Tallship Soren Larsen ~ 2003 Archive Voyage Logs

The 2003 Tall Ship Soren Larsen Pacific Voyage Log

1st October , 2003, Port Vila Vanuatu - to 19 October Noumea, New Caledonia.
Noreen toughes out an unpleasant illness, the ship says farewell to Vanautu and Bobby explains to us why Engineers look so sleep-deprived..

See Emil's latest journal report here.
See Noreen's photo gallery for this trip here

Port Vila, Vanuatu - between voyages:
Well let me start by telling you about my experiences in the past six days, they are not pleasant, but honest.

Bobby and I finished our Dive course at Hideaway Resort, 12km north of Port Vila (Vanuatu) and returned to the ship on Friday the 3rd of October. During that day my back and neck were quite stiff and I had another headache yet again, I had been having them on and off for a few days. I went to bed with a temperature and awoke the next morning with even more of a backache and now a migraine. Now, I was just thinking that I was stiff from carrying the dive tank and weights during my three day course and figured that a visit to the chiropractor would cure me. Captain Tod reckoned I should see a doctor first and then proceeded to the chiropractor. We went to see a highly recommended doctor, who diagnosed me with sinusitis (infection of the sinuses), and told me if I was not better by Monday to come back because he would want to do some further tests. After seeing the French Chiropractor, I was in even more pain than when I first went in and came back to the ship with a temperature of 38.7°C. I felt as if a gang had beaten me up and they had applied a vice to my head and chest. I slept, drank water and ate a few crackers here and there to chase down the antibiotics for the sinusitis. Sunday came and went, I spent the entire morning in bed with hot and cold sweats and tried sitting up on deck in the evening, my eyes burned in the daylight, felt as if someone was stabbing a double serrated knife into them and twisting, so the evenings were much more comfortable. Monday morning, joining day for VCs, Thea headed off to the markets while I said I would prepare lunch, I seemed to be ok this morning. I put some lamb in the oven to roast, made a carrot cake and cleaned up from breakfast, as I stood at the 180° oven I suddenly became cold and went to bed with convulsion like shivers. I was not better, it was Monday, and I was going to see a doctor.

It was a public holiday, there was no doctor, but the pharmacist was in and he took one look at me, asked me my symptoms and phoned a local doctor and both were pretty sure at this point that I had contracted Dengue Fever, caused by mosquitoes, he gave me some painkillers and said I should get my blood tested the following day, the ship should not leave and I should stay in bed. After returning to the ship my temperature rose to 39.4°C and I felt as if my body was falling apart, I slept. Tuesday morning voyage crew went ashore to Hideaway Island, where we had anchored the night before, while Marita took me to the doctor. We had an hour wait in an air-conditioned room where I managed to get a fever and the shakes before seeing the doctor. He took my blood and said it was for a precautionary test for malaria and to count my white blood cells. I weighed myself, and in 4 days I had lost 3kg, that’s a lot, and unhealthy too. After returning to the ship I introduced myself to a few of the new faces but was in no state to learn names yet, off to bed I went. I heard the anchor coming up, knowing that we were departing south for Tanna. With each roll of the ship I felt as if my body was being torn in two, each muscle contracted and stayed that way until I relaxed enough to sleep, if you call it that.

Marita was an absolute star for the passage, she was purser, cook (Thea was seasick!) and medic. We had over half of the voyage crew seasick and she was run off her feet with changing sick buckets, taking my temperature, changing my bed sheets, getting me water and helping me to and from the toilet. She served dinner and then did her rounds before turning in herself. When I was not sleeping I was in pain, crying, wishing we would get to calm water soon, this was not fun. Wednesday morning I had another convulsive cold attack and had a few crew members at my side to try and calm me, I couldn’t warm up…once I did, I was fevered! After Marita helped me shower and change my bed sheets yet again, the cover came off our hatch and a fresh gust of air filled the cabin, it also provided the reassurance that I needed, we were almost there!

