Anchored back in the volcano

Friday 22 September 2017

Dives Bay, Ureparapara


It was a case of “Up at 5:00am, away by 6:00am” … with our destination being the amazing island of Ureparapara, about 25 miles north of Sola where we’d spent a slightly less rolly night on account of re-anchoring closer to shore

After picking the five Ni-Van team members up from the beach and completing a few last jobs aboard, it was actually 6:04am that we weighted anchor and headed out of the bay – known locally as Port Patterson after an earlier Anglican missionary.

The wind was steady from the south east, as it normally is at this time of year in these parts, and so the wind was pretty much on our tail. This gave us the opportunity to dust off the spinnaker pole in order to hold the jib out one side while the mainsail stuck out the other – a classic sailing manoeuvre,

Pakon took the helm for a good part of the leg and did a very good job despite the waves advancing from the stern and a confused chop.

By 10:00am we were making our way into the entrance of the once-active volcano that is Ureparapara, with its jungle-covered razor ridge encircling us on virtually all sides

A good anchorage was soon found and after dropping the Ni-Vans ashore to organised the afternoon’s activities, those aboard loaded the bulka bags of gear into the large dinghy in readiness for the next run ashore – actually a beach, with white-ish sand.

With Annette and Matt (the younger) feeling better, it was Graeme’s turn to take some time out on the bench, which meant that I spent much of my time running back and forth in the dinghy to get this or that, left behind in the rush – a box of giveaway soap, hand-held optom machine, bag of caps, day packs … the list goes on.

In the course of my zipping back and forth, I got to meet several prominent locals who joined me for the ride, including Chief John (who initially came out in his canoe) Chief David and Andrew, the local wood carver who I have met here on two previous occasions.

“I still have the wood rasp you gave me last time” said Andrew. So it was very pleasing to be able to give Andrew a stack of additional tools mostly donated by the Ringwood Men’s Shed in Melbourne, plus sandpaper and epoxy glue.

Once the locals had carried everything up from the beach, it seemed a matter of minutes before the team had seat up their respective stations – reception, eyecare, medical, dental (read: extractions) oral health examinations and oral health survey questionnaires. It was fine to see.

Everyone seemed genuinely sad to hear we would be heading away tomorrow morning, our main task of completing the required surveys complete.

As for the clinic itself, it appeared very busy with everyone working extremely hard … except Graeme of course who was back on the boat resting, leaving his under-study doctor (and son) Jeremy to take charge of the medical side of things

The clinic wound up around 4:30pm and the process of transporting, packing and stowing aboard was put into action.

It was then back to the beach around 6:15pm to share dinner together and put on a movie night – showing Ice Age 1 & 2 to great appeal.

This pretty much ends the formal medical and survey part of Mission 4, with tomorrow seeing us start the journey south; initially to Port Vila, then the return to Australia in about a month’s time.

As a concession to the hard-working team, a sleep-in has been approved for tomorrow. Instead of being up at 5:00am, it’s now 6:00am – a full 1 hour extra in bed.

Our destination tomorrow will be the west coast of Vanualava – including waterfall Bay, named for the obvious (a great place to relax and “frolic”) as a brief stop-over on our way back to Sola where many of the team will fly home on Monday.

Starting to wind down now !!

Smooth seas, fair breeze and anchored back in the volcano

Rob Latimer

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