After an early start and a full day’s travel Christine Richards, Ramon Rees and I finally made our way into Port Vila (by plane) to begin the process of relieving the delivery crew.  Or at least skipper Bob, who will fly home to Sydney tomorrow, Gary Jago who flies out Sunday and Kiwi-John who stays on duty until next Friday.  And it’s next Friday (5 July) that dentist Lyndon Sheppard and nurse Kristie Shaw lob in, plus the final crew member James Latimer; grabbing a two week break from his Monash Uni Geology honours degree.

It’s been wonderful to once more climb aboard, this time onto a Chimere neatly backed stern-to the waterfront here at the very helpful and supportive Yachting World in Port Vila.  The first thing that hits you on arrival is the warmth, and of course the humidity.  Particularly coming as I did from an 8 degree Melbourne winter’s morning.  Now it’s more like 28 degrees and 90-100% humidity.

2013-06-29-chimere-in-pt-vila

The stories from the lad’s trans-Tasman crossing were very entertaining as we “new folk” sat around in the cockpit emptying the fridge of Tuskers and getting stuck into the lovely biscuits, lovingly made by Ray’s wife (thank you they are very tasty !!)  At this point I should say that we have seen very little of crew-member Tony, soon to become ship’s doctor, particularly after the arrival of wife Christine who assumes a cook-deckhand role … tomorrow, or maybe in a few days – or at least when the first medical mission gets underway in earnest next Friday.  Whilst Tony has enjoyed his 4 weeks in the forward port v-berth, for some reason the lure of a hotel apartment ashore was too great.  I think he’s kindly allowed Christine to stay there as well.

As more biscuits got devoured, the questions got asked and the stories kept coming.  How did she (Chimere) handle the broken steering cable in the middle of the night? … “…we furled the jib, double reefed the main and went to bed, she rode like a cork all night doing 2-3 knots in the right general direction, gently rising and falling before the 30-40kt wind” was Bob’s matter-of-fact response.  What about the water maker that wouldn’t make water?  “None of us were into long showers and we were pretty careful with the 1000 litres in the tanks”  I think that came from Kiwi-john and the bit about showers I suspect was an understatement.  Any other issues or problems you had to fix or sort out?  “Well there was the engine starter motor that had a loose wire and wouldn’t start, (when the wind died off and we were just a few miles from the bottom of New Caledonia) the anchor winch wiring that had a corroded wire and the autohelm that decided to give up the ghost an hour from Port Vila”  What about the good things … the toilets, did they work? the electric and the manual?   “Beautiful!”, came the response in unison, “didn’t miss a beat, and the fridge has kept everything nice and cold, the deck hatches haven’t leaked and the sails and cockpit covers are fantastic, just fantastic”

In summary, as we headed off for dinner together at the Waterfront cafe, (all except Tony and Christine that is) it was declared that the voyage across from Sydney was a magic time with a great forecast and the usual problems you’d expect on any mission; certainly a real blessing after the dreadful passage back in 2010 (refer Ships Log 2010)

It’s now 9:00pm, Bob has turned in for the night, Jon, Gary and Kiwi-John are wandering around town and after a long “down-load” of information from Bob about the condition of the boat and what still needs to be done to get things fully ship-shape, (in readiness for the first medical mission) I’m typing the first of my first Ships Log since 2010.  I’m also ready to lie down and fall asleep; after first clearing bags of donated clothes, dental gear and boxes off the spare bunk

In closing you might like to have a look at the latest MSM Member Update – June 2013

Till tomorrow, when I hope to be able to send a few photos – of both the delivery voyage and here in Pt Vila.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back at the Chimere nav table

Rob Latimer