Monday 24 May 2010 Dillon’s Bay, Erromango

The day started early.

Up at 6:30 and after breakfast and preparing for the day it was a short dinghy ride to the shore where Iain and Ann set up their medical clinic with queues down each side of the hall and outside under the veranda for much of the day.  A total of 81 patients were seen, plus 6 anti natal cases, which, for those better qualified to make mud bricks, means “those women having babies”

After meeting up with David, Bill and I climbed aboard a trusty Toyota ute (the sort that is totally indestructible and is held together with wire, faith and local ingenuity) for the 9km ride to the airport, where we were told the mud was very good … very sticky.  We were not disappointed.

The recent rain, however, had made the road and the near vertical climb out of Dillon’s Bay quite slippery and for a few brief moments Bill and I really wondered whether the quest for the ultimate clay deposit was really worth it.  This came when in the lowest of low-range gears on a very steep section the trusty Toyota decided to stop and soon after the 4 blokes in the back and the passenger in front jumped out.  Bill and I, in the twin-cab seats behind the driver kind of summed up the situation and figured, if they’re getting out so are we.  Luckily the driver didn’t jump out and like a well rehearsed procedure two off the back raced down the track a short way to find boulders to put behind the wheels as everyone else, including Bill and me, grabbed some part of the vehicle; whether to hold it from sliding back down the mountain and certain death of its driver or help push it up the hill, I wasn’t quite sure.

With the mud safely retrieved from the end of the airstrip we got down to the serious business of making bricks and I must say these guys were conscientious, with Chief David doing more than his share to move the activity along.  In all around 45 bricks were made, with a range of different mixtures being tried; the pure stuff from the airport, the local heavy soil, some red clay we found half way to the airport and then combinations of each.

Being a warm day the bricks were drying well as we made our way back to the boat late in the day and it’ll be good to see how they look tomorrow.

Iain and Ann finished their clinic at 4:30pm and we were able to leave a good supply of donated bandages and dressings to help stock the dispensary.

At the moment it’s quite late and I’m typing in the dark as everyone has gone to sleep.  Scott and I, or I should say Scott, has been on a quest for the ultimate lobster.  In fact any lobster would do, and so tonight we took up an offer from a local chap, Joshua to go night diving for lobster on the reef.  Sounds dangerous and scary doesn’t it?  And maybe I should leave the Ships Log there for the night, but in reality Scott and I only got our feet wet, we were looking after the dinghy, and as for Joshua, he barely got wet at all, but it was a different matter for Joe and Justin, Joshua’s friends.  As we got to the shore to pick them up at 7:30pm Joshua asked in the darkness, “Have you got mask?”, “Yes we have masks and flippers – 2 sets” I said.  “Do you have gloves?” asked Joshua. “Yes we have gloves”, I said, wondering at this point, what kind of divers are these guys?  But they had underwater torches, or at least one proper torch and another one which was a bit dodgy.

So off we headed over calm seas beneath a bright moon which made visibility very good – which is apparently not good for catching lobster, but we had to take what we could get.  So after 20 minutes of motoring, Joshua signals to slow and soon after, we were over the reef in shallow water and the two lads, Justin and Joe strip down to their Speedos, put on the mask, gloves and flippers and just rolled into the sea; where they stayed for maybe 30 minutes as we paddled the dinghy silently behind.  And the total haul for the night … One.  Plus a handful of trocus shell which are supposed to be good eating, but they also sell the shells in Pt Vila.

As for tomorrow … it’s been declared a lay-day and we will probably head to Pt Vila the next day, Wednesday.

Smooth seas, fair wind and how do you share 1 lobster amongst 6 people

Robert Latimer

PS  Sorry for the delay in posting this Ships Log.  It was supposed to go last night, but due to low battery power and everyone being asleep it could not be sent till the next day.