Wednesday 14 August 2013
16 08.89S 167 13.76E
We were up and moving by 6am this morning. The medical team slept in a little bit longer while the sailing crew got the yacht under way and heading for Unmet in the north west corner of Malakula. Chimere had never been to this part of Vanuatu before so we had some exploring to do. The chart has very little detail and the cruising guide does not mention it. From the shape of the coast it did not promise a good anchorage. We arrived at about 7:30am. The wind was very light but the swell was quite large. Martin (capt courageous) went ahead in the dinghy to find the best landing place. Pretty soon we had everything and everyone ashore.
Our plan was to leave the shore team to their own devices while we sail on to find a better anchorage. The medical team would then hire a ute to bring them to the boat. That was the plan and in a roundabout way it worked.
Remaining on board was Martin, Dave and me. We waited at Unmet for an hour in case we were needed by the shore crew. I discovered I had some reception on my internet connection and quickly sent some pictures to the web master before the connection blew away.
With some misgivings about having to leave the shore team we got the anchor up and motored off in the direction of Leviamp about 7 miles further along the coast. The chart showed a recognized anchorage and the promise of some shelter from the swell behind a reef.
We sailed fairy close to the coast as it was deep water and we could watch the jungle shore line slip past us.
Along the way we encountered 3 dugout canoes in the open water. Often they were hidden by the swell and they looked very frail craft on that big ocean.
The recognized anchorage proved to be a false promise. The water was deep and there was no protection from the swell. The anchorages shown on the chart was some distance away from Leviamp so we turned around and headed back in the direction of Leviamp to see if there were any possibilities there. We had watched the local trading boat take a short cut across the reef and head towards Leviamp. By the time we reached Leviamp the trader had sent the dinghy ashore and picked up and dropped off goods. He didn’t anchor and we could see there might be an anchorage where he jilled about. As we got closer we stopped and waited and suddenly the trader moved ahead with lots of waving and made room for us. Their dinghy man ashore drove the dinghy back to his ship like a F1 driver whooping with excitement.
We dropped anchor and went ashore immediately to make sure everyone knew the clinic would be tomorrow. When we stepped ashore we were met by a lot of school children who are on holiday at the moment. After some shy introductions a very bold young girl stepped forward and asked what we wanted. We explained we wanted to find the nurse. She immediately ushered us to follow her. We were led across a little river that was on its last part of the journey to the sea. Behind the sand the river formed a little lagoon. This area was used as the clothes washing and women’s washing area. We knew from the past encounters elsewhere that we shouldn’t walk through the washing area so I was bit embarrassed. But clearly it was not an issue as the closest lady merely wrapped a cloth around herself and held out her hand to say hello. Little further on the girl said here is the nurse.
The nurse was a little confused about around arrival and said tomorrow is a public holiday and no one would come. We spent a pleasant time with the nurse and she showed us around. After awhile she suggested that people with real medical problems would not care about the holiday and would rather have their ailment looked at. The nurse spoke French and Bislama so communication was a challenge.
One the way back to the boat we stopped at some little sticks in the ground with a bit of bunting on top. The nurse explained that one month ago a child was hit by a car and died on that spot. The other flags we could see were the positions of witnesses to the tragedy. It was the first such fatality in the district and we couldn’t help feeling very sad.
Back on the boat we kept anchor watch as the wind increased during the day. The anchorage was uncomfortable and I felt vigilance was needed at a time like this! Dave made bread and water and I checked the engine oil and fuel levels.
From 4pm onwards we kept watch for the shore team’s arrival. At 4:40pm we were surprised to see a little figure waving from a different part of the shore. The team was back.
Martin and I took the dinghy ashore picking our way slowly through the labyrinth of coral heads. The same area the trader dinghy was travelling at full speed and whooping.
We met the team on the beach and found an exhausted group. The short ute ride actually took 2 hours over very rugged terrain. When they arrived in Leviamp they had a chat with the nurse and put all our equipment in the clinic building for the night.
I have asked one of the shore team to report on their day for the log but I don’t think it will be tonight somehow. Denis has been given the night off and the ladies, Helena and Isabelle, are cooking up a very elegant Italian meal. Megan prepared starters which were plantain banana chips freshly fried on board.
Morinda and Helen both came back to the boat tonight in spite of watching it roll around at anchor. Fortunately it is quieter now and I can hear laughter coming from their cabin; So all must be well. Today we went our separate ways and had two very different days, but now we are back together snug in the cabin and we are about to enjoy dinner.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and today we go we our separate ways
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To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …