2013 Mission Preparation Log

Those we waited for have come

Friday 23th August 2013

15 31.36S 167 09.92

Sleep is a luxury on a yacht. Last night we went to bed at a reasonable hour only to be woken at midnight by loud traffic on the VHF radio. I for one found it hard to get back to sleep but eventually dropped off at about 2am. At 4am is started raining so I was up again to run around shutting hatches. The hatch above Denis’ cabin is only a foot above his head and it made an ear splitting sound when pushed shut and frightened the day lights out of him.

Waking up in the morning was difficult and Denis considerately didn’t get up till 7am.

There should be no sleeping in today however, because today Rob and Cathy (part of the new team for Tour 3) would arrive by plane from Melbourne.

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After breakfast I had a shower ashore and then Denis and I went off to the shops for last minute purchases.

Back at the resort we met Ken and Joy from the motor yacht, ‘Trinity Castle’ and spent some time having a chat. Later in the day we took the dinghy to visit them aboard their yacht and had a wonderful time learning about their boat and the adventures since leaving Seattle. Right at the end of the day Ken and Joy returned the visit by coming over to Chimere.

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At 6:15pm we had to excuse ourselves and all pile into the dinghy to meet the taxi waiting for us. We got to the airport in plenty of time. After about 20min wait Robert and Cathy came through the terminal doors. We loaded two small taxies with people and bags and headed back to the boat. Before going aboard we had a pizza dinner at the resort and a lovely catch up time.

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The full moon is up and after dinner we followed its reflection back to the boat where we are now getting the new team settled aboard.

 

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and those we waited for have come

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

www.msm.org.au

 

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

 

 

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

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Slow News Day

Thursday 22th August 2013

 

15 31.36S 167 09.92

 

Today is what’s called in the newspaper game as a ‘slow news day’. These sorts of days can happen at sea when you are becalmed. They can happen when you are at anchor waiting for someone to come. That someone comes tomorrow evening.

Today has been a hot, sunny tropical day. All the other yachties went off on the millennium cave tour at a discount rate negotiated one of the yachties if they got a group together. Unfortunately Dave went earlier in the week and so missed out on the big savings.

We did go into town to buy a few presents for our respective love ones. Denis bought some beef for dinner and we came back to the yacht.

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In the taxi today was another man (other than the driver). This made the taxi rather crowed and the three of us packed into the back seat.  The man in the front said “Its OK. Once you are in shut the doors and open the windows and hang out like this” showing us how to make a very small car bigger by his example. After a while he said ‘haven’t I seen you before?”  We couldn’t think of when we might have met him. Then he said “Yes, I saw you in SW Bay. I am the skipper of the trading boat anchored next to you in the bad weather” That’s not bad for recognition. He should be a detective. We had a good chat.

Around 4pm I suddenly remembered the gas bottle which should now be refilled and returned. So off in the dinghy I went to collect it and back again.

A new yacht arrived today crewed by Brian and Jan Dodds of Pacific Yacht Ministries. They do similar medical outreach work to us. We hope to catch up with them for a longer chat tomorrow.

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Around 5pm the most hughmungous sailing yacht came into Luganville. It looks like it will tie up at the commercial wharf rather than slum it over here with us.

A notable achievement today has been the clearing of the blocked scupper. The scupper was blocked a while ago by a decorative LED candle which set the mood for our dinner in the cockpit one evening and which is just the size to fall into to the scupper pipe and not come out. Dave and Denis managed to push it through.

There was one other thing we all said this morning should go in the log but none of us can think what it was now! Things are slow today.

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and slow news day

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

www.msm.org.au

 

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

 

 

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

Julie Mansfield Webber liked this post

Nautical Stock Take

Wednesday 21th August 2013

 

15 31.36S 167 09.92

 

The strong wind we’ve been having for the last few days faded away during the night. In the morning the sea was still and the yacht motionless. Denis, who complains if anyone gets up too early and wakes him, was up at 6am. He is often up at 6am by the way. I don’t know who else it is who beats him to the first up honours! Mind you everyone gets up during the night at some point, just to check the boat you understand, and it is not uncommon to have multiple visits to the deck in the course of the night so if you are a light sleeper it would be like listening to a herd of elephants stumbling around in the dark.

