Another country > our first impressions: VERY friendly people leading a VERY simple life which they enjoy!

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Mon 22 Aug 2011 20:55
Location: Still anchored at Anelghowhat on the Island of Anatom.

The local customs official, Colin, made everything exceptionally easy for
our clearance into Vanuatu; no big bureaucracy here like we experienced in
Fiji. On Sunday when we met him on the beach, he just gave us the
multi-page form for us to take back to the boat and fill out at our leisure
as he would visit the boat to pick up the form on Monday....which he did.
On Monday, I went into the beach at 9 am and picked Colin up with our
dinghy....the paperwork was simple and almost an "aside" to his 90 minute
visit with us.....we learned a lot from each other....and for us, a lot
about the culture and life in Vanuatu where he has lived his whole
life.....he is, just now, learning this "official" job/role as they are
experimenting with setting up this island as an official port of entry into
the country. He says it seems to be working out well as our arrival brought
the number of boats that he has checked in to 40 in total for the
he expects that the government will allow the experiment to become

Time zone has changed for us....first occasion to experience that since we
arrived in Tonga last September. We have moved an hour further west - so
instead of UTC +12 > we are now UTC +11; that changes us to being 15 hours
ahead of Toronto/New York instead of being 16 hours ahead. Some express that
as being 9 hours behind Toronto ....but a day ahead.

We were able to obtain local currency from a small bank in the village which
opens 3 days a week; the exchange rate was 1000 Vatu = US$ 84.50 ...... so
the simple way is for us to think of any pricing we see as US$ when you drop
2 zeros; I had a plate of food (rice, small cubes of beef, Taro, and bread
for 200 Vatu or US$2 ..... this was at a fund raising event on the beach to
raise money for the local primary "English Language" school....mainly for
the locals but they were most welcoming of our participation. I should say
that we arrived with zero cash of any it was the goodness of our
friends on S/V Leu Cat that enabled us to get some local currency as David
loaned me some US$ that could be changed for VAT. One gets spoiled by
expecting to find ATMs/Cash Machines everywhere...but not on this island; so
we were not prepared....first time in this 6 year sailing adventure to have
no cash and no machine to get it.

The island, Anatom, has a population of 1000 and Anelghowhat, being the
largest of 3 villages on the island, has a population of about 500......and
they are just about finished building the island's first police
station...which we visited to see the local carpentry work in the furniture
built...the building had come in from NZ as a modular structure which they
then assembled/built. Nice work!......and we got to sample the jail cell
without any lock on the bars.....the police officer has been selected and
the station opens for "business" in about a month. I should add that crime
is virtually non-existent in these outlying islands......the very strong
influence/power of the chief and the village elders control any young people
venturing down the wrong track with strong counteraction. Now, when we get
further north to Port Vila, the largest city in Vanuatu, we can expect
somewhat "big city" we will likely find some police
presence, etc when we get there.

We had a most pleasant surprise on Sunday after we anchored..... I saw a
dinghy heading our way from shore and as it got close, I knew that I
recognized the person on the tiller..but not the other two men. As he got
really close, I knew that I should really know his name but it wouldn't come
to me until he said it. The boat was a little in the distance so I had not
seen the boat name.... or I would not have been so shocked. The boat is Fat
Annie with crew of Robert and Jill (Brits)..we knew them in our first winter
in Marmaris, Turkey ('06/'07)...and they were one of some 20 boats with whom
we were going to go down to the Red Sea to spend the winter of 07/08.but
then the group plan sort of fell apart..and only fat Annie and 3 other boats
ended up going. Instead of going back "west", S/V Fat Annie continued
eastward ....onward to India>Thailand>Malaysia>Singapore>Indonesia>Papa New
Guinea>Soloman Islands>Vanuatu over the last 4 years ..... and now we ended
up meeting each other from opposite directions around the world. We got
together with them last evening for about 5 hours ...a great reconnection
and so many stories to share ......they have been married 38 years and have
a son and daughter who have worked for some years crewing big boats on the
oceans of the world but are now back in England working in the local boating
industry there. Robert and Jill will now leave Vanuatu this coming weekend
bound for New Caledonia and then on south to New Zealand in November.

It was a bit of a "sad time" as we departed Fiji.....we were parting with a
lot of friends who are now taking different directions than us....most going
back to New Zealand for another year there. We all knew that it meant that
we might never see each other again......but in our hearts we believe some
way we will make it happen somewhere......but, having been so close with one
another through all the experiences across the Pacific this past 1 - 2
years, it was certainly an emotional parting....S/V Dignity, Steve and Helen
in particular. S/V Imagine, Stuart and Sheila, will remain in Fiji out of
the water until next May when Stuart will return from the USA to sail
Imagine to Darwin in time for the Indonesian Rally next July....Sheila will
fly into Darwin from the USA to join Stuart for that experience. So in the
case of these friends, we will be able to rejoin them at that time. I think
that the reconnection here with S/V Fat Annie, gave us that sort of
confidence that somehow you can meet up with others some years down the is the way this sailing community ebbs and flows.

Another day is at was wet and windy yesterday afternoon
overnite.....should clear over next day....can now see a bit of blue sky up
there. Much cooler here in this "winter season"; water temp is only 25 C /
75 it will be chilly water experiences if that continues to be
characteristic of these waters of Vanuatu. We will depart this island to
sail northeast to the island of Tanna later this week....we expect to meet
up with S/V Kilkea, David and Marian there to experience the most famous
active volcano together.

Time for breakfast....wishing you the very best....the Seamisters, John and