[new photos up – admin]

Friday 18 June 2010 Luganville

This morning dawned bright and clear; a contrast to the mornings of the last week which have been overcast. As soon as the sun had risen over the tree clad hills the heat pierced our bodies and sweat flowed freely. The first job was to put up the awning which gave us instant relief.
Yesterday we learnt that a new crew member, Ray, was to join us today. Ray has several distinctions in life. He is a former RAN Commander and Grant’s father. With both considerations in mind we did a spring clean of the yacht. When we set off to the shops, Carl stayed on board to continue the clean up and to check a few engineering items on board.
You might recall Chris had an arrangement to meet Lucy (the waiter, Lindsay’s, sister) at 10am. With a bit of a flurry to get organized to leave the ship we got ashore at 10:20am: Grant, Paul and me with the petrol containers, and Chris, ready to meet Lucy. The fellas set off to the main road and after about 45sec we caught a bus (I still get impressed with the service). Paul got off at the internet café and Grant and I continued to the petrol station. When Paul got on the bus he said hello to the other passengers, two ladies and a baby. The baby burst out crying straight away which made the ladies and Grant laugh unmercifully. I missed it because I was last in, but I sat next to the mother and baby and that baby didn’t take its eyes off me nor did it change its expression from one of extreme distrust. Paul had quite an effect.
Grant and I got off at the petrol station. We never get over how friendly everyone is. The attendant said “do you want those drums filled? Unleaded?” we replied affirmatively and he took the drums and filled them for us. While he did that a taxi pulled up next to us to refuel. He agreed to take us back to the boat, so while I went in to pay he loaded the petrol into the boot. Can you do that in Australia or is there a safety rule that says you cant? The taxi driver took us back to the boat and we asked if he could wait while we put the petrol in the dinghy. He not only waited, he jumped out of the car and carried some of the drums through the resort to the foreshore. When we got to the dinghy he said “Better to take it to your boat; I’ll wait”. “Do you think someone will steal it?” I asked. “Everyone is friendly in Vanuatu but there some bad ones” he replied. “Do you want to come for the ride?” I asked and he eagerly agreed. We speeded back to the boat and unloaded the fuel and sped back to the shore, leaving Carl a bit bewildered about our haste and our new found friend in the dinghy. The driver took Grant and me back to town where we hunted down Paul. Paul was in the internet café sending photos to the MSM web master. He just finished when we arrived. Internet speeds are a little slow but do-able. We then had a cool drink and headed back to see Carl.
When we got back to the resort we asked Lindsay (the waiter/bar manager) how Chris and his sister got on. Did they meet up OK? Lindsay was sad and said they missed each other. The clock in his house was wrong and his sister didn’t  get to the resort till 11am and Chris had already gone. We were a bit sad too, because, although we couldn’t understand the passion for shopping among girls, we knew Chris had her heart set on it and she would be disappointed.
We went back to the boat to have lunch with Carl as there was no sign of Chris. Our plans then included the lads doing a food shop, and I was going to have a shower, shave and change into clean clothes and walk to the Maritime College in the hope of meeting the principal, Capt Mark Godderham. There was still no sign of Chris so we set off on our separate ways.
I paid 500Vt for the shower (Approx $6) and it was wonderful. The only problem was getting dry afterwards as the humidity was so high. I got dressed wet and hoped I would air dry as I walked along. That seemed to work. At the college I was told the Capt was not in and I was given his card to call him. When I got back to the resort Chris was waiting on the beach for someone to take her back to the boat. I was expecting a glum face but instead Chris was highly animated so I suggested we go back to the bar and wait for the others. Chris had in fact met up with Lucy. Obviously Lindsay is not familiar with the gravitation homing tendencies of women hell bent on a day out shopping. I cant possibly relate all the adjectives Chris used to describe the absolutely wonderful day she had had with that gorgeous, beautiful girl, Lucy. But to sum up, Chris described it, when all the boys had caught up with us and we were heading back to the boat, as a “spiritually up lifting experience”.  “Are we talking about shopping?” Paul asked Carl just in case he had missed a change in the topic of conversation. “I believe so” replied Carl in worldly sort of way.
Dinner is being prepared at the moment. We are planning a big meal for Ray’s arrival. Grant and I will head off to the airport very soon. We are all very excited to have Ray join us.
Fair winds, smooth seas and soaring spirits
Andrew