There is 'living on the edge', which just about everybody claims to be doing, and then there is standing at the edge of the crater of Mt. Yasur while the Tanna Island volcano is erupting with molten lava. Bruce Balan can be excused for looking a little bug-eyed in the photo.
around the rim to where we could see the open pit blasting lava high above our heads. It was so exciting that our knees shook. While we were anchored in Port Resolution one night, the wind clocked around. We awoke to find Migration covered in ash. We were still finding ash in nooks and crannies months afterward. Vanuatu deserves a whole season — if not three or four. But on our schedule we didn't have time to linger. After a stop in Port Vila to provision, we were off on a windy downwind run to North Indispensable Reef, which is part of the Solomon Islands. The open ocean reef is similar to Minerva, but far larger and much less visited. We stopped for only one night, enough time for a snorkel and to sit tight while a front passed through.
Three days of sailing brought us to the Louisiade Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. We’ve been hauling give-away stuff around the Pacific for years — including the original sails that came with Migration when I purchased her in '90, plus a whole set of old rigging — waiting to find someplace where the people could really use the stuff. Well, the Louisiades was the place! The people there need everything. We had open trading days on Migration, with a constant stream of canoes from morning until night. We are firm believers in trading
rather than giving stuff away — except to schools and medical clinics — even if it's only for one yam. If the kids want a treat, we make them at least sing a song for us. We feel this keeps things on an even footing, with both parties respecting each other. We ended up with a lot of wonderful wood carvings and bagi shell necklaces. But our best deal was trading our sails and rigging for a ride on a traditional outrigger sailing canoe. These canoes are still the primary source of transportation in these islands. The locals even A trading day on 'Migration'. use wave patterns to navigate when making overnight passages on them on moonless and starless nights. And they know how to sail these canoes! We had an awesome ride, with the boys showing off and really making the canoe fly. In fact, they pushed a little too hard, causing the steering paddle to crack, ending our day outing a little earlier than we'd hoped. From the Louisiades, we had three windy, rainy, downwind sailing days to the Torres Strait that separates Australia and Papua New Guinea. We didn’t want to check in to Australia, as many cruisers were complaining that customs was a big hassle and the fees were high. But we did anchor for three successive nights behind various islands, something which is permitted as long as you don’t leave your boat. We did this because Alene was hard at work restitching the leech and foot of our relatively new — '10 — North Sails jib, which we'd purchased in New Zealand. Torres Strait was windy and rough, A sailing canoe in the Louisiade Archipelago, now made much faster thanks to the donation of 'Migration's old sails.
PHOTOS COURTESY MIGRATION
The December 2012 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.