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Some final thoughts

Some final thoughts
Thursday 10th August 2017
Redcliffe Queensland  (QUEENSLAND??? … that’s not in Vanuatu?!)
 
The new (Mission 3) skipper arrived in Port Vila yesterday.  My tour of duty had come to an end and in the evening I landed safely back in Brisbane, met up with my wife Rosemary and drove to Redcliffe where we spent the night by the water. 
 
 
Some final thoughts. 
 
Firstly, thank you to Rob for his faith and courage to ask me to look after his boat for the mission 2 adventure. It was said that I volunteered, I’m pretty sure I was pushed. Thank you for pushing me past my comfort zone. None of us know what we are capable of without stepping outside where we are comfortable. And thank you for the absolute support throughout. I don’t think you sleep, your advice was there night and day, and much appreciated.
 
Throughout the mission I could strongly feel the power of prayer. There were several situations where things opened up that were beyond our control. Events unfolded that could only have come through a power greater than us. It was very comforting to know you had taken the time. So a very big thank you to all who prayed, there is no doubt in my mind that the mission was successful because of you. Keep praying. 
 
To the crew, Mark, Todd and Vic, thank you so much for your patience and support. You all worked so hard doing all things … from the sailing of course, to the anchor watches and who could forget the amazing cooking. Like me, I think at times you were stepping outside your comfort zones, and maybe we proved that old dogs can learn new tricks.  Well done and thank you. I also thank each of you for your wisdom and advice, you made us a pretty good team. 
 
Having mentioned the cooking, let me say that in this department we so appreciated of the menu set out for us each day. While it wasn’t strictly adhered to, it did give thought provokers and variants our cooks could use. It would have been very difficult without it. A very big thank you to Edith West who put so much work into it’s planning and creation – it was greatly appreciated.  The ‘Logan Bread” with it’s pre-packed bags and jars has also been greatly appreciated and so easy to cook; it’s hard to get it wrong. (Although if anyone could I’m sure I could have … that’s why the task was delegated to others)
 
There was also a Ships Cook Book, (from previous missions) which was continually used.  Very often with some well thought through variations due to something or other not being available locally. Thank you for all the hard work putting it together.
 
 
On the topic of bread … this is a wonderful thing, made fresh daily and consumed generally within the hour !!  But it was Linda Latimer who put all the work into this. Linda, the way you put the flour-packs together in separate loaf-sized-bags, plus the bags of yeast in the freezer, not to mention the laminated, precise instructions … it made it so easy for the cooks to come up with the perfect bread every day. Well they made it look easy to me. Thank you so much, it was a highlight – and I hope our appreciation hasn’t left the next missions short of stock ?! 
 
It seemed to me that each of the medical team were specially selected. Not just for the terrific things you did for the local people but the way you all fitted together. Just amazing that such a diverse lot could get along so well. You came from different races, different countries and very different backgrounds. Not once did I hear an angry word or a complaint of any sort. Pretty amazing for two weeks of such close living in confined, unfamiliar and sometimes traumatic circumstances. Thank you all for making the experience so good and so worthwhile. 
 
Now to mention Chimere and all her supporters. I have to admit when starting out I didn’t think too highly of our ship, actually I thought she was a terrible old boat. However over the past few weeks I’ve grown very fond of her. She didn’t put a foot out of line, nothing went wrong and she did everything asked of her. And she even looks good. A real credit to all those who put in the many many hours of work. For all who put in, from prayer to hard labour, feel good about yourself, you were very much part of our mission.
 
Finally to all the people at PCV Health. Thank you for your very thorough organisation, your hard work leading up to the mission made it all run smoothly. And thank you for your support as we traveled, it was an honour to be able to be a part of what you are doing.
 
Now over to Captain Jon for Mission 3.
 
Fair winds, smooth seas and some final thoughts 
 
Phil Wicks

 

Pizza on the wall

Pizza on the wall

Monday 07 August 2017
Port Vila

Chimere is currently tied up at the Yachting World marina at Port Vila.


The trip back from Ambrym of around 100 miles was completed overnight by motor-sailing as the wind was fine on the port bow. Towards dawn we were overtaken by several ships, but fortunately they passed well clear of us. Apart from this the night was uneventful.
Today all the crew walked up to PCV Health to attend the 7:30 am devotions, and also completed a mission appraisal with Deb (an Aussie who is working here with PCV and us).
After devotions we arranged to move Chimere from a mooring onto the wall here which Captain Phil was rather nervous about. It’s never easy to reverse up a concrete wall, but all went well and the crew of Chimere could relax, which we did by playing the tourist for the rest of the day.
Don’t think we are suffering here – Todd excelled himself by making pizza for tea!


Is it still called a pizza if it is rectangular?
Phil and Vic fly home on Wednesday – they are both looking forward to being home, but concede that staying on a yacht in Vanuatu is better than being at work.
Those left behind, Todd and Mark, will be continuing to prepare Chimere for the next mission.
Fair winds, smooth seas, and pizza on the wall…
Mark Stephenson

PS Don’t forget to check out all the new images in Mission 2 Gallery

An experience you just can’t buy

An experience you just can’t buy

Saturday 5th August 2017
Port Vila, On a mooring off the Water Front

Chatting tonight about our last two weeks out in the islands with the medical team, the boat crew agreed that it has been an experience you just can’t buy.

