Sunday July 5 8:12 PM (Palikulo Bay, Santo)
A hot, still night of the kind when sleeping on deck is far more pleasant than sleeping below gave way to an unusually late morning for us. Generally rising hour is between 6 and 7 am, with skipper Bob trying valiantly to stay asleep long enough to get his 12 hours. Today with the sense of winding down, things seem to have slowed even compared with “island time,” drawing out this last day as crew 2 as long as possible. In reading, drinking tea, tinkering with the water supply system (“surely we couldn’t have used THAT much water!”), chatting, swimming, investigating the viability of getting to the airport from here in the morning, each crew member is sitting in this fairly small space in the easy way that has shaped itself as the trip has worn on. Bob told me early on that an essential element in the success of a sailing trip (given a basic level of competence and vessel seaworthiness) is compatibility, and it’s easy to see why. It requires humour, an ability to cut others some slack, mutual respect, willingness to carry responsibility, and kindness. My experience of this crew is that these attributes have been present in bucketloads, added to a high level of sailing competence.
Similar qualities prevailed among the medical team, making it a pleasure to be of service to its members as they piled on and off the boat and in and out of villages with all their paraphernalia. Perhaps these are informal prerequisites for people who are willing to work on the outside edges of their comfort and competence to advance the interests of others.
We’ve run down the stores of food and water aboard to the remnant stage, although a lunch of falafels in flatbread with humus, tomato sauce and salad with every component made freshly on board this morning certainly didn’t look like it. We had to decide whether we were going to return to the relative civilisation of Luganville today, or welcome Rob, Mike, Chris and Jo on board in this beautiful backwater with drinking water only (nothing wrong with a salt-water clean-up of the boat and ourselves) and a bottom-of-the fridge lunch in store for them.
The romantics won over the pragmatists. There is sufficient time to spend in town preparing Chimere for the next tour without having to rush back. One crew member was concerned that we weren’t exactly sure when the plane was arriving or precisely where we are in relation to airport transport or how to arrange it. To take care of all that, Bob, Jen and I went for a recce in the dinghy to a beach about 100m away. A woman greeted us on shore, speaking excellent English. Her husband is Australian, they live in a lovely house just off the beach, the airport is less than ten minutes away and she is taking a taxi at 7.30 in the morning into town past the airport. I’m welcome to share it so I can meet the 8.00 am flight from Port Vila. That pretty much captures what this trip has been like. Thank you for praying, everybody, and keep it up for the next lot!