Saturday, August 12, 2006

Whales and volcanoes.

Lat 19 deg 00' Long 174 deg 48' Saturday Aug 12 17.45 local time

We left Neiafu and Vava'u yesterday after some tedious checking out procedures and set sail for Fiji, passing the north side of Late island as first way point. After five miles we noticed brown, somewhat grainy streaks in the water. First we thought that it might be an old oil dumping. Some ship cleaning its tanks. But the streak became larger and more frequent after a while, and there were rocklike brownish things the size of a fist floating in the sea. And the water were strangely green and "lagoon like" too. Eventually it became more and more clear to us that it had to be pumice from a volcanic eruption. And then we sailed into a vast, many miles wide, belt of densely packed pumice. We were going by motor due to lack of wind and within seconds Maiken slowed down from seven to one knot. We were so fascinated and busy taking pictures that we plowed a couple of hundred meter into this surreal floating stone field before we realized that we had to turn back. Just as we came out of the stone field and entered reasonably normal water we noticed that there came no cooling water from the engine. Not surprising, really. After cleaning the water filter the Yanmar diesel started again. Thank God! Without wind we would have been stuck in a sea of stone if the motor had failed. Next thing to check was the other water inlets. Some minor pumice particles but nothing serious. But the bottom paint were scrubbed away at places along the waterline, Maiken has an ablative paint so it was just doing what is supposed to do. Like we'd sailed through sandpaper. So, we headed back east to get away from the stony sea. There are two active volcanoes south of Late island, adjacent to Metis shoal and Home reef. Since we didn't know which one had erupted, the extent of the eruption and it was getting dark the we decided to anchor in Vaiutukakau bay outside Vava'u for the night. The sky darkened fast from rain clouds over Vava'u and we sailed leaving the stone sea onto darkness towards a perfect rainbow ahead, like a big welcoming arcade. It was completely dark when we anchored close to land at 25 meters depth. In the morning we woke to birds song. Lot of birds nesting on the steep hillside next to us. After checking the motor and boat we set out again. We decided to go south of Metis reef to go clear of the stony debris.
Just after leaving Vaiutukakau bay we encountered three whales, probably two males and a female, playing in front of us. They circled around the boat only meters away for a while, seemingly interested of Maiken, before swimming away.
A couple of hours ago we identified the active volcano as the one close to Home reef, and we are on our way there now to take a closer look.
We are two miles from it and we can see the volcano clearly. One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes.
I think were the first ones out here so perhaps we could claim the island and name them(?)

Well folks, it's getting hot.
Have to quit!


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Blogger John F. Hughes said...

Fredrik and Håkan,

What a great experience! I have never heard of anyone sailing in a pumice sea. It must have been a really unique experience. Your adventures with the whales was wonderful, too. The great pictures fill in the few gaps in Håkan's great narratives. GREAT JOB, you two!

I hope that you both remain well and happy and that you continue to enjoy this great voyage. Thanks so much for sharing it all with us.

I think that I can now claim to be your first Asian commenter, As I am writing this from an Internet cafe in steamy Bangkok. I looked for MAIKEN as I flew across the Pacific Ocean from California, but it was too cloudy to see you.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a wonderful site.I have a love of volcano's and the sea and the two together made my night..I made every one I was working with take a look .....thank you Judy ( from Chattanooga,Tn USA )

3:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much....I would have never been able to view such a thing.What a gift you give... the birth of an island....and wonderful story telling to complete the gift....

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How luky you are!!!!
I study volcanoes, and last summer I saw whales for the first time in Indian Ocean. what you have seen in one day is the essence of life! Thanks for sharing all that with us.

1:47 AM  
Blogger nakedtruth said...

Amazing !!
I felt like a shot from a movie. I had goosebumps while reading it. Thanks for sharing this experience.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never sail on a friday! Don`t do it! Never ever!

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I've posted the location of the new island on the Google Earth Community at !

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice job searching.i like your studying volcanoes teacher said to make a non-fiction poster.hope you have fun!!!!!!!!!