 

Denis announced that today was stock take day and Dave was to help. Before starting on the stock take we took the empty gas bottle and garbage ashore. The garbage was collected over one month and became quite a load by the time we reached Luganville. So we have eked it into the garbage system on shore at a rate not to over whelm it.

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I went into town to do a bit of shopping. Halfway through I had that ‘I’m seriously hot’ feeling and you know you need to cool down somewhere. The yachtie café of choice was nearby so I went in there to get a cool drink. Sure enough the residents of the floating village were there skyping, writing reports, ordering things on line, having meetings and generally have something of the fare offered by the café.

 

I got back to the boat with some time up my sleeve before guests were due to arrive. In the end our guests couldn’t make it and sent a message. So we might try to reconvene tomorrow.

While waiting,  I caught up with our German friends and met the lady of the ship for the first time. She has been unwell and her husband had come to our boat a few days ago to ask if there was a dentist on board. In the end they went to the hospital and she was diagnosed with dengue fever. Fortunately the blood test indicated that she was on the mend. It is a bit unsettling to know there is no treatment available for dengue fever. And the sore upper molar which hurts on and off and the location of the pain isn’t precise is likely to be related to sinusitis and not a dying tooth after all. Something keep watch on before heading further in to more remote cruising grounds.

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Later in the afternoon Denis and I motored over to our English friend and we had a grand tour of his beautiful yacht and a nice cup of tea. This intrepid solo yachtsman is carrying a load of donated medications to be given to remote clinics in villages he visits. He kindly gave us three large boxes of panadol for our dentist. After pulling a tooth the dentist would give some post op instructions to the patient pus 2 maybe 4 panadol to ease the pain once the anesthetic wears off. The dentist can now offer 6 or 8 panadol !

 

Denis and Dave finished the stock take of food on board while I was shopping. This should help Robert plan the restocking once he arrives at the end of the week.

 

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and nautical stock take

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

 

www.msm.org.au

 

 

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

Tourist for a Day

Tuesday 20th August 2013

15 31.36S 167 09.92

Denis cooking a beautiful beef stir fry last night in honour of our visiting Swiss yachtsman, Yves.  During dinner he told us he was leaving at midnight so it would be an early night for him and only one glass of wine. We discussed routes to Port Vila and Yves said he had settled for heading down the west coast of Melakula. He is effectively retracing our route but against the prevailing winds. Yves had a few tricks up his sleeve so I’m sure he will get on fine. One thing he did mention was that we shouldn’t swim along the coast of Melakula because it is noted for sharks! That advice comes a bit late for us since we have already traversed this bit of coast with many of our team swimming at every opportunity. Still it gives one a shudder to be told so emphatically about the risks. I think the advice is based on observations on the SE coast where there was once a fish cannery. The waste from the cannery was discharged into the ocean which in turn attracted the sharks. SE Melakula is a fair way from where we were and if the sharks were attracted there that means there would less sharks everywhere else. Therefore the risk was low. That bit of logic makes me a lot better!

Today Dave and I had planned to do something touristy. Dave did the Millennium Cave tour and I did a horse riding adventure trail. Dave was away all day and had a great time. Just to get to the caves was an adventure.1 hour mini bus ride over rough tracks followed by and an hour and 20 minute walk. Once in the cave everyone donned their life jackets and hopped into the water which was deep and cold. The cave ran for 300 metres. When they emerged back into daylight they rested and had lunch. After the rest they hopped back into the water and bobbed their way down a canyon. At the end of the tour the only way out was straight up a cliff using bamboo ladders. I asked Dave to write up his experiences for the log and as others have done before him he explained that he is a man of few words. The description above is my best effort to distill his day into a few words. (for more description of the Millennium Cave tour refer back to the 2009 log).

