Fiji to Vanuatu - Day 3 - Arrived at Anatom 20 14.356S 169 46.546E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 20 Sep 2012 07:54
Arrived and anchor down at 15.00 today. A total distanced sailed of 477 miles. The wind continued to drop last night and by midnight we dropped below 3kts, with a very sloppy sea, so the motor came on. As we approached the island, the tropical low that we all feared closed in. The wind dropped out completely and skies clouded over. The associated rain came this morning, sometimes drizzle and sometimes heavy, but no wind. With these weather systems the wind can go light, or drop out altogether, but the rain usually brings a significant increase (20kts plus) in the wind. So we were pleased to have no wind, but not so pleased that we had to motor the last 15 hours to get in. It's still raining here in the anchorage, but still no wind, so just as well we decided to motor in otherwise we could have been waiting another day out at sea for the winds to pick up again.

Anatom is the most southern island in the Vanuatu chain of islands. From here the island chain stretches out in a northwest direction for about 450 miles. So with the prevailing winds (south easterly) the wind is behind the beam as you make your way up the island chain. They have only recently allowed boats to check in here and we're on board now with our Q flag up waiting for customs to arrive. We've been told that there's only one official, the local constable, and he acts on behalf of customs. There are 8 boats in the anchorage, 5 of them arriving today. So he will have plenty to do and is probably waiting for the rain to stop. The anchorage here is one of the best in Vanuatu. It's quite big and is protected on all sides except the west. Vanuatu is generally a poor country, but it would seam, with plenty to offer as there's an 800ft cruise ship anchored just outside the anchorage. We were not expecting that! However, it proved quite useful, as we arrived in the heavy rain and the visibility was right down. At one point all we could see was the cruise ship marking the way into the anchorage. With GPS, radar and Google Earth (cashed in Fiji) it was not difficult to find our way in behind the reef. With out any of these we would probably have hove to offshore and waited for the visibility to improve. As we arrived in the anchorage, there was one big clap of thunder, the first we have heard for a very long time (months if not years). Hope that's the end of it!
There's no internet access here, so no pictures for the blog until we leave and are able to find our next internet connection.

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