We also came to the conclusion that the number one highlight for us was working with the local Vanuatu people. What the mission was doing was supporting the people of Vanuatu, it is their very professional program.

As boat crew, we also concluded that we are the truck drivers delivering the goods. As we have seen and experienced firsthand, the mission is all about building up and supporting local people and local health services – the PCV Health staff and their outreach program, plus Government health workers and of course those leaders in each village; pastors, chiefs and teachers.

We suspect for Rob the highlight probably has been getting his ship back in Port Vila in a similar condition to when he left.

Further, we would encourage anyone who has the opportunity, to get on board and join future missions. Find some way to do it ! Whether that be joining as medical crew, boat crew or perhaps financially. As Dr Nicholas from the UK said, there are very few opportunities around the world to partake in something like this and to really make a difference to others lives.

The places we visited, too, are very much off the beaten track where the people receive very little assistance from anyone. We found they were materially very poor, but in many ways they can teach us a lot about what it takes to be thankful, appreciative and resilient.

Fair winds, smooth seas and an experience you just can’t buy.

Phil Wicks,
Mark Stephenson,
Todd Macdougall,
Vic Aston

We’re off to bed now.

Port Vila bound

Port Vila bound

Saturday 5th August 2017
Off Devils Point, Efate Island, Vanuatu

Clinic yesterday morning, although we gave the medical team a break as we didn’t start the generator until 6.10. The dentists surveyed 20 people but only pulled 4 tut. They said their teeth were generally in better condition on Ambrym, maybe less western influence.

Some of the medical staff left on a 1pm plane and some on a 3pm flight, it was a sad farewell after a couple of the most enjoyable while intense weeks together. The airstrip was walkable from the clinic although some went with their bags on the back of a ute. Nicola’s dad arrived on the earlier plane; they are joining us for the return journey to Vila.

Craig Cove is a very dusty dry place, they have water problems, as there has been little rain of late, water is carried in from a spring some distance away. The air is polluted and the ground is dusty from the volcanoes. It is interesting and a bit different from the other islands we have been to. Where we brought the dinghy in there was a pen with pigs in it, right on the beach. Women and children were among the rocks on the waterfront doing their washing. When we first anchored we could see all these colourful things on the rocks, turns out it was their clothes drying.

By 3.30 the clinic was all packed up and Chimere was ready to set sail. We pointed toward the island of Efate, into a 15 knot breeze about 40 degrees to port with a mild sea running. A beautiful mild night with a near full moon giving us plenty of light. A cruise ship passed us about two hours ago. We have nine aboard for the the trip back, our four sailing crew, Nicola and her dad Peter, Bob, Dick the optometrist and Sam the dentist.

It is now 7am and we are just off Devils Point with a couple hours to go. It has been a very pleasant night, although Perkins has done a fair bit of work. Turns out it has been my phone not getting internet, so I am off to TVL once we get Chimere settled in to Port Vila. Hopefully we will get some photos through today. [Check out both Mission 2 and Vanuatu Life galleries]

Fair winds, smooth seas and Port Vila bound

Phil Wicks

The last night together

The last night together

Thursday 3 August 2017

Craig’s Cove, Ambrym

 Captain Phil has asked me to write this, (from all the way over here in Melbourne where it barely topped 12 degrees today … brrrr)  … just like he’s asked  everyone else on board to put pen to paper – and they have!!  (As you can see below.)[Click on thumbnail images to see who’s who]
Phil
As I’ve discovered, it’s not always that easy to get people to actually “write stuff down”, Well done Phil!!   Although I suspect he might have asked a few times over the past week.  But with everyone aboard in Craig Cove for the last night – that’s 13 people by my reckoning – Phil might have had some additional “leverage” now everyone knows the workings of life at sea and running clinics ashore. Leverage such as … there may not be room in the dinghy for you tomorrow morning, or … I think your bunk might be needed tonight, do you mind sleeping in the anchor-well, or … I’m not sure there’ll be enough dinner to go around tonight, or … worst of all … NO Ice Cream For You !! … Actually, I just made that one up.. We don’t have ice-cream aboard.  We did once and it nearly caused a riot when the local kids heard us quietly say the words.  Got good ears those kids. And who would have known “ice-cream” translates into Bislama so well.Truly though, I have no doubt that when Phil makes a request, those on board would be more than happy to oblige, given his gentle, caring nature, coupled with his strong assured leadership style. So while Phil has given me the floor, so to speak, let me just say that I endorse everything the team members have said (below).  
 
