Monday 11 September 2017

Lolawai Anchorage, Ambae

When I say it rained, I mean, it really did rain.

Which wouldn’t normally be a problem, but our “brief” from Richard last night was to … “be ashore at 8:00am for the official welcome at the hospital … in our official shirts”

Around 7:00am, aboard Chimere, as everyone was getting stuck into breakfast, the rain had already been coming down for an hour or so, with no sign of abating.

The dinghy was wet and filling fast, water was flowing along the deck and just a few seconds in the downpour had you absolutely drenched.

I know this, because I was keen to catch as much of the water as possible – in the tanks, thereby reducing the need to run the generator and desalinator; which we will need to do tomorrow. This involved me wearing just my bathers and working in the rain to plug up the drain holes along the deck and then simply waiting for the water level to rise. The fresh water then just poured into the filler hole on the port side.

Around this time, as “ready to go ashore noises” could start being heard I said to (old) Matt, “we’re all going to get drenched … just getting into the dinghy”

The thought then occurred to me to make a tarpaulin cover for the dinghy, supported by a central pole, for the passengers to shelter under.

This all worked well and there was even a second tarpaulin for the first load of six to shelter under as they walked in close step, centipede-style, the 400 metres from the landing to the hospital. It was a funny sight, but I suppose you had to be there. Dressed only in my bathers I was too wet to care and it was amusing to see some of the local lads lathered up in soap taking advantage of the opportunity to have a shower. It seems this was the first rain to fall in this region for some time.

The good news is that all ten from the boat were ready (and dry) at 8:00am as instructed, the bad news is that the rain had caused many others, including Richard, Bob, Wellan, Parkon and Jay to be delayed, with few people venturing out; for any reason, including medical and dental attention.

By 8:45am there seemed little sign of “official action” and so (old) Matt and I requested leave to return to Chimere to work through the day’s important tasks. This included running the main engine all day to charge the batteries, baking bread, cleaning and many other small things that seem to just fill in the day.

The weather slowly cleared through the afternoon and around 5:00pm it was time to reload everything back aboard, with the large dinghy now back in the water with a repaired transom that performed as good as new.

It was fascinating to hear Barry’s ‘dental stories” from the day’s clinic, as well as Graeme and Jeremy’s medical cases – we’ll be hearing more from them in due course

If Graeme is able to get internet coverage, then “his side” of the MSM mission can be found here …
www.dukenews.wordpress.com

Although, as an unauthorized commentary and account, Graeme warns that in this age of “fake news” it can’t be fully relied upon

Team member, Annette Vincent, has a blog running here …
www.vincentsinvanuatu.blogspot.com

It’s now still, starry and silent, in contrast to earlier in the day, apart from the usual chatter and “going to bed noises” of 10 people living in a space about the size of an average lounge room

Tomorrow we pick the five Ni-Vans up from the beach around 6:00am with our plan being to head off to the nearby island of Maewo and the village of Naravorovo; although we like to say the name with a few more … “orovos” for added effect

Smooth seas, fair breeze and today it rained, and rained …

Rob Latimer