2013 Mission 2 Log

Rollicking Sail to Lugnville

Thursday 15 August 2013

lat 15 31.36S lon 167 09.92

This morning’s clinic would be our last and our jaded team had mixed feelings. They looked very tired after their trip to Leviamp from Unmet. Then the night was spent on the yacht which bounced around in the swell so there was no real rest. Breakfast gave everyone a lift and off they went to do the last clinic of this tour. Dave and I stayed on the yacht as the anchorage was not good enough to leave the boat unattended. Around mid morning I went ashore briefly to see how the clinic was going and was met on the beach by a group of children who were enjoying a public holiday. I asked them if they could show me their village and although language between us was limited they seemed delighted and off we trekked. We were lead by a year 6 girl and in common with most girls that age we have met she was very sensible and socially aware. The boys were ultra shy and turned to the older girl for direction. I realised later that that our guide had mapped out a figure of eight route so I could see all the sights. We went past a church which was undergoing a renovation, wove through clusters of huts, through the school, past the school principles hut, past the kava bar and back to the river where women were washing. From there we crossed the river to get to the clinic. When we got to the spot where the police markers were placed after the tragic car accident the children stopped and explained what happened which was related in yesterdays log. At the clinic Isabelle checked the children’s legs and found several with yaws.


Back on the yacht Dave had been running the water maker and when I returned we got ready to receive the team back on board.

The clinic finished at about 1:30pm and we had everyone back on board by 2:15pm. The wind had piped up and I was glad to be leaving the anchorage.


After an early scramble to get everything ship shape for the long trip to Luganville we all settled into a quiet order. The wind was brisk and the seas choppy but once we got the jib drawing and our course shaped around the north end of Malakula the motion steadied and we were making good time. I periodically checked on everyone and Helen said (on the third or fourth time of asking) “we cant get into our cabin”. She explained the door was locked shut. Dave said it has happened before and he opened it by climbing through the deck hatch. But this time the hatch was shut for the trip. So Dave had to use some ingenuity and managed to break into the girls’ cabin. Everyone had fun suggesting the heading for the log along the lines of “man breaks into girls’ cabin……girls delighted!!”

We continued to make good time and arrived at Luganvile at 9:15pm. Denis had already cooked dinner en route so after dropping anchor and all the focus of navigating to the Segond Channel was behind us, Denis was able to put a hot dinner on the table.




Smooth seas, fair breeze and rollicking sail to Luganville



Andrew Latimer






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The other half of Yesterday’s Post

Wednesday 14 August by Denis

The medical team was greeted on arrival early (7.30) this morning by Justin the senior nurse. He led us up the hill to his clinic which proved to be a small hospital, with three beds and a birthing suite. He had running water and a gas fired camp stove so setting up and running the sterilization process for the dentist was straightforward. The team saw many patients throughout the day, including some young boys with Yaws disease. Megan saw a six year old boy who had a stick poked in his eye some time ago and had surgery but this resulted in a cataract. Megan provided a pair of sunglasses for him as a respite.


We saw the usual parade of men women and children all ages and varying degrees of illness. Gary managed to see over 30 patients yet again. There were two unusual features of the village this time. The church (Catholic) was quite grand with a wide aisle and a beautiful view of the beach. The other point of interest was copra storage shed which was the centre of much activity, delivering, counting and storing large sacks.

By 4pm the work was done and we loaded our gear onto a ute and drove to Unmet, where we were to link up with the boat. Please try and picture an ancient Mitsubishi ute loaded with dental and medical equipment, 10 people holding on for dear life in the back with me in some degree of comfort in the front because of a wrenched knee earlier in the day. At one point we crossed a river only to emerge with a damaged sump guard, dragging along the road. The driver drove forward and back trying to dislodge the offending article but eventually stopped to have a look. Both dentist and doctor jumped out to investigate and Helena was soon on her knees with appropriate bandages tying the bits and pieces together. This worked a treat and we were soon on our way much to the astonishment of the locals who had come along to see this magnificent piece of surgical compromise.

