Surfed, served and delivered

Thursday 10 June 2010 (Milipe 16 34.730 S 167 29.54 E)

The medical team were on the beach at 7:30am. Martin sped shorewards in the dinghy to pick them up.
On board there was constant movement of people stowing things and making ready. Martin brought the bags back first with only 2 passengers. The bags were put in the bulka bag and were easily hoisted on board. While the deck crew took care of the bags Martin sped back to shore for the medical team.  With all on board we set off at 8am for the short sail to Malvagal. With one jib set we sailed comfortably along at 6kts. The ship’s deck was completely covered in bags, people, dinghies, and stores. Any more sail handling activity than the one jib would have got very complicated.
The prevailing SE trade wind is now re-established and we sailed along the coast line with breakers clearly visible and we could see the dense tropical jungle dripping down the low cliff face of the shore line.  After two hours we rounded a headland and took in sail and circled around while we got the lay of the land. The swell piled up as it got closer to the shore and broke heavily on the wide curving beach. At the right hand end of the beach rocks appeared here and there and gradually turned into the rocky shore of the headland. Nestled in to this transition area could be see signs of human habitation. Soon a small crowed appeared on the beach.
It was decided to send Richard, Basil and Martin ashore in the dinghy to reconnoitre. Martin selected the back of the last big swell in a series to ride into to shore. Several men waited in the broken surf to swing the dinghy around before the next breaker tipped it over. Everyone ended up to their waist in the foaming water but they judged it was a do-able landing spot for the medical team.
Richard and Basil went ashore to make arrangements for the clinic while Martin came back to start ferrying the team ashore. The team made up a small collection of equipment and packed it into water proof bags. Everyone then went ashore including Mary Grace (age 83) who surprised the skipper by coming on deck in her swimmers and proceeded to get into the dinghy. Chris also went ashore with some lunch for the team.
The remaining boat crew had a synchronized thought that some kind of elevenses would be good, so Paul made bacon sandwiches washed down with a cup of tea. Since then everyone has got busy with lots of little jobs. Washing the sand out of shoes, tying a big roll of plastic (none of us know what the roll is for but it came aboard at Akhamb Island). Martin has entered the new waypoints to the chart plotter and  Carl has cleaned the toilets, corridor and then washed all the tea towels. Sorry, I wasn’t supposed to say that. Forget I said that and when we get to Luganville I will send a photo instead.
Richard has radioed to say that the clinic is going well and they might be finished early……..

I started the log earlier today but by the end of the day when I should have been finishing it off, Paul stepped in and offered to write up the log.

(Paul Curtis)………the clinic didn’t finish early!  It was decided that a shore party be sent ashore to assist in the rapid embarkation of the medical team and baggage.  Martin helmed the dinghy whilst Paul and Carl had the dubious privilege of standing in the sea loading people and gear and then propelling the laden dinghy out to sea up to their necks in water!  The whole proceedings were complicated by the strong surf so that up until the last trip everyone was thoroughly drenched except for Richard, for whom the tide turned, surf dropped and suffered no more than wet toes!
The following short passage was uneventful – a pleasant south easterly wind brought us after a couple of hours to Milipe – a very pleasant anchorage where a delegation went ashore , led by Richard, to arrange accommodation for the medical teams.  Basil, the district eye-care nurse, had opted to walk the 12 km or so through the bush rather than face another sea passage and arrived much before us! In short time said accommodation was arranged – with woven mats to sleep on – and bags and medical equipment were unloaded, just in time for crew and medics alike to share a well received meal of chilli con carne and rice washed down with the last of the ships store of cool Chardonnay!
The trip ashore to unload the bags was a memorable experience – Andrew, Carl, Paul and Grant raced ashore to unload whilst the light of day remained. Andrew stayed ashore and corralled the local children to assist in unloading bags.  The excitement of the children to help out was impressive as they vied to carry boxes and bags to the sleeping area. Andrew was so pleased he tried to express his gratitude saying ‘numbawan!’ – to which the children fell about laughing for many minutes!  The crew inspection of the sleeping quarters meant the whole school-age population followed us – with Andrew being the star attraction! With all stores being carried ashore we headed back to the boat with a beautiful  sunset.  So beautiful in fact that Carl, our usually bluff northerner, seemed lost in contemplation – we think it was his soft side coming out – and I think we promised not to mention it – but when we found ourselves a little off course Carl apologized for the romanticism of the moment and we lingered for a few moments longer.
The medical team appear to have warmed to the creature comforts of ‘Chimere’ with queasy memories of their first passage taking a distant part of their minds! The joy of eating meat and rice and vegetables, cooked by our sous-chef Martin, being a powerful influence!  Following tea we ran the medical team ashore in the dark to a gentle swell and the glorious black sand beach. The calm landing was much appreciated and we parted on very jovial terms – with the promise of delivery of breakfast complete with two loaves of ships bread in the morning.
It has been pleasing to see Grant’s appreciation of English culture developing – especially with regard to that special custom of drinking tea!  It had been observed that Grant’s early attempts at making tea were not his finest moment – however he has persevered. Today’s effort was only his third to date (not that we are keeping a close eye!) but it was of passably good quality and further developments are eagerly anticipated by the foreign contingent aboard!
Carl has suspended his attempts at fishing for the time being given the lack of bait but has promised to have another go when more suitable bait becomes available! ………………..
Thanks Paul.
With Paul sitting at the computer, sweating away at the chart table, Carl was briefly inspired to have a go at the log. Everyone is encouraging him. We want to see what his accent looks like when it is written down. So that is something to look forward to.

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