Aim for the volcano

Thursday 13 May 2010 9:43 PM Port Resolution. Tanna, Vanuatu

After their clinic yesterday on Aniwa, the medical team came aboard last night while we lay at anchor off Aniwa and around 2:15am this morning the crew began the task of getting underway with the intention of making Port Resolution by day break.

Once underway it was a close hauled sail in roughly a SSW direction with a couple of tacks thrown in at the end to ensure the approach into the bay was achieved on the right bearing.

The seas were calm and the wind steady, but most amazing of all was the glowing red volcano on the horizon, close to our final destination, leading to the off-hand directions in setting the course .. “just aim for the volcano on the horizon” … not a sailing command you hear much these days … at least not in my parts.

After having 15 onboard – finding a place for everyone to sleep and ensuring all were well fed and comfortable – it suddenly went quiet when they all departed late morning to either begin their return to Australia or join the land-based team for the next week.

Tony Burke, our dentist/crewmember is spending his last night aboard and will fly to Pt Vila tomorrow and then Melbourne on Sunday.

The following was penned by (nurse) Ruth in the early hours of this morning …

Ruth Wilkinson sums up on behalf of medical Team 1 and the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project …

It is time for the medical team 1 to part from Chimere, so we thought we’d make the most of every last minute.  It is just (ie about 3 hours’ish) before dawn and we are sailing towards an active volcano surrounded by stars  – the Milky Way and friends.

The last 10 days have been an amazing journey.  We have visited 4 islands with differing cultures and lifestyles as any isolated communities around the world.   Each village welcomed us and shared their lives and food with us so willingly we were humbled on many occasions.  Families generously shared their food with us including the last watermelon on Futuna.

We have seen the regular to extraordinary medical conditions.  I hesitate to say illnesses because the local Ni-vans live and are living with injuries and conditions we are more used to seeing hospitalized ; at least for a day.  The timing of injuries from when they occurred to seeking treatment can be months.

Once again the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project have brought clearer sight and better vision to many who would otherwise languished in a decreasingly darkening life.  Although some see this as islands in paradise, the isolation and lack of services can be crippling, yet these people are happy and the simple pleasure of being able to read the bible in the evening makes life even better.  We are glad to have helped and thank those who assisted as this program like many others depends on those helping behind the scenes.

We would like to thank the families of the Chimere crew who have shared such dedicated and multi-skilled people with us.  We have been kept safe, not always dry, but certainly warm.  We have faced challengers together which have made us stronger and developed a sub-category for Chimere The Biggest Loser.

Each of the crew are very special and have such a depth of character.  Andy is still missed and included in daily conversation.  I personally need to thank Andy for his warm blanket which has accompanied me on the night sails.

From complete strangers to close friends, Medical Team 1 has travelled so far geographically and personally.  “Thanks” seems inadequate but this trip has left a foot print in all our lives.  I’m proud of the work we’ve done on the islands and look forward to future visits.  Recommendations for future volunteer Chimere sailors, be prepared for a lot of laughter and friendship and bring extra tissues for tears of frustration and joy.  There is so much friendship and companionship, even on the not-so-enjoyable times there is a lighthearted angle to be found by someone.

Can anyone imagine anything better a 4:00am on a Thursday morning than starring at the stars, watching the Milky Way and an exploding volcano on the horizon while eating the best vegemite toast on the high seas – all to a lullaby song or two.  You just have to come and experience this.

Thank you to the MSM team, Chimere crew, Medical Team 1, Ni-van staff, Richard, Morrison, Bob, Shirley, healthcare workers in each of the villages who helped us during clinics and have some follow-up care to administer over the next few months.  Thank you to the Ni-van villagers for your warmth and generosity and for such an interesting time.

Smooth Seas, fair breeze and safe homeward travels

Robert Latimer

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