The s/v Ruach arrived in Newcastle at the beginning of 2017 after sailing more than 14,000 nautical miles from Germany. The vessel was then docked for refit preparing for Papua New Guinea until September, before making her maiden voyage to Alotau, PNG. Our crew was welcomed by local and provincial leaders from the health and education sectors and tradition dancers in an official ceremony on October 21st, 2017.

In Alotau, YWAM Ships Newcastle has been continuing to prepare for future outreaches within the Milne Bay Province – completing some maintenance to the vessel’s sewage system, fresh water system, and other operating improvements as we adjust to living in the tropics.

Upon our arrival we were already able to engage with the local community of Alotau, through hands-on marine training and building relationships with key individuals.

Led by our professional marine volunteers onboard, with the assistance of the crew and the team of the s/v Ruach, we conducted two weekly marine training courses. Locals from Alotau were able to attend, getting trained in seamanship and skilled for life. The course covered topics like marine safety, navigation, and included a small boat operator’s certificate. Most of the training period was spent operating onboard the s/v Ruach, deploying within Milne Bay.

Later on, we were able to host an outreach team of 10 students onboard and saw our ship team grow to 16 persons. We took the opportunity to regularly visit the local hospital and spend time with patients. Many patients travel from the islands of the region, sometimes sailing for weeks by canoe to reach medical help. We were delighted at the welcome of the locals who were excited when they saw YWAMers, asking if our ship had plans to visit their island. We are currently negotiating with the MBPHA[1] regarding our deployment early next year to determine where our assistance will be most beneficial.

YWAM Ships Newcastle works for the public good and in this case has the privilege to work in partnership with the Papua New Guinean Government and local services to achieve their health outcome goals for the population. The s/v Ruach will be used to equip and mobilise medical services and training to reach rural and isolated communities within the Milne Bay Province. As we partner with our friends in PNG, we are excited to join the efforts of the MV YWAM PNG and the m/v Pacific Link from Townsville and Kona, to not only provide services but to help build capacity at a local level.

The next few months promise to be very rich, developing relationships within the Alotau community and the Milne Bay islands, without forgetting our friends in Newcastle. We are very expectant for this next step of our involvement up in Papua New Guinea and will keep you updated on what is happening there.

[1] Milne Bay Province Health Authorities