Thursday, August 25, 2005

First Night Aboard

Well, first two nights. I'm still in town.

After shopping with Alan and Sara wednesday, I went back to Tamavua to say my goodbyes and waste time until it was time to meet Alan at the Yacht club. They were still shopping.

Since I was lugging around my laptop in order to upload the pictures of the boat and to be cautious in case Alan decided to leave witout me, I was nervous about walking around town with it any more than necessary. I didn't have much money left anyway, so I decided to go drop the computer off at McGoons first.

I didn't have a chance to get any books (particularly a travel book to Australia, but the wanted $69 here anyway) or oranges. No big deal I decided. I've gone from thinking a month at sea is forever, and how will I keep myself enteretained, to thinking 3 weeks at sea is barely enough time to do anything; I won't even be any better playing guitar after so short a time.

I went to play rugby with dodo and his friends. I'm convinced that rugby, as it is played, has poor strategy, and the rules are too aribitrary. The way we played it, though, was pure chaos. I guess what surprises me most is that there seem to be no refereeing disputes, so the spirit of the game is definitely different than what we consider sports.

There's an empty lot, about half an acre, mostly mowed (or trampled) in the village, that is used to play. Every village has it's rugby field, though most are larger and have st least improvised uprights.

At 5 o'clock I said my goodbyes, "Mothe guys, I'm going to Australia!" I boomed, and ran to get my laptop, wallet, etc. that I'd left at McGoons. I game Sis. McGoon a sweaty hug, caught the second taxi that passed, and was at the yacht club by 5:15.

No sign of Alan.

I called him up on the radio on channel 16, and just as I was repeating it, to my surprise, he answered, "I'll be there in 5 minutes."

So I walked out to the end of the dock, and waited for the dinghy, cutting his travelling time in half. He was there in 5 minutes as promised, and I was shortly about the De Jagter II.

We (Me and Alan) went back to the yacht club for dinner and drinks. Sara stayed aboard. Alan chatted with all his yachting mates, and I watched a bit of "The Ice Princess" and then went over to hear them talk.

It was interesting stuff about charts and weather and which islands are the best in the pacific and how in the last 20 years Bora Bora has gone from a beautiful pristine island where you could anchor in your own private bay to an endless string of hotels and condos and no room to even anchor.

Alan was making noises about not leaving in the morning but Chris, whose yacht he'd delivered and sailed with him a few years ago, said he was leaving in the morning.

We got back to the boat by 8. Sara made Alan a coffee and me a Milo (cocoa) and we watched "Tears of the Sun" on his laptop. The whole logic of the thing was rediculous, the fighting was unrealistic, but there were plenty of explosions, so I enjoyed it.

They turned in and I stayed up reading a bit. When I finally went to my cabin, the diesel smell from the engine wasn't too bad anymore. My bunk was too short to be able to stretch my legs though, which caused some discomfort and a bit of claustrophobia. I didn't sleep to well, and the diesel fumes got worse (but not bad) late in the night. The motion of the boat wasn't too bad and I didn't wake up seasick in the morning, or even particularly tired, though I probably got 5 hours sleep at most.

I went on deck to read a bit and Alan was up almost immediately after.
I find that my ankles and calves need quite a bit of stretching after a night without any. It was a nice clear morning. Alan announced that we would leave be leaving that day, under motor if necessary.

We had a breakfast of Meusli and bread and I had my last orange. (They've got a few.)

We brought the boat in to top off on fuel and water and I swabbed (scrubbed) the deck for the first time. I also had to clean the mud off the Anchor chain as Alan hauled it up (by stepping on a button.)
This was the main reason that the deck needed swabbing.

Alan's taxi driver was waiting at the dock with his two children, a very cute Indian girl in a flowered dress with a hibiscus in her hair, and a son. Alan needed a picture. The cabbie's brother served in the same regiment in England as Alan, and his mother had prepared Roti with curry for our lunch.

Alan and Sara went into town with the Taxi driver after the work was done and I stayed ashore. I spent the last of my Fijian cash on a plate of nachos and a couple of cokes. I also bought for Alan & Sara the last of the lemon meringue pie that Alan had had for dessert the night before and liked. The nachos were fairly good, even with the sweet cream (more like whipped butter with sugar) instead of sour cream.

I took Chris's wife and young daughter (3 or 4) with a load of groceries out to their yacht in our dinghy, though I'd never piloted it. I couldn't find the reverse, so we almost went under the hull of the catamaran before I pulled the choke. She insisted I try again, so I turned the rubber raft around, pulled the cord or the outboard and we were off.

The little girl didn't have a life vest and the seas were pretty choppy for the harbor, but I piloted like a champ (as long as we were going forward) and puttered them out to their 55' catamaran, which was the furthest boat out in the bay.

Just as I got back, Kelsey called and I talked with her until Alan & Sara got returned.

The local weather report looked very favourable with a mild high pressur system off the coast of Australia and a strong low over Tonga (to the east) which was probably the weather that passed over us the night before. It showed good 15-20 knot winds from the east to southeast.

We left about noon.

But stopped off at Chris's yacht for a more detailed weather report, he totally contradicted it saying the winds were blowing from the southwest (the exact direction we were going) and would be for the next two days. So he called it off. At that moment it was pretty dark and choppy too.

I looked at the local map, and the isobars were running west-east and the low was to the west which meant, I thought, that the prevailing winds would be mild from the south, with a bend to the west as approached the low. Which is exactly what it was. The local map had the pressure right, but where their winds came from was anyones guess.

I think I can read a weather chart better than Alan, by the way. A big part of the pilot exam (which I failed) is weather.

We anchored and had the curry for lunch. It was excellent, but I'd just
eaten the nachos, so all afternoon I was feeling stuffed and a bit sick.

Alan and I took the dinghy ashore and scrubbed the algae, etc. off of it and had showers. I nearly threw up while working, but was glad I was ashore.

When we got back, Alan went to his cabin, Sara moved about cleaning and I went on deck with the "Sailing for Dummies" book and not feeling too good. My stuffed stomach and fatigue was reminding me an awful lot of the early stages of my 2 miserable days in the Nadi hotel where I did nothing but sleep and pray for a bowel movement or puke to relieve the tension.

But after streching out on the deck seats and napping for about 15 minutes, I felt better, deciding that it wasn't seasickness, since laying down and closing my eyes would have made that worse. i was still very tired, physically, and feeling bloated with indigestion.

I didn't feel like a dinner, but Sara made me a cup of Milo and Alan went out in the dinghy to invite a young british guy soloing around the paci, Tony, over for drinks and to watch a movie. The movie was Notting Hill, and I think it's Alan's favorites. I think English people are just excited to hear real English accents on the big (or small, in the case of his laptop) screen.

I did feel better after the cocoa, and by time I went to bed, I knew I'd be alright.

I am feeling better this morning, but I don't think we'll be going anywhere today, since we're still pointed southeast, which means northwesterly winds.


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