How many volunteers does it take to…?

Sounds like the start of a bad joke doesn’t it … How many volunteers does it take to … “change a light bulb”, “cure poverty”, “fix a leaky tap” ?

Well, in this case the question is “How many volunteers does it take to get a boat to sea?”  

More pictures of volunteers can be found in the Pre-mission gallery

It’s hard to know where to start. And the risk is always mentioning some, and inadvertently forgetting others. Not quite the case of … “pat one husky dog and you’d better pat them all” … but you get my drift.

Starting at the top, there is of course my faithful, always-there, long-suffering wife-of-35 years Linda; that’s right she was just out of Primary School when we tied the knot?! Whether it’s making up the 140 half-kilo bags of flour for making bread aboard over the next 6 months, or doing another run with the trailer down to Hastings to pick-up or drop off something or other, Linda is a marvel.

Then there’s been older son Matt, squeezing in assistance with the sat phone and telecommunications between work and a range of other commitments.

Without the resources, knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and of course deep pockets, of my boat partner Barry Crouch (and his supportive wife Andrea), it would not be possible to continue this whole venture and so for this I am forever grateful.

As mentioned in earlier newsletters, getting Chimere ship-shape, (literally) and ready to embark on this year’s mission has been a mammoth task, undertaken on a range of fronts; mechanical, electrical, structural, telecommunications, culinary, cleaning, painting, construction, administrative and financial, plus more besides.

Willing hands and skills have come from all quarters, and again, at the risk of inadvertently leaving someone out (and if I do, please accept my apologies) the following people deserve special mention … Mark Stephenson (flying over from Tasmania to assist), Barry Stewart, Bruce and Edith West (driving several times down from Tawonga in NE Victoria), Cathy West (driving up from Mallacoota to assist with food purchasing and packing), Geoff Champion (fitting lights to the cockpit and galley and making a fitting for deck-lights to be mounted on the spreaders), Steve & Judy O’Flynn, Rick Avery, Bruce Jacobs, Kerry Moore, Peter & Gigi Wright, Graeme Duke, Todd MacDougall, Ian (Johnno) Johnson, Bill Poynter, Mike & Robyn Clarke, Bindu Varghese, Rob Laird, David Laird, Grant Dawson, Nicola and Cam Heathwood.

In keeping the MSM website and Facebook pages up-to-date, our special thanks and appreciation go to Liz Mallen, with special mention to Bev Clark for her last-minute fruit cakes and Rosemary Wick for the enormous chocolate cake and sausage rolls.

The amazingly supportive and faithful congregation at North Ringwood Uniting Church including the new minister Andy Tiver, provide essential spiritual, physical, financial and emotional support, without which this Christian mission-outreach simply would not be possible. Specifically I should mention my fellow “Growth Group” members Sue, Graeme, Doug, Geneve, Mae, George, Dorothy, Liz and Greg, plus the Paunangisu Village Partnership (PVP) team members, Jill & Jake Remyn, George & Joy Harvey, Liz and Greg Richards and Judy O’Flynn.

On the work front, the support of Partner Financial Group ( has been critical, with work colleague Kristina and business partner Sitparan minding the fort and addressing client needs in my absence.

A massive thank you to those who donated caps, shirts, flippers, goggles etc. We have hundreds aboard and they will be well received by those we visit in remote Vanuatu villages.

Thank you too to those who have made financial donations; critical to the funding of such a [private] venture as this. It may not look like it at times, but MSM is very much a “faith-led” program and the reality is that if we’d waited till sufficient money was available before we got underway, we simply would not have. There still remains a hole in the budget, to complete all that is planned, but we feel confident that solutions will be found to all those things that currently remain as “problems”

Of course the many volunteers who have stepped forward to fill the 8 sailing and 4 medical stages of the mission are critical to achieving success and we look forward to learning more of them over the next 6 months.

Amongst the many trades people that have assisted in preparing Chimere, special mention must goes to the amazingly supportive and cheerful Steve Cullinan (Professional Marine Management), Craig Freeman (Superior Spars & Rigging), Marliney & John (Yaringa Boat Sales & Chandlery), Cameron (Westernport Trimming), Mark Morton (and worker-niece Lisa at Morton Boat Repairs Hastings), Bob Clow (Clow Electronics), Peter Green, (Peter Green Sails) Phil George (Fleming Marine), Gary Jago, Chris & Matt (Sealand Marine)

I know it was a risk, but hopefully I’ve mentioned everyone, and again, apologies if I’ve left you out on this occasion; I’ll fix it in a future Ships Log.

