Church and Lagoon

Sunday 13 June 2010 South West Bay

With the anticipation of a day of rest, the crew slept very well last night. I slept in till 7am and even though I woke a few times during the night I went straight back to sleep, so that classifies as an undisturbed night’s sleep; the first since leaving Port Vila. Church was on at 9am so Martin, Chris and Paul went ashore while Carl, Grant and I stayed on board to do jobs and run the generator. The boat crew got the small outboard out to check it was running OK and of course it wasn’t, which seems to be the lot of mechanical equipment in the hot, humid and salty environment. In the process of testing it we set it up on the little dinghy and Grant was going to cast off and start her up. Note the sequence. Cast off first, and then start her up.
What if it doesn’t go?
“Grant, would you like to put the oars aboard?  You, know just in case it doesn’t go, like”.
So in haste we past the oars to Grant in the dinghy before he cast off.  That’s how we found out about the little outboard not going. After fruitless attempts to start the motor, all the while drifting off to leeward, Grant turned his attention to the oars. “I don’t like oars, I prefer kayaking” called Grant. No time to think about ‘young man you’ll be in New Caledonia if you don’t get a wriggle on’, Carl and I were thinking. We ran through the contingencies. The other dinghy was on the beach and they did not answer the VHF radio. There was a local boat on the horizon maybe we could wave to it to collect Grant. Otherwise we could up anchor and chase him, which is definitely not the quick option. Alternatively, with the use of an oar as a paddle on one side he might make landfall on Melakula, a few miles to the north.  All these thought went through my mind while we watched Grant set up the oars and do battle with the SE trade wind and row back to the boat. On his return, Carl set up the outboard in a bucket on deck and he did a carby service, as they say in the trade. All the while muttering about the foibles of small motors about which no one could disagree. The little outboard now runs beautifully and later Paul and Grant took it for spin, wisely heading for the beach, upwind of us. If anything went wrong they would blow back to the boat.
After lunch the plan was to meet up on the beach with Mary Grace and her family and all head to the lagoon entrance about a mile away. Some would walk and others would go in the dinghy. Once there, the dinghy would be used to ferry folk to the other side. On the other side was the village where Mary Grace used to live. The Pastor took Mary Grace and family to his house and the chief took us on a walking tour of the village.
The village is the site of a new “yacht club” and will be host to the Brisbane-Vanuatu cruise on the 12th August.  Many preparations are being made for this event. The lagoon has a channel connecting it with the sea and at the time of arriving it was low tide and the outgoing current was very strong. Inside the lagoon it is very shallow and there are 5 islands within it. Around the lagoon are 3 villages. On the edge of the channel and extending inland is an old French plantation now owned by a New Zealander. While we waited for Mary Grace and the other walkers to catch up we sat in the shade of a tree on the channel bank with a group of local girls who took great interest in Jane’s baby. One of the girls held the sleeping baby in her arms while they chatted in soft voices. Two of the girls were in year 10 and 2 in year 11. The girl holding the baby said she wanted to be an accountant but was very shy and modest about talking about her own ambitions and facing the entrance exam which is very hard.
We left Mary Grace and family, including Martin and came back to the boat. Martin will radio for a pick up in the dinghy when they are ready.
Sunday is normally a day of rest; but it all depends. There is a Seventh Day Adventist village nearby and they hold Saturday as their day of rest so the medical team are working there today. So, no day of rest for the medical team this week. We haven’t seen the medical team today so I will report on their activities at a later time.
Fair winds, smooth seas and a day of rest.

PS Carl just advised that he caught a fish in the toilet. He saved it and put it back in the sea. Someone made the unkind comment that it was the first fish he has caught on the trip. To improve his odds, Carl has made arrangements to going fishing with the village chief tomorrow. Fortune is about to shine.

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