Did it! – Mission achieved

Sunday, 03 September 2017

Well, followers of the Chimere blog, this is the last entry from the Mission 3 team. As reported last night, we are anchored off the Beach Front Resort in Luganville. Deb, Bob, Jay and Dick left immediately after our celebratory breakfast as they are all involved in the next mission to the Banks Group, the northern most part of Vanuatu. They are also doing the dental survey here on Santo starting Monday. Annette and Steven left today on the 0900 flight to Port Vila, Anne and Christer were dropped off at their resort on Aore Island, adjacent to Luganville, while Ray and Grant left on the 1800 flight to Port Vila leaving just Mark and myself to tidy up and finish the cleaning.

The primary aim of our mission was to conduct a dental survey of 1% of the population of Pentecost and Maewo Islands. We met this aim with a lot of hard work, mainly because it was often difficult to find the people of the right age and gender to participate in the survey. This task was made more difficult because school holidays had started and another group running a similar mission had preceded us by a couple of weeks.

Mission 3 was not all work however, how could it be when you are visiting some of the most beautiful Islands in the Pacific? As reported earlier, we hiked up a volcano, which was subsequently assessed as a level 3 (evacute) warning meaning that we would not have been permitted on the mountain. We swam in fresh water streams, waterfalls and an impressive gorge. The sea water was so warm and clear that we started the Chimere swimming club with many of the team swimming more than a kilometer before work each morning thanks to the prompting from Deb our resident fitness coach. But the highlight was probably the snorkeling using “leg blong duck duck and glass and pipe”(which translates to goggles and fins). The coral and resident fish were amazing, colours that are so vivid that it is hard to believe that they are a part of nature. We saw groups of fish wearing the same uniform, prompting Deb to name them the football teams going to practice. We even attempted to snorkel into some under water caves but the tide was too high and the sea too rough.

As with many missions before, Chimere has performed faultlessly. She does all that is asked of her accommodating all 12 team members, transporting all the equipment and dealing with whatever nature throws at her. She is a very safe and competent boat. As reported in our first log entry, Chimere was in excellent condition at the start of our mission and it was going to be a challenge for the Mission 3 team to keep her that way. I am pleased to report that she is at least as good as we found her or even better as we were able to address a few persistent defects. I wish to pass on my thanks to the team for their hard work and support in this matter.

As with most things, the success of a mission relies on the performance of the team. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with a very competent, adaptable and just plain, the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. We have all shared in the communal duties, all contributed to writing the log each night, shared in the survey duties and even all had a go at driving Chimere’s boats. All of us had a turn at Chimere’s helm, a first for many of us. Even the often-difficult job of finding somewhere for everyone to sleep turned out to be a non-issue as everyone was able to find somewhere that met their needs. The only area to cause some concern was the menu. The three ladies on board had rather particular thoughts on what we should eat and what we should not. They also required some different ingredients from the rest of us for a variety of reasons. All this lead to some lively discussions, all in good fun, but at the end of the day the ladies always won and the men ate more greens and fruit than is our normal practice. But all is not lost men as Mark, me and later Rob, who turned up ahead of schedule, dined on pancakes tonight. We called them protest pancakes!
Our thanks goes out to all the people who have worked behind the scene making our mission possible. Your support and the support of the folks at PCV have been invaluable.
So here we are at the end of our mission with mixed emotions. On the one hand there is a real sense of achievement of having succeeded in what we set out to do, but on the other hand we have to say goodbye to good friends as we all go back to our lives. We have all swapped contact details with the view to staying in contact and who knows, there may be a reunion.
Yours Aye for the last time,


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