Tuesday 31 August 2010

There’s always the tidying up !!    And that’s what consumed this week-end just past.  Sorting out good from bad, cleaning, packing away, removing … you name it, we did it.  Then, when all that could be done was done, there was the final drive out of the CYCA, where we’d been generously allowed to tie up for a couple of nights, to Chimere’s new mooring around at Middle Harbour.

Now for those of you not familiar with the Sydney waterways, (like me from Melbourne), Middle Harbour is what you face as you enter the Heads.  If you sail left you end up at Sydney Cove, the Bridge, Opera House and all that and if you go right you land at Manly.  As the name suggests, Middle Harbour is kind of … in the middle.  The only problem with Middle Harbour, at least for those boats with a mast, is that there is this bridge!  The Spit Bridge, which has a clearance of just a few metres above the water.  Fortunately though, the bridge has a big hinge on one side and a few times each day the traffic each way is stopped, the bridge is lifted and the boats on each side are allowed to pass through.

On Sunday, our opportunity to pass came at 11:30am.

So there we were, milling around with a flotilla of other craft waiting for the lights to go green.  It’s kind of a watery version of the running of the bulls, but with no bull of course.  Out came the boats from the other side and then the call went up, “she’s green!!”, full throttle let’s go.

This is not a place to be late.  Not even a little bit late.  I could imagine the bridge-master delighting in closing the bridge as a distant yacht is seen racing in the direction of the pass.  He’d probably yell something like … “Sorry mate.  Gotta keep the traffic flowing.  You’re too late.  She’ll be open again in 3 hours.”

As you pass under the bridge you could almost feel the tension of the Sydney motorists as they sit in idling cars, the ever-increasing queue of traffic disappearing up the road in both directions.

Then almost as soon as the last boat’s mast is safetly clear of the raised bridge platform the sound of the bridge being lowered can be heard.

A very special thanks to David and Helen off the yacht Obelia who have been supporters of MSM right from the beginning.   They found us the mooring here on Middle Harbour, are moored just near us and even sailed out into Sydney Harbour to escort us through for the 11:30 Spit Bridge deadline.    Thank you for making it all so easy for us.

So the MSM Vanuatu 2010 mission is now officially at an end.  It’s a time to review the work of the past few months and begin to plan for the future.  We really would value your comments and suggestions.  Please email them to admin@msm.org.au

For those in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, 17 October, a Vanuatu Celebration function is being organised where stories and video of the mission will be presented.  You are most welcome to come along.  Contact MSM for more details, or keep an eye on this website.

Thank you to everyone involved with this years mission.  The volunteer crew have done a wonderful job, along with those helping out in the “back rooms”.  Thank you Liz for doing such a fantastic job on keeping the website up to date.  To the spouses and family of the volunteers, Thank You for lendng them to us and for your support and encouragement.  In most cases your loved one was returned to you in good condition …

… Oh, while I’m on at topic, a special mention and thanks to Andy Black who copped a broken bone in the hand on the first day of Mission 1, in May, after earlier enduring the horrible 14 day delivery voyage from Sydney.  We can also thank P&O and the crew of Pacific Dawn (who just happened to be at the same island on that day) for providing much need medical attention.  It’s good to know that after being flown out a day or so later, Andy’s hand is now showing signs of recovery; but it’s been a slow, frustrating time.  A very special thank you Andy!!

To the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project, their local Ni-van team members and the many Australia volunteers involved, it was wonderful to be able to assist you again this year and you do an amazing job under some very difficult conditions at times.   Keep up your good work.  As we have seen and documented on this website, what you do is truly life changing and is transforming people’s lives.

Finally, to the people of Vanuatu, we continue to be touched by your openness, generosity and resilience.  We enter your world as strangers, but we leave as friends.  We come to give, but in fact we take away more than we bring, through the effect of your smiles, laughter, faith and love.  Tank Yu Tumas!!

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Mission 2010 finally comes to an end.

Rob Latimer

Co-ordinator of MSM