A stitch in time

Wednesday 30 June 2010, 6pm, Luganville

This morning we treated ourselves to breakfast at the resort.  The Beachfront Resort is a lovely place seemingly being developed bit by bit by its owner and a team of local tradesmen. They make the cement blocks by hand to make the walls; they use local thatch for the roofs; they collect sand from the beach to make cement render; they carve the trees that fall or are felled into artistic features; and they even make the furniture which I had been admiring. The main focal point is an open thatched terrace. From there we can look out over the lawn, through the coconut trees to Chimere at anchor. That is why we call it our anchor watch spot. The services they offer are just right for a yacht. We can anchor off shore at no cost. We can use their bathroom for a modest cost and we use the terrace to rendezvous after going our separate ways during the day. Occasionally we dine there for a treat. We even leave the handheld radio with the bar staff so a late comer can call up the yacht for a lift back.
Today Chris went off, full of excitement and anticipation, for a horse ride on a cattle ranch, with trails that take you into the sea. I will leave Chris to tell us about her day in her own words in Part 2 of today’s log.
The rest of us have been doing odd jobs. We are in that in between time, where our tour has finished and the next crew hasn’t arrived yet. Our goal is to hand over the yacht ready to embark on her next tour. So, the first thing Carl today did was remove the link from the anchor winch chain. I took this to Santo Engineers, which is on the way into town, to find a replacement. The owner of this establishment remembered me from two days ago. “Where’s your mate?” he asked. “I left him on the yacht to do some sewing” I replied. Ray, Paul and Grant were valiantly trying to sew a hem in the jib, 18m long, by hand but more of that in a moment. After buying a replacement chain link and a spare engine belt I continued on into town. As I left the Santo Engineers I saw a garden tap so I washed my face and hands trying to cool down. The effect of the heat was catching up on me. When I got into town I found the business I was heading for was closed so I continued on to the Toyota dealer to source spark plugs. Armed with two new plugs for the outboard I started the trip back home but felt too hot to continue. I found a café and bought a drink and sat for a while. It took about half an hour in the shade to cool down. When I got back to the boat I found Carl was also suffering from the heat. Ray had experienced it a couple of times in the last few days too. It gets seriously hot here and sometimes the body protests.
Everyone stopped work at lunch time and went to the resort bar for a cold drink then back to work on the yacht. I was now introduced to the sewing circle. The boys were getting very frustrated at their slow progress. Paul went into town and I took his place in the circle. It is a straight line actually. In one hour I did about 400mm. I started with one stitch pattern, swapped to another without knowing how and then swapped to a third. By now I was getting better and managed to continue with the one pattern.  I did a little arithmetic and worked out that we would need a week at this rate to finish the job. I excused myself and went ashore in the dinghy. I had a plan. I had already asked the proprietor of the resort if there were any canvas repair places in town but he and his men thought not. Now, I was wondering if I could employ local women, who are famous here for their sewing skills, to help. I thought maybe the women’s craft centre could help me find 2 ladies willing to try sail making. When I pulled the dinghy up on the beach and was making it secure, I looked up to see Bob and Gibson walking towards me with their arms loaded with boxes bound for the yacht. It suddenly started to rain and was blustery so I took them back to the resort to store the boxes in a dry place to wait for the rain to pass over. Gibson and Bob had run the first clinic at the new Luganville base. The clinic building is a small house owned by the Presbyterian Church and is also used as the Parish office. Because the opening day of the clinic had not been communicated very well, there was a low turnout. At the end of the day the guys decided to bring the equipment to the yacht in readiness for the next tour. After hearing their news my mind returned to the sail making problem. “Bob, Gibson you are just the people to advise me” I started, then explained about the sail. “Do you think we could find two ladies who would like a day’s work fixing the sail?” I asked in conclusion. “Yes, yes of course” they both replied. “Do you think you could help me explain this?” I asked, thinking it would be much better explained in Bislama by locals than for me to explain in English.  I thought we would need to go into town, but the lads immediately asked one of the girls working in the resort. They explained to me latter that her reply was that she was not a good seamstress but she directed Gibson to another lady. The other lady, Christine, was bemused at the question. I listened to Gibson explain in detail, trying to pick up any words I recognized and watching for her reaction. She seemed very comfortable with the sewing part, but she seemed to be asking about the yacht. When it was clear that the job was on the yacht she half squealed half laughed, her head bowed into her shoulders and her body twisted into a knot. “I have not been on a yacht” she said addressing me. Sensing I was on a sticky wicket I tried to reassure her “it is like this terrace and we sit on the floor with the material on our lap and sew”. She displayed a little sympathy and mirth at the vision of us sitting cross legged on the floor sewing. “OK, I will come tomorrow. I have a day off tomorrow and I will come. I will bring my friend”.  “Thank you very much” I replied and not wanting to put off the pointy end of the arrangements I asked “how much should I pay”. She was embarrassed and said “No, no I just want to help you. It is OK.” “Thank you very much. That is very kind of you; but we must do something” I replied and with that she flashed a sweet smile and walked away. Gibson called out “See you tomorrow. 9am, here”. Gibson turned and said he would also come tomorrow to help out. He was keen to help get the boat ready for Mr Rob’s arrival tomorrow at 5:50pm.
By this time Paul had returned from town and he and I took the boxes back to the boat. Meanwhile, Carl had visited a neighbouring yacht to fix an engine so we picked him up one the way back. Ray headed back to town for supplies and Paul and Grant went back to work on the sail and Carl disappeared into the anchor well to see if the new chain link fitted. I hovered around Carl’s feet which protruded at deck level and passed things to and from a greasy hand that reached up from somewhere in the dark depths of the anchor well. Unfortunately Carl concluded that the chain link was not quite the right size so I will head back to Santo Engineers tomorrow to see what other options were available.
We are all looking forward to meeting the new crew. We have booked a dormitory room at the resort for the new crew for their first night. We’ll swap over on Friday and use the room for the night before departure.
Chris is still ashore so she will send her report in Part 2


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