Clinics and Oral Health Survey in full swing

Tuesday 27 June 2017
Port Resolution, Tanna

Medical clinics (and Oral Health Surveys) were conducted here at Port Resolution on Sunday afternoon and yesterday but today the show went on the road north along the coast to Sulphur Bay … drawing its name from the effects of the nearby volcano Mt Yasur.

Peter informed me that there were 15 people loaded aboard the 4wd twin cab ute, with the gear being carted earlier by the same vehicle; owing to the fact that a second truck couldn’t be found.

Sulphur Bay could equally be called Ash Cloud Alley because that’s what you get when you live downwind of a very active volcano and it’s not always good for your health; in fact, rarely.

What I know about today’s medical, dental and optical activities was gleaned from brief discussions tonight ashore over dinner (catered as usual by the woman from the local Presbyterian Church) with the returned team members. In summary they were flat out all day, Antonio the dentist saw around 15 patients with his tooth-pull-count after 2 ½ days at around 100 apparently.

The doctors saw around 30 patients today I believe, but I wasn’t able to get details of the eyecare activity.

After some encouragement however, we can expect some diversity in the evening report-writing (aka Ships Log) with nurse Annette likely to step up with an In-The-Field contribution, plus maybe Tami in relation to the progress of the Oral Health Survey and Daniel with a younger perspective; sorry Tami and Antonio but you must be at least 30 now?!

Three crew members joined the ranks of the medical-folk, Daniel, Martin and Peter, each doing useful support-work such as collecting village water samples, sterilising dental equipment, dispensing spectacles, carrying gear (and there’s a lot of it) and setting up the clinics; including mobile dental chairs and erecting the sun/mozzie shelter.

The team arrived back tonight in the dark, a bit late at around 6:30, with their prior VHF radio message being relayed from another yacht in the bay. It was clear the team were keen to return to their bunks when 7:00pm came around as they were pointing to the door. It was “good-night”, “see you tomorrow” all around as those onshore lingered a bit longer before retreating to their “bunk-house” next door – maybe I should also get one of the doctors to write a “Cub Reporter” contribution. I overheard tonight’s discussion about a boy with a broken wrist (from falling out of a tree) who had further infections caused by Kastom Medicine’s attempt to cure the problem by cutting the skin in various places. Dr David and Annette did all they could to locate the mother and initiate an effective course of treatment but it seemed there was resistance which hopefully they can overcome upon their return tomorrow; for the sake of the boy’s whole hand and possibly more.

Gerry and I remained aboard Chimere, trying to fix a few “issues” with creating new ones.

Given we’d anchored a long way out in the bay at the conclusion of Sunday’s rescue mission and it had become quite rolley, our first task was to raise the anchor and relocate further in. Oh yes, that’s right the anchor winch decided NOT to work when it was most needed Sunday night, giving a pathetic “click” from the switch box when the all-important button was pressed instead of a manly “GrRrRrrr” from the motor accompanied by the clunck and rattle of chain passing through the mechanism.
We’d fall back on the hand-over-hand method, just that now we didn’t have 6 burly Ni-Van men aboard to drag the chain and anchor aboard, just little ol’ me and Gerry and a hand winch at the base of the mast. Then after testing everything with the volt meter Gerry pressed the button one more time and bingo, the machine simply sprang into action – that simultaneously horrible yet beautiful mechanical noise.

OK, there’s two items ticked off the list – Fix Winch and Re-Anchor, and it’s not even 8:00am – are we on a roll or what?
We then set our minds to the 6kva generator whose motor worked beautifully, just that it didn’t produce any 240volt electricity – you see the problem? No 240 volts and we can’t run the water maker. No water maker and it’s a case of transporting drums to and from shore, hoping it rains enough to fill the tanks, or limiting ourselves to about 2 litres, per person, per day for the next 10 days, and I don’t see that happening. In the end it came down to two burnt out capacitors, which we hope to have sent down tomorrow and received aboard at the latest Thursday. Let’s hope the parts arrive and we can get the system running again.

Those ashore are apparently craving such things as muesli, peanut butter, milk, bread etc, so a “Survival Food Parcel will be sent ashore tomorrow morning which will be before 7:00am I am assured to ensure the day’s activities are accomplished.

One of the promises made to the medical team – I forget by whom – was that the ship-based folk would return in the morning with freshly baked bread. Not wishing to disappoint, I started the baking process, for 2 loaves, soon after stepping aboard and now, two hours later I’ve just tipped them out of the tins and onto the cooling rack for morning. It did require me to run the engine – good ol Perkins – for half an hour to heat the dough and yeast because we sit the dough under the floor board just near the motor; everything gets warm down there. In my haste however, I’m just hoping that having the oven on 130 degrees for the first 25 minutes instead of 230 degrees hasn’t spoilt the outcome – the loaves look alright … I really should taste some to be sure, but how to do it without it showing, maybe from underneath …?

With our departure from Tanna planned for Friday, I am keeping a keen eye on the weather forecasts of the region and so far it’s looking good, if a little too much on the nose. We’ll be heading East to Futuna, and a wind from the south east would be OK, however it’s set to move east-south- east and then East by the week-end, but fortunately the seas are calm, and Perkins can do more than assisting in raising dough at anchor when called upon to do so!

The latest news on our German friends is that tomorrow we will be helping them build a jury rig rudder for the back of their boat. It will involve the use of a spinnaker pole, floor panels and a collection of bolts and brackets, so watch this space!!

In order to thank the people in the village for their assistance they gave their fully inflated life raft to the village to be used by the kids of the village on the lake behind the beach. It should be a lot of fun. Peter, Gerry and I know because we could resists clambering in and using it as a dive platform and conversation pit. There was also the thought that we could turn it into a jacuzzi, or a back shed if it hung off the back of our boat much longer

Smooth seas, fair breeze and Clinics and Oral Health Survey in full swing

Rob Latimer

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