News From Port Vila

After an early start and a full day’s travel Christine Richards, Ramon Rees and I finally made our way into Port Vila (by plane) to begin the process of relieving the delivery crew.  Or at least skipper Bob, who will fly home to Sydney tomorrow, Gary Jago who flies out Sunday and Kiwi-John who stays on duty until next Friday.  And it’s next Friday (5 July) that dentist Lyndon Sheppard and nurse Kristie Shaw lob in, plus the final crew member James Latimer; grabbing a two week break from his Monash Uni Geology honours degree.

It’s been wonderful to once more climb aboard, this time onto a Chimere neatly backed stern-to the waterfront here at the very helpful and supportive Yachting World in Port Vila.  The first thing that hits you on arrival is the warmth, and of course the humidity.  Particularly coming as I did from an 8 degree Melbourne winter’s morning.  Now it’s more like 28 degrees and 90-100% humidity.


The stories from the lad’s trans-Tasman crossing were very entertaining as we “new folk” sat around in the cockpit emptying the fridge of Tuskers and getting stuck into the lovely biscuits, lovingly made by Ray’s wife (thank you they are very tasty !!)  At this point I should say that we have seen very little of crew-member Tony, soon to become ship’s doctor, particularly after the arrival of wife Christine who assumes a cook-deckhand role … tomorrow, or maybe in a few days – or at least when the first medical mission gets underway in earnest next Friday.  Whilst Tony has enjoyed his 4 weeks in the forward port v-berth, for some reason the lure of a hotel apartment ashore was too great.  I think he’s kindly allowed Christine to stay there as well.

As more biscuits got devoured, the questions got asked and the stories kept coming.  How did she (Chimere) handle the broken steering cable in the middle of the night? … “…we furled the jib, double reefed the main and went to bed, she rode like a cork all night doing 2-3 knots in the right general direction, gently rising and falling before the 30-40kt wind” was Bob’s matter-of-fact response.  What about the water maker that wouldn’t make water?  “None of us were into long showers and we were pretty careful with the 1000 litres in the tanks”  I think that came from Kiwi-john and the bit about showers I suspect was an understatement.  Any other issues or problems you had to fix or sort out?  “Well there was the engine starter motor that had a loose wire and wouldn’t start, (when the wind died off and we were just a few miles from the bottom of New Caledonia) the anchor winch wiring that had a corroded wire and the autohelm that decided to give up the ghost an hour from Port Vila”  What about the good things … the toilets, did they work? the electric and the manual?   “Beautiful!”, came the response in unison, “didn’t miss a beat, and the fridge has kept everything nice and cold, the deck hatches haven’t leaked and the sails and cockpit covers are fantastic, just fantastic”

In summary, as we headed off for dinner together at the Waterfront cafe, (all except Tony and Christine that is) it was declared that the voyage across from Sydney was a magic time with a great forecast and the usual problems you’d expect on any mission; certainly a real blessing after the dreadful passage back in 2010 (refer Ships Log 2010)

It’s now 9:00pm, Bob has turned in for the night, Jon, Gary and Kiwi-John are wandering around town and after a long “down-load” of information from Bob about the condition of the boat and what still needs to be done to get things fully ship-shape, (in readiness for the first medical mission) I’m typing the first of my first Ships Log since 2010.  I’m also ready to lie down and fall asleep; after first clearing bags of donated clothes, dental gear and boxes off the spare bunk

In closing you might like to have a look at the latest MSM Member Update – June 2013

Till tomorrow, when I hope to be able to send a few photos – of both the delivery voyage and here in Pt Vila.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and back at the Chimere nav table

Rob Latimer

Chimere leaves Thursday

Wed 12 june 2013 – Sydney (CYCA)

Chimere leaves Thursday at 9am. Today the crew has been busy with last minute tasks. The damaged running backstay fitting was welded back in place. The water tanks were filled. The repaired spinnaker pole arrived and was put back in place. The gas detector was re soldered. Last minute carpentry tasks were done, and  some light globes were replaced. While pumping fuel, the diesel pump was found to be worn and a new pump was sourced after frantic internet searches. The crew are all on board, and our skipper, Bob Brenac, will be joining us in the morning. The forecast is favourable  and we look forward to an interesting fortnight ahead.

Tony Richards


One More Sleep

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Almost ready to sail. Customs arrive at 4pm tomorrow. Weather forecast appears favourable. Hope to be sailing by tomorrow evening all being well. The crew of five being Bob Brenac (Skipper), Jon Colcough(First mate), Gary Jago ( Coxswain), Tony Richards (Cook), John Land ( k1w1 aka cabin boy/deckhand) are all present and correct.