I slept until I heard the anchor drop, my body ached after the 24 hour journey, it was nice to hear the crew in good spirits entering my cabin, “Daisy, we didn’t just see a whale, it didn’t just jump out of the water and it wasn’t a humpback!” Oh man, of course I had to miss out on that one, I was gutted! Tod and Marita headed ashore to call the doctors office to find out the results of the blood tests, when they arrived on shore there was already someone waiting for them. The doctor from Port Vila had called Tanna and informed them that the Soren Larsen was coming, and someone on board had MALARIA. This came to a shock to all of us, but also a relief, I could be treated and hopefully get well soon. After taking a handful of pills and some bread to chase it down I climbed back into bed and waited. I woke at one in the morning to take another handful, noticing a difference in how I felt already. Now here we are, Thursday morning, I showered and made my way to deck to meet a few more people. Mike. C. was the first I talked to and I was quite proud after he told me that at the website travelpod.com. my journals had been posted there and it was the featured travel log this week! Maybe after reading this entry it will slip down to the bottom, but I just thought it was good to let everyone know what I went through, and most of all IT IS PREVENTABLE, WEAR MOSQUITO REPELLENT!

While I was sick, Bobby was kind enough to make an EMERGENCY JOURNAL for me to use, and it is so good I figured I better share it, Bobby’s great sense of humor continually keeps us laughing.
"6-10-03
Today the voyage crew arrived, we all introduced ourselves at smoko and it is now half an hour later and I can’t remember anyone’s name. We leave Port Vila and head to Hideaway Island where the V/C goes ashore and posts postcards at the world’s only underwater post office. Dinner is served below in the sauna; we all loose a few pounds before and gain a couple of stone after dinner. Genny (generator set) off - me to bed.

7-10-03
Can’t remember what I did in the morning but we left Hideaway at 1:00 and tooted our farewell to wheelbarrow Willy of Hideaway Island. We set off towards Tanna with fore and aft sails set and the main engine. As Noreen is ill and Thea is seasick, it falls upon Marita (Wonder Girl) to attend to dinner, which Thea and Mr. Daniel Covich lovingly prepared before. I decide to lend a hand with dinner after battling with the port heat which some one decided to play “let’s see how much toilet paper it takes to block a head” with. Of course I washed my hands before my culinary adventures with magical Marita. There are not much customers for the gastronomic extravaganza, next it’s time to wash the dishes. Maybe a nuclear weapon could have been handy to remove the rice debris from the frying pan but instead I used the metal scrubby thing and it does its wonders. Genny off at 22:00 and off to bed.

8-10-03
After rising out of my pit to attend to she who must be obeyed (the main engine) at 1am and 5am to anoint oil and grease her nipples etc. etc. I awake to a slightly steadier ship. E.g. the anti gravity machine has been turned off. Slowly a few of the voyage crew crawl from down below to have a look at daylight. I still have no idea who they are but I mutter good morning and attempt that curling up at the sides of your mouth thing, possibly a smile. But more likely in my case to be a smell. As we near Tanna and the likely hood of anchoring appears Nye I contemplate my bunk in possibly half an hour or less. Then the tired engineer’s nightmare. Someone spots a whale possibly a humpback. No amount of coughing can drown out the cries “whale, whale!” and Tod steers the ship towards the splashing fish.
The aft deck now looks like a camera gallery with people jostling for position and just generally tying to stand up as we roll around. Most people now have digital cameras, which it seems as if you have to hold 10 feet out in front of you. I nip below decks for my paper and pencil but the whale won’t keep still and my lead snaps. What ever happened to the good old steam driven box brownie?

We head for the anchorage, more people I don’t know arrive on deck and sit where they are not meant. Anchor down, engine off, Rupert Bear Pajamas on and off to bed for a few hours. Up again to switch on the genny and have dinner. Attempt socializing at dinner but I am very bad at it so try to amuse the ill people by being my normal stupid self. Got them to laugh, so am a bit happier. I look at my mobile phone for the time and its nearly time to switch off again. I say my phone because I lost my other watch in a moment of stupidity (day off - say no more) and have managed to loose Chief Nicholson’s watch from the Banks Islands. I spent many an hour trying to fix it and many Vatu now I’ve lost it. So he is probably going to put me in the pot next time he sees me. Hoo Hum see what tomorrow brings.

9-10-03
29 days to go what a long time 29 days. Tidy up in engine room, sleep, read, be grumpy, eat, be grumpy, say hi to some more voyage crew I don’t know, be grumpy, switch off genny, brush teeth, be grumpy, sleep, dream, be grumpy!!!Poor Day.....!"

So there we have it folks, Mr. Bobby Bourbons rendition of the past few days, he is such a great guy and I thank him so much for bringing a smile to my face even when I thought it was impossible!

Friday, 10th of October, after almost two months of being charmed by the islands and its people, we bid farewell to Vanuatu. We depart Port Resolution waving goodbyes and blowing the horn, we hear whoops and hollers from the locals, what a place! I have a permanent grin on my face, I feel so good compared to the past week and I can’t help but express my emotions! As we motor around Tanna to make way for our southwest passage to New Caledonia we get a glimpse at houses on the hillside and small fires smoldering along the shore, Vanuatu has truly been an experience.