Today we go our separate ways

Wednesday 14 August 2013

16 08.89S    167 13.76E

We were up and moving by 6am this morning. The medical team slept in a little bit longer while the sailing crew got the yacht under way and heading for Unmet in the north west corner of Malakula. Chimere had never been to this part of Vanuatu before so we had some exploring to do. The chart has very little detail and the cruising guide does not mention it. From the shape of the coast it did not promise a good anchorage. We arrived at about 7:30am. The wind was very light but the swell was quite large. Martin (capt courageous) went ahead in the dinghy to find the best landing place. Pretty soon we had everything and everyone ashore.

Our plan was to leave the shore team to their own devices while we sail on to find a better anchorage. The medical team would then hire a ute to bring them to the boat. That was the plan and in a roundabout way it worked.

Remaining on board was Martin, Dave and me. We waited at Unmet for an hour in case we were needed by the shore crew.  I discovered I had some reception on my internet connection and quickly sent some pictures to the web master before the connection blew away.
With some misgivings about having to leave the shore team we got the anchor up and motored off in the direction of Leviamp about 7 miles further along the coast. The chart showed a recognized anchorage and the promise of some shelter from the swell behind a reef.
We sailed fairy close to the coast as it was deep water and we could watch the jungle shore line slip past us.


Along the way we encountered 3 dugout canoes in the open water. Often they were hidden by the swell and they looked very frail craft on that big ocean.
The recognized anchorage proved to be a false promise. The water was deep and there was no protection from the swell. The anchorages shown on the chart was some distance away from Leviamp so we turned around and headed back in the direction of Leviamp to see if there were any possibilities there. We had watched the local trading boat take a short cut across the reef and head towards Leviamp. By the time we reached Leviamp the trader had sent the dinghy ashore and picked up and dropped off goods. He didn’t anchor and we could see there might be an anchorage where he jilled about. As we got closer we stopped and waited and suddenly the trader moved ahead with lots of waving and made room for us. Their dinghy man ashore drove the dinghy back to his ship like a F1 driver whooping with excitement.

We dropped anchor and went ashore immediately to make sure everyone knew the clinic would be tomorrow. When we stepped ashore we were met by a lot of school children who are on holiday at the moment. After some shy introductions a very bold young girl stepped forward and asked what we wanted. We explained we wanted to find the nurse. She immediately ushered us to follow her. We were led across a little river that was on its last part of the journey to the sea. Behind the sand the river formed a little lagoon. This area was used as the clothes washing and women’s washing area. We knew from the past encounters elsewhere that we shouldn’t walk through the washing area so I was bit embarrassed.  But clearly it was not an issue as the closest lady merely wrapped a cloth around herself and  held out her hand to say hello.  Little further on the girl said here is the nurse.

The nurse was a little confused about around arrival and said tomorrow is a public holiday and no one would come. We spent a pleasant time with the nurse and she showed us around. After awhile she suggested that people with real medical problems would not care about the holiday and would rather have their ailment looked at. The nurse spoke French and Bislama so communication was a challenge.


One the way back to the boat we stopped at some little sticks in the ground with a bit of bunting on top. The nurse explained that one month ago a child was hit by a car and died on that spot. The other flags we could see were the positions of witnesses to the tragedy. It was the first such fatality in the district and we couldn’t help feeling very sad.

Back on the boat we kept anchor watch as the wind increased during the day. The anchorage was uncomfortable and I felt vigilance was needed at a time like this! Dave made bread and water and I checked the engine oil and fuel levels.
From 4pm onwards we kept watch for the shore team’s arrival. At 4:40pm we were surprised to see a little figure waving from a different part of the shore. The team was back.

Martin and I took the dinghy ashore picking our way slowly through the labyrinth of coral heads. The same area the trader dinghy was travelling at full speed and whooping.

