Sydney Airport – night flight to Vila
7:00pm EST Wednesday 7 June 2017

It’s a great relief to know that Chimere is now tied up safely in Port-Vila after her voyage from Sydney

Cam and the crew did a wonderful job!!  Congratulations!

Its now time to relax, fix those things aboard that need fixing and let our hair down a little… for those who still have some that is!?

As the old crew prepares to fly home to Australia the new crew will start to assemble in Port Vila over the next two weeks with the medical volunteers arriving on the 23rd June to begin their two week mission – Medical Mission 1

This first mission will involve some of the volunteers flying down to rendezvous on Tanna (as in the movie and the coffee and the volcano) and some travelling south aboard Chimere.

After some land based medical clinics and oral health survey work, it will then be a case of sailing to the more isolated islands of Futuna, Aniwa and Erromango.   (Look them up online, they are amazing places)

As for me and my MSM co-accused, Mike Clarke and Barry Stewart, after six months of planning, preparation and no shortage of anxiety, we are very close to the “sharp end” of the mission- actually transporting medical teams to remote villages in order to provide much-needed medical services.  And of course the start of the National Oral Health Survey; the first ever conducted in Vanuatu.

After all the frantic last minute jobs, working through the many tasks to be completed, I was looking forward to that feeling of relaxation when you finally sit in your allocated seat and think … “if it hasn’t been done now it doesn’t matter … ”  Well unfortunately I’d only just got through the security at Melbourne airport on the way to Sydney when I realised I’d left my vital computer portable hard drive at home.  Yep, the one with all those essential mission files and documents, sitting on a hard drive at home!!  Arrrr… Serenity Now!!

Enter my dear wife who happily found the hard drive and emailed me the most important files so I could at least download them in transit to work on later.  Is this an advertisement for saving everything to the cloud?  Maybe, so long as you always have access to the internet I suppose.
Anyway as they say in Swahili … Hakuna Ma Tata …

And there’s my call … oh wait … not to board NF 11 but to inform me that the plane is arriving late and so we won’t be boarding for some time … ahhh, is this “Melanesian Time” infiltrating a Sydney time-space-continuum?

As for my bag … I see a stack of bags out the window in the half-lit darkness… sitting on a trolley-cart on the tarmac below the plane waiting to be loaded … a normal situation but it just so happens to be pouring with rain as only Sydney can, yes with lightning and thunder, the trolley has no cover and once again It seems certain I’ll arrive in Port Vila with an absolutely sodden bag – plus all its contents – at the start of a mission.   Is it too much to ask to attach a tarpaulin to a trolley in order to simply cover the bags when it’s pouring with rain?  That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

STOP PRESS:  I’ve just been approached by the Air Vanuatu manager (well I might have mentioned my concerns in passing to one of the desk staff earlier, alright … a few desk staff) as I sit here in the waiting lounge, to assure me that the bags are actually covered with black plastic – my bad.  She was very understanding and explained that because of the lightning none of the workers are allowed on the tarmac until it’s cleared, but they have covered the trolleys with black plastic – Tank Yu Tumas me says, as I tuck into my humble pie.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and night flight to Vila!

Rob Latimer