Friday 2 July 2010, Luganville, Santo  (Anchored off the Beachfront Resort)

It’s a strange feeling.  Here we are today sitting on a yacht, preparing for our first night aboard, bobbing up and down at anchor.  Yesterday we were driving cars in busy traffic, frantically doing last minute jobs at work and at home all the while being bombarded by TV images, marketing billboards and newspaper headlines.  Then there’s the weather.  As for me, yesterday I was huddling in front of the fire in our  lounge room at home as Melbourne topped the temperature-scale at a max of about 12 degrees.  Today in Santo it was a sunny 28 degrees, with a steady cooling breeze from the south east.  (Rain?  I don’t know what the last crew was talking about, there’s no rain here… it’s lovely)

As many followers of this MSM Ships Log will know, the last crew of Andrew, Carl, Grant, Paul, Christine, Ramon and earlier … Martin, have done a sterling job. Not only in safely delivering the medical team to a range of remote villages along the south and west coasts of Malekula throughout June, but also fixing, replacing and generally maintaining the many things on board that keep the show on the road so to speak; or in our case … the boat on the water.  Important things like … for example … engine mounts, anchor winches, chart plotter, autohelm, outboard motor … I think I’ll stop there.

Well done guys.  The boat is in great condition and many thanks Christine for cleaning the kitchen, sorry, galley; looks sparkling.  Carl, what can we say.  If ever there was a man who knocked off work to cart bricks!  But in summing up your speech tonight at our massed farewell dinner, or maybe more accurately I should say … repeating your speech word for word (cos I know you’re a man of few words) … “you couldn’t buy these experiences”.  Well summed up, you’re right, you can’t.  These are wonderful people and it’s a great part of the world.

And Andrew, the Ships Log, known locally as the SLog, for the past month has been great, just fantastic.  Just one more thing to add to my “strange feeling” … yesterday I was reading and enjoying the Ships Log on the MSM website from the comfort of my home computer, tonight I’m writing it from the confines of the nav table.

So to bring you up to date with recent movements.  The new crew consists of me … Robert, Mike, Gerhard, Lainie and Matt.  And tomorrow we take on (Dr) Robyn who will be both deckhand/cook (I don’t think she’s aware of the “cook” bit yet) and volunteer medico. Then on Sunday we welcome aboard Ni-van health workers, young Bob (apprentice dentist) and Gibson (apprentice optometrist) who are key members of the medical team.

So after getting a quick rundown on “things to be aware of aboard” from the departing crew, the first job on our long list of important tasks was to pull all the food out of storage and make an inventory, closely followed by a shopping list.  Grant came aboard this afternoon to get the last of his gear and commented … “where’d you get the chocolate biscuits?”  Ah ahh!!  Little did they know, all the food loaded aboard in Sydney back in April was divided into three piles and one of those piles … complete with tasty things like chocky biscuits, was stored right down the bottom.  If only I’d thought to put the remaining bottles of wine there!!
It was then off to the bank to change some cash before closing time.

Back at the Beachfront Resort it was evident that the baton had most certainly been handed to the new crew when the old crew exclaimed with much merriment and jollification that they were in dry clothes and those clothes were going to stay that way.  After 5 weeks of almost constant wetness the experiment in personal discomfort had certainly come down on the side of “dry is better”.

It’s now late, and after Andrew’s extensive daily epistles I feel quite inadequate thinking of stopping after just one page, but I must plead extenuating circumstances … everyone has hit the sack and I’m a tired puppy after all the travel from Australia, what with the sea air an’ all.

For the old crew it’s their first night ashore for some time, and tomorrow at noon they start the journey home to Australia where it’ll be a case of adjusting back to “normal” life again.

Andrew promised a “wrap-up” Ships Log from the outgoing skipper so maybe we’ll see that posted either tomorrow or the next day.  The next two days for us will be spent preparing the ship for sea again as we look to head off Sunday evening, about 150km northeast of here to a small island called Mere lava; a small place which left such a big impression on us last year.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and a change of shift

Rob Latimer