26 July 2009 8:25 PM (Anchored off Loh Island)

Whilst the weather was generally kind and everyone basically had a place to lay their body down, in the end, I think tiredness was the winner of the overnight sailing stakes.

We got away finally around 10:00pm from Ureparapara after the farewell dinner and earlier stowing all the bags and boxes away.  We had 15 aboard and the crew did watches of 4 hours, with 2 per watch.  Terrence and Mike early on, Jo and Chris on the middle shift, then Graeme and me.

Our welcome at Loh, here in the Torres has been generous, although quiet, given that it is Sunday.  Two young fellows, Atchin (who we initially called Archie until we had the pronunciation right) and Stalyn (as opposed to the other one, whose name was spelt with an “i”) came aboard and showed us to a very good anchorage, where there is hardly any roll, as opposed to the one on the chart and the cruising guide which were not very nice.

Atchin and Stalyn stayed aboard for a few hours and had lunch with us.  I also printed out photos of them holding the wheel on Chimere which they were very pleased to take away.  Atchin drove the boat for a time, which he really enjoyed.  While eating our lunch we had some very rare traffic on the VHF radio Channel 16.  It was a nearby yacht who was at the rolly anchorage we’d tried earlier in the day asking if anyone had a better anchorage.  I responded, while Atchin and Stalyn sat and watched. “Yes, we have a wonderful anchorage here at the north of the island – over”,  I said.  “It’s gps co-ordinates are 13 degrees 19.6 minutes South, 166 degrees 37.1 minute East, it’s called “Atchin Anchorage” to which Atchin’s eye went wide and he couldn’t hold back his laughter and satisfaction.

Later in the evening we had a second piece of traffic (and that’s the only two calls in maybe 2 months) enquiring about where this “Atchin Anchorage” is.  This was a yacht called Storm Girl, bound for Darwin, via the Solomons, who were set to have a very rolly night down at the southern end of the island.

As it turns out, Atchin is the driver of the small Medical Service’s, inter-island boat, so we hope to have him aboard for the next 3 days as we do a milk run of medical clinics to Hui, Tegua and Togo islands, finishing up next Wednesday.

As a special feature, we have a contribution today from Jo, who has been doing a wonderful job with the catering …

My name is Jo and I am the yacht’s cook for this latter leg of Chimere’s journey in Vanuatu so the captain has requested I write a little about my experiences. Mercifully the rest of the crew are not fussy eaters and continue to eat my cooking with gusto no matter how black it is around the edges.

As far as the larder is concerned two memorable events have occurred in recent days. The first event was Chris catching a core-blimey big mahi-mahi fish which made my next couple of dinners much more enjoyable. The other event was more of a catastrophe in that we ran out of Linda’s pre packaged bread mixes. Today was my first attempt at cooking bread from scratch. Graeme commented on the loaf’s similarity with a Besser brick whereas I thought it resembled an ugly motor car and was similarly edible. The crew must have been famished; they ate it all.
We have been trading useful items (fishing tackle, clothing, needle & thread, rope) for fruit and vegetables.

Henry, a resident of the island of Motalava, “adopted” Chris and I this morning and we were lucky enough to be taken to his “garden”. This is a patch in the forest that is tended to and managed in order to grow food. We had a stunning walk with Henry through thick forest and along a stunning beach with butterflies flitting and lizards running across our path.

Once at his garden Henry trotted up a twenty foot bare tree trunk with apparent ease and then disappeared into the canopy. After a few seconds we were showered with small nuts which we collected and were then taught how to crack open with rocks on the beach. After the nut-cracking session we then collected coconuts for the crew, and Henry taught us to de-husk them on a wooden spike in the ground. He took all of four seconds to pull the husk clean off the inner shell. Chris took only two minutes of grunting to triumphantly produce a de-husked coconut. I didn’t catch on quite so quickly. After a further ten minutes of sweating and expletives I was left with a rather scrappy half-husked job that I had to get Henry to finish for me.
Chris and I were recently talking to one Ni-Van called Philip, from the island of Merelava,  about spear fishing and I was curious about how he was able to spear fish at night. I had romantic visions of inherent telepathic capabilities to become one with the sea and the fish and the universe which enabled them to use the spear without vision.

“Philip, How do you see the fish?” I asked “Do you use the light from the moon? Or from the stars? Do you light fires on the shores to hypnotise them? Or use some ancient ritual passed down from your ancestors?”
“Nah” he said as a smile spread across his face “Me usem torch”

(Editors note:  Philip is the young guy who came aboard at Mere lava with two of his mates and when we couldn’t find Philip we finally looked up, and there he was, as far up the mast as you can get, without actually standing on top.  After coconut trunks, a mast with foot holds would be a breeze)

Smooth sea, fair breeze and three cheers for the cook!

Rob