Thursday 11 July 2013

Emao Island

The Spot GPS recorder will probably indicate exactly when we raised the anchor and said farewell to the wonderful anchorage between Pele and Nguna islands; but I suspect it was about 9:00am

The anchor came up well and before long we were chugging along into the 20kt breeze bound for the Natasariki Pass and Emao Island a short way off. Whilst the distance wasn’t much, our course took us out from behind the lee of the islands and straight into the 20-30kt trade wind which was raising a fair amount of surf on the reef either side of us in the Pass.  The wind came just off the bow at one point as we altered course, enabling us to set the jib and increase our speed from around 3kts to 6kts while at the same time lessening our dependence on the engine; which is always a good thing when on a lee shore.
Before long we were off the coast of Emao, looking for the most acceptable spot to anchor.  Choices were limited with the swell making its way around the coast and causing a sizeable roll, even though we were technically in the shelter of the island.  Like many of the nearby islands, a coral reef extends out a few hundred meters from the shore and from there it drops suddenly to about 15m and then a short distance after that 50-100m.

In the end we decided to launch the dinghy off the stern davits and race into shore to get some local knowledge and instructions, while the “mother-ship Chimere” lolled about in the deep.  On approaching what looked like the best landing spot, a group of men onshore could be seen waving, some it seemed to the left, some to the right and some just up and down.  The reason for their waving soon became apparent as a long net came into view extending a considerable distance through the shallows.  We cut the engine in time and then half drifted and half paddled our way further inshore.  Meanwhile a local chap, who introduced himself as Edmond waded out over the coral – how they do that in their rubber thongs I do not know – and clambered aboard.  He then proceeded to guide Chimere to the best spot to anchor, a little further up the coast and closer to the reef than we’d initially planned; eh, who were we to argue.

After an hour of sorting and preparation (oh, and a cup of tea) it was time to load the dinghy and take in the first load and team members – Helen, Morinda, Kristie, James and me, oh and Edmund.

The plan today was to conduct and eye and dental clinic down the coast a bit at the village of Wiana and tomorrow operate the full day in the village of Merou; our landing spot.
In the end, we set up Lyndon’s mobile dental facility in the hall here at Merou, and Morinda, Helen, James and I, guided by Edmond, walked about 30 minutes north along the coast  to Wiana, where Morinda gave a dental awareness talk and Helen assessed eyes.
James and I introduce the idea of mud brick stoves and we met a local chief, Sandy, who is the brother of Alec who we’ve met a couple of times in Melbourne.  Alec has done farm work under a rural exchange visa in Australia and as a further connection, our man Edmond is the nephew of both Sandy and Alec. The mudbrick demonstration went well and around 3:45pm we started heading back to the original village, this time via the inland route because the tide had by now come in.  Edmond climbed a coconut tree for us and dropped a few green ones for us to drink – he did that without his rubber thongs on.
Returning to the dinghy on the beach we learnt that Lyndon had been busy all afternoon filling and pulling teeth and pretty much had a full book for tomorrow.
Being a bit rolly here at anchor, Morinda and Helen have jumped ship, at least for tonight and tomorrow preferring to sleep ashore with friends and family.
It looks like a big day tomorrow, with Morinda expecting to conduct two dental presentation, Helen to continue assessing eyes and Lyndon working through his appointment book, ably assisted by Christine and Kristie.
As an aside, when we were in Port Vila a nearby yacht, Le Pan, asked if we would be able to distribute a large supply of flippers, goggles and snorkels as we travel around the islands.  They had them aboard for that purpose but were intending to sail straight back to Australia and didn’t think they’d have a chance to.  Consequently, we took them aboard and when I asked Edmond if he’d like to make a selection he initially couldn’t believe what I was saying.  I finally had to say, “e free” , “e no cost” to which he was so very thankful.
Jon excelled again tonight with dinner, ably supported by Ramon; both of whom spent the day aboard making bread, changing the batteries and making water – plus baking more muffins and making the most amazing rissoles containing just about anything they could find.  We each ate them with cheese and tomato sauce inside bread rolls baked by Ray – just amazing !!  Kristie also revived Bob Brenac’s  Soda Fountain and whilst it’s not the most vital part of the dental program it is a bit of fun – and very tasty too I might say.  We remember to brush our teeth afterwards too!

Outside the wind is still a bit blowy and the swell is a bit of a nuisance making for a rolling action.  It’s around 8:00pm and everyone went to sleep some time ago.   My turn now.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and here’s to our man Edmond

Rob Latimer