October 10, 2017
The volcano on Ambae Island (here in Vanuatu) has been erupting. All 11,000 island residents have been evacuated to neighboring islands. We thought we wouldn’t be able to stop at Ambae because of this eruption, but in recent days it has gone from a level 4 (out of 5) to level 3. The island is still evacuated but as we sailed past Ambae on our way to Maewo we saw the Vanuatu police boat Takoro and since it was getting late and we wouldn’t make Maewo until after dark, we asked if we could spend a night. “It’s OK” came the reply, so we dropped anchor up at the northeast tip in a place called Vanihe Bay.
As you can see in the photo above, the volcano looked to be putting out mostly steam with little smoke. That might still be from lava running down from the cone into the lake that surrounds the cone. We didn’t see any red glow at night nor did we hear any of the explosions we were told about. All was calm in our little bay.
This is a beautiful island and we hope things calm down quickly and the displaced residents can return home soon. I wish we could have gone ashore and explored but we felt like we were pushing our luck as it was. We’re happy to have seen what we did and avoided the being incinerated part of the experience. -Rich
Update: October 22, 2017
After our night at Ambae, we moved on to Maewo. All did not remain peaceful at Ambae. First we saw huge clouds above the volcano, then we heard thunderous booms. Cyndi even got quite a picture at night of the glow of the lava.
Despite this, we’ve heard that volcano is calming down and that the Vanuatu government will start returning evacuees any day now. We’re glad they get to go home.