Saturday 3 August 2013

Port Vila

by Andrew Latimer

For those of you following the log closely you will recall that we planned to leave Port Vila at 5pm on Friday. We actually left at 2am Saturday morning. This deserves an explanation. Our departure time was constrained by the fight arrival time of the crew and medical team. They arrived at 3:15pm and by the time we cleared customs, bought sim cards and travelled back to the boat it was 4:30pm. However, an additional team member was recruited as dentist on this tour and his plane didn’t arrive till 10:30pm. Gary, the dentist, had to fly from his home town near Port Lincoln SA to Adelaide. Then fly to Brisbane where he would catch a fight to Port Vila. In Brisbane, the plane developed engine trouble; allegedly something to do with a fuel pump. The mechanics tried to fix the offending part but later decided to replace it. This delayed the fight. At our end we didn’t know the fight was delayed until we got the airport. So we waited another 2 hours. Our taxi driver fell asleep in his cab. Morinda curled up in a chair covered up with a cardigan and I chatted to an archetypal husband and wife yachtie couple who were waiting for their daughter. Another group nearby were discussing the delay. One in the group was a
pilot and he explained that the pane had had engine trouble; That they had replaced the main rubber band only to find they needed a bigger one, hence the delay. Not very comforting.
Gary duly arrived, we woke up Mr Taxi Driver, and headed back to the boat. Very fortunately the marina security guard was walking past as we were preparing to leave at what was now 2am. The guard was able to man handle the boarding planks from the marina end saving us the need to back the boat close to the dock to enable someone to jump ashore and back again. Our marina exiting procedure worked beautifully and we carefully picked our way out among the moored boats and threaded ourselves into the channel. The full boat crew were involved in piloting us out into open water. Then one by one we went to bed leaving one or two on deck for the rest of the night in rough kind of roster.
The wind was light and the engine was running giving us a speed of about 5.5kts. But with a little metal arithmetic  we worked out we would arrive at Akamb Is after dark due to our late start and slow speed. The engine revs were increased to 1700rpm and we sat on 6.3kts. During the day the wind increased slightly and a current ran in our favour so we were able to achieve about 7.5kts for the last few hours.
With these refinements we arrived at 4:30pm which gave us just enough light to anchor and go ashore make a plan for tomorrow’s clinic.  Isabel, Helen and Andrew were run ashore by Denis to reconnoiter. Denis waited at the dinghy and when the shore party returned we found Denis sitting on the beach surrounded by small children who were
singing their full repertoire of songs. It was a fantastic scene. Every child, plus Denis, were keeping time with clapping sticks. Back on the yacht Dave had cleaned up the stowed everything on deck while the boat crew settled the yacht on its anchor. Pre dinner drinks were served with canapés. Dinner was Fijian Chicken with wilted vegetables and rice followed by tea and coffee and chocolate.
All hands will take turns at anchor watch tonight as we aren’t confident about the holding ground.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and let the tour begin

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To see additional photos of Mission 1 go to …