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Anatom, Tanna & Erromango Island Updates

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 09, 2012 01:19 PM

Published: 2012-09-11 13:10:00
Countries: Vanuatu

Report 11 September, 2012
John Neal of SY Mahina Tiare III

Aneityum, Anatom Island: Southern most Port of Entry

Here's an update from Aneityum, the southernmost and most upwind port of entry for Vanuatu.

Currently, as of 2 Sept. 2012 to save money the Vanuatu government no longer has quarantine, immigration and customs officers stationed at Anelghowhat Bay on Aneityum Island. Instead, there is a single police officer from Vila with his own speedboat who handles all clearance for yachts. Richard George, (mobile 7769214) the current officer says he tries to clear all yachts as soon as they arrive with no overtime charges on weekends. He says he thinks yacht crews should be able to get ashore and meet the locals and see the islands as soon as possible.

He stressed that cruisers were welcome to snorkel off Mystery Island, the islet that provides protection for the anchorage, but NOT to take lobster or fish as this is an important marine reserve. He (and the islanders) were quite upset that the ICA Rally members who had recently departed had illegally collected many lobsters out of the posted marine reserve.

The two teachers, Jonathan and Ben of Anelcauhat Primary School ( directly ashore from the dinghy landing channel said several yacht have recently donated school supplies and that they are looking for any school supplies, dictionaries or primary school books for their newly opened library. The school children will happily demonstrate custom dancing as a thank-you.

Port Resolution, Tanna Island

These three waypoints will assist you in entering this poorly-charted harbour:

  • Offshore in 86’, alignment for entering Port Resolution: 19 30.880 S, 169 30.000 E
    - In narrowest part of entrance: 19 31.283 S, 169 29.825
    - Anchorage in 15’, sand bottom: 19 31.576 S, 169 29.698 E

Mt Yasur volcano continues to be very active and is spectacular just at and slightly after sunset. Stanley or Werry at Port Resolution Yacht Club (, email or Johnson, Stanley’s brother and village chief, can arrange a 4WD double-cab pickup to take cruisers to the volcano for 1500 vatu (about US$15). The park entrance fee to the custom owners of the volcano is 3400 vatu. The trucks are generally packed to the gills, the road is rough, but the trip is a "once in a lifetime experience". Wear warm clothes (we took our foulweather gear), sturdy shoes and bring headlamps.

Although it is possible to clear customs at Lenakel on Tanna’s SW coast, we’ve found that anchorage challenging and Lenakel is a rugged three hour truck ride across the island from Port Resolution. A far simpler option is to first clear at Aneityum, which is now Vanuatu’s most upwind port of entry.

Potnarvin/Port Narvin, Erromango Island

Several options for breaking up the 130 mile passage from Port Resolution to Vila exist, and Dillon’s Bay on the Erromango’s west coast is the most commonly used one. Potnarvin provides a very rarely-visited and dramatic option mid-way up the east coast.

Well protected in prevailing SE winds, 18 44.710 S, 169 12.500 provides a clear, black sandy bottom in depths of 30’. Villagers ashore are keen for visitors as there is no road or easy access. Any school supplies are most welcome. BA chart 1581 provides excellent detail.

Ponamlas Bay, NW tip of Erromango Island

This is an ideal departure point for the 75 mile passage to Port Vila. 18 37.823 S, 169 02.790 E provides a very secure anchorage in 30’, sand and rock bottom, as long as the winds aren’t out of the north. Easy landing ashore where you’ll find remains of a cattle ranch and some houses. Traditional owners have moved to Dillon’s Bay, but occasionally visit to hunt the now-wild cattle and welcome cruisers to anchor and walk ashore here.

Dillon’s Bay, Erromango Island

Dillon’s Bay, frequently used as an overnight stop between Tana and Port Vila, provides good protection in all but westerly winds in depths of 30’, sand bottom to the north of the Williams River entrance. This is Erromango’s largest settlement with an airstrip, clinic and several schools.

It is easy to navigate the river entrance at mid-tide or greater and land ashore at Unpongkor village, where one should visit one of the four chiefs to ask permission to anchor and visit ashore. Frequently the chiefs will ask if you’d like to be taken to the spot where missionary John Williams was killed and eaten. The outline of his fallen body was carved in the large rock slab where he fell and this is accessible with a guide and your dinghy.

Dillon’s Bay still exports and now is planting sandalwood. Books, school and medical supplies are always welcome.

Elizabeth/Sowki Bay, Erromango Island

Eight miles north of Dillon’s Bay, Elizabeth Bay provides a good anchorage in moderate depths. Although not as dramatic or sheltered as Ponamlas Bay which is six miles further NNE, it is also a good departure point for the passage to Port Vila. Ashore one will find remains of a logging camp and former village, now quite overgrown.

Report 09 October, 2012
Jim Thomsen of SY Tenaya

We spent a month on Tanna this year (and about the same amount of time last year) and have become friends with many of the people. The people of Port Resolution love yachts visiting and truly enjoy getting to know yachties.  But the growing number of yachts has caused some problems.  The biggest problems are yachts leaving their rubbish or worse, burning it on shore.  What makes this hard is if you ask a person in the village if you can leave trash or burn it they will almost always say yes.  That’s their culture, they do not say no and do not tell you when you do something wrong.

We worked with Werry, manager of the Port Resolution Yacht Club and Stanley, the yacht liaison, to produce a short flyer with a map of Port Resolution and the surrounding area, information on some of the local attractions and a few rules they would like yachts to know. We printed a bunch for them, but they would appreciate any yachts with a printer to make some additional copies for them.

Download your copy here.