A few mornings ago I noticed one of the compartments of the inflatable dinghy was noticeably sagging, and over a day it became worse. I ve been dragging the dinghy up and down beaches for 7 years without trouble so it was a disappointment to realise there was a leak but then I thought it lasted well to get this far undamaged. I talked to Levi a crewman on the nearby Cat about how one goes about finding the leak - soapy water, he said - and I rummaged about in my stories and found my packet of dinghy patches and glue. It was a slow leak so I didn't think I would need to fix it right away. I pumped up the deflating compartment before I went ashore again, and to my syrprise, it hasnt needed any further attention! The leak must have been a sticky valve that unbstuck when I reinflated! Good news!
The other self fixing thing has been the stern tube. After getting here over a week ago there has been no leak at all from it, so I am specially glad that I decided not to proceed with efforts to replace it after the workman had stripped a bolt and broken another one trying to get it off. God only knows what other mayhem might have been created!
My throat also seems to have fixed itself, - with the help of Penicillin of course - with todays Photo of my tonsils showing considerable improvement! Dont worry - I wont Post the photos!
However something which will not fix itself is the solar panel. The sun came out yesterday and I immediately noticed that the battery was not being recharged. I checked the wires on the Panel and followed them into the back of the Nav Station. There I found a solar Charge Controller, a small black box with wires going into and out of it. Clearly water has been getting to it, and the last three days of rain have finished it off - all the wires and the terminals were converted to a green mush, and inside the Box the circuit board was delaminating! So I shall have to get that replaced in Vila next week, and in the meantime run the motor to keep the batteries full.
When I visited the Clinic on Thursday the Nurse told me about an old woman he had seen a few days before with a problem that he couldnt figure out. He wanted me to see her and I agreed so he sent a message to her in a nearby village, and she returned today. When I first got to the Clinic she wasn't there but in the sun outside were a young man and his wife and their new baby, there to find out about vaccinations. The clinic had run out but Bob who has only recently finished his Nursing training, was well informed and keen to make sure some were obtained. Eventually the old woman returned and we went inside to the Clinic office. Bob was very keen to learn so I explained my methods to him, in history taking and examination, the general principles that if followed make medicine so much easier. In developing countries Doctors and Nurses dont often appreciate the importance of taking a very broad hsitory from their patients, and often neglect basic principles of examination, and too quickly focus on a diagnosis - and often get it wrong - but that might be a result of having scores of sick people to attend in a very busy day, a scenario we dont often have to face in the west. But in Bobs clinic, that was certainly not going to be the case. So we talked to the old woman and then examined her and figured out what her problem was - nothing serious - in fact for such an old lady, after ten children and who still worked very hard in the gardens, she was in pretty good shape. We reassured her and she seemed very happy.
Later I spoke to Nelson about his friends who are wanting to get back to their island, the island of Aniwa which is 12 miles north of here. When he first mentioned this to me there were three, then four and now nine! I spoke to the eccentric Italian and he seemed ready to take three, but no more than three but I would not take six! We will work something out! But Ive warned them that as there is no harbour or recognized anchorage there, someone will have to come out to take them off the boat. Otherwise they will have to come to Vila with me!
The weather is improving, with sun and cloud today but winds over 20 knots out at sea. I will probably sail to Port Vila on Monday - arrive Tuesday.
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