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Pt Vila, Vanuatu Monday 31 May 2010

The list of maintenance jobs appears to be getting shorter as we await the arrival of the new crew on Wednesday.  Not that we’ll have it all done by then, we’d hate the newcomers to feel like they’d missed out.

We had Don MacRaild and Richard Tatwin aboard tonight discussing the agenda for the next medical clinics in the southern and western regions of Malekula.  I suppose it’s really the next crew’s responsibility but I was just keen to get my head around the names, places and dates so I can assist as best I can with the one-day changeover of personnel.

Those of you brought up on normal maps and guides would think it’s just a simple case of being given a name and a date and all you’d have to say is, “we’ll see you there”.  In Vanuatu things are quite different.  Not only do many of the places to be visited not appear in our cruising guide of the region, they often appear on the charts by a different name.  Where they do appear the scale is often lacking in detail for selecting suitable anchorages.  Plus, the clinics are always conducted in a village.  So our destination seems always to be given to us by the village name, whose spelling can vary significantly, but rarely is the village name on the chart.  Thank goodness for the good ol’ man in the canoe who meets you in the bay and shows you where to anchor.

You might like to find some of these places on Google Earth [Google map (either in right column, if home page, or below, if post page) shows Malekula Island. Please zoom in for more details – admin] – on Monday 7 June the next medical team (comprising 9 people) will fly into a place called Lamap, in Port Sandwich (Malekula) around late morning.  They will then board a truck south to a place near Gaspard Pt near Cape Doucere at the entrance to the NE Channel.  There they will catch a local boat to a small island called Ahamb Is (but known as Akam) where they will conduct clinics in the surrounding villages.

Meanwhile, the good ship Chimere, under the guidance of skipper Andrew and the new crew, will relocate to Akam Is by at least 9 June, with the medical team then transported from one bay to the next until they reach South West Bay, (surprise, surprise, on the SW corner of the island) by 12 June.  After this it’s a milk run up the west coast, stopping at strategic places until the main centre of Lambubu (or Baire de Lamboubou on some charts) is reached on 16 June.

After the medical team has gone home, the plan is for MSM to assist in assembling the surgical equipment for a visiting surgical unit to conduct work in the region, with Chimere finally ending up at Luganville, Santo by the end of the month.  Unfortunately the generator and most of the surgical equipment is in a shipping container on the Pt Vila wharf.  It’s supposed to be loaded aboard Chimere for the trip north by the end of the week, but that one’s out of our hands completely.

It’s getting late, and sleep will come easy tonight.  I just wish it wasn’t so humid and muggy.  It’s not really hot, maybe 28-30, but the humidity must be 99% most of the day and then it does actually rain, then it stops, then it rains again.  There’s very little wind and whether it’s rain or perspiration in the end it really doesn’t matter.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and it’s all starting to come together.

Robert Latimer