After a steamy night, Tuesday 7 July was our full day together – 5 of the old crew plus 5 of the new crew. It was a time for learning and re-learning the onboard systems, with each of the old crew, Bob, Jim, Tony, Ann and Jenny explaining their roles of the past month, in maintaining a smooth, happy, safe and useful ship.
Chief amongst my concerns was the electrical system onboard, with the digital readout on the main panel having flashed RED for the past week or so indicating LOW power in the bank of three “house” batteries. The batteries were tested, re-tested, monitored, disconnected, re-connected, charged, charged again … you name it, it was done. So on the collective trip back into town we found the name of an electrical man who might be able to help – Steve was his name, and the man who gave us his name, Sam, said if you can’t raise him on the phone, you call me and I’ll go and find him for you.
We called Steve and made a time for 4:30pm at the boat. But as it turned out, something must have come up because we never saw Steve. And we lost Sam’s phone number – we’d have to fix the electrical problem ourselves.
The “last supper together” was held on the foredeck, but not before we supported the local manufacturing and tourism industries in the form of a collective and reflective, Tusker Beer in the open dining area of the Beachfront Resort with Chimere clearly in view about 300m away – 100m across the lawn to the sand, then 200m across the water to the boat. It was a beautiful night, with the full moon coming up over the water just adding to the moment.
Sometime in the night, I’m not sure when, it started to drizzle, then drizzle turned to showers, showers to rain and so by the 7:00am, “catch taxi time” it was absolutely pouring down. A big effort was made to cover the bags as they piled high in the dinghy. And as names were about to be called for rides ashore, discussion revolved about the order in which it should be done. “What about in terms of age?” I ventured, to which Bob piped up, “I’ve got a Seniors Card”.
Jenny shot this down in flames when she countered that the Seniors Card only worked in NSW and it had lost it’s power now that we were in Vanuatu. “What about alphabetical order?” I suggested, thinking Bob would be happy, with a surname like Brenac. “But my name is Thomson”, called out Jenny.
Then came the new Chimere abandon-ship cry from Bob … “Women and children last!” as he grabbed his coat and made his way to the “exit ladder”.
It was a poignant moment. Here was the old crew leaving. They were happy, contented and looked like they could go again. They’d done a wonderful job. Served the medical team well. Kept everyone safe and secure. And, (something close to mine and Andrew’s hearts) maintained the ship – safe and sound.
Now of course, some people are more emotional than others. Or maybe everyone’s emotional, it’s just that some show it more than others. In any case, I asked Bob and Jim, “How would you sum up the last month or two?.” And pretty quickly, words like “remarkable”, “enjoyable”, “rewarding”, “tremendous” and “satisfying” came flowing out.
And something Bob said, stuck in my mind, “It was a joy to watch the children having so much fun and the Ni-vans are a remarkable people. Not a possession to their name, but probably the happiest people you’ll ever find anywhere in the world.”
I think in his under-stated way, Bob kind of summed it up.
So many people seek happiness in stuff and live as “individuals” in “society”, yet in Vanuatu there are groups of people truly living in “community”; communing with each other, with their focus on relationships, rather than things.
Chris did the honours with the dinghy and after two loads ashore we were down to just five aboard. The old lot leaving by taxi for their 8:25am flight south to Pt Vila, an afternoon flight to Sydney, then an evening flight to Melbourne for Tony, Ann and Jenny.
Gee, it was quiet on board!! They were a noisy lot.
Here ends the “Crew-change in three Acts”
Stay tuned to more action when we are joined tomorrow by crewmember number six and allround nice guy – Graeme Duke.
Hopefully it’ll stop raining by then.
Fair breeze, smooth sea and “women and children last”
PS Good news on the batteries – it appears our Honda generator (nicknamed Harry by the earlier crew) and electronic charger are doing their thing – one battery at a time!!
PPS Robyn-husband-of-Mike, you might like to sit down at this point, your husband has just cooked a beautiful meal of Spag Bol and baked 2 loaves of bread, in between counting the remaining cash in our safe and bringing the budget up to date – what an amazing husband you have.!!