Everyone has a job to do

Friday 7 May 2010 Aneityium Island

I stood still briefly this morning and, amidst what looked like absolute chaos on board, I thought, everyone is flat out doing their respective jobs and problems and tasks that would have stopped me in my tracks are being professionally solved; by others.

There’s Bob and Scott pulling hoses off the diesel motor that runs the 240v generator because the overheating alarm kept coming on and even I know that’s a bad sound.  Well they found the fault.  It was a small rubber impeller that fits inside the water pump and YES, we had one in spares.

Then there was Bill ferrying Tony ashore to start his third day of dentistry.  The queue is getting a bit shorter, but that could be because Tony’s already run out of pain killing drugs and we’re trying to get some delivered on the plane which comes from Pt Vila tomorrow.  I think Tony said he’s up to about 60 teeth pulled out so far, which is really the only option in the absence of more facilities.

And of course I had a job to do, printing and laminating the school photos taken yesterday after Tony had given his talk on tooth care to the assembled masses.  Speaking of Tony’s talk, he had them eating out of his hand and screaming with delight as he demonstrated the use of a tooth brush with funny faces – you’ll have to see the video.

Poor ol’ Andy is onshore in a bungalow.  His arm is in a sling and he’s trying not to over exert himself and make things worse.  He’s booked on a flight out tomorrow and it’s just so disappointing for him that, after enduring the sail over from Australia and at the very start of the fascinating and satisfying work around the islands, that he has to exit stage left.

You might find the email correspondence from the Pacific Dawn, on the topic of Andy’s hand, of interest …

>From Dr Colin Cameron, Senior Doctor, MV Pacific Dawn

(email directed to Bill)  It was our pleasure to meet you and Andy today despite the unfortunate circumstances. We would always do everything possible to help fellow seafarers in an emergency and we were delighted to be able to offer assistance. Please wish Andy a speedy recovery from the Crew of MV Pacific Dawn and hopefully we will have the chance to welcome you on board at some time in the future.

Please feel free to write your update on the web describing the circumstances of the accident etc (as long as Andy consents!).

Best of luck with your very important work in helping the people around the islands.

Safe sailing!

Kind Regards


Dr Colin Cameron
Senior Doctor
MV Pacific Dawn

>From Alyn Baker, Hotel  Director, Pacific Dawn

(Email directed to Bill)  Thankyou for visiting the Pacific Dawn, It was pleasing that the team here was able to make Andy’s arm comfortable.

I have written up the enclosed document that we would like to use for the Pacific Dawn’s blog.  I would also like to copy two of your pictures off your web site with pictures of the Chimere and the team are on board and again will only do that if we have your agreement.

Please look through the words that I have written and if you need to adapt it slightly please feel free. Let me know your thoughts and if we can use two of your photos from your web site?

Pacific Dawn Blog
Pacific Dawn Medical team assist with a medical situation with a Seafarer on the Chimere Yacht.  The Medical Sailing Ministries (MSM) transport’s medical teams amongst the remote Islands of Vanuatu

These are a group of volunteers that offer their assistance with many medical incidences and in particular preventure of blindness.

During the night and morning of the 5th of May the sea swells picked up, coupled with increased winds which rocked the Chimere yacht around, causing one seafarer on board to fall landing awkwardly on his hand.  The pain and the noise indicated maybe a broken bone.

With many of the Chimere medical volunteers ashore and the knowledge of the Super Liner the Pacific Dawn on the horizon made the pain more bearable.

Pacific Dawn is on her cruise from Brisbane around the Islands and was at anchor on the 5th of May at Mystery Island, bountiful islands for beaches and snorkelling.
Contact was made from the skipper of the Chimere to Captain David Box of the Pacific Dawn in reference to the incident of the potential broken bone.

The Team on board the Pacific Dawn were only too happy to assist fellow seafarers with this incident and particular someone that has a worthily cause in helping others.

Two seafarers from the Chimere boarded the Pacific Dawn to meet our onboard medical team. Our onboard Senior Doctor Colin Cameron with the technology of the Pacific Dawn hospital equipment confirmed a fractured hand and was able to put it into plaster to aid the situation.

The seafarers from the Chimere were shown around the Super Liner before being tendered back to the shores of Mystery Island to join their own yacht the Chimere

Alyn Baker Hotel Director.

Many thanks and kind regards


Alyn Baker
Hotel  Director
Pacific Dawn

So there you have it.  We are still just so appreciative of the P&O crew and as a free plug to all future holiday makers PACIFIC DAWN should be your vessel of choice around the islands when next you decide to travel.  Tell them “Andy aboard Chimere and MSM sent you”.

