typical island telegraph fashion - Stanley sent a messenger out in a dugout outrigger canoe to confirm our plans, then sister of so-and-so told brother of Stanley that two more folks would be joining us. Go here, pay there, cash only, meet up here. Back and forth went the relayed messages and instructions until finally, an hour after our planned departure, we piled into a pick up truck and were off.
“The white man, he drinks water from a plastic bottle! Humph! We get our fresh water from the mountain rivers.” I was sitting in on a health and hygiene seminar that was presented to the women as one of many electives during the week-long Presbyterian Women’s Conference at the village church. After he spoke the words, he caught himself, chuckled, and explained in English what he was trying to convey to the women - that they were fortunate to live here with such fresh water to drink. I understood his point, and thoroughly agreed. Didn’t every plastic water bottle sold in the US boast of “fresh spring water” or “pure mountain water”? Not to mention the squared bottles of South Pacific’s own packaged “Fiji” water that lined every BP station’s refrigerated shelves! But it was “the white man” that piqued my interest and would continue to rattle around in my thoughts throughout our time here.
“They just came to our islands and stuck a flag in the ground, claiming it suddenly belonged to Fr…