Tuesday 20 July 2010 (Asanvari, Maewo Is  15 22.64S, 168 07.88E)

After a night of passing showers and at times downright potential downpours where we caught a small amount of water in the tanks off the deck, it was a lazy start to the day.  With wind swirled around the bay during the night and so it was also a time of anchor chain movement with the sound it makes, when amplified through the metal hull, giving a sense of impending doom.  Gerhard in the forward cabin cops the brunt of it, although by now I think he’s kind of used to it. Regular checks of the chartplotter throughout the night showed that whilst we were circling on the anchor, our movement did not suggest we were dragging.

When I finally appeared for breakfast around 9:00am the sun was streaming in and Gerhard had stories of watching the dolphins jumping and playing a short distance away in the bay and of some of the folk off the other yachts swimming in the water with them.  The dolphins were jumping over 2 metres in the air, which is apparently a regular sight here.

While Mike stayed aboard to do computer database activity and Lanie knocked up some more ANZAC biscuits for a possible afternoon tea aboard later in the day, I went ashore with Matt to conduct the mudbrick clinic promised to Chief Nelson and son Nixon from last night.  The mudbrick making went well with a good crowd getting stuck into the work.  Quite a few women were passing the instruction manual around and all looked keen to get their low smoke stove as soon as possible.

After completing the bricks, Nixon took Gerhard, Matt and me for a walk around the village, over a hill, out to the surf beach and down the side of a waterfall.  With all the recent rain it was a slippery affair, with the lushness of the vegetation continuing to amaze.

There are three other yachts in the bay right now and after meeting everyone at a dinner ashore last night we invited everyone back to our place for tea and coffee (and Lanie’s famous biscuits) this afternoon.  I hope I can remember all their names, the family Bruce, Nicola, Poppy and Ella off a yacht called “Bob”, Peter and Beth off another yacht, and Walter and Ae off Seafever.  There was also Olivette who is the local nurse and who the MSM crew from June last year met, plus a young woman called Beth who is from Geelong and had been doing some aid work here but who is now back for a bit of a holiday.  Plus of course, Chief Nelson and his son Nixon and Nelson’s grandson … Charleston (I think) who is in yr 11.  It was a lovely gathering on the foredeck under the awning.

Evening saw us back ashore with a … “each yacht bring a dish” meal at the Asanvari Yacht Club hut which was a lot of fun.

Upon our return to Chimere about an hour ago it was grand to watch the crew slip into action like a well oiled machine in preparation for tomorrows early departure.  Each person found a task to do as awnings were packed away, ropes stowed, buoys and fenders lifted aboard, loose items lashed down, the dinghy lifted and lashed to the deck, the side ladder raised and lashed to the railing, plus everything stowed and packed away down below.

The plan is to be up at 4:00am tomorrow and away by 4:30 in order to meet the medical team at the top end of the next island south of here, Pentecost, at 7:00am.  Once we pick them up we’ll run them down the coast a short distance where they’ll run a clinic in the village of Loltong. At the moment they have been doing amazing work inland on Pentecost where the weather has maintained its usual rainy way.

The local nurse, Olivette is a delightful lady and through the woman from Geelong, Beth, (whom she has informally “adopted” as a daughter) we received a request for a map of the region, plus a lesson in how to use a compass.  It seems that Olivette makes the trip across to Lolowai on Ambae quite regularly and the local fast boat driver doesn’t always know the way when the weather closes in and rain, cloud and mist obscures the view.  Beth had obtained an orienteering compass for Olivette from Australia, ideal for the purpose, but Olivette didn’t know how to use it.  So, after taking a couple of photographs of the local chart, then printing and laminating them we were able to equip Olivette with the skills and knowledge to keep her future boatman on course. We also wrote out the bearing to follow to get to Lolowai, and the bearing back again, just for future reference, all safely laminated in plastic so it won’t get damaged when it rains.  And it does rain here.  Quite seriously, with the annual average being 3900 mm.

On account of the early rise tomorrow it’s off to bed for me.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and early start tomorrow

Robert Latimer