Saturday 7 September
Waterfall Bay, Vanualava Island
After a good night’s sleep up early to be ready for our clinic in Waterfall Bay on the west coast of Vanualava, famous for its magnificent … waterfall. More about that later. The dental clinic took centre stage (literally!) so the team could gaze out over the ocean. Actually it is because this was the best lit area for Barry, Bob and Dave.
Have we told you about Dave? We thought he was a Fleet (vehicle) Manager signing on as sailor, but he is also a diesel mechanic. Now we find out he actually is a Dental Instrument Sterilizer Extraodinaire and is now in training as a dental assistant. Barry said he is a good ‘sucker’ … a dental joke there.
The eye clinic (Dr Nancy and Gibson) and the ‘body doctas’ (Graeme and Doug) set up in the community hall/restuarant while nurse Ruth roamed around the village recruiting patients and assisting everybody else. However, before we could start Chief Kerely and his wife Elizabeth gave us a warm welcome. Later most of the village came with another thank you speech and followed by a 12 verse welcome song to the tune of ‘God save the Queen’! This version was very moving. As was the hibiscus flower that was placed behind each person’s ear accompanied by a handshake and greeting.
While nothing is mundane here, there is always something of greater interest. This time it was the chief’s daughter Janet who had a cut on the back of her left hand. (digging up yams) It had been closed with sutures by the local clinic nurse a week previously and antibiotics had prevented any infection. However her inability to straighten her middle finger meant that the ‘string’ (tendon) had been severed and needed surgery as soon as possible. This could only be performed in Luganville on the island of Santo. It could not be repaired in her village or on her island.
The chief and his wife were grateful and concerned considering the social and financial complications of treatment, in spite of the fact we said we would cover airfares. It finally emerged that Janet was to be bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding the following Friday, the first wedding in the family with 500 guests invited.
There were the usual very brave children at the dental clinic and everyone seemed so warm and friendly. However a 2013 Health Department poster on the wall told another story: statistics for violence against women showed physical and sexual abuse over 41% on some islands. Some victims are as young as 15 years. All is not well in paradise.
After coconut milk and pamplemouse and cheese biscuits for lunch, it was off to the waterfall. This amazing waterfall with two torrents of water tumbling 20 metres over volcanic rock into a deep swimming hole on the edge of the beach. Most of us swam and sat under the cascade, while a few nameless monkeys climbed up the gigantic and slippery rocks behind and directly beneath the falls. Later three mermaids were found basking on the warm rocks. The waterfall is impressive, and this is only the dry season. Apparently during the wet season the water shoots over the pool to the beach.
Around this time someone realized Chimere’s fresh water converter was malfunctioning due to a leaking high pressure hose. Fortunately we were right next to an unending fresh water supply and Rob had earlier unblocked and relocated the village water supply pipe from above the falls. We were able to fill our fresh water tanks from the village pipe, flowing at 20L/minute. In the absence of a spare hose Dave set to work on repairs. Stay tuned for more updates on this endeavour.
After dinner Colin from a neighbouring catamaran came for a medical consultation on behalf of his sick wife. We had met their delightful 10-year old daughter (who will be a bridesmaid at the wedding) and 8 year old son earlier and discovered they had been sailing the world for 4 dry seasons. Colin was still remotely running his electrical supply business in Bosham, southern England.
Coincidentally Ruth pointed out we have a painting of Bosham in the saloon on Chimere! It’s a small world after all.
Then it was off to sleep ready for another(!) early sail tomorrow hoping for smooth seas, fair breeze and a comfortable run up the coast.
On-board Cub Reporter #2.