We met the team on the beach and found an exhausted group. The short ute ride actually took 2 hours over very rugged terrain. When they arrived in Leviamp they had a chat with the nurse and put all our equipment in the clinic building for the night.
I have asked one of the shore team to report on their day for the log but I don’t think it will be tonight somehow. Denis has been given the night off and the ladies, Helena and Isabelle, are cooking up a very elegant Italian meal. Megan prepared starters which were plantain banana chips freshly fried on board.

Morinda and Helen both came back to the boat tonight in spite of watching it roll around at anchor. Fortunately it is quieter now and I can hear laughter coming from their cabin; So all must be well. Today we went our separate ways and had two very different days, but now we are back together snug in the cabin and we are about to enjoy dinner.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and today we go we our separate ways

Andrew Latimer



To read older Ships Log posts go to …

To see  photos of Mission 2 go to …
http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44 Please note that due to different cameras and technical issues these photos are not sorted so that new images may appear at the end.

To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …

Two Clinics in One Day

Tuesday 13 August 2013

16 11.10S    167 23.42E

Yesterday’s clinic was a bit small owing to the fact that some people hadn’t got the message that we were coming. So we did a bit of asking around yesterday to see if we should stay an extra day to give everyone a chance to come to the clinic. In the end the local nurse assured us that there would be many people so the decision was made to stay put and work in Vinmavis and the village of Lambumbu today. Denis (aka M. Pamplemoose) swapped paces with Dave so Dave could have a day in the village and Martin also stayed on board so I could also go ashore today.

The ute ride to Vinmavis is beautiful. It is a rough track which runs along the coast line. The coast was barely visible because the jungle was so dense and over hung the track. On the inland side of the track was a cliff of limestone covered in vegetation. Now and then the jungle opened to a view of the ocean. It took about half an hour to do the short distance involved. We were told later that legend has it that an earthquake in the 1800s lifted the coast up and the cliffs we could see was the old coast.

The first impression of the village was that it was different to others. Each village has its own identity. As we unloaded the ute I noticed a young man sawing timber with a circular saw. He was a builder and was making a mounting frame for a 40W solar panel for his brother hut. Nearly all the buildings were made from local materials in the traditional manner.

I asked the young men who were watching the builder at work if I could go to ocean and how to get there. Two year 8 boys jumped up and became my guides. They took me to the ocean and I could see a small gap in the reef where a local boat could come in. Other than that the reef extended out from the shore a long way and along the coast for miles. Not a place we could bring our boat.

The boys then took me to the kindergarten where we could see the children playing with balloons. The Kindergarten was an area corralled by a low bamboo fence with play equipment made of local materials.

In the centre was a thatched hut. As we boys arrived the children went into the hut. We were invited inside where we found a delightful gaggle of children, each with a balloon, plus their teachers and an administrator. The first thing I was asked was “where is Monsieur Pamplemoose?” I explained that M.P was on the boat today having a rest. They giggled at the recollection the funny man who visited them yesterday.

The teachers showed me all the learning materials on the walls of the hut. They had posters for learning colours, letters and words plus simple quotes from the Bible. The children were shy but when it came for me to go I sat on the step outside putting my shoes back on and the children all crowded around to see this funny sight.

The boys were joined by a young man and they all acted as my guide and were keen to show me all the local foods. We founded tasty nuts, cocoa pods which when cut open revealed the cocoa nut which is surrounded by a white flesh. You suck the white flesh off the nut as if it was a lolly and it tastes very good. We found coconuts in various stages from cool drinking nuts to nuts that had sprouted and contained a solid white flesh. They showed me the copra drying ovens, the cocoa drying areas, and the coconut oil manufacturing area. We met a group of girls on their way fishing. They were sitting on the track waiting for the tide to come in a bit more before venturing onto the reef with fishing lines.

