3 May  9:14 PM Tana, Vanuatu

So, here we are.  A full complement aboard ship, ready to start the real work of Medical Sailing Ministries; transporting medical teams around the islands of Vanuatu.

From reading the Ships log over the past couple of weeks, the voyage over here from Sydney has been something of an ordeal, complete with a two-day stopover in Noumea to dry out and do repairs.

Now that I’m aboard, along with new crew members Scott Hamilton and Tony Burke, the stories of pounding into head winds and relentless seas – for 10 days – are being related in great detail and there’s a real sense of the appreciation and joy which comes from finally arriving, finally achieving a goal and the opportunity to relax.

The ship is looking good, apart from the volcanic ash which has fallen with the rain of the past day, leaving a dirty film all over the place – but that could happen anywhere.

From Melbourne there were three flights to get here.  The first to Sydney on Sunday morning at 6:15am (or supposed to leave at that time)  the second from Sydney to Pt Vila, then the third flight down here to Tanna after an overnight stay in Pt Vila.

And just a tip if you happen to be checking in at the Virgin counter in Melbourne and you have a return ticket that’s more than 30 days in the future.  They may NOT let you on board – apparently you need a visa.  This requirement for a visa after 30 days I was well aware of, but the reality is, when you’ve been in the country a few weeks you pop into a government office here in Vanuatu and get your Passport stamped – the extension beyond 30 days being a mere formality.  But do you think young Nicole (not her real name) at the Virgin check-in counter would believe me and issue a boarding pass.  A classic case of “computer says NO”.

Solution, alter the return flight to 3 days earlier at a cost of $15 – not  the date I want to return, but hey, I wanted to get a boarding pass and so did the 50 people in the queue behind me.  By now it was nearly 6:00am and the plane was due to leave in 15 minutes.

Right now, everyone’s gone to bed.  The medical team is staying the night at the Uma Guest House ashore (named after cyclone Uma which took away the old guest house many years ago) and at 7:00am tomorrow we pick them up from the beach and head south to the island of Aneityium to run the first of the medical clinics.

Good night all

Smooth seas, fair breeze and glad to be aboard

Robert Latimer