Final Farewells

Saturday 3 July 2010 Luganville, Santo

The day started with a combined old-and-new crew breakfast ashore at the Beachfront Resort before the inevitable time of parting arrived.
It was 10:15am and Andrew, Carl, Paul, Grant, Ramon (sorry Ramon, in reading back through last night’s Ships Log I noticed that your name was mistakenly omitted from the reported crewlist) and Chris boarded their pre-arranged mini-bus for the short hop to the airport.  I joined the mini-bus to the airport too in an effort to demonstrate a certain brotherly and fraternal support, although in a joking way I made out I was really just seeing them off the premises.
Back amongst the “new crew”, after much discussion and investigation aboard, a list of last minute tasks had been formulated and so Mike, Gerhard, Lainie and Matt made their way into town to do their best before afternoon closing time; it is Saturday after all.

With the old crew safely through check-in and aboard their plane I could now join the crew back in town to finish off the last of the jobs … fill up the petrol containers, look for a 12v light bulb and, oh, have lunch.

Back at check-in there was a sight I must share, something you’re not likely to see at Tullamarine Airport any time soon.  As you’d expect, a queue had formed and there amongst the bags and suitcases was a small bag, the sort of bag in which you might put your lunch, only this bag had the top corner cut out … and for a very good reason.  That’s where the chicken could poke his head out.  Makes sense when you think about it.  You don’t want dinner arriving tired and listless after a long journey.  Better to let it get some fresh air and have a commanding view of proceedings.  I couldn’t resist reaching for the video camera and as the “chicken to go” bag got pushed forward on the ground amongst the cases and finally lifted on the scales I asked if the chicken got a red sticker like the bags.  “No” came the giggled response, but then with some encouragement a sticker was duly wrapped loosely around the bird’s neck as it was lifted onto the moving conveyor belt.  It all seemed part of the usual, everyday process and we just hoped that the man loading the bags into the hold of the plane stowed this particular package on last.

Lunch was had in one of the last open shops in town … by now it was 1:30pm … and as we sat there, in walked a man called Billy whom Lainie recognized from their trip to the open market a short time before.  Billy was part of a group of “young folk”, all from the US and mostly part of the Peace Corp doing educational, health and other work amongst the islands.  With a readymade audience I couldn’t resist the temptation to talk mud brick making and low smoke stoves (after all, it’s a long time since I was amongst the southern islands in May)  So it was agreed, Billy, Josh, Jeff, Katie and Luke would come out to the boat for afternoon tea and we’d talk some more about … amongst other things mud bricks.  Right on time, there they were and not to be sent away empty handed we knocked up a couple of brick moulds for them to take away plus an illustrated manual.  It was great to meet and compare notes of life in the villages and there’s a good chance we might meet up again in the next couple of weeks as Billy is staying at Ambae and Katie is on Pentecost – two places we are likely to visit.

Around 6:00pm I got Gerhard to run me ashore so I could find my way out to the airport again, this time to meet Robyn Hides, our new crew member and resident doctor for the next week or so as we travel north to Mere Lava then south to meet the rest of the medical team at Pentecost around 11 July.  All went to plan and so we now have Robyn aboard, complete with her three bags of tricks including medical supplies, donated goods and fishing gear … yes, she’s a fanatical fisher … so stay tuned for the next exciting chapter … I can see the title now … Fish Tales Tonight.
Moving onto dinner, we had invited guests in the form of David (a sailor from Streaky Bay in Sth Australia) and Wendy, a teacher from Victoria Australia who works on the nearby island of Bokissa teaching the children of the hotel staff at the resort there.  Wendy had recently turned 60 (am I allowed to say that) and so it was a got chance to share the celebration.

Gerhard did the honours in running David and Wendy back to their respective “homes” in the dinghy.  Wendy to the resort ashore and David to the yacht anchored astern.  I suppose I really shouldn’t mention this, but I’m sure Gerhard sees the funny side of it too, so what the heck  … you see the wind has lightened off and with a combination of tidal effect and an offshore wind, while we were all down below enjoying dinner, the boat did a complete 180 degrees on the anchor.  Not that this matters, except when you have to deliver passengers back to shore, or in the direction of shore, and you drive the dinghy in the direction you instinctively know the beach be, because that’s where it’s been for the past two days … off the stern.  Only the stern now faces the open sea and the beach is now in fact off the bow.  But it was nothing a few yells and loud shouts over the sound of the fast disappearing outboard couldn’t fix.  It was then a case of turning the dinghy around and sheepish motoring back past the yacht in the new direction of the beach … as everyone loudly enjoyed the moment with shouts, waves and fits of laughter.

Tomorrow promises fine weather, and a great opportunity to load up with water, do the last, last, last minute jobs, take Gibson and Bob aboard before heading out to sea for the overnight sail to MereLava.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and final farewells

Robert Latimer

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