Blog des Odysseys

Farewell, Tuvalu

French La traduction française de cette page n'est pas disponible.

All good things come to an end, and sailors know the next port is always just over the horizon, beckoning you on.

I came to Tuvalu with little idea of what to expect, and therefore with few expectations. And yet we have had an action-packed, memorable week, which has at least shown me a snapshot of this nation, which may be small, but whose fate lies at the heart of one of the issues most prominent on the world stage right now.

Fortunately we were here during a one day conference organised by the Tuvaluan government to discuss with their development partners how to tackle the impacts of Cyclone Pam. In March 2015 when Cyclone Pam hit this region, with the eye of the storm over Vanuatu, Tuvalu experienced very strong winds, and worst of all, storm surges which caused devastation on some of the outer islands.

Nukulaelae islet destroyed by Pam.

This was a ‘wake up call’, said the Prime Minister, ‘to how vulnerable we are.’ One of the effects of climate change is increased strength and frequency of tropical storms, which combined with a rising sea level, can cause waves to wash over these low islands with as much destruction as a tsunami.

In a break in the proceedings we were able to present to the Prime Minister a Blue Planet Odyssey plaque as a message of support from all the sailors out there who are concerned about the environment and the ocean we all sail on.

Making our presentation.

The day finished with a traditional fatele, with dancers from the islands of Vaitupu and Nukulaelae. Dan and I had already spent some time with the Tinilau family, saying our goodbyes, and now they joined in with the singing, while the men kept rhythm on a large wooden box.

The combined sound of the beat and the song was pretty impressive, while the girls, dressed in their colourful pandanus skirts, weaved their delicate patterns out of the air with their hands.

As a girl I had watched them in awe, I loved the dancing so much, and watching now, I felt something again of that childhood wonder.

Dancers from Nukulaelae.


Dancers from Nukulaelae.

As I write this, the captains of Drina and No Regrets are consulting the weather charts to see if it is safe for us to leave. The weather has been very unsettled during our time here, with several strong wind warnings posted in the week, and heavy rain squalls passing several times a day. At some point soon we will weigh anchor and make our way across the lagoon.

Next destination – Vanuatu, where we will be reunited with some of the other Blue Planet Odyssey boats.

Tofa, Tuvalu. Goodbye Tuvalu. I hope I won’t wait another 37 years before I return.

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