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't do it again unless its far away from a volcano or atleast 29 mi. from a volcano!!!!!!!!!!!!!$

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for shareing your adventures! If you are near Vanauatu, I recommend stopping at one of the islands, Tanna, on your way to Fiji. There is a Dogong there that swims with people, he is solo. The village is wonderful, very remote, great harbor for stopping a week or so.

Ever need crew, speak up.


2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm doing a prodject on volcanoes so this was a big help i love this website and keep up the good work

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bhey we r making volcanoes at school. we also had to write a report on them so this storie helped a lot!
jessica rayburn

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boring,needs pictures

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these photos!
Haven't been back to that part of the world since our honeymoon...what a way to see that beautiful and "simple" part of the world ~ you'll have these memories forever!

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MAIKEN's view is terrific for the shots, the commentary, but also the reality. This is so far away from urban dwelling, control-freak, 'global warming' special interests who would control our lives by controlling our information flows. You remind us about raw nature. While the urban enviro global warming, human-control and oppression crowd don't talk about the heat and gas effects of beautiful and naturally occurring above water and under water (submarine) volcanoes, volcanic activity -- some of which actually create new lands. Indeed, you can testify to the increased warmth of the ocean for miles around, correct?!! Let's trade implied human-global-warming for volcanic earth and ocean warming! That's real. Thanks for your educational service - to reality!

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great what you have seen! Wish i could have been there! I would like to study volcanoes and this is a fantastic story to tell! Kepp up the good work

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea right lol thats way to much for a 9th grade student as meh self!!!! but yea stay cool and keep letting me copy your work julia poloski

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may only be in grade5 but that
sounds so cool I would have loved to be there!!!!!!!

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

needs photo's !!!!!!!!!!

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ilove this site its incredible tehe ♥

3:07 PM  
Blogger kristenbabey said...

i love this site

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice. i am doing a project on volcanoes and this would be ok to me. doesn't provide alot of information, though.

6:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this site is nice. full of info.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i lovve this site!!!!!!!!!!!

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love volcanoes and the fact that you have experienced this is amazing!

Hope you have some more encounters with Whales and Volcanoes, you are very lucky!

Thanks for sharing

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is really really cool that u actually saw an island form!!!!!!!!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love ur site it is great

5:35 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

What a wonderful blog, what a wonderful trip!
I might be your first commenter from Cape Cod here on the East coast of USA, a bit south of Boston.
Ive never been to the South Pacific, hope to go sometime.
Jane Carter

4:32 AM  
Anonymous r. getty said...

Sounds like you are having fun!Please keep me in mind if you will be needing crew November-April.

This summer I sailed from the USA to the Azores on a 48 foot Halberg-Rassy. Last year I crewed on a 60' carbon fiber racing trimaran crossing the Pacific Ocean from the Galapagos to New Zealand via the Marquesas and Cook Islands. We did it in a brisk 40 days and what a trip it was. I enjoy fishing, can cook and don't mind washing dishes! I am single and will consider any winter crewing positions (Nov- March). References available on request. Email address: website:

Thanks for your kind interest, Randy Getty

7:30 AM  
Blogger Don Roberts said...

Donald B. Roberts, M.D.

The quality of the photographs is better than excellent.
My first impression was that this was a joke: too rare an event and too exciting to be true. Reading about it soon changed my mind.

Thank you for:
1. Document this event so beautifully.
2. Informing us all of a phenomenon we had never heard of (and wouldn't have believed if we had).

Your experience is one in .0000000000000000001% likely to occur. Thank you for sharing the most incredible and exciting thing I have ever seen or read about.

My congratulations and thanks for sharing this.

4:33 AM  
Anonymous valerie said...

Why would an experienced sailor such as yourself use yourmotor to drive into that pumice raft?

After any volcano and the spume tyhat follow air planes are redirected away as the pumice and ash clogs the engines!

pretty common knowledge.........

This was a an exciting and beautiful post, I just wonder a your overall efficiency on such a simple matter.

a hand overboad to feel how thick
that layer of pumice ash was.

Just wondering???

Thanks for a great sho, beathtaking!!


2:41 PM  

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