It’s hard to leave paradise

Saturday 23 September 2017
Vureas Bay, Vanualava

Things are winding down.

Our last official clinic and Oral Health Survey session for Mission 4 was yesterday at Ureparapara. So today was a big sleep-in day. Instead of getting away from the anchorage at 6:00am, it was a very sociable 8:00am by the time we were making our way out of Dives Bay; all the while gaping at the sheer green cliffs that surrounded us on all sides, except for the narrow strip of water before us.

Just prior to winching up the anchor we were joined by Chief John and (wood carver) Andrew in their canoes offering us a bag of fruit each and a heart-felt thanks and farewell.

Our meeting this time was so brief, yet the afternoon clinic yesterday was extremely well attended. Wellan’s oral health talk to the 50 or so gathered at the meeting-house at the end of the day was also listened to with great attentiveness. The message to brush your teeth with “wan Colgate” … was mentioned many times.

The sail south, back to the island of Vanualava – this time on the west coast – always had the potential to be problematic. That’s because the wind nearly always blows from the south east, and after a few days of this the seas begin to grow, making sailing back into these conditions very uncomfortable.

Fortunately, the wind had abated sufficiently over the last few days for the seas to settle and at the same time it had veered more “east” of south-east, meaning that we could hold a good course, in reasonable comfort. In fact for half of the time we had the engine off, making 7 knots and more with just the sails. Wellan, our Ni-Van dentist, had a go at the helm and did an great job.

After about 35 miles, our eventual destination was Vureas Bay. On the way, however, we made a stop-off at the appropriately named Waterfall Bay, where a large river, tumbles 15-20 metres onto rocks and then into a beautiful lake, before then flowing into the nearby sea. The whole thing is just so picturesque it has the makings of a scene from Lord of the Rings or Narnia.

The snorkelling on the nearby coral was also amazing and Martin once again gave the cry “turtle!” to which there was a chorus of Finding Nemo quotes along the lines of “Hey duuuude, ask him how to get to the EAC” and “Make sure you find your exit buddy”.

Consequently, after a couple of hours playing in, under, in front and on top of the waterfall, it was hard for everyone to say goodbye and return to the dingy for the ferry back to Chimere.


It was then a short hop down the coast to Vureas bay, and although the wind was right on the nose, we hoisted the “iron headlasil” and had a very pleasant motor (no-sail) to our anchorage.

A quick dash ashore, which I tell you about tomorrow.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and it’s hard to leave paradise

Rob Latimer

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