5 June 2010 Port Vila

The morning started slowly again. Various bodies staggered out of cabins as if pre-programmed. Little by little life dribbled in…”oh its morning” …”its hot already”…..”what’s for breakfast”. By that stage you knew all systems were now functioning. The exception to the rule was Chris who had been up since 6am and had baked bread to the delight of some privileged members of the crew. Or at least they were the ones standing in the right place when the loaf came out of the oven.

Carl started work on the mechanical systems, still marveling that the big job of changing the engine mounts yesterday had gone so well with no snapped bolts or other unscheduled yet highly likely problems occurring. During the checks Carl found that the propeller brake which is used when we are sailing and the engine is off, was jammed on. This meant when the engine was on the brake was trying to stop it. Carl also pronounced the diesel generator dead. We just put the covers back on and will leave it rest in peace.

Noah came by and got to work on the new charger to make sure it was programmed properly. Noah has decided his next port of call will be Bundaberg so we do hope we will see him again; this time in Australia.

Paul and Grant did some work to strengthen the boarding ladder. Inside the cabin we had no idea how they were getting on but at one point Grant asked if there was a heavy weight and line he could throw over board. This needed some explaining and going on deck I found Paul in his snorkeling gear duck diving to retrieve the bolt he dropped in the water. The weight and line was to give him a guide to where the bolt should be. After an exhausting and fruitless time Paul gave it up and declared that they were common bolts and should be easily replaced (not on the weekend they’re not). So cheerily I said “well hang on to the other one so we have a sample” At around the word “have” we heard a splash and a very sheepish Grant explained that the other bolt had just fallen in the water too!

Paul, Grant and I also sorted and repacked the medical equipment into their new homes either in bags on deck or down below. We were supervised by Don and Meg with a brief visit from Richard who was on his way to play in a cricket match. That was a very hot job out in the tropical sun.
Back down below Carl was having difficulty seeing without the little trouble light which had earlier been dropped into the oily bilge and threatened to catch on fire. So with the packing finished Chris and I walked up to the nearest hardware store only to find it was shut. No problem we thought, we’ll get a bus to Wilco which is big modern hardware store. Its bound to be open. After waiting for about 30 seconds we caught a bus (is there anywhere in the world with a public transport system this efficient?) We asked “can we go to Wilco?” The driver said “Sure”. After starting off he said “I tink he finis” “Wilco shut now” “OK just drop us off at the water front, thanks” was our reply knowing that everything was going to be shut now.

Our driver, and his friend in the front passenger seat, asked “what do you need?” . It seems a funny thing to ask for but I said “we are looking for a trouble light” In an abbreviated version of English this sounds like I am looking for trouble. After to-ing and fro-ing we learnt that what we wanted was a hand light. The guys now felt this was a challenge and asked “is it alright with you, we help you find this light”. “OK, thanks, that would be great” was our reply, thinking these are really nice helpful guys or else we are in for a very long bus ride and a big fare. We meandered around the streets picking up and putting down passengers (including driving past a very shut Wilco) all the time it was explained we are moving towards a place near the airport. “He Chinese. He doesn’t go to church or play sport. He might be open” “Even if he not open I will knock on the door and he will open” Sure enough though it was open.

Our new friends parked the bus and took us into the shop and explained to the shop keeper what we were looking for. It was found quickly then tested in someone’s car cigarette lighter socket. After paying and handshakes all round we drove back to the boat. All up the fare cost the price of the fare to Wilco. I know the friendliness of Ni-Vans has been mentioned many times in this log. But is worth relating this example because it is really great to experience it. Also today, a passenger in a bus asked us what our uniform was (meaning our MSM T-shirt and sailing shorts). We explained that we were crew on a yacht that transports medical teams to remote islands. The man’s face became solemn and he held out his hand to shake ours saying “That is good work. Thank you for doing that”

Our late news is that Richard sustained an injury in the cricket game today. He has broken a bone in his hand and has spent the afternoon and evening in hospital. We will update on this tomorrow when we hear from Don and Meg.
In the meantime we will try to keep out of trouble

Andrew