My outing on the other had was just a half day. I was picked up by Fabrice and taken to the Lope Lope ranch where I met the Megan. Megan operates horse trail tours using horses she has rescued from abusive situations. Once the horse are returned to good health and are trained they are used for trail rides. Today I was the only customer so Megan invite two young girls who learn riding with her to join the trail ride. It is a long time since I have ridden a horse so I was hoping to have a very quiet horse and an easy trail. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or worried when Megan said “I think we’ll do the experienced trail today”. Megan has things very well organized and had selected a perfect horse for me. He was about 15.3h and the slightest touch of the rein sowed him or stopped him. So all I had to do was sit in the saddle and steer. I was fitted with a crash hat just in case….

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We rode up a big hill, through a Government research farm to take in the views. Interestingly one of the projects at the farm was a hybrid coconut that doesn’t grow coconuts! The horses were then turned down hill and through a rain forest. We came out into a tidal area covered in forest and bordered by a stream that was a blue as a snow fed river. Following the river brought us out at the beach. The tide was well out so we had a big riding area on the sand to play around on. Well my stead and I stood still while the young girls took turns in having a trot around. From this point it was straight into the ocean where we skirted around coral outcrops taking the horses in waist deep water (horse’s waist that is). Once we were back safe and sound we unsaddles and put the horses away and had a cool coconut drink. I took 3D video from the horses back while riding which I replayed for everyone.

 

Denis stayed on board all day and had a blissful time enjoying the boat, the scenery and the pleasant weather. He did some housekeeping and later entertained crew from a neighbouring catamaran CatKnapp which is one of two boats of a group called OceansWatch.

 

Later we all went ashore and enjoyed a pizza.

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and tourist for a day

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

 

 

 

www.msm.org.au

 

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

 

 

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

Back to work

Monday 19th August 2013

 

15 31.36S 167 09.92

 

Today we had some work to do so we got ourselves organized and after breakfast went ashore to wait for Morinda and Hellen. Fortunately the weather was very different today. Bright blue skies and sea and a light breeze. Straight out of a tourist brochure!

Last night Denis took us for a meal at a nearby resort. Dave and Denis had been there during the day to check it out and made a booking. We were able to walk there and we sat down to a beautiful meal; Magnificent actually. Santo is famous for its beef. There are large Japanese cattle farms here and the beef is a very high standard.  Denis, who you know is our on board five star chef was over whelmed by the meal. He lamented that he couldn’t cook as well as that. As we left he went into the kitchen to find the chef and thank him.

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I have mentioned Denis’ cooking a fair bit in this log. But given his efforts at producing beautiful meals every day it hasn’t been mentioned enough and worth a little diversion now! Denis didn’t sign on as cook but quickly assumed the role even before the medical team had arrived. Dave, who was notionally assigned the cook’s role, was very relieved at Denis’ play for that position. Denis wasn’t looking for the job. The trouble is he is good at it and it fell naturally to him. Later, he did let us into a secret that he had been the Sergeant of the Officers Mess in the army (later the President of the Mess) and had run a café and a restaurant at different points in his career. In addition to Denis we had Isabel, Helena and Megan who all made great contributions to the catering department during the tour and helped lighten the load. We have been thoroughly spoilt but the great food played a big part in keeping spirits high throughout the tour.

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Back to today; Helen and Morinda met us at the resort and we had a very productive meeting about the recent tour and exchanged ideas for future outreach tours. We then took a ute to the hospital to deliver glasses brought over by Rhod, and a specialized feeding teat for a child with a cleft palette from Isabelle. The director of the eye clinic gave us a tour of the clinic and spent a while talking to us about their work. He lamented the lack of surgical equipment. The instruments he has are 10 years old and they work hard making do with what he has. He also expressed his appreciation for the work the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project does and the cooperation he has received over the years

After visiting the hospital we took the ute down to the post office to post a parcel left by Helena for one of the clinics we visited.

With our formal work completed we said good bye to Hellen and Morinda and continued with our shopping from yesterday. We had lunch at a café in town and lo and behold every yachtie seemed to be there. So we went around the room saying hello and then sat down to a nice lunch. Before we finished another yachtie came and sat down with us. We are feeling very at home here.