Phil has done an amazing job as skipper, at times in rather difficult conditions, and MSM – plus everyone on Mission 2 – has been really fortunate that he stepped forward to volunteer.  Thanks also go to all the volunteers, both medical and sailing.  People who naturally give up so much to participate, in terms of time, money and comforts, but as you’ll read below, these truly are priceless experiences and I’m sure everyone feels they are taking away far more than they’ve given. To the local Ni-Van medical staff who lead and participate, we thank you for welcoming us into your world and encourage you to maintain your enthusiasm and commitment in serving the people of your country as you doWhilst every mission comprises similar ingredients, they are each unique in their own special ways … the combination of people; their backgrounds, experience and characteristics … the weather, sea conditions and places visited … x-factors, variables, emergencies, unknowns and curved-balls … the list goes on … Mission 2 has been no exception.Well done everyone !!
 
Smooth seas, fair breeze and [enjoy] the last night together
Rob Latimer

Everyone has a turn

Morinda Kalmar, Joint Team Leader & PCV Dental Care Worker

MorindaI would like to thank all team members for all the hard work done in this second mission. It’s been great leading a team of old and young professionals which helps build my leadership skills. With all different skills put together to accomplish a great mission.

May God bless you all as He has blessed our people through your good work.

Tank yu tumas. Morinda.

 

Bob Natuman, Joint Team Leader & PCV Dental Care Worker

BobIt was a joyful mission on the second mission; just like Mission one. There were 13 of us: two nurses, two dentists, one doctor, two optom, two dental assistants and four crew members.

As the dental assistant in the team, I was very fortunate to work with Dr Samuel. A young Ni Vanuatu dentist from Vila Central Hospital Dental Service. He is very capable and confident to work in very remote islands where the team visit to deliver the medical and dental services.

The team traveled in very calm seas on this mission with the hand of Phil who was our cool and capable skipper and the helpful hand of its three other crew members.
A highlight was when we were on  Epi island and  we helped a local who was going across to the small island of Lamen Bay in his canoe which sank!

Bob Natuman.

 

Dr Samuel Alex. Dentist Ministry of Health Vanuatu

SamuelThe journey in carrying out this mission was fantastic. Seeing several islands that I haven’t been to before and meeting new friends and families. My first time journey on a yacht was awesome despite bad weather.

In carrying out dental treatment (tooth extractions) in a village setting was a big challenging for me. However I did appreciate the experience.

The good thing about the treatments was that I managed to complete all the treatments in the outer islands. I met new friends on board – the medical team and the crew members.

I am so fortunate to have worked with new work mates Dr Barry and Bob. The journey was awesome and I am looking forward to many more to come.

God bless, Samuel Alex.

 

Dick Stanley, PCV Eyecare Worker

DickThe journey was good. I really enjoy the tribe. Even though it was a long journey.

As an eye care worker I really appreciate Dr David the optician and Vick (a sailor) who helped us with all the eye patients.

Thanks to all the crew members who came for us on the ship amd also the medical team members.

Dick Stanley

 

David Lawry, Optometrist (Volunteer Victoria)

DavidNot knowing what to expect I arrived at Port Vila airport with some trepidation being transported to the yacht Chimere that evening, quick introductions, a meal and onto the boat.

Sailing to Emae and we were greeted by the first of the many friendly NI-Vans we were to meet from there it was clinics with lines that ran almost out of sight

The local Ni-Van has so much and so little they live in astounding scenery with abundant food but access to doctors dentists and optometry is intermittent at best with many having not seen any for up to four years.

Reading glasses were heavily in demand. Sun related eye disease is prevalent mainly pterygium and cataract from a young age. We were kept busy with the eyes and hopefully left many better for the visit.

Regardless of what we could do they were happy and laughing at all times.

The combination of sailing and working made this a great trip and will leave lasting memories the most vivid being the friendly nature and greetings from the islanders, the volcanoes and stunning scenery

David Lawry

 

Dr Nic Allen, (Volunteer, UK)

NicThe MSM mission has been a fantastic and fitting finale to my sabbatical year. The crew have been both professional and dedicated, working tirelessly to support the on-shore team.

The dental, ophthalmic and medical team have worked flexibly and effectively to deliver care to many Ni Vanuatu and hopefully leave a lasting improvement to their health.

Above all I have been impressed by the Ni Vanuatu in-mission team. Their humour, patient care, and energy have been an inspiration.

A big thanks to MSM for a great trip and I hope to return in a year or two.

Dr Nic Allen

 

Nicola Young, (RN NZ Oral Health Survey Coordinator)

NicolaI have really enjoyed mission two. Having helped out in Vila over the last few months with the oral health survey planning it’s great to take part in undertaking the survey in five of the islands.

We have had a wonderful team of people who have worked really well together. Everyone had different skills and talents to add including professional skills, bread making, cooking, joke making etc!

It was so interesting to experience five of the Vanuatu islands: Emae, Tongoa, Epi, Paama, and Ambrym. (plus little Lamen Island too, Ed.)

The local health staff (nurses and nurse aids) on each island welcomed us warmly and worked hard to help us organise the clinic and the patients. They do amazing primary health care work. As well as this the people in each village were welcoming.

Our team leaders Bob and Morinda did a fantastic job and it was great to meet medical colleagues. Thank you to the crew – we felt safe and well looked after.