After a while I thought I had been away from the clinic long enough and walked back with the boys picking a bag of lemons on the way.
By midday the clinic was winding down and the chief organized some ladies to bring some cordial and biscuits. When all was packed up the chief made a heartfelt speech thanking the volunteers for helping the village and saying we would remain in their prayers.

With that formality it was back into the truck and off to another village which was about an hour drive away. The village inland from Lambumbu was again altogether different. This time there were many houses made from prefabricated cement sheet insulated panels and corrugated iron roofs. But these were built some time ago and now many had rusty roofs and damaged walls. The village hall where the clinic was held was badly damaged. But we received a warm welcome and we got straight to work. Because I am normally on the boat, except for short stints ashore to make sure everything was running smoothly, I didn’t have a specific job to do. To rectify this I acted as cashier for the eye team. Later on David, who was doing the steralising, asked me to hold the light for Gary (dentist). This was the beginning of a whole new career. Extraction after extraction I held the light onto the work area. It gave me a new appreciation for the whole process and indeed the limitations constraining health service delivery in these conditions.

We packed a lot into today. All clinic streams were busy. In all 122 patients were seen.
Back on the boat Martin scrubbed the underwater part of the hull and Denis made bread and vacuumed the decks to remove the fine gravel that comes aboard on our feet and then washed the decks. Denis is now  in the galley cooking up a beautiful dinner while everyone is engaged in finishing off the paper work from today.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Two Clinics in One Day


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Monsieur Pamplemoose

Monday 12 August 2013

16 11.10S    167 23.42E

It was well worth the effort of moving the yacht just before dark last night. I slept well. I got up a couple of times, but all was well.  Our plan was to leave the anchorage at 6am and I was lying awake in my bunk at 5:45am thinking Denis’ alarm will go off any minute.  Sure enough the tinkling musical tones of the alarm could be heard wafting from the main cabin. Dve, who slept in my cabin last night on the upper bunk and I got up and pottered around for a little while. I put the new waypoints into the chart plotter while Denis and Dave checked the anchor. At 5 to 6 it was time to warm up the motor; Just the thing to get Martin and Rhod out of their bunks. The medical team knew they could turn over and go back to sleep.
It is only just daylight at 6am and we slid out of our anchorage and on to our course. It was very cold last night so we had jackets on. Except Martin that is; but then he is from the cold country where yachts have snow shovels in the lockers.

The weather was beautiful with a light breeze and the sun peeping over the mountains of Melakula a short distance to the east.
We got to Lambumbu in good time and found the gap in the coast that marked the entrance of that little bay. One of our number was up the mast, two in the bow, one half way to relay instructions and two at the helm (one to steer and one to call the depths. We motored in slowly past rocks on both sides with our team calling little instructions as we went….”all clear up front” “5 metres!”  “stand by to drop anchor” “4 metres”  “Going astern” (to bring the boat to a stop) “Drop anchor”.

Today’s clinic was to be held at the village of Vinmarvis which is a half hour truck ride on a very rough road from the anchorage. Our little truck was waiting for us at 9:30 and took our equipment and people to work. No traffic jams but as Denis found it was tough going. He was sitting on the wheel arch of the ute’s tub and felt every bump in the …….!

Here are some observations from the medical team.

First up Garry Hibble (dentist)
As the dentist on this mission to Vanuatu as we have had to learn to adapt to the conditions that are presented . it is nothing that resembles a dental surgery back in Australia. We work with a limited amount of equipment.  It would be a delight to have a good light, instead I usually find a willing Ni Van to hold a head torch under our direction ( I have found that that it is better to have the light held in preference to wearing it). There is no suction, no triplex, no  x ray and no amalgamator to name a few but as I said we have had to adapt to what we have. Maintaining sterile instruments has been our biggest  hurdle and I have had to enlist the help of other crew in particular  Martin and Dennis who have helped to maintain a good system.
With all those limitations the main presenting complaint is tooth ache requiring extraction. We have extracted teeth from children as young as 7 and those in their  80’s. We usually have a crowd of interested onlookers who provide sound effects and often take photos on their  mobile phones of their friends’ torment. The patients generally accept the injection without flinching and accept their treatment in good spirit and are very thankful. All this time I have been assisted by Morinda who has spoken to school children about preventive dental care. She too has accepted the challenge in a difficult environment and has expanded her clinical skills. She is invaluable in communicating after patient care in Bislama which is a comfort to the patient.  She also is able to assist by communicating with the patient, what the presenting problem is.

