Wednesday 24 July 2013

Port Vila

I remember when I was a kid asking why there was no Children’s Day when there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day … I think the standard response was something like “everyday is Children’s Day”. I never quite believed it at the time but it’s probably what I’d say now to any child who might be thinking the same.

Well, in Vanuatu the 24th of July is indeed Children’s Day – a time of presents, games, public speeches and much excitement. It comes just 6 days before Independence Day – a time of even bigger celebrations and much kava drinking – just two of the 21 annual public holidays I’ve recently discovered they have here, not bad eh!?

I’d like to say that I enjoyed Children’s Day, but with most businesses closed it took me an hour of walking and bus catching to discover that none of the shops still open actually sold paint brushes. Just one small paint brush would have satisfied me. But not a one could I find. The supermarket was open and it sold paint scrapers, nails, hammers, box cutters and screws, but not paint brushes. I actually thought I had a stack of paint brushes on board Chimere, and I probably do, it’s just that there are so many places to hide things they may well be neatly poked into a bag or box in a safe place where they won’t be forgotten – I just can’t find them.

My deck painting is progressing well and Amos will be joining me tomorrow for the third day in a row and believe it or not, the weather has stayed fine! Amos and I made a fine sight this afternoon. We’d each been painting in the direction of the bow (the sharp end) me on the port side and Amos on the starboard. We were down to standing on a square foot of unpainted deck and then stepped onto the anchor well hatch-cover to paint where our feet had been standing. It was then we realized we’ll either have to stay sitting on the hatch cover until the paint dries or do some acrobatics to walk aft without touching our feet on the sticky deck. It would have made a good photo. Speaking of which, I need to get a photo of Amos tomorrow. Amos asked if I drank kava today. I had to admit to being a bit of a wowser in that department but apparently he buys the plant roots from Pentecost and Malekula and prepares the drink for sale. He offered to show us his village and when I mentioned it to Jon and Ray this evening they were not against the idea … so we’ll see where that leads.


Long standing crew member – been aboard since Westernport on 2 June, Tony (and then team doctor) and his cook/deckhand wife Christine head back to Australia tomorrow. They’ve been doing a marvelous job tidying and re-packing the food – with detailed instructions on how to find everything. We had a quiet drink tonight and there’s a photo to prove it. We might even get a few firsthand notes on their experience at a later date.

Having planned out our day tomorrow – pick up (fixed) Honda generator, fill two gas bottles, fill petrol drums, re-position HF radio aerial away from backstay for improved transmission, complete painting deck, continue to tidy and stow gear, check all dental supplies and equipment is ready and packed for the next mission, go to the bank and buy additional food for the next mission – it’s now time for all of us to lie down and sleep. Jon declared we can all sleep in till 7:00am, but I suspect the painting of the deck will have me up before that.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and here’s to Children’s day

Rob Latimer

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