Thank you PCV and MSM for this opportunity.

I will remember this experience forever and I look forward to continuing to help with the survey when I’m back in Vila. I hope I am fortunate enough to work on another mission in the future.

Tank yu tumas bae lukim yu fella back again sometime.

 

Nicola Young

Glenys Janssen-Frank (RN & midwife, Volunteer Australia)

GlenysIt sounds like a holiday. I write this under a starry sky with a gentle ocean breeze across the stern of the yacht. The last few weeks we sailed to remote Vanuatu Islands and set up medical, dental and optometry clinics.
It was delightful having a warm welcome from the pikininis – waving, yelling and following us through the village. As a volunteer it was challenging sharing the yacht with up to 13 people. But it is rewarding reflecting on how 464 people have been seen in our clinics in 2 weeks.

There were big smiles from people arriving to get a pair of glasses. Lots of laughter and smiles from those saying they didn’t need a dentist because they didn’t have any teeth!

 

Glenys Janssen-Frank

Todd Macdougall, (MSM Volunteer Crew Member)

 

ToddMy involvement in the mission started during the dry dock phase at Hastings. Chimere was a sad sight that transformed to the beauty she is today over the couple of months of hard work, fairly adaptive planning and a lot of logistic support. Seemed that the more we scraped and peeled back surfaces the more work was revealed beneath. It was a labor of love that we knew had to be done right.

The mission was a talking point for a few months prior to leaving as friends, relatives and colleagues drilled for more information about the mission reckoning it was a bit of a holiday or a swan in the South Pacific for a couple of weeks. The reality was certainly different with duties on board followed by supporting roles with the dental survey team. It was full on for the entire trip.

The most memorable aspect of the experience for me was the environment generated by like-minded people wanting to make a contribution to people who have very little and want for even less. Applying our collective experiences to a common end of making someone’s life a little bit easier, or living with having less pain, is so simple and the reality of our involvement.

The locals are just so happy and appreciative of our efforts everywhere we go.

Cheers

Todd Macdougall

 

Mark Stephenson (MSM Volunteer Crew Member)

MarkAll that is left of Mission 2, from my perspective, is to take Chimere back to Port Vila; over 100 miles – an overnight sail. I could call this my half way point as I will be staying on for Mission 3.
I have cooked, cleaned, set sails, set anchor, driven outboards over reefs and small surf onto black sand beaches. As well as a myriad of minor repairs that need doing on any yacht in constant use. I’ve sat anchor watch whilst anchored on a lee shore with the sound of the surf on the nearby reef for company, and played grab everything as a set of waves start the rolling that threatens to throw everything that isn’t tied down onto the floor.

I’ve seen tropical sunsets, glowing volcanoes and amazing white smiles on dusky children.

All in all a fair exchange for a Tasmanian winter.

Mark Stephenson

 

Vic Aston (MSM Volunteer Crew Member)

VicReflecting on what has been a great experience, the memories that I will carry away will stay with me forever.

The constructive attitude of a team of volunteers working with volunteer Health Professionals has been an enlightening experience. Myself being part of the sailing crew supporting the medical crew dealing with the native population of small remote villagers, is an experience that I would have never believed that I would be part of.

The dedication of the management and liaison crew of The MSM organisation has been total, in ensuring the success of this mission with more than 600 patients being consulted and assessed. As part of the sailing crew I can only thank the professionalism and ability of skipper Phil Wicks, crew Mark Stephenson and Todd MacDougall for keeping us all safe when conditions have been marginal at times.

I congratulate The MSM for their commitment to the Ni-Vanuatu people.

Vic Aston     “Sailing Crew Member”

 

Dr Barry Stewart, (Volunteer Dentist, Australia, National Oral Health Coordinator)

 

BarryIt’s an Island life… or is it?

Island hopping by yacht in the Shepherd Islands, Vanuatu, is breathtaking – densely vegetated, often steep slopes arising from mainly black sand or coral beaches, here and there a small clearing for village gardens, puffs of smoke from subsistence farmers clearing vegetation for new gardens or from cooking fires, copious coconut palms, cloudy mountain peaks, volcanoes that emit red glows that are clearly visible at night, thatched dwellings, outrigger canoes, coral reefs, island tramp vessels, and other visual delights.

Stepping ashore… welcoming smiles, small neatly constructed traditional dwellings, broad shady trees with benches often fixed to the base of the trunk, kava bars, nakamals (for village gatherings and meetings), chiefs, elders, groups of women with their pikininis, pigs, dogs, sometimes cattle, and a profuse number of roosters, and little chicks following their mother hens.

Football (that is, the real code… soccer) is probably the most popular sport for boys and volleyball for girls. Climbing trees, paddling outrigger canoes, fishing, swimming, lots of fun and laughter, however, are universal pastimes. Traditional music and dancing is a bit repetitive and bland for my ears, but the opportunity to attend a church service is guaranteed to please through the natural ability of islanders to sing in harmony… one person will start singing a few bars and the rest will just simply join in.

