Saturday 15 August 2009, (Port Vila)

Slept in till 8:00am this morning – outrageous!  I had breakfast, checked out the amazingly sunny morning, tried another banana (still not ready) then Terrence said, “…is it Saturday today?”

Not knowing which day it is … that’s a sure sign we should be away and heading home.  We’ve been tied up here at the wharf too long!

Don and Meg MacRaild (the founders and tireless workers for the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project) dropped by late morning.  They have been battling for a week or more to secure visas for a young girl, Lerika, and her aunt Sarah, to travel back to Australia with them so that Lerika can have a life-saving heart operation.  Lerika’s condition was diagnosed a year or more ago and it’s taken a lot of negotiating to get this far, but an operation in Brisbane is planned and funded – the last step was arranging the paperwork through the Australian Consulate here in Port Vila.  At this stage, the less said about the bureaucratic ordeal the better, but the desired outcome – 3 month visas – was achieved in the end.  We wish Lerika all the very best for the operation, a speedy recovery and safe travels.  Certainly she’ll have a lot to tell her family and Pentecost Island village when she finally returns later in the year. [check update on Lerica here]

As reported earlier, Graeme Duke, our crewmember come doctor-afloat, flew home to Melbourne from Loh Island towards the end of July – (back into 14 hour workdays and 11 days straight in an Intensive Care ward without a break) and has reported back to people who sponsored his “walk4icare” bushwalk back in May.  You may have received his email.  If not, I’ve included it here:

Dr Graeme Duke
I have now returned from the Team 3 tour of the northern (Banks and Torres) group of islands.

I thought you might be interested to read where your donations have “gone”.

We sailed over 600km and ran 15 clinics on 7 different islands and saw over 800 patients! And there were 38 referrals for eye surgery (cataracts & pterygiums), 13 surgical referrals, 2 obstetric referrals, 7 dental referrals and 2 TB referrals. Some will be operated on this month, others are likely to wait several months or even a year or two before we can get them out for surgery. Any form of travel and access to healthcare is very limited.

Your donations have gone to assist in the travel expenses of:

1.  Linda from Merelava to Santo for her Cesarean delivery, there being no doctor or hospital on her island. (I have not yet heard if she has delivered but she is due about now!)

2. Opthalmology patients needing cataract or pterygium surgery in Santo, travelling from the islands of Merelava, Loh, and Gaua.  For more info check out the website and read the blog posts and view photos.

By now you should have received your donation receipt, if you requested one.

Thanks for the part you played.

Graeme
(on behalf of the medical and project teams)

Back on the boat …

I picked up Justin-son-of-Bob today at the airport.  For some reason I had a 2:00pm airport pickup time in my mind, but in fact the plane was due to land at 1:30am, but came in 20 minutes early.  Seeing the tail of the Vigin Blue plane sticking above the terminal roofline I asked an offical looking man at the entrance when I arrived, “have the passengers started coming through yet?” … “They all go, already gone”, he said.  mmm…  A quick glance around … it’s not a big airport, and there was Justin, phone in his ear tracking down a few numbers, probably to find out where I was.  We recognised each other instantly from our brief meeting back in May when he came to see us off and we shook hands as he hung up his phone as he said, “dad says g’day”.  “Welcome to Vanuatu, sorry I’m late”, says me.

So now we have 3 aboard, two more coming tomorrow – Kevin and Tony.

We did a stock take of the food situation today, Terrence and I.  Still a bit of stuff in the pantry.  I cooked dinner again tonight and asked Justin in the course of our conversation about boats, past trips and near misses, “ever cooked aboard a boat Justin?”  “No, I don’t think I’ve had that job, but bake beans on toast sound pretty good”.  If ever there was doubt that I’d truly picked up THE Justin-son-of-Bob at the airport, it was dispelled at that moment.

Having seen a fair swag of tinned bake beans and spaghetti still in the hold I suspect Justin will be a happy camper for the next 2 weeks.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and it’s time to go

Rob