Saturday 10 August 2013
16 28.82S 167 26.57E
Today’s log really starts last night. Once everyone was aboard (minus Helen and Morinda who slept ashore) we decided to find shelter in another part of the bay. With wind in the SW our anchorage was open to literally 1000+ miles of fetch and during the day the waves built up and it was now very uncomfortable. It was hard on people and equipment. SW Bay is shaped by a headland with a small island and reef extending out to sea. We hoped to find shelter from the bigger waves by moving about one mile, deeper into the bay. To everyone’s relief the worst of the sea disappeared when we reached THE spot which we shared with a local trading boat. An adventure tourist boat was also nearby but due to its size, it anchored further out. They had arranged custom dancing entertainment for the guests. But judging from the radio conversations they were having trouble working out if they could and their passengers safely.
Once settled in our new anchorage, Helena and Isabelle became the guest chefs in a version of MY Kitchen Rules. Denis our carry over, carry over champion chef chipped in from the sidelines when needed. What was produced was amazing Chicken Nonya.
We found the holding ground to be good so, rather than have a formal anchor watch, I decided to sleep in the cockpit and put the anchor alarm on. Dave, who normally sleeps in the cockpit, seemed to have an indecent haste in agreeing to swap cabins. Was there something I didn’t know about this deal?
Everyone was in bed by 10pm but in the cockpit it was hard to sleep because you are very aware of every gust of wind and noise the boat makes. From the comfort of the cockpit bunk I could see the GPS plotter which shows our position on an electronic chart, the depth sounder and the lights of the local trading boat about 100m away so I could easily check if we were still in the right place. I kept musing on the idea that the severe gusts should taper off by midnight. But it seemed like the severe gusts would not stop and I found I was up checking things during each gust. At midnight a loud anchor noise shattered the night and I jumped out of bed. So did Dave and we bumped into each other on our way to investigate. All seemed in order so we went back to bed and I must have fallen asleep at last only to awake suddenly to the sound of the anchor alarm at 2am. This time no one else heard the noise. But there was nothing to worry about. The gusts of wind had mercifully abated and the tide gently swirled the yacht around the anchorage stretching the anchor chain to its extremity and setting off the alarm. After checking everything I went back to bed and what followed was a procession of crew coming on deck to have a look around. We had a short chat, admired the stars and went back to sleep. By 3:30am I had fallen asleep and remained asleep till 6am when the early risers went for their swim.
At 7:30am we moved the yacht back to the village and although the wind had dropped the anchorage was still rolly poly. Some of the team went ashore, getting wet in the process, to organise the clinic equipment and book the local boat to take everyone to the Lawa village a few miles along the coast. However, we discovered late in the piece that the clinic boat was broken but nobody thought to mention it earlier. Eventually a boat from Lawa came down to pick up the team and take them back to the village. Once the traveling show left, Dave and I got the anchor up and moved the yacht back to the sheltered anchorage.
As Dave and I spent a quiet day pottering around the boat, and my case I had a 2 hour sleep to catch up on last nights events, I will ask one of the team to write up their log. But I should mention Martin’s new vocation as a dental assistant. He has taken to the role with Gusto, quite literally. We now call him Doc Martin. When we get some internet access I will upload some images of the man at work. It is very impressive.
And on the subject of internet access I need to mention for the benefit of love ones blong crew that they have not forgotten you since being away. We are in a communication black spot and we can’t send emails and most of us can’t get phone access.
We have just finished another beautiful meal prepared by Denis and some of the team are now sitting around the table discussing the day’s cases while Martin is doing the dishes. Dave and Denis are on deck breathing in the tropic air and admiring the starry night.
The rest of the log will be written by Denis on the day’s clinic activities when I can get him to leave the charms of the tropical night.
Today’s clinic was actually quite special. The medical party, Megan, Rhod, Isobel, Martin, Helen, Morinda, Helena, Gary and myself were ferried to shore by an excellent local boatman in a large tinny. Waiting at the beach were David Wimbong , the local host and a number of men waiting to help. We marched uphill toting our equipment and stared to set up in a large hall. David then asked us to gather around a table decorated with colourfull local flowers. He proceeded to welcome us and thank us for being there. He was accompanied by two elderly ladies carrying leis. David asked each of us to come forward and be formally welcomed to their village, of which they were obviously very proud. One by one we were greeted, bowed to and given a garland of flowers around our neck. We were then asked to introduce ourselves to the waiting crowd. This short but beautiful ceremony was completed by the whole crowd clapping and laughing. I had tears in my eyes. A very warm welcome indeed.
After a busy morning, David approached me to say that lunch was being prepared and would be ready around 1 pm. Given that we had brought our own supplies, bread, tuna, cheese etc, I suggested that we share our food with him and his helpers. After rounding up our team we sat around the table groaning with local produce and our own meager contribution. David again thanked us and said a prayer. We were treated to rice, lap lap, prawns, beef and island salad, cold drinks and hot coffee, bananas and coconuts. These are truly beautiful people and working with them is a great privilege.
The afternoon passed quickly with Megan being the busiest this time, Doc Martin was up to his usual standard and Helena and Isobel performed podiatry surgery on a young man with severe blistering on his feet. Gary did and amazing extraction on a very reluctant Down syndrome lad and Rhod kept us all on our toes with the usual excellent standard of paperwork and administrative support. Morinda and Helen were always in the background making all of this fit together.
I am constantly amazed at the dedication and professionalism of this medical team to which I am lucky to be able to make a small contribution. By about 4 pm we had treated everyone who had attended and we returned to the shore line to be formally farewelled by David and thanked by all. The thanks and warm wishes are as always very genuine and at times, somewhat overwhelming.
We were then greeted by our boatman who guided us delicately through the reefs back to our mother ship.
Thanks Denis. As a postscript to our day’s activities I should mention that Helena needed to revisit the Wintua clinic to pass on the case notes and medication lists to the local nurse. This could be done this evening or tomorrow morning. After a few phone calls (on the local digicell network) we learned that tomorrow, being Sunday, would be difficult to get anyone’s attention. So this evening it had to be. With the light fading fast Martin took Helena and Helen back to the village in the dinghy. A distance of about a mile. We dressed our small team in life jackets and equipped them with torches and a two radio. When the dinghy arrived at the beach the waves were still a bit big and the two ladies got saturated getting out of the dinghy. Martin waited in the dinghy until they had finished and collected them from the beach in the dark resulting in a second drenching. Our intrepid team motored back to the yacht using the yacht’s anchor light to guide them.
Tomorrow, we head off to Dixon’s Reef. We don’t like names with the word ‘reef’ in them but having studied the cruising guide today and looking at the weather forecast we should be fine. At least the place name reminds us to take care!
Smooth seas, fair breeze and A sailors warm welcome
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To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …