35th Anniversay Special ONBOARD A publication of Canvasback Missions, Inc. | Fall 2016

Starting from the Beginning... The first ocean crossing of the world’s largest sailing catamaran By Captain Jamie Spence It took four and a half years to construct the 71-foot long, 69-ton aluminum catamaran. We outfitted her with 10 watertight compartments, twin 150 Isuzu diesels, a rugged two mast ketch rig designed by a space engineering company, and sails built in the finest loft in San Francisco. In September 1987, confident we could get her across the 5000 nautical Pacific miles to the Marshall Islands, the Canvasback slipped through the Golden Gate. Behind, friends and family stood waving. Ahead, the blue Pacific lay bright and beckoning. The trip to Micronesia would take a month. The first stage of the journey would take us on a southerly course with California’s coastal monsoon. The second stage would turn us west at the Tropic of Cancer where the reliable North Pacific trade winds would take us to Hawaii. The 1 | Fall 2016 third stage would bring us south into the Marshalls. The early days along the coast were peaceful ones and melded ship and crew into a well-oiled machine. We fell into a routine of four hours off and four hours on watch. Those on navigated, trimmed sail, logged, fought the chafe in the rigging, and served as the vessel’s eyes. Those off were rocked to sleep by a quartering sea. And so the days passed, in close quarters, on open ocean. Gone were the industrial smells of California and gone with them the stresses of city life. Fresh ocean air filled our lungs with vigor. Schools of flying fish flocked like moths to the ship’s navigation lights. The trailing hand lines occasionally brought a dinner of dorado or tuna. Curious dolphins inspected the twin canoes and, as if expressing their approval, Canvasback Missions

leapt at the bows. We turned west at the Tropic of Cancer and slipped into that special slot of ocean that sailing ships were created for. We sailed down the trade winds at speeds up to 18 knots. But the wind gave too much of a good The predicted force of the gale didn’t frighten me as much as the fact that we had to sail right into the teeth in an untried ship thing. The constant pressure of the trade winds and the gusting squalls in the night exceeded the work load of the genoa and mule sails, which were slowly tearing. We would have to stop in Honolulu to fix the sails. Unfortunately, our sailing plan had brought us south and downwind of Honolulu. Going to windward meant putting greater stress on our already compromised headsails. Our strategy was to beat against the 15 to 20 knot southeasterly trades with the boomed sails only. Without sails our speed would be greatly reduced, but we could use the engines if needed. We set our trajectory for a channel between Oahu and Molokai Islands, and the detour strategy went as planned, for a while. That is, until the Hawaii Coast Guard issued a gale warning for 34www.canvasback.org

to 47-knot winds and 20-foot swells in the very channel we were aiming for. The predicted force of the gale didn’t frighten me as much as the fact that we had to sail right into the teeth in an untried ship. I knew that I had built her to excel in these conditions, but I also knew of man’s fallibility. We did what we could. We battened down every hatch and porthole, secured all loose gear ,and put the crew in lifejackets and harnesses. We reduced sail to the smallest available. I prayed the gear would hold fast and not force us out to wrestle with it. The engineer poured out his heart in prayer, “Please God, maybe 35 knots, but not 47!” 3 | Fall 2016 That night the wind began to blow, and the longer it blew, the steeper the waves became. I had hoped to keep her down to four or five knots – enough to keep her rudders deep and to maintain steering – but with her tiny storm sails, the catamaran raced ahead at 11 knots, her bows punching dangerously through the oncoming waves. I considered ways to slow her, but as she continued into the storm I knew the risk of working the deck exceeded the need. There was no seeing through the darkness as solid water came crashing over the top of the wheelhouse. We were sailing blind. The mast shook with each crest, the shrouds vibrated like 80-foot violin strings, and the Canvasback Missions

gale shrieked in the rigging. The cockpit flooded with water at every crashing wave, and emptied just as quickly through oversize scuppers. We had to tack, but wind shook the little storm jib, which shook the forestay. The electric winches strained to bring the jib under control. They pulled enough force to lift a Cadillac. The deep-reefed, full-battened mizzen, however, behaved like a lamb on a leash; the boom hardly thrashed as it swung across the deck and filled again on port tack. The catamaran put her shoulder to the steep waves and did what she was made to do – she crashed through. The crew members were whiteknuckled at their posts, and I saw my own tight fists clutching the wheel. But the worst of the storm passed, and with each minute it eased a little more. The black water crashing over the cabin made us feel like we were underwater in a submarine, but soon the black began to turn green over the decks. The gray of morning loosened our grips. The Canvasback broke through the heaving waves and laughed into the teeth of the gale. Soon the crew let go and laughed with her. Morning light rose. Exhausted but exhilarated by the roaring display of nature, I too raised my head and laughed in relief. We had made it through. www.canvasback.org Falll 2016 | 4

Look Where We’ve Been... Watching the mission grow By Captain Jacque Spence 5 | Fall 2016 Canvasback Missions

I’ve been asked so many times: why did Canvasback choose to work in Micronesia? At first it was simple. During our seven years living aboard our 30 ft. sailing trimaran, Jamie and I had seen the Pacific’s medical needs first hand. We felt called to serve the islands. Once the Canvasback ship was built, we searched for where we could be most helpful. In the Marshalls we found tiny islands that could only be served by a boat—one with a shallow draft like ours. Little did I know how unique these islands and cultures were or how much I would grow to love them. The first island we worked was Airok in Maloelap, where we offered medical and dental clinics. On the last day, as we packed up our equipment, I saw a man standing in the corner with a rag over his mouth. When I went over to see what the matter was, I saw he had an abscess the size of a golf ball. For years, no treatment was available and, in that time, he had learned to live with it. He hadn’t even thought of it as a www.canvasback.org problem that could be solved by our teams. Through moments like these I became passionate about our work. We could be healers like Jesus! Over the years, our mission evolved to include ophthalmology, orthopedic, and other specialty care. One of the first islands that we took a cataract surgery team to was Weno in the Chuuk Islands of the Federated States of Micronesia. When a woman was led in, totally blind from cataracts, we did surgery on both her eyes. When the patches were removed, I will never forget the look of joy on her face as she pulled her arm away from her guide letting him know that she could walk on her own. Beaming, she said, “I feel like dancing!” The Secretary of Health said, “Thank you for giving our people sight, but thank you also for bringing the dead back to life, for you gave the blind a new life” We worked side by side with local health workers who made our service possible. Our guide Jeremiah, who Fall 2016 | 6

helped us on the island; our dental nurses and assistants, Meshai and Wase; and our medical officer Kiona and his wife Tinar were truly heroes. Though the health assistants on the outer islands had only received a few weeks of training, a box of medicine, and a single side band radio, they were the ones who cared for their communities’ health needs day in and day out. We were in awe. At the end of every trip, I felt so blessed to work with the people in Micronesia. I am so lucky that God to guided me here. As Canvasback’s reputation grew, we were approached by the iroij and first president of the Marshall Islands, Amata Kabua, who was feeling the effects of type 2 diabetes. Jamie and 7 | Fall 2016 I arranged for him to attend the NEWSTART Lifestyle Program at the Weimar Institute in California. When he returned, he asked Jamie and me to help develop a similar program for his country. This was a daunting task. When we first started working in the Marshall Islands, we were told not to test the people for diabetes because, quite frankly, Health Services had their hands full providing primary health care and did not have the means to address the country’s increasing rate of diabetes. Medication was scarce and the foods available on island were imported, processed goods that created a recipe for diabetes. We took this challenge seriously Canvasback Missions

