Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anatom Island, Vanautu 2014

Welcoming ceremony

At cultural presentation

Local dog Mum

Hiking with Jon & Heather

Hitchhiking baby sea snake (deadly)

We arrived in Anatom (Aneithym) Island, Vanuatu on the 26th of May 7 days after casting off our dock lines in Opua, NZ.  We dropped anchor at 9am under sunny skies with light winds and high humidity.  The passage from NZ was our best yet with winds averaging just 10-15 knots, mostly from behind, which meant very few sail changes. The seas were 1.5 - 2 meters most of the way.  We encountered no squalls and the boat remained dry almost the entire passage.  Amazing!  Due to the light winds and swell direction we did roll a fair bit and it took me 3 days to get my sea legs.  I told Mark from now on I want to look for a forecast with little to no wind.  I could even cook this time, although I usually try to make all of our passage meals ahead of time just in case it’s too rough enroute.  Our friends Sandy and Rankin on “Gypsy Heart”, who left Opua shortly after us, remained close to us the entire passage which made it more fun.  We checked in with each other a couple of times a day via VHF radio.

Once anchored, we took our dinghy ashore along with Sandy and Rankin and  tried to check in with Richard, the customs agent based at the tiny police station, but he was busy taking care of the cruise ship that anchored about the same time we did.  The area is visited by two huge ships each week. The ships anchor out and take people to a small island adjacent to the main island. Mystery Island, as it is known to the cruise lines is quite pretty and normally uninhabited.  We have to laugh though, because the ships disgorge hundreds of passengers onto this tiny island that, for the day, has been turned into a village complete with a craft and souvenir market.  When the cruise ship leaves, late the same day, the locals pack up and shuttle everything back to the real village on the main island.

Unable to complete the check in process, we dinghied back to Blue Rodeo for a much needed nap.  At about 11:30 am we were rudely awakened when we felt the boat shudder and shake accompanied by a loud rumble. We thought for sure that we had been hit by another boat but found out  later that there had been an earthquake nearby.  We remembered we had experienced a similar sensation, although not quite as pronounced. during an earthquake last year while at Minerva Reef.  We later asked the locals if they had felt it and they just shrugged their shoulders and replied that it was quite common.

During the 10 days we spent at Anatom, we went for long walks, reacquainting ourselves with a few of the locals we met last year, snorkeled and attended a local dinner and dance presentation.  We knew folks from several boats sharing the anchorage with us, Annemieke and Gerrit from “Fruit de Mer” and Douglas and Sandy from “Freycinet II”.  One evening we hosted a get together on “Blue Rodeo” for drinks and hor’s de ouvres. All in all it was just what the doctor ordered after the frenzy of trying to get the boat ready to leave for the season.  While we enjoyed the hospitality of the island’s friendly residents other friends, Jon and Heather from “Evergreen” were underway from New Zealand and would soon join us for more fun.

On June 5th we sailed up to the north end of the island to Port Patrick.  We took the dinghy into the tiny village and were introduced to the chief who gave us permission to walk around and do some snorkeling. We met a local named Ben, who gave us a bit of a tour and lead us into the jungle where he climbed a tree and picked us some oranges for us.  He then took us to his house and garden where he picked and gave us some green onions.  We asked what we could offer him in return and he said he wanted some beer because he liked to mix it with his kava.  As we returned to our boats with Jon and Heather, we agreed that we were reluctant to give alcohol to anyone in these “dry” islands so Mark took in a gift of pop and canned corned beef instead.  We found the anchorage there to be quite pretty but the snorkeling was disappointing so we elected to leave the next day for Tanna, the next island to the north.
Children at Play on beach

Rock outcropping

Woman with child on her back plus groceries

Reef Fish

"Evergreen" with Rainbow

Clown Fish

Large Clam

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