Monday 2 August 2010 Pt Vila, Efate Is

After a sleep-in till 6:00am it was up-anchor and away in the morning light. Around the point from Havannah Harbour and into Port Vila. We radioed the marina, Yachting World, upon our arrival and sure enough, things were pretty busy with yachts and motor launches from all over the world packed in like sardines. But as expected a mooring was found for Chimere nearby, with a dinghy wharf available for us to tie up when we come ashore. It really is a wonderful spot and from Saturday we might even be able to tie up at the seawall, (when some of the other yachts move on) making coming and going as simple as walking the plank; the plank we’ll attached from the bow to the wharf that is.

The sail around from Havannah Harbour was simple enough, taking about 3-4 hours and after ppicking up the mooring and doing a bit of house keeping it was up town for the usual hamburger and chips at Jill’s Cafe. (A burger never tasted so good!)

As we came back to Chimere in the late afternoon we saw a yachtie off a nearby boat, Windcastle, putter by in his dinghy. I called him over for a chat and pretty soon he was on deck chatting with us all over a coffee and nibbles. His name is Doug Nash and he’s a retired NASA geologist and worked on the very first lunar samples brought back by the Apollo program. He was also an expert on Solar wind and the moons of Jupiter as well as being a veteran of the Korean War, where he served several years on aircraft carriers – it all made for a fascinating discussion.

Sadly, you may have read about Doug earlier this year in the Australian papers in an article headed Death in Paradise. It chronicled the events leading up to, and following, the death of his wife on the nearby island of Epi, about this time last year. We were here at that time last year and it was certainly a very sad story with her death resulting from the taking of what is claimed to be a “miracle” cure; for a range of complaints including malaria.

It got dark as we chatted on deck and so naturally Doug stayed for dinner. He had some amazing stories and explained in some detail the 12 month battle he’s had to establish some closure following the death of his wife.

Tomorrow it’s clean-up day, as we begin the task of preparing the boat for the eventual sail back to Sydney – the volunteer return crew will be arriving in about a week.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back in Vila

Robert Latimer

PS From an anonymous MSM Cub Reporter, Dr Graeme Duke … somewhere in the southern hemishpere.

MSM: what’s in a name?

What does MSM stand for? What does MSM really mean? For the past two years we have been led to believe that MSM was the abbreviation for “Medical Sailing Ministries”. On the msm.org.au website there is even a section entitled “Who Is MSM?” and this informs us that MSM is the result of the creative genius of Rob and Andrew Latimer and Mike Clarke.

OK, so we know “who” MSM is. But do we really know what the letters “MSM” really stand for? This is an intriguing question. What is MSM? What do the letters really stand for?

Those who have read any of the Ship’s Logs (msm.org.au) might be forgiven for thinking that “MSM” had meanings other than simply Medical Sailing Ministries. And I strongly suspect the crew and many of the Ship’s Log readers would have their own suggestions – some flattering, others less so. For example, Memorable Sailing Moments. Or Masterchef Sea-faring Menus. Or Motion Sickness Miseries. Or Mobile Shipwrights and Mechanics. Or simply, Mostly Silly Men (except for the women.) At the very least we would have to admit that MSM is a Many Sided Mission.

So what do you think “MSM” stands for? Why not send us your suggestions? Post them in the “Leave a comment” section below. Only three words are required. Or vote for one of the suggested interpretations. No explanation necessary. If you are a member of the Chimere Crew or any of the VPOB Teams send us your experiences. Even if you are a first-time reader of the 2010 Ship’s Log then please submit your answer to the question ‘What does MSM stand for?’

Here are some other suggestions.