We are just over half way through the tour and have developed a good system between us and are able to set the clinic up quickly and create a smooth through put of patients.
Many thanks Garry.

Next we hear from Megan Zabell (Optometrist)
After a couple of days Hellen (Ni Van Eyecare worker) and I have established a good system. Hellen refracts the patient (using the Bislama reading card!) and passes them along to me with their prescription and I check the health of the front and back of the eye. This generally means detection and grading of pterygia and cataracts. In Vanuatu the treatment options are limited so these conditions are left longer than they would be in Australia. If things are looking bad enough such as a pterygia starting to cover the eye or a cataract getting bad enough that the patient can see no more detail than counting fingers then we provide a referral to Santo for surgery.

Generally I try to dispense the glasses and have an attempt at explaining the eye conditions. This is very easy if their eyes are healthy;”Numbawan!! Very good eyes!”. However, it can be tricky for other conditions such as cataract;  “glass blong eye blong you got cloudy”. Hellen steps in if the patients looks too baffled.

Generally patients are very thankful. One of my favorite patients, an 86 year old, told me that his -2.00 glasses, that wouldn’t even get him within the legal driving limit in Australia, saying that his new glasses were like having brand new eyes!
Thanks Megan.

It is now time to introduce you to Monsieur Pamplemoose. You might recall from earlier logs that Denis has a knack of attracting and entertaining a crowd. He plays hand tricks with the children and sings songs with children and adults alike. Today it was more formal. Denis  visited a school and was introduced by the teacher to the children as Monsieur Pamplemoose.  The teacher had asked Denis what his name was beforehand so she could introduce him to the children and that was the answer he gave. She did a double take and blinked rapidly and said “Really? Is that your name?” and Denis meekly said “Yes”. Of course as soon as M. Pamplemoose was introduced he had the children laughing. After a little bit of banter, and when Denis was sure he had their attention, he gave a talk about  preventative dental care and gave tooth brushes and tooth brushes to the little ones. Later the teacher came to the clinic and had a tooth out then nursing a sore mouth came to Megan for an eye test. Megan asked her how her day was going and she explained in delighted tones that, someone called M. Pamplemoose had visited the class and had the children in stitches! Well done M. Pamplemoose . We might have a surplus of pamplemoose on board but there is only one Monsieur Pamplemoose. Monsieur P has a son who will soon be living in Vanuatu for his work. And it is his birthday. In true on board tradition we celebrate any birthday which comes within cooee. Happy birthday Simon. We wish you a very happy day. Cheers.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and M. Pamplemoose


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At home among the reefs

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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A Warm Welcome

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.

Andrew Latimer

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.

Denis  Flores

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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A sailors haunt – a lee shore