Life appears to be so uncomplicated… most people, especially the ‘olfala’, don’t even know their birth dates! Kids have basic playthings, so a simple gift such as a toothbrush together with a small koala toy, pencil, a hair tie, or just a simple sticker brings out the broadest of smiles. It’s the sort of life that might satisfy the soul as opposed to the trappings of a modern society with TV, supermarkets, cars, ‘climate control’ in homes, Netflix, and every kind of electronic device to keep ourselves entertained and in touch with the ‘world’.

In reality, however, life in the islands is harsh. Any desire to live a simple, island way of living is quickly dispelled… average life expectancy is significantly lower than in Australia. Common medical problems include musculoskeletal problems from everyday activities such as gardening and mat weaving, diabetes, high blood pressure, worms, and accidents that are often untreated or uncontrolled; the incidence of eye problems such as pterygium and cataracts is significantly higher… something that could be reduced simply through wearing of sunglasses and hats; then there are the dental problems… many people have suffered from chronic dental pain for weeks, months, and even years… but this is likely to be the result of the more recent increase in consumption of foods containing refined sugars rather than a traditional problem. Gum disease, on the other hand, is most likely to have been just as common in the past even before Western influence.

The perceived poor status of oral health in Vanuatu is in fact the main driver for one of the key objectives of MSM 2017… a National Oral Health Survey covering around one percent of the total population and half of the inhabited islands in the archipelago.

After seven weeks of checking many mouths of people of different ages in Port Vila and the Shepherd Islands, it’s time for a welcome break… all I can think of is having the first hug with my wife Evelyn in a few days! The rest will be short-lived, however, as I will be departing for a further 3-week stint in September, including a week in Luganville and finally MSM Mission 4 in the Banks Islands.

Smooth seas, fair breeze, and a better island life for the many people served by the MSM Mission 2 medical team and sailing crew. Well done everyone… and thanks for the great time and your wonderful company!

 

Barry Stewart

The six am generator once again

The six am generator once again
Thursday 3 August 2017
Craig Cove, Ambrym

Our team seem to be finding the six am generator firing up a little tiresome. Once  again our day started at six with the generator starting. Breakfast then the five that slept ashore were picked up at seven.

The anchor was raised from our comfy anchorage here at Paama and we were motoring across the bottom of Ambrym Island with a very gentle breeze behind us. We were delivered fair winds and smooth seas, thank you. 

 
Very pleasant with a beautiful view of the volcanoes and the most unusual terrain, sort of like cruising alongside a national park in Australia. Even Morinda, our mission coordinator who normally very much dislikes the sailing, seemed to be enjoying this trip.

Once again we started Chimere’s desalination plant while we were crossing the beautiful clean water, we had emptied two tanks since last running the water maker. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to do, particularly when 10 or more people are using water for washing clothes and showering. To be able to replace it in two or three hours is very nice.

After much deliberation we dropped anchor in 11 metres of water on the southern side of Craigs Cove. After doing a run around in the dinghy (to check for coral heads) we were confident we were safe and the anchor was holding firm. 

 
Once again the Ni-vans were dropped ashore to find out where we could hold a clinic, a suitable place was found near where we could get the dinghy landed.  All equipment was taken ashore and readied for the clinic in the morning. A number of the medical people have to be at the airport at midday so the clinic will be short.

All on board have been busy writing about the mission tonight, so no playing cards as there has been the last couple of nights. 

 
We are quite sad that tonight is the last night aboard for some. The crew and the medical team have got along so well, amazing really when we all come from such diverse back grounds. They have all been very patient and caring to the captain (me) and each other.

Fair winds, smooth seas and the six am generator

Phil Wicks

Stret no more

Stret no more

Wednesday 2nd August 2017
Liro, Paama Island

Well, actually a couple more stresses to go. We have to get the anchor down safely in Craigs Cove not a noted anchorage and we’ve got to get on the wall without getting on the wall if you know what I mean, at Yachting World in Port Villa.

Generator on at five this morning and picked up the shore party before 6am. Todd returned with the shore party plus Elder Morrison from the Liro Presbyterian Church and another young man who had come to help on our mission to Utas on the south east corner of Ambrym Island. The windy side of the island.

So with 15 on board we lifted anchor and motored north with a 2 metre swell on our starboard bow for about an hour. As we neared Ambrym a local boat came out to meet us and yelled “follow me”, well that’s what I was told he said. He led us along the coast until there was a little bit of shelter from a reef with just a one metre swell. We followed the boat in and dropped anchor in about 6 metres in very rolly conditions. So the anchor was down with a breaking reef in front, the shore to port 160 metres away, rocks less than 200 metres behind and an active volcano off the starboard side. With no depths showing on the chart, we spent the day rocking and rolling carefully watching that Chimere’s anchor was holding tight.