Is MSM the abbreviated title of A Medical Sailing Miniseries? For those who remember the 2009 Ship’s Log you may recall that this was an accidental slip-of-the-tongue suggestion made by Anne Shoebridge. I am not sure this isn’t a better definition. The evidence in favour of this interpretation is over-whelming. Go back and look at the size and extent of last-years 2009 Ship’s Log, (132 entries) not to mention the size of this year’s (yet to be completed with 123 entries) tome. Maybe “miniseries” is underselling the sheer size of the MSM Ship’s Logs? They are big enough to challenge Tolstoy’s “War And Peace” or Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” for size, excitement, and social commentary, and “The Simpsons” for laughter and entertainment.

So watch out for the Medical Sailing TV Miniseries, coming soon on SBS. Follow the swashbuckling adventures of Admiral Latimer and his crew. Those of you who have watched and been riveted to the series “Bass Strait Fury I” and “Bass Strait Fury II” will be impatient to see this new reality TV series!

Or maybe MSM is really the Mudbrick Sailing Miniseries? Can anyone remember a blog that has not mentioned mudbrick making? Or plans to make mudbricks? Or a discussion about mudbricks? If you can find any, these chapters are the rare exceptions that prove the rule: MSM is really a Mudbrick Miniseries. Did Rob have a sheltered and mud-less upbringing? Or did he miss out on making mud-pies during kindergarten?  From the little I knew of Bill (his dad) I doubt it. Bill loved engineering and construction and I suspect there’s a fair bit of Bill in Rob. And I bet Bill is looking down now and having a grand old laugh at his younger son sailing the seas of Vanuatu and the number of mudbricks he has left strewn throughout its islands! I suspect that in a thousand year’s time the origin of the mud-bricks of Vanuatu will be a great source of confusion for the archeologists.

Or could it be that MSM stands for “Magic, Serendipity, and Miracles”? As I trawled back through the blogs of this year and last I was struck by the frequency of these apparent coincidences. Have you noticed this too? Take for instance the numerous mechanical problems for whom the right person in the right time was ‘found’ to repair it. Or the ‘unexpected’ arrival of a volunteer to fill a gap in the crew when it was needed.

There has been many medical miracles too. Remember when the cruise ship (with an Xray machine and medical assistance) just ‘happened’ to appear over the horizon when Andy broke his hand. And poor Jessie who came down with malaria during clinic hours (How thoughtful of her!) and near an airport so she could fly home. The medical teams just ‘happened’ to turn up in time to find Addison (encephalocele), Lerica (leaky heart valve), Linda (caesarean delivery), Steven (broken arm), and more recently Marrepea (Parkinson’s), Thersina (infected arm), Rowena (hole in the heart), Judith (leaky heart valve) and Martin, evacuated from Mere Lava and near-blind with two cataracts.

Recently we read of the ‘finding’ of the stolen tiny iPod in the Vanuatu haystack. And then there has been the safety of all the VPOB teams over its 11 years of service.

What about the numerous ‘unexpected’ answers that relate to the development of remote dental services on Vanuatu. Barry Stewart (North Ringwood) put Rob onto the simple and effective ART regimen for dental restoration. What about Katrina in Vanuatu who thought she couldn’t complete her dental training? Rob heard about Katrina from a Peace Corp worker on one island by ‘accident’, and then managed to track her down and meet her on another island that she just ‘happened’ to be visiting. And she wants to learn more dentistry! Then there is, also, Bob and Philip who are keen to learn and do more in this area.

These are a small selection of the magic, serendipity and miracles that have accompanied MSM and the VPOB project. There are many more. If you don’t believe me go back and read for yourself.

Surely that’s all just coincidence and fate, many of us would say. Well, that’s what I thought too. But if you look at the facts there are just a few too many ‘coincidences’. There are simply too many for them to be all random events. But if they are not chance events what is the explanation? Is there another explanation? It’s starting to look like magic! Put all these apparent coincidences together and it’s starting to look like less like fate and more like there is a plot behind it all. Or a story. Could it be magical story? But if it is magic, or if there is a story behind it all then there must be a Magician; there must be a Story-Teller. Maybe MSM means there is a Master Story-teller & Magician after all?