Friday 9 August 2013

16 28.82S       167 26.57E

Robert sent us an email yesterday with an updated weather forecast and I was surprised to see north westerlies predicted. That is the opposite to the prevailing SE trade winds. Our weather map from the HF radio which we received later seemed to confirm the forecast. So it wasn’t a surprise this morning to find we had swung around on our anchor and we’re now pointing offshore. That means the beach that was benign yesterday is now a lee shore and the place we will drift if anything goes wrong with the anchor. A lee shore is the haunt of the sailor, a place he never wants to be caught near.
Two days ago we added another sailors’ haunt to the list of things that unsettle sailors; and that is coral. Enough of coral for the moment because we are in a large open bay and if we stay within it there is no coral to worry about.
This morning we put the medical team ashore for an 8:30am start. Dave went ashore to relieve Denis who has been working himself in to a sweat for days. Denis has been responsible for sterilisation and that means keeping a pressure cooker running for 8 hours! Denis looks like a coal stocker on an old steamer by the end of the day; all bedraggled and covered in sweat! The trouble is he is good at it and each day he has refined the method and procedure to the point where the dentist has no down time waiting for instruments to be sterilised. In fact the dentist has no rest at all anymore. He is a machine. Today it was agreed by all that Denis needed a break and Dave had already volunteered to learn the system and Denis would come back to the boat after providing Dave with basic training.
Meanwhile, Isabelle had arranged for the local potter, Ken, to pick up the load of potters clay and newly cast church bell from the yacht. Denis got back on board in time for the appointed arrival time for Ken but Ken didn’t come. Later on Ken rang to say the local boat had not arrived so he would wait a bit longer. The onshore waves got bigger and bigger during the morning with occasional rain squalls. It seemed that Ken would not come today on account of the weather. Ken rang to say he would no longer wait for the boat and would walk to another village which is close to us and find a boatman to bring him out to the yacht. So a 9am arrangement  became 10 which became 11 and eventually settled on 1:30pm.
During this time the weather was unpleasant and I stayed on deck watching the shore line. Suddenly I thought the shore looked closer than before. This is a perennial dilemma for anyone watching the shore in case the anchor drags; you always visualize the shore is getting closer. A check of the depth sounder and the GPS confirmed we had moved. It was time to move the yacht and I radioed ashore to get some help. Dave came to the beach immediately and Denis went ashore in the dinghy to collect him. That sounds straight forward but involved quite a bit if effort. The dinghy had to be lowered in to the water, I had to reach out into space while the boat is swinging from the davits to put the bung back in, Denis climbed into the violently gyrating dinghy, he disconnected the davit ropes, reconnected the fuel line on the engine, primed the line, put on a little bit of choke, pulled on the starter cord, gather in the bow line and engage the gears and head off to the beach, all the while being tossed around like a dodgem car. Well done Denis. While they were gone I started the engine and then noticed that the gps screen had frozen. A perfectly wrong time to stop working. Very quickly Denis and Dave were on their way back and looking like drowned rats. They climbed aboard over the stern and worked their way forward to bring up the anchor.  In the middle of all this was the moment fate chose for Ken to arrive. Once the anchor was down Ken came along side in the local boat and we unloaded 3 bags of heavy clay, a heavy cast bronze bell, and 12 twenty five kg bags of clay plus a few other smaller boxes. Ken was all smiles. Isabelle climbed into the boat complete with two way radio, rain coat and life jacket. They headed back to Ken’s village. We’ll ask Isabelle to report on Ken’s pottery set up and his low smoke stoves.
The clinic worked well and finished by around 2:15pm. They had arranged for some food supplies including 2 freshly killed and dressed chickens, Loaves of fresh bread and a bundle of fruit and veg.  They have also found accommodation for our 2 local girls who wisely thought a night on a tossing yacht would not be what they needed.
Isabelle and the boatman have now returned and have headed to the beach and are waiting just outside the breaking waves until the medical team arrive on the beach and bring Martin and Meagan (with Isabelle) back to the yacht which is a great saving for the dinghy and gallant coxswain. Speaking of gallant coxswain, he is now making apple and cinnamon muffins in the galley opposite me. Nothing can stop him but a rest day he has had not.
Last night’s dinner was fantastic. It was held on deck with a ring of candles setting the scene. If the weather abates a bit and with all the new supplies coming tonight, our dinner tonight should be amazing.
Our team sends happy birthday greetings to Robert back in Melbourne. On the first trip in 2009 Rob’s birthday was held in Vanuatu which was very memorable.  We hope you have lovely birthday Rob.

