Monday 9 September 2013

Sola, Vanualava

Yesterday, or was it the day before, we were on the west coast of this island …  at Waterfall Bay and the day before that at Vureus Bay.

Then it was time to come around here to Sola – the main provincial headquarters – where there is a hospital and where we were to conduct another clinic.

Well, I think everyone was expecting a smooth ride around from the west and certainly it started out that way, then we came out from the lee of the island the full force of the SE trade winds hits you on the nose along with the swell that has built over the past few days.

For about 2 hours there it was one tack after another, backwards and forwards, just to gain a few miles in the direction we wanted.

It was Sunday, that’s right, just yesterday, and we’d got away from the sheltered Waterfall Bay anchorage around 5:30am – a most unchristian time of day – our plan being to make the island of Mota by late morning to run a clinic there in the afternoon.  Mota is one of those small islands with a fringing reef and a rock edge on which to land and a coral shelf on which to anchor temporarily.  Our plan was to head across to the sheltered bay at Sola – a distance of just 8 miles – to spend the night.

It was probably around the fourth tack, climbing up and over the waves that a new plan emerged.  As much as were desperate to do a clinic at Mota, with a weary crew, hungry and tired medical team, it was decided to scrub Mota off our list.  In the end we would have got there with just a few short hours to unload, conduct the clinic and then re-load.  So it was that we headed straight to Sola.

We dropped anchor at around 12:00noon and who should be in the anchorage but David, the solo UK yachtsman on Shandon, whom we had met
at Luganville a week before.

The idea of going ashore was initially floated for just a few;  to check out the hospital, the facilities and the running of the clinic tomorrow – but the idea gained traction and pretty soon everyone was ashore for a walk.

Aboard Chimere, our broken high pressure hose – for the watermaker – was still a problem to be solved with Dave, now nicknamed Desal Dave
searching through our spare parts and workshop for pieces of the potential solution.  As each attempt at fixing the hose, which runs at 1500psi, using low pressure hose and hose clips failed, Dave seemed to become more determined.  In the end a solution was achieved which has survived a 1 hour water making session this afternoon so hopefully it hangs out till be get some spare parts.  In the meantime the shower police are in full swing.

In the end it was a much needed relaxing afternoon aboard yesterday, with Cathy – or as I think she’ll become knows … Capability Cathy – whipping up another lovely meal with the aid of some willing peelers and choppers.

Most aboard had a good sleep at anchor last night, with Bob and Gibson staying with Gibson’s uncle ashore … but when a grey day dawns and the
first sound you hear is the grind of the electric toilet laboring to a halt followed by the predictable click of a breaker switch … you could safely say that the rest of the day has been put on notice.

It was a late start for the crew – all ashore by 8:00am, leaving Matt, Dave and Cathy – and me – to work on the boat, cart water, catch up on paperwork – and even read an email or two, given we are in range of a Telcom Vanuatu tower.

It was a full day at the clinic with Barry seeing the last patient after 5:00pm. Dave and Matt met a chap ashore called Robert who owned the “Yacht
Club”; a set of bungalows located back from the beach maybe 30-40 metres.   We ended up having dinner there tonight.  Meanwhile I found a chief George, who was also a leader in the local Anglican church, and in addition to running a mud brick demonstration this afternoon we agreed to run a movie for the community  tonight.

It’s been a big day all-round and now at 11:00pm, with everything stowed and lashed down we are ready to get away early tomorrow in the direction of Mota Lava – the island further north  – this really will be a dream sail.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and  what day is it?

Rob Latimer
www.msm.org.au

To read older Ships Log posts go to …
http://msm.org.au/category/2013-ships-log/

A quiet day at Sola
By Cub Reporter No2

English yachtie David joined us to board the dinghy to go ashore. He had a pile of pharmaceuticals he was donating to the local Torba Provence Hospital, previously called  Torba mini-hospital.

We set ourselves up, the dental team inside next to the empty medical ward and the eye and ‘body doctas’ under the spacious verandah. Local nurse Nancy had put displays of hibiscus on the rail with three different flowers on each other by means of a wooden skewer so it looked as if one had grown out of the other. A nice touch she does everyday.

The eye clinic was busy all morning and had to call for more sunglasses as many eyes suffer from UV damage. Patients pay 200 Batu (about AUD2.50 ) for the ‘prescription glasses’ but get them for free if they cant afford this. Medical and dental treatment is free. The nurses here are a happy and competent group although Dr Graeme dampened the day of one when he picked up a prolapsed mitral valve not too serious at present.  Most patients are so grateful and listen carefully when we outline means  reducing blood pressure (don’t cook in salt water) and avoiding ‘sic suka’ (diabetes) by eating less rice, coconut milk, sugar and ‘rubbish kaikai from Australia’ (sweet biscuits). However one group of local yokals were incredulous when we told them they had to stop smoking AS WELL AS drinking less kava. Unfortunately Janet –who had the severed extensor tendon in her right hand, did not appear. Perhaps they decided to wait until after her sister’s wedding or she was too scared of the air trip to the hospital….perhaps we will never know. So we left the referral with the customs officer Henri who seemed a reliable person.
Meanwhile back on the boat Desalinator Dave was not about to be beaten by a leaking small high pressure hose. So after trading a clamp or two from other parts of the boat and surrounding the leaking hose with three coverings of progressively larger hose he subdued the beast to a functional dribble. So we are showering again!