We were sitting in the cockpit this evening looking at the yachts anchored near us. There is a small Cat nearby skippered by a young Swiss man who is taking it single handed to Port Vila for a friend. He is coming for dinner tonight; Then there is a Cat from NZ crewed by environmental campaigners who are providing training on reef management; There is yet another Cat, who we met at Akhamb Island, whose people are working on a yachting guide of Vanuatu; There is an English gentleman who has been single handing his 50’ yacht for the last 20 years. He is carrying medications from a NZ charity which he gives to remote clinics. This afternoon we were visited by a man from another yacht because he heard we had a dentist on board. But Garry is now back in Australia and he found our yacht dentistless. His wife is suffering tooth pain and flu symptoms so he will head up to the hospital tomorrow. The last yacht in the anchorage we haven’t met yet. We know from their flag that they are German and we will pop over at some stage to say hello. So you see, without trying too hard, we have met some fascinating people, who for various reasons are stopped here for a short time before continuing the journeys.

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Tomorrow Dave is going on the Millenium cave tour (see earlier descriptions from 2009) and I will head off on a horse riding tour through the jungle and along the beach. Denis is on boat watch but I hope you don’t feel sorry for him. He will probably host an on board party with all our neighbours if I’m not mistaken.

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back to work

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

 

www.msm.org.au

 

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

 

 

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

Quiet Sunday

Sun 18th August 2013

 

15 31.36S 167 09.92

 

Today dawned grey and windy. We took things quietly and had a late breakfast before venturing out. We went into town to see if we could buy a few things for the pantry. Most shops were shut so we will do another foray tomorrow to finish the shopping. On the way back to the boat we deviated to walk past the local clinic for the eye care program.

The medical crew would have spent the night in Port Vila en route to Australia. They had an early fight and would have left their accommodation around 5am.

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Not much happened for the rest of the day here in Luganville. Dave went ashore and became acquainted with other yachties while Denis and I stayed on boat watch. Denis made some bread and I processed some more photos to send to our web master.

An item of small note today was the discovery of Bob Brenac’s soda fountain. This had been longed for on the trip but we didn’t know where it was. We can now have lovely carbonated drinks; very nice.

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Tomorrow, Morinda and Helen will be coming back to the boat and we will have a debrief of tour 2, deliver some items to the hospital and post a parcel to one of the clinics we visited. Oh, and finish our shopping.

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and a quiet Sunday

 

Andrew Latimer

 

www.msm.org.au

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

Bigfela….Tumus!

Friday 16 August 2013

 

15 31.36S 167 09.92

 

Our first night at anchor at Luganvile was still and peaceful. The yacht hardly moved all night and our team, weary of the rolly poly conditions of the last few days had a completely restful sleep. In the morning a few of us were standing around the stern. There was a sleeply silence in the air. At 7:15am I thought I should go ashore and make contact with the resort office so we could have showers. Very casually I said “is anyone coming ashore with me while I go to the office?” Immediately, Gary, Dave and Denis jumped up, ran to the dinghy on the davits and started lowering away “….yes I’ll come” they replied in unison.  The 3 of us had a shower in turn and a big break breakfast. Gary finished the relay first so took the dinghy back to the boat for the next shift.

Once the morning got started everyone eventually went off on their own exploration of Luganvile.

Meanwhile I went back to the boat and tackled administration work on the computer. I sent more photos to the web master and in the process used up a month’s internet credit. That explains why there was no log yesterday. Today (Friday) I am resorting the HF radio system to sent this log bulletin off. Hopefully I will be able to get more credit this afternoon.

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Gary, Dave and Denis were back by midday and were happy to chill on the boat. The others did a walk around of the town, visited the eye clinic at the hospital and then took a taxi to Champagne Beach. Helena didn’t go to the beach and elected to come back to the boat and write up her medical reports.

Everyone was back together by 6pm and we had a dinner ashore together.

Last night there was a heavy down pour of rain around midnight so there was a hurried shutting of hatches. It didn’t last long by which time we were all fast asleep again.