With heart in mouth and a great deal of athleticism due to the lumpy water we swung one bag of goods that were needed for the clinic into the banana boat. With four Ni-vans on board they headed a long way east through a narrow bit of water behind the reef to Utas. While away we decided to drop our dinghy and it traveled with the banana boat on its next trip so as they would only need one trip back. It turns out the Pastor from Utas was on the banana boat helping. So good to know that the church in Liro and the church in Utas were working together to help us get our medical team to their village.

The medical team had another successful day seeing 46 people with again many extractions. The transfer back to Chimere was much more sedate as the wind and sea had died down. As we headed back across to Paama Island we could see the Paama airstrip and decided we are with the Tuesday guy from yesterday. It really is short; the golfers claimed that if they put a couple more bunkers in it would make a very nice par 3. Doesn’t look more than 200 metres up hill straight off the sea, would be very scary aiming your plane straight at the mountain, then just as scary coming down the hill to get off before you reach the water.

The final clinic is done, we are all very tired tonight after a 5 o’clock start this morning. Tomorrow we sail for Craigs Cove at the western end of Ambrym Island. We have great photos of the most perfect shape active volcano from our anchorage today and tonight out the back of Chimere we have the glow of two volcanoes on Ambrym Island.

Unfortunately still no internet, its quite strange that we can make phone calls but no internet data.

Fair winds, smooth seas and stret no more.

Phil Wicks

 

Getting to know your local, neighbourhood, just-over-the-hill,  volcano … (Ambrym Island)

Here’s a website you’ve probably never visited … www.pacificdisaster.net  and here’s a link to a map and assessment of the volcanic history and risk presented by the Ambrym volcano on the island where the medical team is currently working …

http://www.pacificdisaster.net/pdnadmin/data/original/JB_DM504f_VUT_1996_Volcanic_hazard_map_ambrym.pdf

Some 1800 years ago, a gigantic eruption modified the relief of Ambrym and formed the caldera which crowns the island (a caldera is a big crater. 13 km wide in the case of Ambrym). During the last centuries, Ambrym volcano has experienced many eruptions.

Three activity levels have to be considered:

Normal (or weak) activity : Lava lakes are present in the craters of Marum and Benbow: ash outbursts are dangerous only in the immediate surroundings of the active craters.

Intermediate activity (1863-64, 1871, 1914, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1986 and 1988- 89 eruptions): Explosions may provoke important ash clouds, several kilometers high, whose ashes, carried by the trade winds, commonly fall over the northwest slopes of the island (red elipses A). Due to the small quantity of ash in the plume, the hazard is not great, but acid rain is probable. Ashes may fall elsewhere on the island if other wind systems are present. During such an eruption lava flows may cover a limited area of the caldera floor. Due to the intense fall of ashes and small blocks (lapillis) near the vents, and the high probability of pyroclastic Hows being emitted from the craters and flowing over the caldera floor, the access to the caldera area must be strictly prohibited.

Strong activity (1820, 1888, 1894. 1913, 1929, 1937 and 1942 eruptions): High ash clouds are responsible for important and/or long lasting ashfalls which may affect all ol the island if the trade winds are not strong. The thickness of ash deposits may reach 50 centimeters or more within the area delimited by the 8 circle and a few centimeters to a few decimeters within the C circle. During this type of eruption, lavas may overflow the caldera wall. Other lavas may erupt, along the great fracture line which cuts the island. Lava flows restricted to the valleys, reach the sea and threaten coastal villages. If strong ashfalls are accompanied or followed by rains, all the valleys of the island as well as the coastal plains near their mouths may be ravaged by mudflows carrying trees and blocks. Such mudflows are extremely destructive (purples arrows D). 

Lastly, magma-seawater interactions may induce very dangerous explosions at the western and eastern extremities of the island, both onshore and offshore (blue circles E). If an eruption occurs at one of these extremities or spreads from the caldera towards it, it might be necessary to evacuate the populations. A plan for the evacuation (by sea) ol these populations should be beforehand prepared. The northern part of Ambrym is safe in case of a strong eruption: however, some ashfall may occur if southern winds are blowing.

 

Then there’s Lovevi …

Just a short distance down the road, or more correctly, upwind a few kilometres over the sea … is the volcano-island of Lopevi; 1,400m high and an island with no inhabitants since 1960

Lopevi also has its own website … www.lopevi.com

Lopevi is the most visually impressive volcano in Vanuatu. It’s steep stratovolcano shape rises steeply from the Pacific Ocean (1413 metres) southwest of Ambrym Island. Lopevi is one of the most active volcanoes in Vanuatu and is rarely visited.  Lopevi volcano previously had two villages but the island was evacuated in 1960’s due to ongoing volcanic activity.

Lopevi volcano is noted for the periodic eruptions which produce a wide variety of eruption types. The island is not inhabited, but ash eruptions may deposit ash on the neighbouring islands of Ambrym, Epi, and Paama.

2017 Unrest
On 13th January 2017 Lopevi volcano was raised to level 3 alert (on scale of 1-5).

Lopevi is subject to cultural restrictions which prohibit women from climbing the volcano. 

