25 July, 2009 (en route to Loh Island)

Our whistle stop at Ureparapara enabled us to run two clinics.  One in the village at the head of the Bay, known as Dives Bay, and one outside and around the island on the north west side.  This village was to be reached by a local boat.  Unfortunately, the local boat came around yesterday, unaware that we had been running a day late.

There was a suitable fast boat in Dives Bay, but there didn’t appear to be a motor on it.  We also heard that the driver was a Seventh Day Adventist and wasn’t so keen to drive on the Saturday.

As always, a solution was soon found, which resulted in us transferring our 15hp Mercury onto the back of their boat, using our fuel.  (We heard later that the man who’d come around for us yesterday by boat didn’t like the idea of using up his fuel for nothing, so we left 10 litres of fuel for him, plus some money for his efforts.)

Those aboard for the one hour journey included the driver (Chief Nicholson), two assistants (to help the driver man-handle the boat through the reef on the far side.  They said it was tricky – which is code for – “It’s extremely tricky”)  Graeme (the doctor) Tim (the optometrist) Don and Meg, plus Chris and Jo in support.  That’s 9 in all.  Fortunately the weather was good and all went to plan. I must say it was good to see them all appear around the headland around 4:30pm.

There was a farewell dinner prepared in our honour which was absolutely delicious.  On the way back from the clinic on the far side, the young lad who was aboard as a helper caught a big tuna – so that made up a big part of the meal.

We are now en route to the island of Loh, in the Torres Group, right at the top of Vanuatu.  The next islands above that are the Santa Cruz, which form part of the Solomons.

The clinics in the Torres will end the current medical mission, with the volunteers flying out of here next week.

But at the moment we have a small amount of sail up, it’s  11:00pm, pitch black outside and we are bound for the Torres doing about 6 knots in a lazy action with the steady wind off our port stern quarter. At last count we had 15 people on board.  Mike and Terrence are on watch till about 12:00 midnight, followed by Jo and Chris, then Graeme and me.  Our passengers are spread all around.  Some securely lashed to the deck, some in bunks and some in the saloon on cushions.  Hopefully everyone gets some sleep.  If not, tomorrow is Sunday and there are no clinics planned.

I think I’ll send this off now and get some sleep in readiness for my watch.

Smooth sea, fair breeze and sleep

Rob