Monday 2 October 2017
Waterfront seawall, Port Vila
A series of tacks between Malekula and Ambrym Islands through the night, then a long tack to get into the lee of Epi in the early morning, then saw us on a steady course to Efate and our eventual destination Port Vila.
The wind held from the East- Southeast at around 20 knots and with moderate seas we were able to make up time, with our speed regularly hitting over 8 knots
Devil’s Point was rounded in daylight and from there it was a steady 1-2 hour slog into the wind with the lights of Port Vila in the distance.
Once in the harbour we picked up a mooring around 7:30pm, finally turned off the engine and breathed a sigh of relief – the four medical missions for 2017 were now at an end.
It didn’t take long for bags to be packed and for Barry and Annette to take their leave via a short dinghy ride to the shore. Their prompt departure can be put down to Barry’s wife Andrea having flown in earlier in the day and Annette’s husband Martyn meekly waiting ashore for the safe return of his wife.
Meanwhile, onboard, Cathy and Matt cooked up a lovely dinner and sleep soon followed.
The day dawned sunny and with plans set for a sumptuous breakfast together ashore at Jill’s Café, (at the amazing sleep-in hour of 9:00am) we first made arrangements to bring Chimere to the sea wall.
This is always a nervous time, that involves first, backing Chimere (straight) towards the solid seawall while, second, picking up a mooring line at the bow and shore-line at the stern. The lines fore and aft are then tensioned to keep the stern just the right distance from the concrete wall.
In the end it was a text book landing, with Matt taking charge of the bow, Cathy of the stern and the Yachting World staff in their boat helping at all points.
Breakfast was indeed a decadent feast compared to what we have been used to for several weeks aboard and it was great to catch up with Andrea and Martyn.
The rest of the day just seemed to disappear, with the dental and mission equipment and supplies being retrieved from Chimere’s foredeck in the afternoon, interspersed with ongoing cleaning, tidying and for some reason, a regular urge to lie down and fall asleep.
Oh, there was also Wellan’s bag of fresh fish, placed in our freezer up in Sola, Vanualava, what seems ages ago now. This was an impulse-purchase Wellan made off a local banana boat fisherman as we all stood in the shallows waiting to head out to Chimere for the last time before heading home. “Hurry up Wellan!” someone yelled in Bislama … “He doesn’t have change of a 1000 Vatu note!” called back Wellan. Solution … “Buy more fish Wellan !!” Which quickly had Wellan climbing into the dinghy with a bigger than usual bag of fish to be placed in Chimere’s freezer for the return voyage. I’ve no doubt that’s a fisherman’s sales tactic used the world over – and not just by fishermen!
Barry and Andrea generously hosted a dinner for all available team members and partners – still in Port Vila – up at the Melanesian Hotel – and it was great to catch up with Wellan, Barkon and Bob again, plus of course Martin and Deb. Richard, sadly couldn’t make it along because of a recent death in the family.
With the Supporters Tour starting in two day’s time, and around 20 people coming over to Port Vila to enjoy something of the “local experience” it was now time to give thought to all the many loose ends that needed to be addressed.
This took most of the day, with time also shared with fellow yachties and new best friends from a yacht also tied up at the waterfront – Amos & Anat Raviv, off their yacht “Amosea Island”. Their stories of sailing from Israel, of family, and of life generally were fascinating and Barry, Andrea and I had a lovely coffee and cake aboard their beautiful yacht before Barry and Andrea headed off to the airport to visit the volcano down on Tanna for a couple of days.
In reflecting on Barry’s short time in Vanuatu, he could almost be described as a volcano-chaser, having sailed past the Gaua volcano, Mt Garet, evacuated 29 people from the newly-awakened Ambae volcano, seen close-up from at sea the glow of Ambrym’s two volcanos Mt Benbow & Mt Marum and is now heading down to Tanna’s Mt Yasur to stand on the rim and look into its exploding cauldron of molten earth.
Living on the edge Barry ?!
It’s now Thursday 5 October – a public holiday, Constitution Day ! So things are even sleepier than usual … but there’s a rumour (my friend) the President will be speaking somewhere today, so I’m going to check it out. And I’m also meeting with Kalmaire from Paunangisu Village to iron out any last-minute details for the Village Experience Day next Monday and the Supporters Tour generally.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and time to head south