A Very Wet Week
A Week For Ducks, Fish And Damp Tourists
This week began as last week ended, rain every day until the wind changed direction mid-week, then we had big gusts day and night enough to bend the girl at the knee. Lots of clattering and banging from neighbours rigging and one or two wiggles from Beez, some pretty sunsets though.
Monday. We had our interesting trip on the bus to Labasa and saw some of the countryside. Fijians have to vote for a new flag. We very much like the current one but quite like numbers 52 and 54. Back home we had the heaviest rain ever.
Tuesday. Great success on the kava front.
Wednesday. We turned right out of the Copra Shed Marina and ventured on new territory, along the road to the next ‘marina’ who held an Eat All You Can Eat Feast of local dishes. I was very brave and tried everything that contained no garlic. Thumbs up to rice, steamed fish, plantain and cabbage leaves stuffed with mutton cooked in coconut cream, very unsure about the fried fish or the dry version of stuffed cabbage which got smoothly pushed to one side and I didn’t take any taro as I would rather chew a hard boiled cardboard box, shying away from the instant need for indigestion........ I failed to react when asked if I would like seconds of the reserved treat of fish heads........Bear of course ate with great gusto as did the rest of the Stealthies. In the bay behind us Mercy quietly bobbed.
Wiki Says: The third USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) is the lead ship of her class of hospital ships in the United States Navy. Her sister ship is the USNS Comfort (T-AH-20). She was named for the virtue of compassion. In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, USNS Mercy and her crew do not carry any offensive weapons, though defensive weapons are available. Firing upon the Mercy would be considered a war crime.
Mercy was built as an oil tanker, SS Worth, by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, in 1976. Starting in July 1984, she was renamed and converted to a hospital ship by the same company. Launched on the 20th of July 1985, USNS Mercy was commissioned on the 8th of November 1986. She has a raised forecastle, a transom stern, a bulbous bow, an extended deckhouse with a forward bridge, and a helicopter-landing deck with a flight control facility. The Mercy class hospital ships are the second largest ships in the U.S. Navy Fleet by length, surpassed only by the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class supercarriers.
Her primary mission is to provide rapid, flexible, and mobile acute medical and surgical services to support Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Forces deployed ashore, Army and Air Force units deployed ashore, and naval amphibious task forces and battle forces afloat. Secondarily, she provides mobile surgical hospital service for use by appropriate US Government agencies in disaster or humanitarian relief or limited humanitarian care incident to these missions or peacetime military operations.
USNS Mercy, homeported in San Diego, is normally in reduced operating status. Her crew remains a part of the staff of Naval Medical Center San Diego until ordered to sea, at which time they have five days to fully activate the ship to a NATO Role III Medical Treatment Facility, the highest only to shore based fixed facilities outside of the theatre of operations. Like most "USNS" Ships, Mariners from the US Navy's Military Sealift Commandare responsible for navigation, propulsion, and most deck duties on board. However, the "Medical Treatment Facility", or hospital on the ship, is commanded by a Captain of the Navy Medical Corps or Navy Nurse Corps.
Her displacement is 69,360 tons, length 894 feet, beam 105 feet 7 inches. Speed 17.5 knots. Propulsion from two boilers, two GE turbines, one shaft, 24,500 hp. Compliment: Reduced Operating Status 12 civilian and 58 military. Full Operating Status 61 civilian and 1,214 military. Patient Capacity: Intensive care wards: 80 beds. Recovery wards: 20 beds. Intermediate care wards: 280 beds. Light care wards: 120 beds. Limited care wards: 500 beds. Total Patient Capacity: 1000 beds. Operating Rooms: 12. Departments and Facilities: Casualty reception. Radiological services including CT. Main laboratory plus satellite lab. Central sterile receiving. Medical supply/pharmacy. Physical therapy and burn care. Intensive Care Unit. Dental services. Optometry/lens lab. Morgue. Laundry. Oxygen producing plants (two).
Mercy has had a very busy week ferrying patients from the dock here, helicopter lifting patients from a nearby rugby field. Yesterday alone they performed four hundred and eight procedures. It was nice to see the youngsters on their down time enjoying the town, restaurants and bars, our marina offered happy hour prices all day as a gesture of ‘thanks’ to the crew and staff. A massive well done. Thursday they left for Papua New Guinea.
Thursday. For breakfast Bear did boiled eggs and actually accomplished his first Fijian egg event, just a small one, nonetheless. In the evening we went to a small, popular Chinese restaurant and went mad. Pancake rolls, deep fried squid and sweet chilli sauce as starters, beef in oyster sauce, chicken satay, lemon chicken, egg fried rice all washed down with beers for the boys and diet cokes for the girls, all for a walloping fiver.
Friday. We took a two pound taxi ride for the four of us, sadly Rod was feeling poorly and Mary was nurse - to the Botanical Gardens. We spent a lovely hour bimbling around the five acres looking at some incredibly rare palms. From the highest lookout we had a great view of the bay. Our return taxi took us to the coffee house on the High Street where a lump of custard tart, quite literally a bowl of custard poured onto a shortbread base with milky coffee set us back eighty pence each. We bought a few bits and pieces to act as gifts to any family unofficially adopting us in the villages we hope to visit, next week, if the weather and more importantly – the wind........a sentence all said very slowly and steadily.......... by current forecast we may delay a day and go out to anchor on Monday for the off on Tuesday.
The afternoon was spent with much teamwork, the utilising of wooden spoons in the creation of lengths of fishing line and hooks for the villages, rummaging in the fishing spares drawer and a certain amount of grim as a reel of line exploded into a massive birds nest. All accompanied, of course, with laughter and cups of tea. Flushed with success the boys voted to return to last nights Chinese, Maj and I are beginning to check for tell-tale eye shape...........
The boys made their threat good demolishing a whole fish in oyster sauce. We had already polished off spring rolls and deep fried squid and a plate of won tons accidentally put in front of us. Lemon chicken, a mix of chow mein come chop suey, egg fried rice, sweet and chicken, beers and cokes – total binge at a staggering eight pounds. Oh, then back to the Copra shed for a few dollops of ice cream, we’ll have to go to sea soon.
Saturday. You don’t see this sort of thing on any shopping street in Plymouth, shiny young men in grass skirts – made me glad to be the female of the species - I must say it perked up my bimble to the market. When we got back I felt the need to get Bear to pose with the marina cannon.
Saturday evening Bear and the Royals went to the Surf and Turf for ‘roast like mum or grandma made’. The mulligatawny soup had apparently lost its mullig, there was no crackling with the pork, the roast potatoes was a small pile of mash and the surprise pudding was crepe and ice cream. My numerous mossie bites had rendered me a bit toxic and realising I hadn’t missed much made my yoghurt and muesli a really good choice.
Sunday. The day began with a worthy egg event.
The Stealthies met for coffee to bade a temporary ‘farewell’ to Rod and Mary, heading out of the Creek later on to anchor in the Bay, ready to move west tomorrow. Scott-Free and Beez are doing the same tomorrow for us to shuffle east on Tuesday. Yehaa. Very strange to watch the ‘Red John’ smiley face last from start to finish of the cup. In the evening we enjoyed the band and BBQ offered at the Copra Shed.
Bye Sheer Tenacity, see you in a few weeks out west.
The best part of every day is watching the French skipping and the giggling involved, especially the day Maj was at the wheel and Steve nearly lost some important bits and bobs as she set off and he hadn’t quite cleared the second set of ropes.
Lovely to see the Bay has finally turned from grey to blue once more.
ALL IN ALL THE SUN HAS ONCE MORE GOT HIS HAT ON
REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO MOVING ON