Sunday 7 July 2013

Still at Pele & Nguna Islands

Yesterday’s clinic was backed up with a repeat performance today with dental, optical and general medical in full swing.
The highlight was definitely Lyndon’s epic dental treatment schedule, with the 3x3m collapsible mesh tent, equipped with 4 overhead LED lights really coming into its own as the sun went down, darkness descended and people kept coming.
As we sit now chatting in the saloon after completing another one of Christine’s lovely dinners, the idea of turning outdoor dentistry into a reality, spectator, and entertainment show has gained traction. Jon wondered out loud whether FOX Sport might take it up, then Tony equated it with “Iron Chef” requiring an animated commentary. We all thought Lyndon’s measured dental actions and calming seat-side manner could be hyped-up to fever-pitch-compelling viewing, however, the lack of blood and obvious patient discomfort would be a real drawback in the ratings.
All frivolity aside, it was a big day. But first, James, Kristie, Helen, Morinda, (yes, she was delivered safely back to the boat this morning with the anesthetic), and I started the day with church on the island of Nguna, 200m off our stern. It was a great service with lots of wonderful singing and there was also the opportunity for Helen to make an announcement concerning the clinic to be held there tomorrow.



Around 12:00 noon we headed off in our dinghy convoy again and were fully set up around 1:00am, at which time numbers began to build. Morinda gathered all the children together and after they’d all been sat down, delivered a Helti Tut Helti Laef presentation.


She then gathered many of the women and new mothers and did it all again. Helen eye-tested about 15 people and Lyndon saved a number of teeth through fillings and pulled one tooth out; much to the amusement of the throng of awestruck children.


Around 4:00pm, as signs of the setting sun became apparent, along with the need to begin packing up in order to return in daylight, it was obvious that things wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. With a backlog of patients-in-need, Lyndon soldiered on finally finishing after 6:00pm with the stars above so bright they reflected off the water.
The anchored yacht was always in sight and so after dismantling and returning all the equipment to the dinghies we slowly puttered home, happy, tired and content.
Ray and Jon were ready and waiting to revive us and with davits on the stern, ladder on the side and lifting halyard above, equipment, personnel and dinghies were all in the place within 15-20 minutes.
While the clinic was in full swing I gained considerable interest in the mud brick stoves, however, it would appear that clay is not easily come-by on Pele. Elder George appeared interested to pursue the idea and so I left an instruction manual and mold with him to experiment at a later date. It was thought that Nguna might have accessible clay, so we’ll try there tomorrow.
Accommodating 10 aboard is proving to be a straight forward thing, with meal time requiring a few extra plates (which we bought in Port Vila) but that’s about all. Everyone is happy with their appointed bunk, the new generator is doing a wonderful job of keeping the batteries topped up and the watermaker does its thing when showering, washing and cooking have emptied the banks in what once would have been record time.
Our sheltered anchorage on sand in about 5m of water would be hard to top, with the ESE wind likely to remain for a few days yet.
As I finish off my typing, Lyndon and Kristie have just transferred the washed dental tools into the pressure cooker on the stove for a good clean and everyone else has gone to bed.
It’s a full-day clinic tomorrow with reported kick-off around 8:00am ashore; just 200m astern, which will great.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and our very own “Extreme Dentist”
Rob Latimer

Latest photos from the first few days of Mission 1 uploaded.