Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kenutu Island

Kenutu Island is on the far east side of Vava'u - marked as anchorage 30 on the Moorings chart and guide. It is a wild place, reminding us of the outer islands in Barclay Sound on Vancouver Island. Surf pounds on the outside of the islands and breaks fiercely across the reef that joins this island to its neighbors. Kenutu is formed of volcanic rock that is bubbled and twisted into incredibly sharp jagged formations. This makes walking hazardous, especially near the edges of the island where the rocks are a tumble of jagged boulders each sprouting dozens of tiny spires that feel like they could easily pass through the sole of your shoe.

The anchorage is very good with excellent holding in sand and no coral patches that we could find - only some light weed. It is well sheltered in the prevailing easterlies, with a slight chop and high tide when water makes it in over the reefs. There is a lovely path across the island from a sheltered beach on the leeward side near the anchorage. The island is covered in pandanus and pine-like casuarina trees and the leaves of the former and needles of the latter form a thick carpet that makes walking feasible. The trail leads to series of stunning look-offs over inlets on the windward side. Even in moderate winds, the sea here is an awesome sight - a cauldron of white-topped standing waves and endless surging violence. The water explodes on the cliffs, cutting deep flat ledges over which it then cascades into the ocean. It is easy to see how an island can be eroded by such forces and the counter-balancing forces of vulcanism and tectonics are the only reason these islands are still here. In contrast, little black and white butterflies flutter along the edges of the cliffs and tiny birds call from overhanging trees.

Speaking of vulcanism and tectonics, there have been two earthquakes nearby in the last couple of weeks - both 5 point something on the Richter scale. Some cruisers felt the last one although we were in a rough anchorage and did not even notice it, despite the epicenter being only 100 miles off.

Back to Kenutu. At low tide you can walk along the beach and out to the reefs that join either end of the island to its neighbors. The corals exposed here are small but lovely - bouquets of pink and purple flowers. On the south side, the islets are narrow and the surf erupts through blow holes in the dark volcanic rock. In one place there are two vents - nostrils through which a blast of air erupts with each large swell - like the roar of a dragon's breath. On the north end we saw a humpback whale making its way along the coast through rough seas.

We left Kenutu yesterday and are making our way back to Neiafu to check out.

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