This morning was D day for 6 of our team and it was pretty chaotic from the start. Bags were being packed and lots of rummaging around for belongings. Those of us not flying out today thought it was best to get out of the way so together with Garry, who is always ready ahead of time, went ashore for our big breakfast. Garry managed to fit in a swim and a shower while our breakfast order was being prepared.

Eventually there was a call on the radio to say the team was ready to come ashore and Denis headed off to ferry them ashore.

During breakfast I organized a taxi bus and when it came we loaded it up to the gills with bags and then squeezed people in; a 9 of us. I opened the front door and Martin immediately hopped in, presuming I had opened it for him. I said to the taxi driver “He’s a bigger fella” as an explanation as to why Martin should go in the front. He laughed and said “yes, he bigfela…..” then added after a millisecond of further thought “….tumus”. To which everyone laughed happily at Martin’s expense. Martin (aka Capt Courageous) is indeed a bigfela! But we can’t agree with “tumus” (too much).

The trip out to the airport is fairly quick and we waited to see off the team. The flight was delayed and eventually we said our fond farewells. We are back on the boat sifting and sorting and generally getting ship shape after all the activity this morning.

 

 

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Bigfela Tumus

 

 

Andrew Latimer

 

www.msm.org.au

 

To read older Ships Log posts go to …

http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

 

To see additional photos of Mission 2 go to …

http://msm.org.au/2013-mission/2013-photos/?album=3&gallery=44

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Where did those days go?

Friday 5 July 2013

Gideon’s Landing, Havanah Harbour

It’s hard to account for where the last few days have gone, as some of us have travelled over to Port Vila to complete tasks, while others have remained aboard at Havanah Harbour working through the remaining tasks to complete.

Kiwi John was, on one level, sad to go but after 7 weeks aboard was keen to see the family, in particular grandchild number 4, Ivy, born only a week ago.

The balance of the Mission 1 team, sailor James Latimer, dentist Lyndon Sheppard  and nurse Kristie Shaw were picked up from the airport this afternoon and with dentalcare worker Morinda and eyecare worker Helen make up the 10 on board.

Communication problems have featured high on our list of “tasks” to be completed or solved,  and so let’s see how we go when things start in earnest tomorrow.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and where did those days go?

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

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Sorry tumas … (very sorry)

Friday 5 July 2013

With the last Ships Log entry at last Saturday, some might be forgiven for thinking the crew of the good ship Chimere had turned off the Spot GPS locator, up anchored and headed back out to sea. But the truth is, the HF radio Email system is failing to transmit, email coverage at Havannah harbour is currently extremely poor (maybe due to the incessant rain), and there have been a few other urgent issue to attend to first.

So rest assured we are still on target with everything and will do all we can to get a daily message out from now on.

We have just dropped Kiwi John off at the airport for his return to NZ. A very sad time for all of us. John’s assistance and involvement over the last 7 weeks has been just an amazing thing. His enthusiasm and ability, under some quite trying conditions at times, has really been an inspiration and there were a few heartfelt blokey huggs as he climbed into the dinghy for the last time. A sincere thank you John, from everyone!!

In a few hours we pick up the balance of the sailing and medical team from the airport, then with local health workers Helen and Morinda, we all make our way across to Havannah and away tomorrow morning; the start of Mission 1 – 2013

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Mission 1 begins

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

PS Just to show that I did actually write some earlier Ships Logs, here are two (slightly out of date) for you to enjoy …

A Tranquil Night at Sea

Lat: 17.29 Long: 168.13

30 June 2013

Sunday dawned in Port Vila and the overcast, drizzly, and very humid weather of the last couple of weeks showed signs of clearing away as a patch of blue peered through the canopy.

We’d said our good-byes to Gary Jago last night, with his flight back to Melbourne via Sydney set for 7:00am this morning. He, along with the rest of the delivery crew had done a great job, but of course duty calls and the inevitable return to work.

