Blog by committee

Saturday 24 June 2017
Port Resolution, Tanna

About an hour ago, before I dozed off for the first time tonight, the seven of us aboard Chimere sat around the saloon table and did a brain-dump of all that has happened today.

As we do on boats, a list of topics, issues and items quickly formed and so it was decided that tonight’s blog would be a “compilation”; each event sequentially recorded and described much like as travelogue – or travel-blog – I suppose.

It was suggested that a writing task-force be formed and a management committee formed that would then appoint a sub committee to flesh out each item and report back in the fullness of time. We could present a short-list at a specially arranged conference, with lanyards, giveaways and printed shoulder bags … I think it was about here I dozed off … zzzzz

Considering the list, and starting at the end of day, not really sequential, was tonight’s epic quest to the volcano. This involved all of the team (except me who was very happy to stay on the boat – having survived the volcano-experience once back in 2009) piling into a 4wd and making the arduous climb to the base of the cinder cone, where it was then a relatively straightforward task of trekking UP to the rim of the crater – and no further.

When I mention “all of the team”, I also include the new arrivals – dentists, Antonio and Tami and doctors Doug and David – who landed at Lenakel airport from Port Vila this morning, and finally made it to Chimere in time for lunch accompanied by local dental care worker Bob and eyecare worker Dick. Morinda would have joined us on the boat for lunch, but the combination of the two – boat and lunch – still has her shore-bound for the time being

In short, the volcano trip was a big hit (Hopefully I can secure a photo from one of the thrill-seekers for this Ship’s Log to better tell the story) with the primal violence of the explosions and spouting lava showers truly being a surround-sound, all-senses experience that you feel, rather than simply observe.

The ladies of the local Presbyterian Church made lunch for everyone on their return and so by around 8:00pm those boat-based folk, Martin, Peter, Daniel, Gerry, Annette, Deb and me were safely back on the boat, (dinghy ride through coral in pitch blackness made easier due to full tide) with the land-folk, Morinda, Bob, Dick, Tami, Antonio, Doug and David preparing to settle into their “allocated accommodation”

Having reported so far on topics as diverse as swimming, fishing, sailing, volcanoes, picnics etc … it would be easy to get the picture that this truly is a south Pacific cruise, a la P&O … but rest assured, everything to date has been building up to the moment tomorrow afternoon – after church – when the eye, dental and medical clinic will officially open and some of the first National Oral Health data will be collected.

It really is a great moment to savor


To mark the significance of the occasion all 14 of us were officially welcomed by the head of the village, Chief Johnson Noar. It was a simple but moving ceremony with words of welcome being expressed and our own Bob Natuman giving one in reply. We were each presented with a flower garland and given an opportunity to introduce ourselves and say what part we were playing in the mission.

This finished around 3:00pm and as the team began preparing to head off to the volcano, I made moves back to the dinghy. On my way I made the comment to Morinda that maybe a few of the officials might like to come out to the boat for afternoon tea since I was heading back alone and would be filling in time till the team returned and needed a dinghy ride home. So it was that I was joined by Chief Johnson, Elder Sampson and Principal Thomas for a couple of hours aboard, chatting, eating,bonding, looking at old group photos on the computer from our earlier visits here (and yes, they recognised nearly everyone in the photos naturally) and discussing the history of the region and their appreciation of the arrival of missionaries like John Paton who brought a new message of love and light, replacing a culture of cannibalism, pay-back and superstition

While serving fruit cake and snacks to my guests I also finished off the bread making for the day, baking two loaves which were sampled with appreciation, leaving everyone too full to eat their dinner after being delivered back to the shore on sunset.
A burst of rain then engulfed the boat and as I set about rigging up the deck covers in the dark to enable us to keep the hatches and windows open without letting the water in, I gave a thought for the volcano-adventurers getting soaked to the skin

I’m now about to doze off for the second time tonight and so let me just say, in deference to the list mentioned earlier, that …

Daniel and Peter had an early morning swim to the steam vents, narrowly avoiding burning their bums like a pair of Japanese snow Monkeys, as they sat on the submerged rocks nearby.

Martin sanded and stained the wooden toe rails, Deb cleaned the cockpit. Annette whipped up an amazing biblical lunch for everyone using the leftover loaves made yesterday and the remaining fishes … well, fish actually, part of the 100kg marlin given to us by the motorboat parked near us the other day in Port Vila.

Gerry and I worked our way through a trouble-shooting list, and a process of elimination, in connection with our wonderful Paguro 6kva, diesel generator which runs beautifully, but currently generates NO 240 volts – like having a highly tuned Ferrari in the garage with no wheels. After some emails back and forth with our mechanic Steve in Melbourne it seems like a simple case of burnt out capacitors. They’re pretty useful apparently and when I say “simple” it’s not what you’d call an off-the-shelf-item here in Port Resolution. And just when everything was working so well too, and I was on the edge of say … “what could possibly go wrong now?”

On return from their swim Daniel and Peter assisted with the general clean up, Peter giving the waterline of the boat a bit of a scrub as he splashed and frolicked. Tonight’s recount by Peter of the “nasty brown stains on the starboard side” shan’t be repeated here – maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

In the course of all the comings and going Nurse Nancy was checked on and she still has high blood pressure, but the rest has definitely done her good. Instead of “bulk billing” her services I think Annette must have “banana billed” because there was a bunch of them out in the cockpit – a sign of appreciate from Nancy for all the care and attention, for which Nancy constantly apologises,”… putting you to all this trouble…I’m sorry tumas”

I think I’ve got through the list satisfactorily. Amidst all the chatter in the dinghy coming back to the boat tonight I asked “and who would like to write a blog about the volcano experience” … well I think I now know how to shut everyone up !! But hopefully a new “Cub Reporter” … or “Guest Contributor” might emerge over the next few days, particularly with the official start of the clinics and Oral Health Survey tomorrow afternoon … watch this space.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and blog by committee

MSM Team Chimere

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