by Andrew Latimer

Smooth seas, fair breeze and A sailors haunt – a lee shore


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To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …

Dental Team Sets new Tour Record

Thursday 8 August 2013

We planned an early start to the clinic today as the advance team who went ashore last night found that everything was well organized and that a large number of people were expected. So we were up by 6am and ready to leave at 7:15am for an 8am start. We were on the beach by 7:30am and the helpers we had organized last night were nowhere to be seen. After finding some strong young men we carried all the medical equipment from the beach, up a steep track cut into a cliff then along the grassy track running along the top of the cliff to the clinic.
The clinic, which we had visited in 2010, looked so much better. A new roof had been put on the two buildings complete with new guttering and water tanks and a fresh coat of paint applied to the walls. The clinic is run by nurse Colin (who was away), nurse Marie and nurse Janson. I recognized Janson from our last trip (all though I spelt his name differently then). He was the nurse who asked us to transport sterile water to Lawa a few miles up the coast and he came to navigate us around the reefs.
The clinic was set up quickly with Martin adopting a new role helping the dentist.
Earlier in the week when we had some phone reception we asked Richard to send more medicines by plane to Wintua. The plane was due today so I left the clinic and walked to the airport. The airport has been completely redeveloped since our last trip and now supports a twice a week service by small plane.
Also making their way to the airport were 3 potters from Melbourne who had been working with local potters, Val Taylor (who is 85yo) and her daughters Wendy and Jenny who were missionaries from 1957 to 1966. They were responsible for building the school, hospital and airstrip at Wintua. They had been in the village for a week catching up with old friends. There were also 2 couples who were traveling around Vanuatu.
The airport now has an official airport building which was very small and cute but a micro version of the real thing. It has a ticket office with window, a baggage area and waiting area. Someone had got a lawn mower out and mowed some strips through the thick tropical grass so we could walk to the building.
From the airport we could look back to the village and see the church where the wedding was held last time and the small guest house next door.
Eventually the plane could be seen under the clouds making a sweep over Chimere to line up the run way. The plane dropped down to our level and roared past as it landed, turning at the far end of the runway where it turned and came back to the ‘terminal’. For a small plane it seemed to take a long time to get people and luggage off and on again. It was resorted several times to get the balance right. Eventually everything was in its right place and the plane left us, leaving behind a box of medicine.
Meanwhile back in the clinic the dentist, Gary, was in full swing. To keep his momentum up he was supported by Rhod (on admin), Denis (sterilization), Martin (apprentice dental assistant), Morinda (dental nurse) and Janson (nurse). That impressive team enabled the dentist to set a new record. He saw 35 patients and did 90 extractions. Gary and the team are now back on the yacht resting up while dinner is being prepared.
Dinner is a collective effort tonight. Isabelle is beside me at the dining table preparing and enormous exotic papaya salad with Thai lime dressing. Helena is in the galley making a Chorizo lentel and prawn salad (without the prawn) although Helena is weighing up adding her Bonito, freshly caught yesterday and now residing in the fridge. Jockeying for galley space is Denis who is making a lamb casserole.
We are now about start some serious dining so it is time to close the log of today.

by Andrew Latimer

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Dental Team Sets new Tour Record


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To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …

Coming Home

Wednesday 7 August 2013

South West Bay feels like home. That’s where we are heading at the end of the day. We stayed at Milipe again last night. This time the wind was not as strong and we all had a good sleep. Even Dave, who was feeling the effects of the sleepless night before woke up full of cheer and whistled away through the morning duties. He might have had a little help from the doctor who ministered to him from her medicine chest. Whatever it was it worked a treat.

