Saturday 14 August 2010 Port Vila (reported from Melbourne by RL)

I suppose this is technically NOT an official Ships Log entry, given that I’m now back in Melbourne and no longer aboard Chimere.  My son James just called it the Lounge Log … which is more correct I suppose as I sit here in front of the heater, still shivering under several layers of clothing.  All those friends back home were right … it is cold in Melbourne.  (Time for me to stop joking about suffering under 25 degree sunny tropical skies I suppose)

It’s a strange feeling … being off the boat after 6 weeks or so.  The new skipper … carry-over champion past skipper … Bob Brenac came aboard at the seawall Thursday morning.  Bob passed his bags down and into my cabin pretty much as I was passing my bags up and out through the companionway.  Bob had spent the past few days relaxing with wife Bev at a nearby resort but by Thursday it was time to get down to business, with last minute lists and instuctions to go through.

“If you’ve forgotten anything, or there’s stuff still to do, don’t worry about it” said Bob as I attended to last minute jobs and added new things to the list. Bob then added … “As we said when we got off the boat in May … leave something for the next crew to do!”

But I couldn’t help myself … “The water tanks are full, there’s a new full gas bottle up under the seat, the stove and the left hotplate are still tempermental to light, there’s plenty of breadmix left over to make bread, you’ll need to top up with diesel before you leave, there’s heaps of food, you have 30 litres of petrol for the Honda generator, the dinghy’s pretty much lashed down, there’s a list of things here as a reminder, and I’ve downloaded a 5 day weather forecast it’s on the computer  ….” you get the idea.

“Yep, no worries, got that, yeh, OK, excellent, very good…”,  Bob replied to each point in turn … he at least seemed to be taking it all in.

“Now Bob, do you think you might be able to send us an email each day on SailMail to let us know where you are and how things are going?” I asked.

“Everything will be fine … don’t you worry about a thing.  No news is good news”

Fastforward to just a few minutes ago, 11:30am Saturday 14 August…

… Bob just called me on the mobile phone from Port Vila to let me know that he’d cleared Immigration yesterday and Customs this morning and they intend to set sail this afternoon.  Then I think he said something like … “when the last of the Tusker is loaded aboard”  but I may have misinterpreted that bit.  Apparently everything is closed in Vila on Monday and to get some action out of Customs on Saturday morning was quite an achievement, but Bob was advised by Immigration that they were clearing out a cargo ship this morning and that if he arrived over at the wharf before 10:00am then they’d do Chimere as well.

The new volunteer crew, comprising Carl, Tony, Rhod and Rim, arrived safely yesterday, with Carl (Warner) nearly being forgotten on account of him already arriving in Port Vila six days ago with his wife Sue for a pre-voyage holiday.  But Bob assured me that there were definitely five people on board now and the last of the jobs were being done in readiness for letting go the lines.

As for the weather … well it’s currently blowing from the north-east in Vila, which is rather unusual, but pretty good if you’re going south-west.  Unfortunately it’s not going to stay long from the north, but from what we can see it doesn’t look too bad for tomorrow and beyond.

While on the phone I reminded Bob about maybe sending an email each day and suggested that Tony might enjoy doing that.  I then heard Bob let out a cry … “Tony, got a job for you, you’ve just been volunteered”  or something to that effect.  “What about making bread Bob,” I asked, “did you get someone to take that on?”     “No” said Bob, “I think I’ve been volunteered for that one”

No doubt everyone aboard will be getting excited as last minute tasks are attended to, including securing a suitable bunk for the next 2 weeks, finding a home for personal gear, getting familiar (or re-acquainted in the case of Tony and Bob) with the workings of the boat, making sure the deck hatches are (now) leak-proof and working out a schedule of watches for the 24 hour a day voyage.

On the food front, there is everything a crew could hope for … canned beans, canned spaghetti, canned tuna, canned peaches, canned soup, canned bullybeef, oh, and I think there might be half a dozen of Martin’s famous frozen beef meals still in the freezer … come to think of it, I forgot to mention that to Bob, but I’m sure he’ll find them.  Plus there’s the usual packet noodles, pasta, crackers, rice, breadmix flour (complements of Linda Latimer) 2 minute soup, muesli bars and long life milk … and Bob’s special box of (Ironman Food) Keloggs Nutrigrain and tin of International Roast instant coffee (aaarrghhhh)

So that’s that latest.  All being well, we will indeed get the occassional Ships Log from the lads over the next couple of weeks as they inch their way back to Sydney.  Which reminds me … Australian Customs require at least a 4 day notification of arrival, better get onto that …

Smooth seas, fair breeze and the return journey begins

Rob Latimer