John Search

Volcano Adventurer, Filmmaker, and Scientist

There may be internet tomorrow

There may be internet tomorrow

Tuesday 1st August 2017
Liro,Paama Island

Another busy morning ashore with the medical team on the job at eight. They saw 60 people this morning after 90 yesterday. So approximately 10% of the island have been seen by our Dentists, Optometrists and Doctor. Many had walked more than 2 hours to be seen at the clinic. Its a different world.

Glenys, one of our nurses, does the triage, for those like me of ten days ago, triage means she sorts the patients by priority and needs. Among the many very serious problems, there are the lighter moments like several people she has asked if they would like to see the dentist and with a big smile they say “evri wan i kam aot finish” and she notices they have no teeth. In general teeth on this island were in better condition than the other islands, maybe less western influence.

Today Dr Barry was surveying and pulling teeth in their maternity ward in the clinic. We noticed the bassinets were rusty and the linen all tattered. The islanders need lots of assistance.

The local plane came over this afternoon and didn’t land. A couple were looking to get off the island on that plane and they informed us that this island has the shortest runway in the pacific and planes can only land one way so conditions have to be perfect. He then added “the Tuesday guys a chicken”.

There is a young woman from Nebraska in the village. Jenny is with Peace Corp and has been living in the village for eighteen months. Our medical team found her to be an exceptional help, she knew the people and was able to help with communication as many didn’t speak Bislama.

Tonight we were invited to a dinner in the village as thanks for all that our team had done for them. One of the senior village leaders gave a very long speech for our benefit of which most of us could only pick up bits and pieces of the Bislama. Morinda our mission coordinator also gave a very good speech in reply. A very nice meal of BBQ chicken, yam, rice and local greens, it seems that a number of our team have almost had enough yam for the time being. A very nice finish to our couple of days here.

We have a challenge in the morning getting the team to their next village on the bottom of Ambrym Island. It was good to be able to get some advice from Rob by telephone, I was able to get enough phone coverage by standing on a post in the corner of their basketball court.

Still no internet, hopefully tomorrow.

Fair winds, smooth seas and there may be internet tomorrow.

Phil Wicks

 

Getting to know your local, neighbourhood, just-over-the-hill,  volcano … (Ambrym Island)

Here’s a website you’ve probably never visited … www.pacificdisaster.net  and here’s a link to a map and assessment of the volcanic history and risk presented by the Ambrym volcano on the island where the medical team is currently working …

http://www.pacificdisaster.net/pdnadmin/data/original/JB_DM504f_VUT_1996_Volcanic_hazard_map_ambrym.pdf

Some 1800 years ago, a gigantic eruption modified the relief of Ambrym and formed the caldera which crowns the island (a caldera is a big crater. 13 km wide in the case of Ambrym). During the last centuries, Ambrym volcano has experienced many eruptions.

Three activity levels have to be considered:

Normal (or weak) activity : Lava lakes are present in the craters of Marum and Benbow: ash outbursts are dangerous only in the immediate surroundings of the active craters.

Intermediate activity (1863-64, 1871, 1914, 1962, 1968, 1972, 1986 and 1988- 89 eruptions): Explosions may provoke important ash clouds, several kilometers high, whose ashes, carried by the trade winds, commonly fall over the northwest slopes of the island (red elipses A). Due to the small quantity of ash in the plume, the hazard is not great, but acid rain is probable. Ashes may fall elsewhere on the island if other wind systems are present. During such an eruption lava flows may cover a limited area of the caldera floor. Due to the intense fall of ashes and small blocks (lapillis) near the vents, and the high probability of pyroclastic Hows being emitted from the craters and flowing over the caldera floor, the access to the caldera area must be strictly prohibited.

Strong activity (1820, 1888, 1894. 1913, 1929, 1937 and 1942 eruptions): High ash clouds are responsible for important and/or long lasting ashfalls which may affect all ol the island if the trade winds are not strong. The thickness of ash deposits may reach 50 centimeters or more within the area delimited by the 8 circle and a few centimeters to a few decimeters within the C circle. During this type of eruption, lavas may overflow the caldera wall. Other lavas may erupt, along the great fracture line which cuts the island. Lava flows restricted to the valleys, reach the sea and threaten coastal villages. If strong ashfalls are accompanied or followed by rains, all the valleys of the island as well as the coastal plains near their mouths may be ravaged by mudflows carrying trees and blocks. Such mudflows are extremely destructive (purples arrows D). 

Lastly, magma-seawater interactions may induce very dangerous explosions at the western and eastern extremities of the island, both onshore and offshore (blue circles E). If an eruption occurs at one of these extremities or spreads from the caldera towards it, it might be necessary to evacuate the populations. A plan for the evacuation (by sea) ol these populations should be beforehand prepared. The northern part of Ambrym is safe in case of a strong eruption: however, some ashfall may occur if southern winds are blowing.

