Vanuatu - Anatom Photos

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 7 Oct 2012 05:13
Anatom is the most southerly of the islands of Vanuatu and until recently it was not possible to check in there so it was seldom visited as getting back to it would be against the prevailing trade winds. But now you can check in there and the anchorage on the south western corner is excellent - well protected by land or reef, not that deep, good holding in sand, and plenty of room. So more boats are going, and with the regular visit of a couple of cruise ships, the people there are rapidly being transported from a very basic existence into the 21st century.  
Aurora B in the anchorage. We're still in Fiji mode here - anchoring in the middle of the
bay so plenty of room if the wind changes or if we drag.  It wasn't necessary here.
Lots of space in the anchorage which we shared with about 6 other boats.
The beach where we came ashore. A mix of fine sand and coral. The reef is all along
the bay, apart for a stretch where small boats can get through to get to the beach.
The main road in the village ashore.
Housing in the village is a mix of the very old, made of pandananus leaves, getting
progressively more modern with wood, corrugated iron and breeze blocks.
One of the houses made of pandananus leaves.
The centre of the village - the primary school with flag flying, and the football pitch!
The new Police Station - the most modern building, built to administer the coming and
going of the cruise ships. That has also made it possible for yachts to check in here.
The dugout canoe, with outrigger, is still the main form of transport for the locals.
Only the small Police boat is a modern boat and they use that to bring customs and immigration out to yachts. Customs is handled by the local constable. Immigration officials come down from the capital, Port Vila, on an island 200 miles to the north, when a cruise ship is due. We were lucky that a cruise ship was in when we arrived and immigration were on the island. If they are not, the immigration side of clearing in has to be done in Tanna (another island 50 miles to the north) or in Port Vila.
Village children preparing for a demonstration of local dancing. The village put on a
cultural evening to show their way of life and the local foods they eat.
The 'kitchen', where the food is being prepared.
One of the local dishes - root vegetables and chicken cooked in an earth oven.
Kava was also available - yours truly 'downing' a bowl. It's stronger than the Fiji variety
and certainly had more taste.
The beautiful island bordering the southern side of the anchorage is geared up for the 800ft long
cruise ships that call here once a week or so at this time of year. The passengers spend
a day on the island. When there's no cruise ship, the island is deserted.
OOPS, taken a wrong turning!
The Anatom airport is on the island - it's just a grass strip cut out between the trees.
Built to commemorate the visit of the Queen to Mystery Island in 1974. The locals in the
village remember being taught 'God Save the Queen' as children, which they sang as she
arrived and one assured us that he had shaken hands with Her Majesty!
Something else for the cruise ship passengers!
It's a lovely tropical island surrounded by a white sandy beach and azure coloured water.
Looking across to the mainland.
Striking blue starfish. The snorkelling around the islands was good but you had to be wary
of currents.
The biggest surprise was the Orbicular Batfish that congregated under the boat. We haven't
seen many of these, the last in Tonga in 2010, so were surprised to see one. When snorkelling
around the boat to take a closer look, we found there were 10! And they were very not
shy at all, being very inquisitive and coming close.