Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Vanuatu sailing: Tall tales and true

Under sail ... on board the brigantine Soren Larsen. Photo: Melanie Ball
Melanie Ball signs up as a crew member on a sailing adventure to Vanuatu's remote northern islands.

The sky is a swathe of black velvet, the sea a lumpy, inky blue and my knuckles are white, so firm is my grip on the wooden wheel as I steer Soren Larsen into the night. I am concentrating hard, too, rarely taking my gaze from the compass, a brass-encased beauty, on the 44 metres of oak and iron under my control. It is exhilarating being at the helm on only the second night of an 18-day tall-ship journey through Vanuatu's northern islands. Slightly unnerving, too, despite the captain's close supervision.

An hour later I am on lookout, jacket zipped to my chin and knees flexing with the roller-coaster ride. I shelter behind the forward hatch but it gives little protection when a wave falls over the bow, diluting my hot chocolate.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/tall-tales-and-true-20101021-16v79.html#ixzz1Kg9Jkc5d