So now, with the welding all finished, cleaning up and lashing-down complete the donated gear and dental supplies stowed, not to mention food, spares, fuel, water, plus a myriad of other items, there’s nothing left but to untie the lines and get underway, into the closing darkness of the day.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and give thanks for the volunteers !!

Rob Latimer

A place for everything…

Sat 13 May & Sun 14 May 2017

Hasting Vic, (yes that’s right, still in Hastings)

As the saying goes … A place for everything and everything in its place … well the time has finally come for all the bits and pieces aboard Chimere to be put in their place.

First of all it was a case of putting Chimere back in the water, where she belongs, after nearly two months on the dry having all manner of jobs completed. Everything from new bilge pumps, canvass dodgers, welded steelwork, new roller furler bearings and reconditioned sails, to brand new electric [operated] toilet, satellite communications, cockpit lighting and deck boxes.

It really has been a frantic time and I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the volunteers and trades people who have brought us to this point; the launch pad ready for cast-off at the start of MSM Vanuatu Mission 2017.

Co-owners Barry & Robert in front of a much tidier, ship shape Chimere, almost ready to set sail for Vanuatu.

For those who have been paying attention to the recent newsletters you’ll know that we were supposed to be away from the Westernport Marina here at Hastings on Saturday 13 May – yesterday – and on our way north to Sydney before making the voyage over to Port Vila, Vanuatu. Yet here we are Sunday night on the 14th, tied up at the fuel dock having made it a mere 20 metres from the service dock where we’d spent the last five days making last minute preparations.

There was nothing unusual about the trip to the fuel dock. It was our last minute chance – at least for the nest 500 miles or so, to top-up the tanks. All went to plan with the addition of 1,000 litres of diesel bringing us up to our full capacity of 1,400 litres.   The problem arose when we tried to start the motor for that all-important “step ashore”, “wish-you-well”, “bye-bye”, “wave from the dock”, moment. I turned the key and …”rrr … rrrr, rrrr …” No ZOOM, Brrrrrrrrr, like normal and within a couple of moments there was smoke from the bilge and a distinct smell of something burning.

Our mechanic-man Steve from professional Marine Management who’d come down to see us off yelled “grab the fire extinguisher, somethings burning” … as he gingerly lifted one of the floor panels. There was a lot of smoke, but mercifully no fire, as I crouched at the ready with one of the two new fire extinguishers donated to the cause by Fletch Findlay. I’d grabbed the fire extinguisher from the side of the fridge where it had been mounted, nice and close to the engine … “just in case of emergency”, a moment just like this.  With fire extinguisher in hand I fumbled to make it operational only to discover that in my haste I’d ripped the whole unit off the wall, mounting bracket and all. What a duffer. Either those screws weren’t strong enough, or my superior strength was in evidence as the adrenalin kicked in.

The failure of the motor to start was initially suspected to be flat batteries, caused from using the winch to load 500kg of anchor chin into the forward well from where it was piled on shore after being delivered a few days ago. Then it became clear that the problem was the starter motor, which had decided that particular moment to end its days.

So what do you do when the starter motor won’t go? In Vanuatu 4 years ago, with 15 people aboard for a lovely day sail, all wishing to get back to Port Vila after a nice day’s snorkeling and frolicking in the sun, our boating friend and supporter Ken Short used a long screw driver to extract one last start out of the unit for the return to port; much to the relief of all.

This time we simply lifted the floor panel in my cabin to reveal a brand new Lucas starter motor bought by me less than 6 days ago as a … “just in case”, spare-part unit. After spending 60 minutes head down in the bilge fitting the new one Steve had to admit that he really thought I’d be bringing a new starter motor back from Vanuatu in six months’ time.   “When you asked me to buy it, I really didn’t think you’d be using it”.

Again, thank you Steve for your amazing assistance, your attention to detail and cheerful caring attitude. (Being Mother’s Day we should also pass on apologies to your wife as well, as it was well and truly dark when you left the boat just a few hours ago)

With the new starter motor fitted and the engine purring away happily below the floor-boards we might just as easily have grabbed the last of the outgoing tide to head away tonight. Unfortunately the metal hinge on the anchor well hatch cover also decided to break in the course of us setting up the anchor, the new 120 metres of chain and stowing away all the lines and “stuff” needed.

