Passing the baton

Saturday 10th of June
Port Vila

The process of changing over from one crew to the next continues.  Cam’s loyal duty as skipper on the delivery voyage comes to an end tomorrow when he Josh and Rob Lott fly home.  Cam has been conscientious all day passing on knowledge and transferring information about where things are stowed, what still needs fixing and outstanding jobs that need to be done.

In the tropical morning sunshine three of us supervised Cam going up the mast (safely secured is the bosun’s chair) to check the fittings and scrape off some of the loose paint which might be concealing corrosion.

It was then a tutorial in downloading satellite weather forecasts and writing and sending emails and texts via the iridium satellite unit

Lunch was enjoyed in the central market, where there is a selection of local food vendors all cooking a range of dishes catering to local tastes and budgets.  Cam, Bruce, Rob Lott and I all had the fish dish which was a monstrous feed for just five dollars.

The stalls were all closing down, as is normal on a Saturday afternoon, but there was just enough time to catch up with Esther who we have met many times over the last eight years.  Esther manages the wood carving stall on behalf of her family from the island of Tongoa; an island famous for its wood carving.  Over the years we have bought a total of five carved wooden pigs from Esther, one of which weighs around 40 kg – not quite hand luggage stuff.  I dropped in the other day and spoke to Esther’s sister Annie, who was manning the stall at the time and so today when I was passing I heard a voice calling out “hello Robert” … after which we chatted for 10 minutes catching up on news of the last two years since we last met.

After lunch we headed off in the small dinghy to find somewhere to snorkel and after that we paid a visit on the ship Pacific Hope anchored in the harbour

Pacific Hope is a 200 foot long, 500 tonne steel ship operated by the the group Marine Reach out of New Zealand.  We are familiar with her because we’ve been networking over the last few years and they’re participating in our National Oral Health Survey. After tying our dinghy up alongside we were welcomed aboard and given a tour of the ship – from the bridge to the engine room.  And what an engine room!!!  A 1400 hp motor you could walk around, two 300+kVA generators, another 110 KVA generator in the bow, enough bunks for 50 volunteers, plus onboard clinic and surgery. Just amazing!!

Oh, and they also gave us dinner

Coming back to Chimere in the dinghy we actually felt cold in the fading light and after hot showers there was a lot of packing by those heading home on tomorrow’s 7:00am flight; pick-up 5:00am

It’s now getting late, the full moon is glistening on the still water off the bow and all seems quiet aboard as Cam, josh, and Rob Lott prepare to spend their last sleep aboard; Bruce having already flown out early this afternoon.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and passing the baton

Rob Latimer

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