Saturday 14 September 2013

Hui Island, Torres Group

Six o’clock and there was Zebulon and Atchin waiting ashore as planned.  A quick zip across in the dinghy and they were soon aboard, with the anchor raised and our course set for the northern island of Hui by 6:45am.

Most in the medical team remained in their bunks as we made our way out of the sheltered lee of the island and set the sails for the fast ride north.

Cathy had breakfast ready for everyone, but the up and down, side to side motion of the boat didn’t  lend itself to serving food, let alone eating it.  After an hour, toast was attempted, which went down very well.

Around 9:15 we nudged our way into the small anchorage on the east coast of Hui, a place we visited in 2009 and which still gives me a certain anxious feeling with an abundance of rocks, coral and surf to heighten the senses.  This morning it was sunny and warm, with Atchin on the bow waving his arm to give directions – sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left – and then a closed fist to indicate we should drop the anchor on this particular patch of sand.

It was indeed a lovely piece of white sand on which to drop an anchor and as we gazed ashore it looked like with stumbled onto the set from Gilligan’s Island – the lagoon, with palms, turquoise coloured water, a smattering of huts and the constant rumble of the distant surf and the splash of the waves on the white sandy beach 200 metres further on.

Being Saturday, kids abounded in the shallows and when they eventually ventured out to the yacht we invited them aboard for a cold drink of water, then when it was time to leave we stretched a long rope out the stern of the dinghy for them to hang on as we motored ashore.  At one point there were 11 hanging on as the 25hp motor labored at high revs to maintain a decent speed – not quite water skiing but a good second best.

The clinic was up and running by 9:45am with numbers peaking in the morning and then tapering off in the afternoon.  At one point Graeme and Ruth went missing and it was explained that they were doing a house call some distance away.

In the early afternoon I made inquiries as to whether there was sticky clay in the nearby hills, with a view to gaining interest in the idea of mud brick stoves – the verdict, was that they thought there might be as so off I went with Zebulon and a man called Jacob, who showed some interest.  To cut a long story short, we ended up making a few bricks and the interest in the Low Smoke Stoves appeared  high.

The close of the clinic and return of all the gear aboard was backed up with the transport of the generator and projector ashore for a showing of Finding Nemo and “How to make a mud brick stove”, plus of course a Healthy Teeth talk from Bob and a healthy Body talk from Graeme – whose Bislama it must be said, is very convincing!

The chief of the village, Chief Michael is an uncle of Atchin, with both Atchin and Zebulon deciding to remain ashore for the night, along with Gibson.

Everyone is now asleep aboard, it’s 10:15pm and I need to send this message off before I fall asleep.

Tomorrow plans to be another big day – up at 4:00am, away by 5:00am, bound for the island of Toga; our last clinic for this tour – assuming we can get ashore.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and on a sunny day this place looks like paradise

Rob Latimer

www.msm.org.au