WYAM-Pacific Link

 For a great u-tube video made by YWAM showing many of my friends from the Pacific Link, click this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4lOqwRT9ME This article is my observation, and is not the official viewpoint of YWAM ships (Australia).
I really enjoyed sailing with these people and being a part of this work.  The Pacific Link's ownership has been transferred to YWAM ships in Kona from YWAM ships Australia in late 2014.  YWAM ships Australia has purchased a new catamaran passenger ship they have renamed YWAM PNG.  It is being converted into a medical ship with an on board clinic.  It is a beautiful vessel and will be a wonderful addition to the ships providing medical services to the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Here is an article I wrote for the "Kings Pointer", the Merchant Marine Academy alumni magazine
"SAILING UNCHARTED WATERS" By John McDonnell, Class of 1965
Dawn is breaking over the Ivi River in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. The river is nearly a mile wide but there are no charts of the river and its many mud banks nor the mangrove swamps that line the river. Navigating this water are two Kings Pointers, Captain Jeremy Schierer, Class of 1996 and Chief Mate John McDonnell, Cass of 1965.
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Captain Jeremy and Chief Mate John on a medical mission, Papua New Guinea
The ship is small, a 30 year old Japanese fishing boat that has been converted into a medical ship carrying a team of medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, an opthomologist , a midwife, and general volunteers. They are all volunteers with Youth with a Mission, or YWAM. They are missionaries that instead of preaching, are showing people the message taught by Jesus, helping others who can not help themselves. (acta non verba). The vessel draws about 4 meters, and if we run aground there are no tugs around that can save us. Jeremy has been aboard the Pacific Link for eight years and has been doing this kind of work for nearly ten years along with his wife Lori. John has, since his retirement, been volunteering his time with humanitarian aid ships such as the Africa Mercy. This is his first time with YWAM and the first time he has ever navigated with Google maps.
YWAM has purchased a state of the art charting program called CeeScope that uses GPS and echo sounding along with Google Earth maps that plot about ten soundings per second, and corrects them for tides, salinity, and temperature. It can be carried in the vessel, named Pacific Link, or in one of its two Zodiac boats along rivers, estuaries, bayous, and slews and can plot those soundings on the map, creating a chart for uncharted waters. Previously Jeremy was brave enough to enter these uncharted waters with little or no known information just as done by navigators from previous centuries like Captain James Cook.
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Pacific Link anchored in a tight spot near the village of Wowobo, Gulf Province, PNG
Along these uncharted rivers are many villages of a few hundred people who live in the jungle lowlands of Papua New Guinea and are among the poorest areas of the world, poorer even than most of Africa. The villages have no roads, no electricity, and no water or sewer systems. The river water is brackish so they need to collect rain water for drinking. They speak over 600 tribal languages here, most of them in only a small group of villages and are unknown to the outside world, and Pidgin as a second language. They live in a barter society, there are no stores within a day of canoe paddling. Of course there are no doctors or dentists nearby. There is no Internet, either, but often if you climb to the monkey bridge you can get a cell phone signal, weak though it may be. The YWAM volunteers are remarkable people, who love their work and are willing to put up with less than ideal living conditions in order to make a difference in the lives of people who have very little hope for a long life.
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YWAM volunteers aboard the Pacific Link in Papua New Guinea, May 2012. the sign is our motto "I want to Live" in Pidgin.
Anyone with medical or nautical experience who would like to join a venture like this should contact info@ywamships.org