Voyaging Vlad: A Nature Enthusiast’s Journey Through the Mariana Isles


For many of us, being close to nature means going out for a hike or enjoying a day out on the nearest body of water. Taking a break from a normal day’s work to reconnect with the nature around us is a rewarding and relaxing experience, a much-needed pause for any individual. 

For Vladislav “Vlad” Melnik, however, being close to nature means much, much more.

In a recent interview with Marianas Variety, Melnik recounts how his arrival in the Northern Mariana Islands in 2011 brought him a newfound passion for life by reconnecting to nature. Melnik reminisces about his childhood in Russia, where he spent his early years as an outdoorsman.

“I grew up in the mountains and nature. It was absolutely natural back in those days to play in the woods, go fishing, pick berries, mushrooms. You can feel it, it got deep under your skin — the knowledge, the skills,” he tells Marianas Variety.

It’s with this familiarity that he would rekindle his passion years later, arriving in the Northern Mariana Islands and making his home on the water.

After years of jet ski practice and ample preparation, Melnik decided to push himself further with two open sea voyages throughout the island territory. His first trip on August 4 from Saipan to Farallon De Medinilla totaled 60 miles or 100 kilometers of open sea travel. Eleven days later, he would complete another voyage from Saipan to Rota, a distance of around 80 miles or 130 kilometers. He made both excursions on his Sea-Doo GTX 300.

While Melnik made all the necessary preparations and was well-versed in the technical details (he maintained a steady pace of between 28-35 knots or 32-40 mph), to hear him tell it, his primary interest was the natural beauty he encountered along the way. He made special note of the importance of avoiding sea turtles, and his descriptions of the surrounding nature are filled with wonder.

He tells Marianas Variety, “You can see the beautiful formations, ridges, and holes, not from the [US Military’s] bombings, but from natural erosion. The wind and waves and everything made it a beautiful architectural work.” He paid special attention to photographing his surroundings along the way.

Check out the full article and interview by Andrew Roberto on Marianas Variety to learn more about Melnik’s journey.

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