So now, after co-owner Barry Crouch has spent four days welding new steel-work to the back of the boat we are in need of a welder to attach a couple of hinges to the lid of the anchor well.

Removing the accumulated “junk” from onboard

Two days late in departing and after literally dozens and dozens of tasks being completed, finding a welder to do a small job at very short notice, might
just end up being one of the last hurdle to cover before we really do untie the lines and head out to sea tomorrow.

Dinner tonight, prepared while tied up here at the (extremely calm) fuel dock was our first foray into the formal menu and massive reserve of on-board food supplies; prepared lovingly and in great detail by Edith West. The six month, day-to-day menu was to have started yesterday with Nachos, so it was agreed we could get stuck into them as an entree before the main course of Thai Butter Chicken and rice. Fearing that the Old Gold chocolate might start to “go off”, we relished a few squares over a hot cup of cocoa, or in my case a strong coffee to keep me going an extra hour or so; which is now starting to wear off.

So barring another “issue”, this really should be the last “sleep” before we untie the lines, at least for a few days.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and everything in its place.

Rob Latimer

Graeme Duke – Doctor Gadget of the South Pacific

Please pray for Graeme and Sue Duke as they complete a week-long stay in Port Vila. 
Graeme’s purpose on this, probably his 9th “Tour of Duty” to this small developing nation, is to locate and install a swag of much needed medical equipment at the Port Vila Central Hospital. 
Equipment salvaged by Graeme, donated by Box Hill Hospital as part of their recent re-fit and transported by Rotary in Geelong earlier this year.
Read about it in the Vanuatu Daily Post
Graeme’s daily blog makes for very interesting reading.  
Just click the link …

MSM Member Update – April 2017

Greetings from Medical Sailing Ministries

We trust you find the  [ddownload id=”4412″ style=”link” text=”April 2017 MSM Member Update”]   of interest and welcome any comments or feedback you might have.

Just 30 days to cast off !


Blessings to you


Robert Latimer & Mike Clarke

MSM Co-ordinators, 

29 Wonga Rd, Ringwood North, VIC, 3134

Vanuatu MSM Volunteer Update – latest news 22/3/2017

Greetings MSM Volunteers – both Medical & Sailing,
A big thank you to those who have already confirmed their participation in this year’s mission.  
The latest Volunteer news is available to download.
The various stages of the mission are starting to fill up and I’ve included a summary of how we stand with each, (in the Volunteer Update) in case you were wondering which team to join.  
In most case we should still be able to get you aboard for your chosen mission.
The Volunteer Application form can also be downloaded, but if you’d like a Word version, just sing out …
I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, it would be a great assistance to our planning if you could send through the written confirmation of your participation asap; even if further information needs to be sent through at a later date.

Latest MSM Mission 2017 Volunteer Application & Guide

The much anticipated Volunteer Application & Guide can be downloaded and a very big thank you to everyone who has already indicated a desire to come aboard!

We have just returned from a very successful 8 day “Test Sail” with a “survivor” shot attached FYI, featuring  (l-r) me, Mark Stephenson, Matt Bryant, Edith & Bruce West and Skipper Ian (Johnno) Johnson
Our journey took us from Westernport to Refuge Cove, then an overnight stop at Hogan Island, before spending a couple of nights at the ever-popular Deal Island. 
The boat maintenance-list is now a bit longer, but as they say, better to find out now than out at sea. 
The much anticipated Volunteer Application & Guide can be downloaded and a very big thank you to everyone who has already indicated a desire to come aboard!
I’ll be sending out more specific communications shortly to those who have made a firm commitment.  But in the meantime, could I encourage everyone who is interested in joining this years mission (even those who have already indicated interest) to complete and return p 4-16 of the attached application (ASAP)
You might also consider passing this message onto others you know who might be interested.
And of course get back to me if you have any further questions.  A copy of the overall Mission Plan 2017 can also be downloaded.
All the best
Rob Latimer & Mike Clarke

Chimere, Port Welshpool 7 Jan 2017, View from above

My business partner Sitparan did some filming with his drone-camera on Saturday 7 Jan, when we we had the Folks Afloat day-sail out of Port Welshpool.

He edited some of the highlights which can be viewed below.

It was certainly a beautiful day for it and he did a great job
Thought you’d enjoy a look