A time to paint

Tuesday 13 June 2017
Port Vila Waterfront

Finally some rain.  Not that things are getting dry here in Vanuatu.  But it came last night. I know because my cabin’s deck hatch was open and there’s nothing like rain on your face to bring you out of a deep sleep.

There go my plans to start painting the deck tomorrow I thought.  But of course I could start painting the cockpit, which is under cover, that would be dry.

Because we are “parked” stern-to here at the sea wall, we come and go through the cockpit and so painting this part of the boat is not without its hazards.  But I’m pleased to say that we have the first coat on and in the 26° heat it dries pretty quickly.

And I’m pleased to say that there are no white footprints throughout the rest of the boat!!

In preparation for the eventual clinics that will be conducted in the villages to be visited, Martin and Peter worked on attaching mosquito netting to the lightweight sun shelters we bought before leaving Sydney.

We have two such shelters and they will be used for the dental survey and also dental treatment.  All part of looking after our dentists and naturally the comfort of the patients, but also keeping the crowds of gawkers and curious onlookers at bay.  Out in the villages, “community health” takes on a whole new meaning with half the community turning out to watch – whether it be a diabetes test the pulling of a tooth, or a simple examination – not a lot is private!

Not a lot more to report.  Hopefully the rain will hold off for a day or so to give us a chance to work on the rest of the deck.

Oh, we have a new neighbor tied up next to us.  A yacht called Morild – all the way from Norway – and as I chatted with the skipper this evening over the hand lines he admitted that as a self confessed atheist he’s been in more churches in the last two years, as he cross the Pacific through Polynesia, than he has for a very long time.   (Polynesia being to a very large extent Christian; a mix of many different denominations.)

Captain Helge Witzo (yes, he’s a real life ships captain, albeit retired) then asked if there was anything he might be able to do to assist the locals as he sails north through the islands over the next few months?

Knowing that Medical Sailing Ministries is a Christian group he then jokingly asked whether we would accept assistance from an atheist.

“Most certainly” said I … and I suggested I’d ask around to see what transport needs might exist amongst the groups with whom we network.  Maybe Scripture Union, the Bible Society, or the Presbyterian Church have bibles they need distributing…?!

I know for a start that we have a 35 kg brass bell for a newly constructed church, plus 100 kg of potting clay, which needs to be delivered to South West Bay on the island of Malekula.  I’ve no doubt we’ll chat some more tomorrow!

Smooth seas, fair breeze and time to paint

Rob Latimer

Start of a new week

Monday 12 June 2017
Port Vila Waterfront

The start of a new week gave us the opportunity to attend the morning devotions up at the PCV office (Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu) from 7:30am

We were warmly welcomed and got to meet all of the leaders in the church and to further discuss the plans for the upcoming medical missions

It was then back to the boat to unload still more boxes of equipment brought over from Australia and meet with a marine electrician by the name of Geoff; a man, as it turns out, I got to know four years ago when we were here last.

And why might we need a marine electrician I hear you ask?   Well, on the voyage over from Australia the high-pressure pump attached to the water maker  decided to stop working. It’s a 240 V machine and so I’m naturally wary of fiddling around with screwdrivers and pulling it apart.  Of course having had to replace or fix so many things aboard that had got to the end of their useful life I had visions of needing to buy a whole new pump – but as it turned out the problem was a simple $10 relay switch.  When I say simple, I mean it was simple for our man Geoff, who will pop back in a few days in order to fit the new part.

After that, plus lunch, oh and an afternoon nap, time seem to just disappear.  Peter and I started a couple of jobs onboard and when Martin returned from uptown we laid plans for tomorrow – which includes visiting Customs to obtain our Inter-Island permit, obtaining a shorter turnbuckle for the staysail and finally painting the deck.

Things are starting to be put in their place on deck and below, but it’s a slow process.  Made even slower when new problems keep arising.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and there’s always tomorrow

Rob Latimer

Passing the baton

Saturday 10th of June
Port Vila

The process of changing over from one crew to the next continues.  Cam’s loyal duty as skipper on the delivery voyage comes to an end tomorrow when he Josh and Rob Lott fly home.  Cam has been conscientious all day passing on knowledge and transferring information about where things are stowed, what still needs fixing and outstanding jobs that need to be done.

In the tropical morning sunshine three of us supervised Cam going up the mast (safely secured is the bosun’s chair) to check the fittings and scrape off some of the loose paint which might be concealing corrosion.

It was then a tutorial in downloading satellite weather forecasts and writing and sending emails and texts via the iridium satellite unit

Lunch was enjoyed in the central market, where there is a selection of local food vendors all cooking a range of dishes catering to local tastes and budgets.  Cam, Bruce, Rob Lott and I all had the fish dish which was a monstrous feed for just five dollars.

The stalls were all closing down, as is normal on a Saturday afternoon, but there was just enough time to catch up with Esther who we have met many times over the last eight years.  Esther manages the wood carving stall on behalf of her family from the island of Tongoa; an island famous for its wood carving.  Over the years we have bought a total of five carved wooden pigs from Esther, one of which weighs around 40 kg – not quite hand luggage stuff.  I dropped in the other day and spoke to Esther’s sister Annie, who was manning the stall at the time and so today when I was passing I heard a voice calling out “hello Robert” … after which we chatted for 10 minutes catching up on news of the last two years since we last met.

After lunch we headed off in the small dinghy to find somewhere to snorkel and after that we paid a visit on the ship Pacific Hope anchored in the harbour

Pacific Hope is a 200 foot long, 500 tonne steel ship operated by the the group Marine Reach out of New Zealand.  We are familiar with her because we’ve been networking over the last few years and they’re participating in our National Oral Health Survey. After tying our dinghy up alongside we were welcomed aboard and given a tour of the ship – from the bridge to the engine room.  And what an engine room!!!  A 1400 hp motor you could walk around, two 300+kVA generators, another 110 KVA generator in the bow, enough bunks for 50 volunteers, plus onboard clinic and surgery. Just amazing!!

Oh, and they also gave us dinner

Coming back to Chimere in the dinghy we actually felt cold in the fading light and after hot showers there was a lot of packing by those heading home on tomorrow’s 7:00am flight; pick-up 5:00am

It’s now getting late, the full moon is glistening on the still water off the bow and all seems quiet aboard as Cam, josh, and Rob Lott prepare to spend their last sleep aboard; Bruce having already flown out early this afternoon.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and passing the baton

Rob Latimer