Circus comes to town

Friday 14th July 2017
Port Vila

Once again I should’ve started this ships log before now. But Mark and I have been across at the Boat Yard. Not all day. Just for the Friday party, circus performance and live band … oh yes, and food and maybe some beer too, although Mark was driving the dinghy so he was well behaved at least.

The Boat Yard is where our German friends are staying – in their boat, up on the hard, while it gets repaired. It’s also where the Port Vila Cruising Yacht Club has its home, and being a paid up member – I have the flag to prove it – it seemed only right we should attend

I mentioned circus. Not something you normally associate with Port Vila or Vanuatu more broadly, but there was juggling, break dancing, an acrobatic thing 5m off the ground using two long lengths of fabric, plus lots of music. No elephants, but what the young kids lacked in polish they more than made up for in raw enthusiasm, athleticism and joy.

Of course Heiner and Ede (our German friends) were there and it’s still hugs all round when we meet, plus with their German sailing friends. “When are you coming to Germany?” Was the question, asked in the form of an invitation; one more thing for my “bucket-list” I suppose.

Over beer number two, Ede (the one with the Santa Clause whiskers) said, “Up until now, the most favourite county I have travelled to is Australia, especially de outback pubs. You know crocodile Dundee? Those places. Coober Pedy? Is that what you say? Very hot. Wonderful place”. Ede went on… “but Vanuatu… I cannot believe how lovely the people are. So friendly and helpful. Unbelievable”

After a few more beers the conversation moved to the night of Sunday 25 June when they hit the rocks entering Port Resolution. “The water just came in so fast, and it was very dark. You try to stay calm, but it’s all unknown, what will happen next, you don’t know, we were sinking ”
Also at the party, behind the bar as it turns out, serving food and drinks – the commodore of the yacht club, was Gary the local marine surveyor.
“I’ve submitted the insurance claim for the Germans and thank you for your report, it was good. In my assessment, it would have been a total loss, so the insurance company should be happy”

Later, Heiner explained that he had been on the phone this afternoon to Stanley down at Port Resolution. In a further sign of his gratitude to the assistance shown by the local men, he is arranging for a kava mincing machine to be sent down to them.

In passing, Stanley said there were currently 17 yachts in the bay … 17!! That’s an armada!!! All part of the regular ARC Round The World cruising rally. And guess what … all those yachts are heading this way and will be tying up on the Seawall here tomorrow or the next day. That’s why we’ve got to move away in the morning, onto our anchor. Not far away, but no longer will we be able to step on and off the shore as we please down our own private plank. It’ll instead be a dinghy ride to land and no shore power or water; just like being back in the islands?!

For those interested in reading all of the Ships Logs from Mission 1, or sending a link to friends and family, this is [ddownload id=”5640″ style=”link” text=”available here”] or the link on the right under Latest News.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and the circus comes to town

Rob Latimer

PS When I finished the above it was 12 midnight and I was hanging out to go to sleep, now it’s 1:00am and I’m wide awake. And part of me is saying don’t type this Robert, along the lines of … “what happens on the tour stays on the tour” … but in the morning, it’s already the morning I know, I mean when I wake up later today, I will probably think this was all a dream and will be relying on this written record to verify my sanity. I suppose it all started when Mark and I got back from the Boat Yard party. There was Harolds inflatable dinghy (not so inflated as we have come to learn) with it’s temperamental Mercury outboard firmly attached to the back, still tied up on the seawall near our stern

“Harolds late getting home” I thought

Then a bit over an hour ago I heard noises off the stern, rattling, fumbling and a fair amount of one way discussion. Fearing the worst, I quietly climbed our companionway ladder into the cockpit all the while staying in the shadow to investigate the source of the commotion – to discover whether it be friend or foe.

And what, or who, should the source of the noise be but Harold, negotiating his way from the concrete Seawall down into his dinghy along with his various parcels, in a rather, how shall we say, “affected” state.

I watched for a while, as he pumped the necessary air into the dinghy – not so much as was needed as it turns out – and then came the starting of the outboard, or the attempt at least. This only lasted a short while with the one-way conversion plus a variety of expletives then being hurled at the motor.

I broke in with … “g’day Harold, I’ll give you a tow, I’ll just get a torch ”

“Oh maan , did I wake you with all my noise? I am sooo sorry” came the response

“No, no, I was up anyway, hand us your bowline”

So it was that I once more towed Harold back to his beloved Cassiopeia, but if that was all then I’d already be in bed.

As we approached his boat and after I’d turned the motor off, Harold came out with… “I’m thinking this reminds me of the song … what do ya do with a drunken sailor”

“How many verses has that song got” I inquired

“Maybe this could be a new verse” replied Harold

All was going well. The two cats came to the edge for a smooch – (their names are Penelope and Pepi I think) and I was hearing more about the boats history … the problem then arose when Harold stepped onto the side of his rubber ducky to climb aboard his ship only to have it collapse, or deflate, or something, because within a very short space of time his dinghy was full of water, pouring in over the side and the heaviest part – that blasted motor – was sinking fast by the stern

I managed to grab the handle of the motor and with the water up to my elbow and the motor pretty much out of sight, and Harold surveying the scene calling “how the &@%*#! did that happen” I called, “Harold you gonna have to help me here, get a line around the motor, I can’t hold it much longer”

Talk about comedy capers. Harold did eventually get a line around the motor all the while switching between … “how the @*##!! Did that just happen” and laughing out loud at the shear absurdity of the predicament

The line around the motor was finally attached to a wobbly winch on deck and the whole stern of the dinghy was soon lifted clear of the water. Then it was the turn of the bow.

The floating items in the dinghy were retrieved and along with patching the holes in that dinghy the motor will now most certainly need to be dismantled and service

Soon after I took my leave, wishing him a good rest and that “tomorrow is a new day”; and reflecting on how this situation could have ended quite differently. At this point my own motor stopped suddenly- the bow line wrapped around the prop !? What next? “Hang on Robert?” Called Harold “If I can pump up my dinghy I could give you a tow…”

At least he still had a sense of humour.

Now I am most definitely going to bed!!

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