Tidying, sorting and stowing continued and at around 7:30am, while Christine and Tony unpacked and repacked a portion of the (large)onboard “pantry” in readiness for the medical tour, which starts next Friday, Ni-van Dental worker Bob Natuman stepped aboard to say g’day and check what time we planned to head off to Tongoa Island. We settled on around 2:30pm, which would give him time to nick home to see his wife and small child and for us to do the final lash-down.

Around 9:45 Kiwi-John and I strolled up the hill to the Presbyterian Church and enjoyed the traditional warmth and friendship of their service and afterwards even stood in the line to shake the hands and wish a blessing to all in attendance.

We got talking with retired Government Minister of 16 years, Pastor Sethy Regenvanu and his wife Dorothy who kindly drove us back to the boat and came aboard for a brief chat and look round.

Christine knocked out a couple of lovely loaves of bread and after lunch and Bob’s arrival, it was time to let go the lines and chug out of port (maybe you can see the Spot map on this page of our track)

As mentioned earlier, our destination is Tongoa Island, to pick up a 6 member optical surgical team stranded there since last Thursday and destined to remain another week (at least) due to rain and a wet grass air strip – mud no good for planes! Anyway, it’s about 60-70 miles away, north of the main island of Efate, with our course taking us around the SW tip of Efate then off in a NE direction, threading our way through a few small islands on our way.

It’s currently about 9pm Sunday, we’ve been going around 6 hours and the wind is currently from the east at around 15kts, which is very favourable. The seas are slight and we have a slight heal to port as we lope along. In these conditions we could probably make 7.5-8.5kts, particularly with such a smooth bottom (the boat that is) however, at that speed we’d probably get there at 3:00am tomorrow morning – not a good idea. Not just because the team of six will no doubt be asleep, but because it’s always unwise to approach an anchorage in the dark. So we’ve been doing all we can to slow the boat down – reducing sail, slackening the sheets and even pulling sails down, so as to keep the speed at around 5kts. Our plan is to arrive around 6-7:00am and make a quick turnaround so as to return our passengers the same day in daylight. So far everything is working to plan, although as the wind freshens I have to check myself when I think we have to slow down instead of speed up

At the moment, Jon and I are on watch and it’s only the sounds of the sea, the wind and the clack, creak, strain of Chimere to keep us company – everyone else is sound asleep.

Catch up tomorrow

Smooth seas, fair breeze and … we do passenger service

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

Did I say gentle breeze?

Shefa Province

Monday 1 July 2013

Due to our usual “Sailmail” HF radio email system failing to deliver on Sunday night and there being no other internet option available to us, things have been a bit quiet in the communications area of late.

It’s now actually three days hence (ie 4th July) and as I reflect on the trip to Tongoa and back on Sunday and Monday it seems such an age ago.

But picking up where I left off on the Sunday night around 9:00pm, I think I said something like “slight seas and a slight heal as we loped along” … well it might have been around 15 minutes later, possibly an hour, but it wasn’t long before we got the liquorice all-sorts of weather – almost made this Melbourne boy home sick.

Certainly the wind picked up as we cleared the shelter of the main island of Efate, then the seas got a bit confused and “rolly”, then we had an all-out tropical downpour complete with lightning, and I think thunder, because we couldn’t hear it over the sound of the rain pelting down. Then as the wee hours of the new day dragged by, a glimmer of a half-moon could be made out behind the thinning clouds and the wind began to die away leaving us with a horrible rolly swell that caused us to alter course further north just to improve the boats movement.

During all this time we learnt just how hard it is to slow good ol’ Chimere down when conditions favour doing 8kts and more.

As for the crew and how they fared, on what we considered a bit of a test run for the missions ahead … I’ll start with Bob Natuman, technically not a crew member because he’s a Ni-van dental worker, but man can that guy sleep! Kiwi John, Ramon and John took everything in their stride and with Tony now officially fulfilling the role of “The Doctor” he was given time off for past good behaviour. Our trusty cook, Christine also knew things were well in-hand up on deck and decided to confine herself to the bunk; saving her strength for catering duties the next day when we’d be picking up our 6 guests.

