A sailors haunt – a lee shore

Friday 9 August 2013

16 28.82S       167 26.57E

Robert sent us an email yesterday with an updated weather forecast and I was surprised to see north westerlies predicted. That is the opposite to the prevailing SE trade winds. Our weather map from the HF radio which we received later seemed to confirm the forecast. So it wasn’t a surprise this morning to find we had swung around on our anchor and we’re now pointing offshore. That means the beach that was benign yesterday is now a lee shore and the place we will drift if anything goes wrong with the anchor. A lee shore is the haunt of the sailor, a place he never wants to be caught near.
Two days ago we added another sailors’ haunt to the list of things that unsettle sailors; and that is coral. Enough of coral for the moment because we are in a large open bay and if we stay within it there is no coral to worry about.
This morning we put the medical team ashore for an 8:30am start. Dave went ashore to relieve Denis who has been working himself in to a sweat for days. Denis has been responsible for sterilisation and that means keeping a pressure cooker running for 8 hours! Denis looks like a coal stocker on an old steamer by the end of the day; all bedraggled and covered in sweat! The trouble is he is good at it and each day he has refined the method and procedure to the point where the dentist has no down time waiting for instruments to be sterilised. In fact the dentist has no rest at all anymore. He is a machine. Today it was agreed by all that Denis needed a break and Dave had already volunteered to learn the system and Denis would come back to the boat after providing Dave with basic training.
Meanwhile, Isabelle had arranged for the local potter, Ken, to pick up the load of potters clay and newly cast church bell from the yacht. Denis got back on board in time for the appointed arrival time for Ken but Ken didn’t come. Later on Ken rang to say the local boat had not arrived so he would wait a bit longer. The onshore waves got bigger and bigger during the morning with occasional rain squalls. It seemed that Ken would not come today on account of the weather. Ken rang to say he would no longer wait for the boat and would walk to another village which is close to us and find a boatman to bring him out to the yacht. So a 9am arrangement  became 10 which became 11 and eventually settled on 1:30pm.
During this time the weather was unpleasant and I stayed on deck watching the shore line. Suddenly I thought the shore looked closer than before. This is a perennial dilemma for anyone watching the shore in case the anchor drags; you always visualize the shore is getting closer. A check of the depth sounder and the GPS confirmed we had moved. It was time to move the yacht and I radioed ashore to get some help. Dave came to the beach immediately and Denis went ashore in the dinghy to collect him. That sounds straight forward but involved quite a bit if effort. The dinghy had to be lowered in to the water, I had to reach out into space while the boat is swinging from the davits to put the bung back in, Denis climbed into the violently gyrating dinghy, he disconnected the davit ropes, reconnected the fuel line on the engine, primed the line, put on a little bit of choke, pulled on the starter cord, gather in the bow line and engage the gears and head off to the beach, all the while being tossed around like a dodgem car. Well done Denis. While they were gone I started the engine and then noticed that the gps screen had frozen. A perfectly wrong time to stop working. Very quickly Denis and Dave were on their way back and looking like drowned rats. They climbed aboard over the stern and worked their way forward to bring up the anchor.  In the middle of all this was the moment fate chose for Ken to arrive. Once the anchor was down Ken came along side in the local boat and we unloaded 3 bags of heavy clay, a heavy cast bronze bell, and 12 twenty five kg bags of clay plus a few other smaller boxes. Ken was all smiles. Isabelle climbed into the boat complete with two way radio, rain coat and life jacket. They headed back to Ken’s village. We’ll ask Isabelle to report on Ken’s pottery set up and his low smoke stoves.
The clinic worked well and finished by around 2:15pm. They had arranged for some food supplies including 2 freshly killed and dressed chickens, Loaves of fresh bread and a bundle of fruit and veg.  They have also found accommodation for our 2 local girls who wisely thought a night on a tossing yacht would not be what they needed.
Isabelle and the boatman have now returned and have headed to the beach and are waiting just outside the breaking waves until the medical team arrive on the beach and bring Martin and Meagan (with Isabelle) back to the yacht which is a great saving for the dinghy and gallant coxswain. Speaking of gallant coxswain, he is now making apple and cinnamon muffins in the galley opposite me. Nothing can stop him but a rest day he has had not.
Last night’s dinner was fantastic. It was held on deck with a ring of candles setting the scene. If the weather abates a bit and with all the new supplies coming tonight, our dinner tonight should be amazing.
Our team sends happy birthday greetings to Robert back in Melbourne. On the first trip in 2009 Rob’s birthday was held in Vanuatu which was very memorable.  We hope you have lovely birthday Rob.

by Andrew Latimer

Smooth seas, fair breeze and A sailors haunt – a lee shore


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3 thoughts on “A sailors haunt – a lee shore”

  1. Now that sounds like a lively day aboard Chimere whilst the land based clinicians are at work! Glad I’m at home right now!

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