Pt Vila, Vanuatu Thursday, 3 June 2010

We picked Andrew and Martin up at the Pt Vila airport last night. It was 12:00 midnight and we finally got to bed at 1:00 this morning. The remaining 4 crew members, Carl, Grant, Christine and Paul arrived this afternoon, although I missed meeting them by about 30 minutes; the plane they arrived on was the same plane Bob, Scott and I flew home on and in the changeover there was no opportunity to meet.

In managing the arrival of the new crew, after their original flight was cancelled (due to lightening we were told) Andrew explained the complications of explaining to the PacificBlue service desk their resheduling needs:

“we have a man who’s caught the 1:00am bus from Hervey Bay to Brisbane to catch the flight to Pt Vila, but he’s now flying down here to Sydney to catch the next Vila flight. There’s another chap who caught an early morning flight from Melbourne to Brisbane to connect with the Pt Vila flight but when he lands in Brisbane in an hour’s time he’ll catch the next flight back down to Sydney. Chris and I drove down from the Central Coast at 3:00am this morning and with Grant and Paul, who are from Sydney, were about to board the Brisbane flight to catch the Vila plane when we were informed it had been cancelled.”

In the end Andrew and Martin were able to be transferred onto the Air Vanuatu’s evening flight and the others were given a motel room for the night and rescheduled till this afternoon. Further details I’m sure will be provided by Andrew in due course.

The last few hours aboard were as hectic as expected, writing lists of instructions and notes for Andrew and the new crew, introducing Andrew and Martin to Noah, the new honarary member of MSM and attending to last minute jobs. Then, in the middle of it all, Scott and Bill call down below, “Eh Rob, there’s a woman on the dock calling out for you” … “that could be anybody” says I as I climb into the cockpit. “that’s my sister!!” I said, or words to that effect. Sure enough, it was Lorraine, fresh off the P&O liner which had earlier docked in the harbour.

Then it all came back to me, yes, Lorraine was going on a south Pacific cruise, but the last we spoke a month or more ago, the dates and places of the cruise did not correspond with our expected time in either Mystery Is (Aneityium) or Pt Vila. But apparently now they did, and here she was. So, with Andrew, we went for a coffee and Lorraine remained with us for the rest of the day, even coming out to the airport to see me off and then staying with Andrew to meet the new crew. It was a wonderful surprise.

Being a P&O cruise, we had to ask Lorraine all about her stop at Mystery Island. Did she meet Barry who ran the Canibal Soup stand? What did she think of Vanuatu? What she did say was, that, when they arrived at Mystery Island, all passengers were informed of how P&O had helped an injured crew member of the MSM group last month and if they wanted to find out more they could visit our MSM website (which was linked to the P&O site) as well as read the P&O Pacific Dawn blog. It all sounded very positive and brought back the recent memories of our time down there.

So now I’m sitting in the Sydney domestic terminal waiting for the 9:15pm flight to Melbourne. I said good-bye to Bob and Scott a couple of hours ago and in a couple of hours I’m be home in Ringwood; the end of MSM mission 1 for 2010.

The contrast with Vanuatu and the life we have been leading for the past few weeks is every where to see – the weather, the faces, the lights, the advertising, the lack of smiles, the food, the pace. The list goes on.

For me, it’s good-bye till early July when I return for the third MSM mission, but from tomorrow Mission 2 begins with regular reports being posted by skipper Andrw and his crew.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and get ready for Mission 2

Robert Latimer

Postscript: I raced off just now to board the 9:15pm flight to Melbourne, leaving from Gate 36, only to discover that the flight is now leaving from Gate 39 around 10:45pm … at least the flight hasn’t been cancelled?!