Friday 25 June 2010 10:00am Tangoa Island

“For all of you out there in the communication black hole, I have a  general knowledge question. Who is the prime minister of Australia?”

“Now if you all answered “Kevin Rudd” let me tell you, you really are in the communication black hole. Australia now has its first female prime minister!!!!!!!!!”

So ran the note we received on board via HF radio from Nila in Sydney. I guess that seals it. We are in a communication black hole. Up till now the main news had been the price of pamplemoose, the ripeness of bananas, the latest piece of equipment to break down, whether the anchor is holding and the level of the water tanks. We also like to take in a weather report now and then. But news beyond that we don’t get. And we kind of like it that way too. Thank you to Nila though, for letting us know the bits of news we really should know.

Carl reminds me it is not just communication that makes us feel isolated. If something breaks down and we need a part; forget it. If you drop the screw driver over board you can’t buy another one. The real test will be food cravings. Before reaching Luganville, Grant had cravings for pizza. He hasn’t said anything yet on this trip but if he does; forget it. Unless he wants lap lap, coconut, taro or banana.

Back to our real world, I can report we had a squall during the night with wild winds and torrential rain, It was all over by dawn. Since daylight we have been working on a little mystery. We are not in the same place we were when we arrived. We are about 110m further to seawards. Fortunately not 110m the other way; in the direction of the important underwater freshwater pipe line to the village on the island. Ray has just donned the snorkeling gear to inspect the anchor but he reports poor visibility. So, with the prospect of leaving here in the early afternoon we intend to keep anchor watch and wait and see what happens.

The clinic is on the main land today so a truck has been organized to take the team inland a bit. Paul and Grant sped over to the island to pick up the eye team and transport them over to the mainland. Gibson was a no show this morning; he is feeling sick and will have the day off. The dinghy sped back to the yacht to pick up the bulka bag of equipment. Ray and I had the hoist ready and when the dinghy got back we hoisted it over the lifelines and lowered it gently into the dinghy. Christine then hopped into the small space left in the dinghy and off they went. We sent one of the LED head torches with Chris to give Bob for his dental work.

It has been raining all day. We’ve had about 450mm so far. We have filled up the water tanks and washed ourselves so it can stop raining now. But the rain goes on. We have only had one day where it hasn’t rained in the 24 hour period and they call this the dry season. No wonder everything is so green and lush. Yesterday we were looking towards the mountains in the distance. Clouds hung over their tops and mist and haze wafted up and down the valleys. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see a dinosaur walking out of there” exclaimed Carl. Somewhere in the mountains are tribes of small people called Malmal (which means naked) with long hair that they pull across their face for camouflage. We can feel the mystery of this island just sitting off shore at anchor.

We have just watched a really interesting sight. All the brown run off from the hills has flowed into the sea and we noticed it was creeping up on us from astern with a sharp demarcation line. Brown one side and blue green on the other. The boundary line was a line of litter. When the brown water reached us it signaled the arrival of the change of current and the yacht swung obediently to face it and the floating debris of coconuts and sticks floated past. Carl reports a tree is going past as I write this.

Everyone on board is finding quiet activities to while away the time. Reading, cards, sudoku, crossword, sleeping and playing the guitar. Paul and Grant got serious about their card game. Paul saw an opportunity to improve his living conditions by betting Grant a pillow slip. To Paul’s disappointment Grant won the game and walked away with 2 pillows as his winnings.

Richard radioed a little while ago to say the clinic was finished but they were having transport trouble because of the rain. He said we will need to stay overnight and leave first thing in the morning. That being the case we decided to up anchor and reset it closer to shore in shallower water. The mystery of our moving position continued all day without actually going far but we had moved further than the amount of chain we had out.

As soon as the re-anchoring was finished a 4wd dual cab pulled up on the beach and out got Chris and the eye team. Paul and Grant zoomed over to pick up Chris and the gear and then went back to take the eye team over to the island for the night.

Chris is now having a hot freshly brewed coffee dosed up with sugar to calm her nerves after the trip back in the back of the ute. The clinic was held in a village high up in the hills. It was actually cold at that elevation. The village rarely sees white people so Chris was a real curiosity. It rained up in the hills all day too and the roads became slippery, muddy streams. The utes had a back log of deliveries so the team waited an hour till a ute was prepared to negotiate the down hill ride back to the boat. “It was the scariest ride of my life” Chris trembled as she told us her story. “I didn’t think I would see you all again”. “I’ve raced in a porche with my friend John and wasn’t scared. But this!!” The 4wd skidded and slewed all over the road. It headed down impossible down hill slopes and missed trees by inches. Now and again it had to skid to a halt while negotiating fallen trees. “I wanted adventure and I’ve had it today” Chris went on. “I didn’t want a quiet retirement and I’ve had a lot of adventure on this trip” “Ordinary life will seem very slow after this” Chris finished her coffee and was last seen heading for her cabin singing to herself at the top of her voice.

Fair winds, smooth seas and here’s to adventure.