As l say, everyone woke full of cheer and enjoyed a nice breakfast before heading off to Carolyn Bay. When we got to Carolyn Bay I was not that keen to anchor due to the number of reefs so we put a shore party into the small dinghy and sent them to shore to see if any patients had turned up. Meanwhile we jilled off shore in deep water. Once it was confirmed that the clinic would be operating Martin surveyed the area from the dinghy and found a wide area of sand into which we inserted our anchor with impressive precision. We then let out a short scope on the anchor so as not to swing back onto the surrounding reefs. I then remained in the cockpit all day keeping an eye on everything. We didn’t launch the big dinghy today to keep operations simple in case we had to leave the anchorage in indecent haste should the weather change.

The clinic went well. Again the dentist was the most popular. In Australia we might not think of the dentist being the most popular. But try doing without him; Like here in remote parts of Vanuatu. The pain people experience with tooth ache is gut wrenching. Often a sufferer will sit under a tree all day and sleep to try and escape the pain. In this context, when a dentist arrives who can do something about relieving the pain he is very popular. Gary and Morinda have been doing a sterling job. Last night Gary wrote out treatment instructions which Helen translated into Bislama and typed them up on the computer and printed them out in multiple copies per page. Gary then cut them into strips so we had penty to hand out today. Alishon again helped in the clinic and he explained the little note to the patients. This was essential because most patients thought it was their receipt!

Everyone has been going the extra mile on this trip. Denis is now almost reaching miracle worker status in the galley, serving out beautiful meals everyday for 11 people. Last night proved it beyond doubt because he started out with 2 small fish and a loaf of bread and fed the multitudes.
Dave has revealed his talent for HF radio and it is only through his patience and tenacity (not to mention technical knowhow) that we get this log off the boat and into the ionosphere and delivered to your web page (with help from Liz Mallen in Melbourne). Dave has to spend more time trying to send the log than it takes to write it due to uncooperative radio frequencies or because part way through transmission someone else in the world transmits at the same time and corrupts the signal. So he starts all over again; Eventually succeeding long after the rest of us have gone to bed. Rhod has also excelled in the clinic as administrator, taking down the patient details, making sure they get the right medications and compiling the statistics at the end of the day.

The clinic finished early today so we were able to pack up and prepare to journey in the direction of South West Bay which makes us slightly ahead of our program and we can put in a full day at Wintua tomorrow. Getting the anchor up was no trouble today as it had been yesterday because of the care in finding a nice big sand patch. However, it must be remembered we were hemmed in by reefs and we had to pick our way back out and set a course for SW Bay. Fortunately Alishon came past in his boat, also heading to SW Bay. And he guided us out an averted trouble.

The trip to SW Bay was memorable and with a lively wind on our tail we made good time and anchored around 4pm. On the way Helena put out a line and shortly after landed a bonito. She is now trying to think how to feed the multitude with one fish as no more were caught.
Martin, Isabelle, Morinda and Helen have gone ashore to make contact with people ashore and make sure plans for a clinic tomorrow are in hand.
We have the generator running at the moment to charge the batteries and to make water. Otherwise those of us left on board are in quiet occupations and generally having a rest.

For those of our readers expecting photos or communications from family members on board I can attest to the fact that reception at the moment is virtually nonexistent. Occasionally one of us might get a surprise with 60 seconds of reception and in that time receive a text message from home. But lack of communication does not mean we are not think of you! [If you do not know the sailmail email, post your comments on the website or facebook and I will pass them along – admin]

I mentioned that SW Bay feels like home and that is because Isabelle’s family (the Wytes) who lived here for some years and on our last tour in 2010 Chimere transported Isabelle, sister Rose, mother Mary Grace and husband Martin to SW Bay to meet up with other family to attend the wedding of Mary Grace’s grandson, Chedwa (sp?) to Jane. The crew of Chimere attended the wedding too and it was a very memorable time. (See log from 2010) So you see, it feels like coming home!


by Andrew Latimer


Smooth seas, fair breeze and Coming Home



To read older Ships Log posts go to …

To see photos and a permanent map of of Mission 2 go to …