The trip from Melbourne which took 3 and half days was an excellent test sail for Chimere and the crew of four under the captaincy of Robert Latimer. We have been making final finishing touches to the boat and now sport several modern conveniences such as an electric toilet, hot and cold running water, 6500 watts of pure 240v electricity which can recharge batteries, make fresh water out of sea water at 2-3 litres /minute,and boil a kettle all at once!

We expect a voyage of 14 days and looking forward to fair winds,good food and good company.

John Land (k1w1 aka cabin boy/deckhand)

Nice neighbourhood !!

Even those not so familiar with boats will have heard about the Sydney-Hobart yacht race. Well, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) run that race each year and they have also generously hosting our stay here at their marina in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney.

In fact they have given us prime position at the end of “A Row” surrounded by some of the biggest names in Australian yachting royalty. Next to us is Brindabella, a veteran of many races, and down the pier a few paces is Loki, Wild Oats, Wild thing, Vanguard Future Shock, Victoire … the list goes on. The photos hopefully give some perspective.

Find Medical Sailing Ministries on Facebook

As we work our way through the final tasks to be completed aboard before departure to Vanuatu, (Thursday hopefully) we feel so fortunate to be here and are really quite overwhelmed by the welcome and assistance provided by so many here at the club.

Thank you CYCA !!

Rob L

What a guy !!

Every now and then you meet people who make a difference. They know what needs to be done, they share your passion and commitment and they do all they can to help you succeed. They assume control without taking over, their ego doesn’t get in the way of proceedings and their ability, experience and knowledge is evidenced in all they do.

I met one such person recently. His name is Steven Cullinan and he owns a business called Professional Marine Management; such a true-to-label business name!!

It was about 2 months ago now. Steven was working on a boat near by while co-owner Barry and I were contemplating the mammoth task ahead of us in preparing Chimere for sea and fulfilling the MSM Vanuatu 2013 Mission. We said G’day to Steven and invited him aboard to have a look.

The rest as they say is history. And as far as this year’s mission goes, it’s success will very much be HIS story – that’s Steven’s story, because without his timely intervention on the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc fronts, we would have no story to tell.

Thank you for your work Steven. You’re a great guy and how you fitted into some of the tight spots aboard Chimere and also how you remained so clean all the time will remain a mystery

See you again in November upon our return.

We are currently heading around the coast from Westernport Marina (Vic) to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) who will host our brief stay in Sydney prior to our departure to Vanuatu and the start of MSM Mission 2013. See the MSM facebook page for some more pics.

Rob Latimer

I think we need a bigger trolley…

With one sleep to go it suddenly occurred to me, FOOD !!! … that’s right, we’ll need some food aboard !!  Can’t just tell all the volunteers to eat before they leave home?!
Rest assured, our planning had extended to the purchase of food, and lots of it, it’s just that with the boat resembling something of a construction site for the past few months we had nowhere to store it.
So it was that yesterday afternoon, armed only with a supermarket trolley (that looked like it needed drug testing) and one serious credit card limit, Linda combed the aisles of Campbell’s Cash and Carry in Clayton for everything on her list.  (No ice-cream, sorry volunteers)   And maybe you can help me, (a topic of discussion that held the trolley up for some time in aisle 12) … how much toilet paper should we load aboard for 4 months, really?  Apparently having women aboard makes a difference?  I must check what Captain Cook had to say on the topic.
Smooth seas, fair winds and just one more sleep to go.
Rob Latimer

She Floats!!

After five months of intensive activity aboard, (during which time Chimere has been parked up on the high and dry) including a re-build of the cockpit, new diesel generator, sails and a very long list of other things, we finally got Chimere back in the water late Monday afternoon!!

Greetings from MSM

After five months of intensive activity aboard, (during which time Chimere has been parked up on the high and dry) including a re-build of the cockpit, new diesel generator, sails and a very long list of other things, we finally got Chimere back in the water late Monday afternoon!!

It’s just 5 sleeps till we set sail from Westernport, initially bound for Sydney and from there to Pt Vila, Vanuatu in time to meet the first medical team in early July.


With most major jobs having been completed we are now in a position to tidy up in preparation for the stowing of food, dental equipment, spectacles, spare parts and donated goods – not to mention 1,400 litres of diesel and 1,000 litres of water.

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and She Floats!!

Rob Latimer