|Raki Raki Hospital, Fiji|
If the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) had not fallen out with its Islamist supporters in The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in Western Africa (MOJWA) I would probably be sailing today. That’s because when they started fighting amongst themselves the Government of Mali decided to ask the French government to help them recapture the northern parts of Mali that these rebels had taken control of. As a result, my mission to neighbouring Nigeria with MSF in March was cancelled and I was reassigned to go to Aweil in June – but I had been planning to be back from Africa by May, put the boat back in the water and go sailing. Honestly, I wish these people would start thinking about how their plans might affect other people before they go rushing off and rebelling all the time!
But “life” is what happens to you while youre busy making other plans, right?
So here I am back in Fiji, an incredibly interesting year after sailing here from Tonga and putting Sapphire into a trench – where she remains! Since arriving here I have been working at the hospital in Lautoka as a volunteer locum Obstetrician. I don’t get paid – officially – but my accommodation and car is paid for, and I get a daily allowance for living expenses. I am going to earn in six weeks what I would earn in three or four days in Australia – but I am not complaining – its another interesting challenge and in a beautiful place with lovely friendly people, pawpaw for breakfast, and my Yacht is just down the road!
I had been thinking I might repaint Sapphire because I had left her with some untidy gouges along the starboard side following a close encounter with a wharf in New Zealand and she was really looking worn and untidy. My plan was to work on her in the evenings after work and on the weekends but that quickly proved impossible, as evenings are very short here and I often work till late. I am on call and get tired at times and Ive just finished a whole week on call. Instead I decided to get a local yacht painter to do it for me. I had a couple of quotes and decided to go with Rons as it was the cheapest – I didn’t need a Superyacht finish, just a basic tidy up along with antifouling before going back in.
So I took the hydrovane off the stern – again! – and some of the deck fittings, and left him to it. He’s probably going to be finished this week. After that there will still be dozens of things to sort out before I can go sailing.
Meanwhile Ive ordered- and received from Whitworths marine in Australia - a box of parts I need, like the wind instruments off the top of the mast, a small sheet winch that I smashed on the way over from Tonga, some plastic vents that the harsh sun here destroys in no time…