With the squares set and the breeze blowing softly from behind us, we set the gaff-topsail, the last sail to be set, we are away! The seas are calm, and nobody suffers from seasickness, and, which is a relief, we are able to eat below decks and not worry about our cups tipping or our plates sliding away. The watches settle into their routine and our average of 5 knots should bring us into New Caledonian waters in no time. The four to eights scrub the decks in the mornings and the twelve to fours make bread in the evenings, the ship is a busy place but it is a calm and relaxed one.

By Sunday morning we are entering the shipping lane towards Noumea, where we should be clearing customs by mid afternoon! Just after afternoon smoko we are alongside and await immigration to give us clearance to go ashore. With the go-ahead people scatter, some of us play hacky sac, some wander along the shore wall, while others just relax on deck. The temperature has changed drastically and the cooler temperatures make eating below not quite as bad. After dinner I take the opportunity to go for a walk ashore, Fraser and I wander the marina, dodge cockroaches and gaze at the Golden Arches (Mc Donald’s) before making our way back to the ship, seems like just another city, but we’ll see once the weekend comes what Noumea has in store for us!

Monday the 13th of October, my 23rd birthday as well as Thanksgiving in Canada…Happy Thanksgiving to my family and friends! The pressure of Marita and Fraser sitting on top of me giving me birthday greetings wakes me, and they deliver the pleasant surprise that it’s my turn for breakfast, but Thea is doing it for me! I wander up to the galley to eat some muesli and wait, with everyone else for customs to come stamp our passports. I begin preparing lunch, my choice of nachos, cheese and spicy beans, and then join Marita for a walk into town to find Internet before mealtime comes around. A cruise liner is in town and the streets are full of white/sunburned tourists crowding the duty free shops. We pay some ridiculous price for 15 minutes of Internet and wander back to the ship. I manage to get a hold of a phone card and catch my entire family having Thanksgiving dinner, so am able to talk to everyone, how great! We leave the wharf after lunch and motor towards Te Neu. We venture ashore to walk the perimeter of the small island and avoid the yellow and black snakes that inhabit the island. Let me just say that there is a longer, funnier version of this story that those fortunate enough may someday hear, but I had quite the experience with some snakes. It gave Fraser a laugh and myself a scare, and I refused to walk through the grass ….curious, hope so!

We had a fancy dress party and although there were no real distinct characters we did have some interesting attempts! Dinner was superb, but the pumpkin pie I requested was even better! Thea managed to pull of my Grama’s pumpkin pie recipe almost spot on! It was a good day and nice to be around such great people to celebrate with!

October 14th, we motor sailed to Amedee Island where the sun seemed to shine hotter and brighter than we had seen in the past few days. The tall white lighthouse was the perfect backdrop for the sparkling blue waters and surrounding reef, the white sand accenting it all! We climbed the stairs to the top and had a 360° view of the island and even of the reef sharks feeding in the shallow waters, Daniel and I decided to go down and swim with them! After wading out to knee deep waters I stood watch as Daniel donned his mask and snorkel and attempted taking under water photos of the four foot sharks. The water was cooler than in Vanuatu, but it didn’t matter, the sun was so hot it was a refreshing cool off . We made our way back to the ship in time for lunch and then the call was made, “all hands to set the main!”

We sailed for a couple of hours, and were entertained by Simon (aka Syd) and Emil. Marita took the pair aloft to the t’gallant for a knee shaking experience, Syd slowly climbed down and instantly fell, kissing the deck, he is scared of heights! After stowing the sails and dropping anchor we sat down for the evening meal. October 15th, today is the second last day of the voyage, time has flown by and I haven’t taken any pictures, ahhh! We managed to get in a four hour sail before dropping anchor in a lovely bay approximately 9 miles from Noumea. Let’s see what Tod has in store for the afternoon…the swim ladder was set up and the swing was rigged from the course yard. The air temperature was very cool but quite a few people took to the warmer water to show just how brave they were! With our last evening meal over and done with, David said some very nice words of thanks, and in appreciation gave the crew a few bottles of champagne, how cool is that? We will be sure to think of him while we drink the bottles and reflect back on our second last trip!

All the best to everyone!

Noreen.

See recent pictures on southern Vanuatu here soon

See Emil's new journal here

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