 

Then there’s Lovevi …

Just a short distance down the road, or more correctly, upwind a few kilometres over the sea … is the volcano-island of Lopevi; 1,400m high and an island with no inhabitants since 1960

Lopevi also has its own website … www.lopevi.com

Lopevi is the most visually impressive volcano in Vanuatu. It’s steep stratovolcano shape rises steeply from the Pacific Ocean (1413 metres) southwest of Ambrym Island. Lopevi is one of the most active volcanoes in Vanuatu and is rarely visited.  Lopevi volcano previously had two villages but the island was evacuated in 1960’s due to ongoing volcanic activity.

Lopevi volcano is noted for the periodic eruptions which produce a wide variety of eruption types. The island is not inhabited, but ash eruptions may deposit ash on the neighbouring islands of Ambrym, Epi, and Paama.

2017 Unrest
On 13th January 2017 Lopevi volcano was raised to level 3 alert (on scale of 1-5).

Lopevi is subject to cultural restrictions which prohibit women from climbing the volcano. 

John Search

Volcano Adventurer, Filmmaker, and Scientist

Another day at the clinic

Another day at the clinic

Monday 31st July 2017
Liro, Paama Island

The medical team were off to shore and on the job at Liro on Paama Island at eight this morning. Liro is a very pretty village of approximately 500 people and today was the public holiday in recognition of Vanuatu Independence Day. The local people have a plot of land of approximately 7.5 acres some distance up the mountain from the village that they make their living from. They are very welcoming and appear to be a very happy lot. Mark and I had a game of volley ball with a few of the youth when we went for a walk this afternoon.

The day turned out to be very busy for all. Dr Nicholas the general practitioner attended to 49 clients. Sadly one client was found to have Parkinsons, and there is not much that can be done for him in these primitive circumstances. A more amusing case was the 80 year old lady who’s blood pressure was through the roof. Nic then learnt that she had walked from the other side of the island over the mountain to see the doctor. She was asked to have a rest for an hour then come back.

David the team optometrist has found many eye problems and unfortunately has run out of a number of the common reading spectacles, actually its probably common weaving spectacles. Glasses make such a difference to their life.

I saw a 12 year girl have a tooth removed by Dr Barry. It was a moving experience for me. This poor little girl had her injection and you could see just how frightened she was. I should add that she asked for it to be removed as the pain was so bad and I’m told it was almost totally rotten. She sat in the chair on the veranda where Barry was operating with the villagers standing around watching while waiting for the injection to work. Barry very gently talked to her in Bislama and I could see he was doing the difficult job in a very caring, gentle way putting his many years of expertise to work. The poor little girl didn’t utter a sound but I could see the tears, very brave.

It was also interesting to see how proficient Todd one of our sailing crew has become in recording for the national oral health survey. He has developed into being a great help to the medical team.

The day was so busy that the team has organised for the clinic be continued in the morning. A great experience to see the wonderful things the team are doing for the Vanuatu people.

Still no internet, still no photos, hope the world is still out there.

Fair winds, smooth seas and another day at the clinic.

Phil Wicks

 

 
 
Paama Island – Video clip
Highlights of tourism on Paama Island in the Central province MALAMPA Vanuatu
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL-ZuKL9tsU
 
Landing at Paama airstrip – Vanuatu
(Just hope the camera was dash-mounted, NOT held by pilot in spare hand)
Please excuse the music
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuGveLGscJs
 
Welcome to Paama

A Yam of a time!

A Yam of a time!

Sunday 30th July, 2017.
Liro, Paama Island

After a reasonably peaceful night with occasional strong gusts of wind to send the wind generator into a frenzy, we welcomed the overnight land party aboard and immediately set sail in the direction of the source of the fiery glow we had observed during the previous evening to the north of our anchorage in Lamen Bay, Epi. With a brisk Easterly wind and swell around 2 metres, Chimere appeared to relish the challenge with a steady speed of around 5-6 knots under main and foresail. The anchorage site at our destination, Liro (Paama), was almost perfect and provided shelter from wind and swell just 200 metres from the beach.


Following the established routine, the Ni-Van members of our team went ashore to make contact with the local church and health clinic personnel while the rest of the team rested on board. Early afternoon we received a call from Bob that we were expected to join the local parliamentary representative, MP Taso, as special guests at the opening ceremony of the Paama Island Yam Festival, which was apparently instituted in 2015 as part of a drive to encourage tourism to the island. Following a small group of men in traditional costume we entered a grassy clearing where the people of the village had gathered, men on one side and women on the other with dogs and chickens in between. We were all presented with garlands of flowers and ushered to the seats behind MP Taso, local Council leader and chiefs.
Several speeches later, including one from our very own Morinda, who was invited to speak on behalf of MSM Medical Team, we were treated to the Yam story delivered by one of the men in traditional dress. The MC finally announced the program of activities planned over the next couple of days and we were all invited to inspect the varieties of Yam on display, some of which were enormous. I couldn’t help think that my mate Robert should be here with his video camera with a view to putting it up on You-Tube with the slogan “Equally best public toilet in the South Pacific.”
Evening revealed the glow of the volcanoes on neighbouring island, Ambrym and a great meal of Tuna bake ended a wonderful day of sailing, camaraderie and culture.
Fair winds, smooth seas and a yam of a time!
Barry Stewart