Sunday 17 May, 7.23pm (anchored at Lenakel)

After some lovely calm weather, a starry night and a considerable reduction in the rolly movement at anchor, we woke early this morning to pelting rain and howling winds – from of all places, the west and north.

Fortunately our new anchor did its job and managed to quickly re-set 180 degrees in the confines of the harbour and after a mad dash around the deck to close the hatches and reattach the side flaps of the deck awning we remained on high alert in case this should get even worse.

Our weather forecast said wind from the SE at 15 knots by noon and here we were a 5:00am getting wind from the NW at 25 knots.

By 8:30 it was starting to ease off and there were signs that the wind was starting to veer in a southerly direction.

Sadly, Martin’s two weeks aboard came to an end today with his flight out of Tanna leaving around 11:25. He’ll overnight in Pt Vila and catch the flight home to Melbourne tomorrow. It was a privilege to have Martin aboard and his wealth of knowledge and experience helped us in so many ways. Martin made a significant contribution to the smooth completion of the first stage of this mission – the delivery voyage.

With Martin safely loaded onto the back of a taxi-ute for the 30 minute drive to the airport, Will and Kathy took the opportunity to go for a walk up to the hospital and I joined the medical team for a walk to a nearby Presbyterian church for the 10:00am Sunday Service. Bob and Andrew stayed aboard and on the ready should more nasty weather come in and it be necessary to up anchor and head out.

Reporting from the church service, I must say, it was a very moving experience and we were made to feel so welcome. Being a bit early, we all crept in the back of the small building and sat on the last two bench stools in the place – as is the custom (at least in Australia) But the steward was having none of it. “Come down the front – all of you”. “No”, we insisted, “we are happy here, we don’t want to intrude”. This worked once, but after a short while she came back, and Richard Tatwin, who was sitting next to me, interpreted – “They really want us to go down the front, they’ve saved seats for us.”

So, we did what we were told and sat right in the front, complete with our cameras and videos – man, we were packing technology.

It really was an amazing experience. Not just the wonderful singing, the harmonies and enthusiasm, but the genuine, quite simple love and affection shown to us and to everyone. It was very moving.

Now, I’m not sure whether the usual services go that long, but about two and a half hours in, I’m starting to think, my backside is in desperate need of some time out!! Around 1:00pm we filed out and being honored guests we got to shake hands with everyone, big and small, old and young as they made their way out.

It was then feast time and about 2:30pm we were heading back.

Half way through the service we were hit with more torrential downpours and strong winds, which had me wondering how things were going aboard Chimere. (Wet and concerned as I discovered later)

So the plans from here will see us travel around to Port Resolution tomorrow, with the medical clinics for the next two days being conducted ashore. Then on Wednesday, we’ll meet up with the medical team at Port Resolution and make further plans for later in the week. I believe we do the volcano next Sunday night!!

As of now, the ship is ready to head back to sea with everything stowed and almost ship-shape. It’s probably only 25 miles around to Port Resolution, but half of this will be into the wind, which has now moved to the SE as predicted and we don’t want dinghies and other gear moving around if the sea picks up.

It’s now 8:00pm, we’re rolling slightly less than we were an hour ago and it’s time for bed!!

We’re looking forward to Port Resolution.

Smooth sea, fair wind and farewell Martin

Rob