Sunday 11 August 2013

16 23.782S 167 22.426E

This morning dawned still and sunny and we had a slow start. Breakfast was a banquet of tropical fruits, a variety cereals and omelets. No one swam this morning as there was an oil slick on the water which came from somewhere up wind of us. At 9am we up anchored and motored north towards Dixon Reefs. The wind remained light so we motored the whole way.

Dixon Reefs is a labyrinth of reefs and bommies so we followed the cruising guide directions closely and anchored a far way off shore. The wind started to get up and by mid afternoon was very strong. Everyone went ashore to operate the clinic except Dave and me who stayed on boat watch. The anchorage was affected by a strong tidal current which fought with the strong wind leaving the yacht to comply with each by averaging the difference.

The village was quite different to other villages but it is hard to pin point what made it stand out. It was very clean and tidy but the difference seemed to be the little bamboo fences that defined home sites and other areas. There was a large common dining room where the village has a shared meal once a week. The kindergarten was very cute. It was surrounded by a bamboo boundary fence which contained a small thatched house and a thatched roofed open play area. In one corner was a very small thatched toilet structure and in another corner was play equipment made from bamboo and timber.

Advance notice of the clinic didn’t seem to get through so the first anyone knew we were coming was when we arrived offshore in the yacht. The local nurse was very good and facilitated as well as she could. But without advanced notice many people were away in their gardens and couldn’t attend. It was the first time on this tour that the dentist had less patients than the optoms.

With less sterilizing to do for Gary, Denis went outside to find all the children gathered round. Denis immediately had them sitting in the shade of a tree in a big circle. He started with hand tricks and then singing. Once he had the children’s attention he gave a talk on brushing your teeth. The men were also enchanted and joined in the singing too. By the time Dave and I came ashore when Martin took over anchor watch, Denis had everyone singing songs which included a solo by Dave of the Australian Anthem.

As the day proceeded I felt we should find a better anchorage so Denis, Dave and I went back to the boat. As we left an old man on the beach waved his arms and he told us where he thought we should anchor. He came on board to guide us. However, after anchoring I felt we should have moved to the recognized anchorage on the outside of the reef rather than a little pocket inside the reefs. But the problem was getting all the gear and the team back on board and move to the new anchorage before dark. After a few radio calls and a bit of a hurry up by everyone we just managed it.
We have just had a beautiful meal prepared by Denis and we raised a glass to David’s daughter who celebrated her 16th birthday today. Birthday greetings Alysha from all on board Chimere (located in Dixon Reef Vanuatu – somewhere in the South Pacific.)

Smooth seas, fair breeze and at home among the reefs

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To read older Ships Log posts go to …
http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …
http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=43