When your home is on fire you bless your friends for bringing water but have little time for socialising.
Meggi and I spent the past year deeply engrossed in making Vega operational again. On the 8th February, 2019, we went in the boatyard for a few days of normal maintenance. When the boatyard dropped Vega twice and completely flooded her we found ourselves trapped in anguish. Vega is a home we are proud of and an important piece of nautical history. Keeping her seaworthy for future generations is a passion we both share. Seeing her reduced to a wreck almost destroyed us both. I am still uncertain where we found the fortitude to resurrect her. But we did.
Such single-minded dedication came at a cost.
We started at six every morning and staggered to bed each night exhausted. Our heads reeled from all the unresolved problems. We lost contact with our friends. Some understood what we went through and stood staunchly by us. Others felt hurt and ignored. We sincerely beg your forgiveness and understanding.
Tow from Satun to Langkawi
On the 28th of November, 2019, we escaped the shipyard in Thailand. A paid fishing boat towed Vega, leaking badly and without a functioning engine, to Rebak Marina in Langkawi. The following morning, we hauled Vega out to repair shoddy workmanship the boatyard coerced us into accepting. Birds sang in the silence of nature. Monkeys discovered Vega’s rigging and thought it the greatest thing since bananas. After ten days of intensive effort Vega went back in the water.
The previous nine months slowly faded into the realm of best forgotten nightmares. A weight equal to several elephants and a pregnant rhinoceros evaporated from our shoulders. Vega still required a lot of effort but neither of us could think of a more congenial place to do it. Three months later we feel Vega is ready for another year of humanitarian work. Considering we replaced every system on the boat, I hope we will not need a gigantic can of bug spray.
They say ignorance is bliss. It can also drive you crazy. In our case it would have been quicker to walk the short distance. Until Vega came back in service the future was so uncertain we could not organise past tomorrow’s work schedule. Every light at the end of the tunnel became another oncoming custard pie. With Vega operational we can now plan for this year’s deliveries. We can also provide friends we could not respond to with solid answers.
Restarting after a yearlong interruption is not easy.
Every year is different. Needs and priorities change. But our dedication to the people we have helped for over fifteen years remains constant. We still require laptop computers, network routers and cables for schools. There is a strong demand for solar power in schools and health posts. Waste management and assistance managing the impact of climate change is a priority. Remote villages in East Timor need Kits-4-Kids bags. Midwives and health posts are begging for expendables. The elderly require reading glasses. The list is long and daunting.
Thanks to both old and new friends, solutions are evolving. This year an experienced engineer will follow us with his own boat. He will provide training in the intricacies of solar power and help install systems. He also hopes to restore one island community desalination plant and other equipment in need of repair. A fantastic boon for those small islands. If we can provide the tools and hardware.
So far, we have several laptops and 1,000 watts of solar panels. In Singapore one hundred Kits-4-Kids bags await. We hope for more. A decent start, but far from what we need if the year is to be successful. In past years, we could sell books, T-shirts, coffee and spices to make up any short fall. This year we cannot. The shipyard destroyed our stock. Your help is more important than ever before.