Operation Sea Mercy

14.00 position: 17 42.1 S 177 22.2 E
Course: North by West Speed: 6 knots
Wind: West Nor’ West, F3 – gentle breeze
Sea: slight Swell: Nil
Weather: sunny, hot

Yesterday, after going into Lautoka to obtain a piece of paper from Fiji Customs called a ‘coastal clearance’, the purpose of which remains a mystery to me, we departed Vuda Point Marina and sailed five miles south to Port Denarau. Here I met up with Patrick and Tracey from an organisation called Sea Mercy. This organisation uses volunteer boats to distribute aid to remote communities in disaster stricken areas in the Pacific. After Cyclone Winston, being small and flexible, they were able to use the boats available in the area to deliver aid within 24 hours. Apparently Sylph is the first boat that has come from outside Fiji after the cyclone to assist with their programme. The mission I have accepted is to take a small quantity of relief supplies to the island of Mokogai, which is located to the north east of Viti Levu.

My briefing notes tell me that the village is in position 17 28.0 S 178 57.7 E, that there are 37 adults on the island and 42 children. Apparently the island was totally flattened by Winston and the people survived by hiding under the floor of the school house, which was also blown away. The government is supplying them with some essentials such as flour and sugar, but Sea Mercy will be providing other items to help provide a better balanced diet. In addition to food, my supplies include clothes and shoes, machetes, tree saws, school books and children’s toys, water maker pre-filter cartridges, 40 litres of outboard fuel, twenty assorted seed packages, and a telephone to allow Sea Mercy to communicate with the village’s head person. The V-berth is stuffed to overflowing.

Apart from delivering these supplies, a secondary aim is to make an assessment of the situation on the ground and make a report back to Tracey so that she can better target future assistance.

Sylph is small and of course can only make a limited contribution, but I am told that it will make a significant difference. I would also like to acknowledge the small but critical contribution my friend Kate has made to the supplies with the addition of some lady’s bras, which are needed but Sea Mercy has not able to source thus far, so hats off to Kate for anticipating the need and her resourcefulness in sourcing them and including them in her contribution. Sea Mercy relies totally on volunteer labour, including Tracey who works full time coordinating all us scattered yachties, and organising the warehouse. Thus far I have been very impressed with the operation. It will be an interesting insight to see how the people of Makogai are faring and how helpful the supplies I am bringing to them will be. If all goes well I hope to arrive some time on Saturday.

And now we are approaching some restricted reef waters, so I had best attend to the navigation.

All is well.