SETTING SAIL: Brian and Linda Forrester leave for the Solomon Islands.
SETTING SAIL: Brian and Linda Forrester leave for the Solomon Islands.

Sailing to aid of islander health

BRIAN and Linda Forrester are again travelling to the Pacific Islands on their yacht Drumbeat to help medical staff service the needs of remote communities.

On Tuesday, they set off on a new adventure to the Solomon Islands. They will take three to four days to arrive, with plans to stop at reefs in the Coral Sea and East Diamond Islet.

Once in the Solomons, they will provide transport for local medical professionals to visit remote villages.

This is the third trip of this sort for the couple, who went on similar trips to Vanuatu in 2007 and 2008 with Pacific Yacht Ministries.

This time around, they will stay in the Solomon Islands for more than a month.

When they returned to Australia from Vanuatu in 2008, they put their children into senior schooling and time went quickly.

Now their children are grown up and married and it's time for the couple to get back out there.

They contacted Atoifi Adventist Hospital in the Solomon Islands to arrange transporting local staff and equipment.

Mr Forrester said he remembered the "long days" in Vanuatu when they would visit two villages a day.

Once they had helped move medical staff and equipment ashore, they would spend the rest of their day talking to the village locals. The couple recognised the Solomon Islands had similar funding issues in that medical attention was often spent on populated areas, with no funding left for island residents.

They hope to establish in this trip a similar operation to the one they had in Vanuatu and from there build up connections so they can visit regularly and for longer stints.

They've also been contacted by local boat owners and will look into organising a trip for a number of boats.

The idea to travel to the Solomon Islands came about because the couple wanted to make use of their boat to help others.

"We had the boat and we wanted to use it for something good and not just for us," Mrs Forrester said. "It's nice to go out sailing in the Whitsundays but it's nicer to pass on what we have to some others." Mr Forrester said they felt like they had another purpose in life. To follow their adventures, visit http://www.facebook.com/drumbeatsailing.


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