Up the river at Ipota

Tuesday 4 July 2017
Ipota Village, Erromango Island

In a first for Chimere, we are now anchored a short distance up a river at the village of Ipota on the east coast of the sparsely populated island of Erromango; “land of the mango”
Our stern is facing the shore, with a couple of lines holding us in position, along with the anchor from the bow of course (plus an extra smaller anchor on the port side just to be sure!)

On the way south to Tanna 10 days ago we dropped by to check out this anchorage, because the thought of entering a narrow river, where the depth is unknown and turning room is limited didn’t really appeal; at least not without some additional firsthand knowledge.
On arrival around 10:00am, after our 12 hour overnight sail from Futuna – and, yes we did indeed sail most of the way without the motor running – we lowered the large dinghy and Gerry and I did a quick reconnoiter up the river and soon devised our plan, which very much went … to plan.
The quote for the day however, must surely go to Gerry, who, after everything was tied down and we were ready for a cup of tea said … “this is great, I get to do drive someone else’s boat in places I’d never take my own boat…” In retrospect that probably sounds a bit worse now than it did at the time, but we really do have a great depth of experience and ability aboard that has allowed us to do things others would be reluctant to try; but certainly not in a reckless manner
The village was expecting us and pretty soon there was a fair crowd on the rocks a short distance off the stern, and Bob, Dick and Morinda headed off up to the local clinic in order to liaise with the local healthcare worker, elders and church leaders.
After lunch the medical team, along with their gear, moved onshore and after a considerable amount of local muscle-assistance (in moving each box, chair and table) around 2 hours of health and survey work was completed, as a prelude to a full day tomorrow.
Doug, David, Antonio, Tami, Dick, Morinda and Bob are all staying ashore tonight, with me, Martin, Gerry, Annette, Peter, Daniel and Debra staying aboard as usual.
With the medical folk off the boat it gave us a chance to run the generator this afternoon, filling the tanks with freshwater from our on-board desal plant (at a rate of 3 litres per minute) baking more bread and generally tidying the place up.
We invited a local canoe-man, Charlie aboard for a chat and a bite to eat and were amused at the steady group of local kids who sat onshore near where our lines were tied, either enjoying the sight and novelty of us gently bobbing up and down, or just waiting to see us meet with some undefined misfortune.
Regular communications via the VHF radio kept us informed of clinic developments and at one point I wildly suggested to Martin – who was helping out in the clinic – that maybe we could run a movie night. This was initially rejected on the grounds that there was nowhere to show it, but later it was proposed that the temporary Presbyterian Church building could be used.

So it was that Daniel and I carried the generator, cable, computer and projector (actually young Daniel carried the generator) the 10 minutes up to the village where the Lion King was shown to an appreciative gathering of mostly young people. Special mention here should be made of Daniel’s IT trouble shooting skills in coming through with the actual screening. We had the gear, we had the venue, we had the audience, but do you think the DVD would automatically load. Oh no!!?? Apparently my computer is Region 4, whereas it needs to be Region 1 to play… Agrrhhh. Anyway Daniel did his thing while about 30 kids sat in almost total silence for upwards of 10 minutes as this or that option was tried.
Back on board and still sleep-deprived from the overnight sail last night I know where I’ll be in about 4 minutes – asleep in my bunk.
One amazing thing is that here in the back of beyond I have the inter-web. It’s not consistently reliable, but I’ve been able to send some photos and hope to send this Ships Log too without having to resort to the arduous Sat Com lottery.
Smooth seas, fair breeze and up the river at Ipota
Rob Latimer

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