and found funding through a grant from the US Department of Defense. I remember the feeling of trepidation as the top scientists at the Product Line Review shook their heads and said our task was impossible. There were convinced that the people would never change. But the people did change—when they heard what caused diabetes, I remember the Secretary of Health Justina Langdrik saying, “Why didn’t anyone ever teach us these things?” The education had the power to free them from a diabetic future. No longer was diabetes a sure fate in life—the program Amata Kabua began with us, brought hope and has made the Marshall Islands a leader in the Pacific in its efforts to reduce the www.canvasback.org epidemic of diabetes. I cannot believe how far we have come in 35 years! When I see the strides we have taken, the strong leaders who have come up in Micronesian communities, and when I hear the stories of healed patients, I know that God loves the people of the Pacific. We still have new challenges to face and old goals to achieve, but I am excited when I think what the coming years will bring. We’ve always relied on a generous supporters. These include our tireless volunteers, heroic health professionals in the Pacific, community-minded companies, and warm-hearted individual donors. I am so blessed to work with you all. Fall 2016 | 8 network of

Running Through New Doors celebrating We are our 35th anniversary, this year, but we want to make sure we also touch on the communities we work with. After all, we are partners, and these past decades of service would not have been possible otherwise. While the Pacific islands are often discussed as being on the frontline of climate change, there are other important political and social changes. Take the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The country recently elected its first female head of state: President Hilda Heine. Her daughter, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, performed at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit. These are notable steps toward a better world and, like the Marshall Islands, Micronesia as a whole is leaving a trace on the world stage as it advocates for peace, environmental justice, and the rights of small nations. We are honored to work in such an incredible, beautiful, and inspiring specialty region, and we hope this is reflected in our impact. Some of our teams, such as our ear, nose, and throat and orthopedic surgery groups, provide about $1 million worth of care during each mission. Others, like our ophthalmology teams, restore sight to over 100 patients through free health care. Our Wellness Center continues to be the standard for lifestyle health education in the Marshall Islands, where we reach over 3,000 people annually and provide the knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their health. We’re happy for all of this— for reaching 35 years of service, for providing high values of service, for improving more lives than ever. But we’re even more excited about the direction in which we’re heading. Our specialty teams are beginning to show their longterm impacts. Recent dental teams 9 | Fall 2016 Canvasback Missions

are reporting far fewer cavities than ever—the effects of years of preventative measures in children. The lines are gradually shortening at our ophthalmology clinics, as we return sight to hundreds and leave fewer eye diseases behind. On the same note, our Wellness Center has created an incredible network of nonprofits and government agencies to coordinate our work and provide the best and biggest impact in the Majuro community. We run communityoriented programs, working in each village for a month at a time so that there is a community strength to tackle community problems. We are setting up the groundwork for a future corps of community health workers, one of the most sustainable and organic ways to work in a community. Overall, our programs line up with the very vision of the country’s leaders: we are addressing 2 of 10 points in President Heine’s OnBoard Magazine Canvasback Missions, Inc. 940 Adams St., Suite R, Benicia, CA 94510 (707) 746-7828, (800) 793-7245 (SAIL) info@canvasback.org | www.canvasback.org www.canvasback.org Fall 2016 | 10 “Agenda 2020” country plan and half of the noncommunicable diseases initiatives followed by the Ministry of Health. We are now operating in three foreign countries: the Republic of Palau, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Even more countries are reaching out to us, impressed with our long track record of quality and responsibility. Perhaps most importantly, we’re getting to know the vibrant Micronesian communities here, in the US. The way forward is bright, and it revolves around community. When everything is done in partnership— us with our donors, us with local communities, or local communities with government—the results are always better and longer lasting.

Canvasback Missions, Inc. 940 Adams St., Suite R Benicia, CA 94510 Nonprofit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Oakland, CA Permit No. 2030 It’s Phoneathon Time! We have already begun our tradition of calling our friends and supporters to touch base and let you know how we’ve been using your amazing donations. If you haven’t heard from us yet, call into our office at (707) 746-7828. You can also donate online at: www.canvasback.org/donate Find us online: www.canvasback.org

1 Publizr


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12

You need flash player to view this online publication