The southern most island of the Vanuatu chain is the island of Aneityum. We waited until Saturday morning to get cleared into the country with the customs, immigration, and biosecurity officers coming aboard. It cost 4800 Vatu for one month immigration visa; 5000 Vatu for customs clearance and 6000 for biosecurity. That was spendier than last year – but we understood that by clearing into Aneityum it was a bit more expensive.
Once cleared in, we went on a nice walk to see the baker in a village inland a bit. There were really nice gardens along the way – and the folks seem to be replanting their gardens after the cyclone.
On Friday, we cirumambulated Mystery Island. Mystery Island is a small sandy island that has an airstrip right down the center. The island is a marine reserve and surrounded by reefs. It is also an island that is used by the cruise ships that come into Vanuatu. The reason we had the officials on Saturday was because a giant Cranival cruise line ship "Carnival Spirit" came into Aneityum on Sunday morning. Mystery Island is the place they get dropped off to beach, swim, snorkel, take out paddle boards, kayaks or just shop at the market which is made up of the locals selling handicrafts. On our walk around the island, we were the only visitors except for a few men putting together the newly arrived "see through kayaks" Don't think they'll be see-through very long after getting dragged on the beaches and into the reefs! The walk was nice though and the water is a range of beautiful shades of blues that we hadn't seen for awhile.
Sunday came and the big white cruise ship arrived and anchored right outside the reef (just about blocking the entrance channel). We decided it was time to move on and headed to the northern part of the island. We are currently anchored at Itchepthav Bay. Mawari also came this way and both boats will head off for the island of Tanna tomorrow morning.
The anchorage is nice – no village in sight. There are many flying foxes though – and they are quite active even though it is still daytime. It should be a great sight tonight as the sun starts to set and the bats take off. We also should see the glow from Mt. Yasur, the active volcano, from this anchorage. This spot has a bit of a roll going as it is not quite as protected as the southern spot. But it should be okay for one night – and it's nice to be away from all the boat traffic created by the cruise ship.
It is nice to be back in cruising mode. After a few days of getting the boat organized again and rested up after the nine day passage, we enjoyed some nice social time with the other boats in the anchorage sharing meals and walks. We met a nice family from South Africa aboard a catamaran and Oscar, the 13 year old son, taught Michael a knot he had been trying to learn. The anchorage was nice because it was just four boats from four different countries...and we all enjoyed each other's company. One of the real joys of this lifestyle.
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