Thursday 25 June, 8.45am (anchored at Ndui Ndui, Ambae)
Okay, ditch the schedule described in yesterday’s log, apart from the plane flights to and from Santo. They still stand, at least as far as we know. Everything else is a moveable feast.
We left Ndui Ndui this afternoon after a quiet morning clinic, and after everyone negotiating the awkward swell to load gear and board Chimere with remarkable aplomb, we motor-sailed up the coast for just over an hour to – “Where are we going? Where do we need to stop?” Bob asked the Ni-Vans. They shook their heads. “We don’t know, we’ve never been there before.” ” “Is it this side of Waloriki?” “Yes.” Of course, the name of the the village they’re going to (Vatakambami)isn’t on any map we have, so all we know is that it must be between the place we dropped them off last Saturday and the place we’re going to after this. Everyone watches the coastline. Sheer rocky cliffs rise straight into mountain, and we are amazed to see smoke from the occasional cooking fire rise up from the steep slopes. “There are no trucks, no roads. We must walk up the hill to the place where we are going.”
There is some discomfort amongst those Aussies who are accustomed to a bit more certainty in their lives. Eventually Mary Tabo spies a rocky beach, the only place along this stretch of coast that looks mildly negotiable. “See, there is a house in the trees. Maybe this is the place.”
Regular readers of this blog will know that part of arriving at every anchorage has been a very hospitable greeting by what is often a flotilla of locals in outriggers, even before the anchor has been dropped. Today there was no-one to be seen anywhere, not even on the shore – not a good sign. We all whistled and yelled, and even the air horn came out. As we made our way slowly in, we spied a satellite dish, of all things, and two boys in an outrigger skulking along the cliffs, making away from us as fast as they could. I’m not sure how they felt about being chased by a sizeable yacht, but we were eventually greeted by the usual big grins and it turned out that we had arrived at our intended destination after all. A couple of the crew went in to have a look, and people from the village appeared at the end of the path. The medical crew went with the bare minimum of equipment and gear for overnight, including some simple bedding from the boat for the Ni-Vans in the team. Chimere and her crew were left riding the swell. We’ll hear how the hill climb and the clinic went when they return for the trip on to Waloriki tomorrow afternoon.