At 6:00am we arrived at the village of Panita, Tongoa and for a short time dawdled up the coast a short distance (and back again) at 2kts waiting for enough light to move closer in and drop anchor; which we did at about 6:30am. It was then a case of unlashing and clearing the decks as best we could, so as to launch the dinghy.

A group of people began to gather on the black gravelly-sand beach as we approached and by the look on their faces it was clear they were very happy to see us. It soon became apparent that it might have been upwards of a month before a plane would dare land, it all depended on the rain stopping – at least for a couple of days.

Around this time one of those indestructible Toyota Hi-Lux diesel utes made its way onto the beach in the distance and in a cloud of trailing black smoke delivered one almighty pile of gear. Not just everyone’s personal bags, (that was just one dinghy load) but all the surgical equipment which I can’t begin to describe. All I know there were some very big and heavy boxes, some with fragile written on them and big arrows pointing UP.

The cargo also contained two roosters in the one bag, a hole cut at each end for them to look out – in opposite directions of course. Gave it very much the look of a push-me pull-you chicken. We had to ask how long they’d been breeding two headed chickens ? The answers came amidst howls of laughter. (There was also a cardboard box with chickens in it but they weren’t so interesting.)

In the end we did find a spot for everything, oh and the passengers, Dr Johnson Kasso, Annie Bong, Helen Karie, Basil Aitip, Lui Daniel and Colwin Dingley and we got away around 8:30 for a very pleasant, glorious sail back; at least that’s what everyone said, I think I went to sleep after breakfast and woke up on approach to Havanah Harbour.

With the aid of mobile phones a truck and a minivan had been booked to meet us at Gideon’s Landing (check his ecolodge out on the web) and around 4:30 in the afternoon unloading began.

So here we remain at anchor, off Gideon’s Landing, where sleep came easily to all aboard the good ship Chimere.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Tongoa and back in a day

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

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A day of transition

Saturday 29 June 2013 Pt Vila

It was a sad day in many respects.  Skipper Bob of the delivery crew flew home and early tomorrow Gary does the same.  We are in that “between period” as we, the new crew, take over and re-sort everything and tidy up.

There’s still a lot of gear needing to be delivered ashore for the dental program, with all the donated clothing now having been gathered together into the one waterproof “bulka-bag”on deck – it’s a very big bag, the sort that can lift over a ton!

The number 2 dinghy has now been unlashed, along with all the donated stuff inside and bunk space is slowly being made for the new (medical) folk who will be coming aboard soon.

In some respects it was a bit of a lazy day too.  After seeing Bob off a few of us wandered up to the dental clinic and it was great to see firsthand how everything is starting to come together.  Richard Tatwin and Ni-van dental worker Bob Natuman were there, along with visiting volunteer dental equipment installer from Australia, Bill Stoney.  They were trying to get all the equipment working and were joined later in the day by Melbourne dentist Barry Stewart and dental nurse and manager Sarah Packer.  Both Barry and Sarah have been instrumental in getting the dental program up and running and are here to assist with training and extending the level of available dental care.

As we were helping in the move of a dental chair – and gee those things are heavy, Richard Tatwin asked me what we had planned for next week – apart from preparing Chimere for the next mission starting on 5 July.  The long and the short of it was that Richard was trying to find a solution to a transport problem.  An optical surgical unit had made its way to the island of Tongoa, http://www.positiveearth.org/bungalows/shefa/shepherds.htm the first time since 2003, and could not get off the island as planned last Thursday.  In fact with flights not likely to resume for another week it looked like they would stay on the island for some time to come.

As they say, there’s nothing like a deadline to get things happen.  Consequently, much of our tidying up and packing away was completed by sundown and the rest will be sorted after church tomorrow, enabling us to sail through the night and pick up the medical team of six early Monday morning and be back late the same day.  With a 15-20kt wind forecast from the east it looks like a good run both there and back.

It’s now getting late, the band at the Waterfront Café has stopped and everyone is sound asleep aboard.  I’ll download a photo of the full delivery crew and, hit SEND and crawl into my bunk too.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and off to Tongoa tomorrow

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au

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