Two teams – One family

Thursday 14 September 2017

By Matt Bryant – 1st mate mission 4

As a member of the sailing team (and a return volunteer from 2013) it is my mission and my passion, to transport the medical team safely between destinations; some of which are truly idyllic bays.

Although we are two teams – sailors and medical/dental/optical – we really are one family as we live in close quarters, learn about each other’s children, business interests, hobbies and how they take their tea and coffee.

In my “normal” sailing I am used to racing boats that normally consist of short passages, where everything is “state of the art”, lightweight to go fast. Chimere on the other hand is strong, sure, robust and with a purpose set for a long voyage.

Here’s a summary of the Mission’s journey so far …

The entrance to Lolawai shouts South Pacific pearl. Steep cliffs, green water, palm trees with heavy vegetation. A safe anchorage awaits.
When we arrived the people of Lolawai were celebrating Mother’s day (loosely translated) which was great fun. They took turns calling groups up to dance, sometimes traditional, other times disco with Michael Jackson tunes popular. We made friends with Celia who encouraged us to the dance floor (dirt). Not sure what they made of Matt L and Jeremy as they entertained all with their digging ditches dance. I love the way the locals laugh being both raucous and infectious.

Nasawa Village, Maewo Island
Nasawa is surely one of the prettiest anchorages (although they have a habit of getting better) with a waterfall and a river running through the village. They have wonderful volcanic soil and plenty of water. I am sure they can grow anything. We enjoyed coconut, bananas and a lunch of snake bean, small meat and way too much rice – “medical team” time for a talk.

While the medical team did their role we heard of an electrical problem they were suffering in the dispensary – no lights. The lights were installed 12 years ago, worked for 2 or 3 and have not worked since. Surely it must be something simple was Captain Rob’s cry. With trepidation we attempted to sort it out. Bad batteries, bad regulator, only 1 solar panel working, missing parts, what can go wrong?

Matt L and I jury rigged the setup and did a bit of surgery. After a few hours it was not looking good and we had basically given up when a local ran in and announced a light was working. We had success! I have to admit it was daylight and probably the solar panel was running it . Hopefully the batteries will charge but we skipped town by nightfall, so we can only hope. We celebrated with some awesome snorkelling over coral and a guided tour of the waterfall by enthusiastic youngsters.

Lolawai to Merelava
Today we travelled 42 Nautical miles, with about half in rough conditions of 25Knkt winds, 3M swell and chop. The wind was east off the starboard side and with the speed regularly exceeding 8kts, we ended up averaging 7 knots; so it was a 6 hour run.

We had 15 on-board including 5 Ni-Van’s . To their credit no one was sick as they are starting to settle into the rhythm of the boat, the sounds, motion and most importantly where to get a good handhold as we cop another rogue wave across the aft quarter.

Captain Rob is the king of anchoring! A strong SE wind howls as we inch up to a rocky outcrop which provides only a slither of shelter. I am at the helm as we spot anchors painted on the rocks, this must be the spot but it can’t be as the wind continues to howl.

Finally, we rest in that protected slither first go. Later we put out a stern anchor so that we remain in our slither of protection only 20 metres from angry rocks. The wind howls around us but Chimere provides us safe protection.

On the plus side the washing is dry!

Smooth seas, two teams – one family

Matt Bryant

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