RGS’s Circumnavigation Leaves Shores of Vanuatu

The catamaran of the circumnavigation expedition of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society left the coast of Vanuatu on August 28. The travelers will have to make another voyage across the Pacific Ocean, this time to Australia. Evgeny Kovalevsky, Stanislav Berezkin, and Vincent Beaujeu expect to arrive in the Australian city of Cairns in two weeks. According to them, the path will be difficult.

“We set off from Vanuatu, from the island of Efate, where we had been moored for a week, made repairs. We are going to Cairns, Australia. The waves are up to three meters; the breeze is up to 20 knots, probably. At times it will pick up to all 25,” said Evgeny Kovalevsky.

In the harbor of Port Vila in Vanuatu, the circumnavigation anchored on Geographer's Day – August 18. For ten days on the archipelago, the crew managed not only to rest, but also put their vessel in order. The hull fractures were sealed, the hermetic sealing of the tent was strengthened, four two-meter bars were placed along the bow to feel more confident on big waves, the rigging and sailing equipment were repaired.

During the inspection of the catamaran, many bite marks of small "cigar" sharks were found. It's good that they don't have enough strength to bite through the dense material.

"People here are sociable, friendly, curious. They behave directly, like children. They easily approach, ask questions, introduce themselves. They gladly take pictures. Kotzebue, Bellingshausen, Lisyansky, Krusenstern wrote about these qualities of Polynesians. They noted their cheerful disposition and childlike innocence," Evgeny Kovalevsky wrote in his diary.

Locals, as everywhere before, showed great interest in the Russian travelers. The crew held several meetings, during which they talked about their expedition, about the great Russian navigators, about Russia and Siberia.

The participants of the RGS’s round-the-world expedition visited places associated with the activities of their outstanding predecessors. Kovalevsky and Berezkin shot a bust of Vice Admiral Vasily Golovnin, who was the first Russian to visit Vanuatu in 1809 and established relations between local authorities and Russia.

On August 24, at a school in Port Vila, the crew of the circumnavigation met with high school students from Vanuatu, Australia, France, China, and Canada. In total, more than 80 people gathered at the event. The teenagers were delighted to learn about Russian culture, about which they knew practically nothing until that moment.

The school headmaster stressed the importance of the visit to the school of the Russian sailors. This is an experience of direct communication that will help children to form their own independent opinion about distant and mysterious Russia. The fact that the Russians do not just sail across oceans, but take people from different countries as crew members, once again confirms that they are good people, he noted.

“After the meeting, several young people came up to me and asked for advice: how to start traveling, how to get to Russia and Siberia. We left the school in high spirits and understood that such meetings are important for the fulfillment of the priority mission of the expedition, which is public diplomacy,” said Evgeny Kovalevsky.

At parting, the headmaster and the students admitted that now they will follow the expedition on the Internet.

Traditionally, the Russian catamaran and brave Siberians were accompanied by new friends. The vessel was launched together with a New Zealander, two Danes, and several locals.

“We were amazed at how easy it turned out. We start the engine, we go out of the lagoon, we'll set sails at the exit. See you in Australia," said goodbye Kovalevsky.

We wish good luck to the brave crew! And we will wait for good news from them.

On July 1, 2021, Siberian travelers Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin set off along the route of the first Russian round-the-world expeditions of the 19th century: Ivan Kruzenshtern’s (1803-1806), Yuri Lisyansky’s (1803-1806), Otto Kotzebue’s (1815-1818, 1823-1826), Vasily Golovnin’s (1817-1819), Fedor Litke’s (1826-1829), Faddey Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev’s (1819-1921). The international project of the Tomsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society "Following the paths of Russian explorers" is dedicated to the 250th birthday anniversary of Krusenstern and the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by Russian sailors. These events for a long time determined Russia's leadership in the development of the oceans and the discovery of new lands. You can learn more about the project and provide all possible assistance in its implementation on the website of the expedition.

Alexander Zhirnov