We have renamed P&O to Providence & Opportunity

As I type this message, about 5:00pm,  the medical team is still around the other side of the island at Port Patrick, having taken the local fast boat.  They waved good-bye this morning at 7:00am, having got up probably an hour earlier.  They seem in good spirits and to quote skipper Bob after the officially “horrible” sail down here from Tanna on Tuesday,  “I can’t believe their transformation, it was Miraculous, Spectaculous and Instantaneous”.  They are certainly one tough medical team, with lots of good humour, dedication and determination thrown in for good measure.

I know Bill mentioned it in yesterday’s message, but the medical team had a bit of a walk yesterday, it seemed the prospect of a one hour walk was better than a 30 minute local boat ride.  Well the 1 hour was a local Ni-van estimation and I suspect many of them could have done it in one hour, but it was over 3 hours for the medical team, and that was just to get there.  Whilst it was a lovely walk through beautiful forests and along magic coastlines the fast, 30 minute return trip by boat might have renewed their love of sea travel.

As many people know, I built an experimental mudbrick stove in my backyard earlier in the year, built around what you find on Youtube described as Rocket Stoves.  I photographed each step and put together a 3 Step Rocket Stove guide, a copy of which you’ll find on this website.

Well yesterday I finally got a chance to test out the stove idea for real.  At the clinic I started chatting with a local fellow, a village leader, Colin, and he seemed genuinely interested.  So much so that he took me, Bill and Scott to the top of the local hill where we dug some very red clay. We put the clay in three plastic bags, two small bags and one big bag.  As we started our descent Bill and Scott were struggling together to carry the big white bag full of soil.  Colin politely offered, “maybe I carry this one”, whereupon he lifted it on his shoulder and appeared to skip down the slippery steep track ahead of us, leaving us to follow behind with the small clear plastic bags – maybe it was Colin’s homeground advantage.

Anyway, we mixed up the soil and threw in some dry palm foliage for good measure and hey presto a total of 28 bricks were made which looked fantastic – more than enough to make a Rocket Stove.

The greatest part of it all though was seeing so many people involved in the process; from school children through to the men and the women.  We had a look today and the bricks are drying nicely under Colin’s hut and in a couple of weeks they should be ready to make into a low smoke stove.

Just a short time ago the medical team came back from Port Patrick in the local fast boat.  It was a 2 hour boat ride and around the same time they arrived a very strong gale from the north east (yes that’s the direction we’ll be heading in a few days to the next island) came through, accompanied by heavy rain and lightening.  The medical group got ashore just in time and as a special treat Scott and I went ashore a short time later in the fading light to have a shower and a wash. (It was our choice, we weren’t told to)

While ashore I had a chance to chat to the medical team about their experiences and the one story that really stood out concerned a young (9 year old) boy they treated and actually brought back with them in the small boat.  Apparently he was playing soccer and missed the ball and instead kicked some pandanas grass.  He must have a decent kick on him because the force of hitting the grass (barefoot of course) splayed his toes apart, breaking one so bad a bone stuck out.  And that was a month ago.  The village nurse has been away on Tanna for some time so he’s essentially received no treatment, because by foot it’s a 9 hour walk across the island and there was no available boat or money for an evacuation.

Iain Miller, the doctor and surgeon was able to administer some pain relief and at least poke the bone back in, but it was real mess of scar tissue and infection. I’ll get Iain to present his version of it, but as someone who ended up at Box Hill hospital in my teens as a result of playing soccer at school in bare feet I have to feel for this kid.

It’s now getting late and tomorrow we must prepare the boat to leave this wonderful place and head northeast to Futuna; probably in the early hours of Sunday when we expect the wind to back southeasterly – an ideal direction when you are sailing northeast.

As for the current weather, it’s still blowing an absolute gale and the rain is pouring down. The sea in the bay though is beautifully calm and down below inside Chimere it’s toasty warm and snug (yes it’s actually cold outside)

In fact while having a shower I left my clothes on and washed them at the same time.  I had taken a bag full of dry clothes to put on afterwards, but at the end of the shower it was raining almost as hard outside the thatched hut come shower, so I just kept the washed clothes on and scored an extra long rinse cycle on the dinghy ride back to the boat.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and may the weather improve.

Rob Latimer

One thought on “Everyone has a job to do”

  1. Hi All,
    Great to read some good news! Sounds like Andy is getting VIP treatment.
    Rob: I’m curious to know which bone Andy broke? Metacarpal or phalanx? Iain will know the answer.
    Great to hear that the Vanuatu prototype of the “Jet Rob Express Stove” is in production. Other readers might like to hear why on earth (or clay?) you would want to do this?
    Finally I met up with the Burke & Campbell families at the YV school production of the Little Shop of Horrors tonight. No this was not a renactment of the voyage from Tanna to Aneityium; it’s a zany Broadway musical! Anyway all agreed we would like to guess which 3 on board Chimere were not sea-sick. Can you provide profiles on each member of your team? 😉 Nancy reckons Tony has a cast iron stomach – well you’d need it wouldn’t you, if you were a dentist! regards to all, GD.

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