Wily Mooring Dangers
Trip Start Dec 26, 2006
29Trip End Aug 01, 2009
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But we did leave with some good knowledge:
1) Do not get your hair cut by a gay Indian from Fiji. (Ask Javier- or don't ask Javier.)
2) I am an amazing golf instructor, or Javier is destined to be the next pro golf sensation
3) Our uniforms are completely awesome. No one gets the Steve Zissou reference. Drea rocks for getting them embroidered and patched. Now we need a small person to fit into Mick's.
So we drifted/motored with very little wind the first day, then got 25 knot winds in our teeth for the next. This means that the wind was coming from the exact place where we wanted to go, so, on a sailboat you are forced to fall off to an angle of between 45 and 60 degrees from there to get wind you can use. In effect, we were moving, but moving no closer and no farther from our destination. Changing course and going to Niue, our next destination, wasn't an option because we had 400 kgs of supplies for this island. So we plugged on, sails reefed, living in our foul weather gear, going nowhere, praying constantly. Finally the wind shifted enough so we could make forward progress and we arrived in the middle of the night at Palmerston. The whole island was expecting us and had been monitoring our progress for the last 20 miles, so two men were on hand at midnight to guide us to the mooring. The mooring is about 20 meters from a reef that wraps about 180 degrees around. The sea was still pretty big from the winds so we could see waves breaking on the reef, which was a little disconcerting
The next morning, our hosts, Eddie and Simon, came out to WMD to check us into the island, (Simon is also the acting island Secretary and Immigration, despite the fact that he is illiterate.), help unload the supplies, and take us ashore. It was a good thing a really nice aluminum skiff has washed up on the reef, possibly from Tahiti some 750 miles away, because the 400 kgs of supplies took up quite a bit of space. (They seem to acquire quite a few things that just wash up on the reef, mostly fishing supplies.)
The island itself is probably the most beautiful I have seen in my life. It is an atoll with about 6 islands on the outer edges, all of them pretty flat with lots of palm trees, with white sand beaches, surrounded by a fringing reef, with the inside lagoon having crystal clear blue blue water.
Once ashore, Eddie's partner, Shirley, had baked fresh rolls and fried up some fresh doughnuts. Both Javier and I are allergic to wheat, so it was good going in and then it was havoc-wreaking. Lovely. The tour of the maybe 1km island took about 45 minutes, and was led by Tere's wife, Yvonne, and 11-year-old daughter, Shakina. (And yes, the only way I could remember how to say her name was to remember that it rhymed with a female body part. Once Javier learned that, he, also, stopped calling her Shakira, Shakira.) Remember that Tere was the Island Secretary (government representative for the island) who approached us in Rarotonga and asked if we could take "A few boxes of emergency medical supplies." His parents were from Palmerston, but he was born in Australia and then spent a lot of time in New Zealand
Back in the mid-1800s, some English dude, William Marsters, got the contract to go settle on this Palmerston atoll. So away he went with his Polynesian wife, her sister, their cousin and her Portuguese husband. The Portuguese guy left after a year or so and no one likes to mention him, which is strange, because you'd think that he would have had a child or two with his wife. Regardless, Marsters did what any right-minded ex-whaler would do in that situation: he declared all three women his wives, had 26 children with them, and prohibited intermarriage within the same "family." So marrying your brother is wrong, but marrying your half-brother whose other half is your aunt is OK. Perfectly understandable.
So from my understanding of studying the cemetery, many of them intermarried, but others married outsiders (thankfully). The few younger couples currently there seemed both to be from the island. Their kids looked normal.
Shirley, the partner of Eddie, our host was from Rarotonga. Simon, our other host, the brother of Eddie, had three children, all living in New Zealand, with his "friend." He said she was from Palmerston, and he wanted to marry her but her parents wouldn't allow it. I didn't push that one any further. She stays mainly in New Zealand.
So this brings me to weird observation number two
Anyway, while we were there, we only got to dive once, because they have prohibited diving. Something about some guy making money from sailing/diving tours without their permission. Regardless, we were given permission because we were checking and repairing the moorings- especially the one we were on
So then the weather turned, with the winds coming from the west at 25 knots, and we were basically pinned against the reef. (See photos) A boat with three Frenchies had come in and were on the other mooring we "reinforced." We spent an entire day looking at each other and shrugging (in French), since we couldn't get into the lagoon because the passage into the lagoon was full of breakers. We couldn't get off the mooring because the wind was too strong and I wasn't sure if the engine could power us ahead into the wind and waves. Plus, if it quit, we would be wrecked before we could get the anchor down and holding. So we waited. Javier seriously went manic. He couldn't talk about anything but the weather, and I don't think he slept. So that was fun.
Finally, the wind calmed down to 15 knots and we made a run for it. We figured we would get 5-10 miles off, take down most sail, and get some sleep. Anything, at that point, was better than getting slammed on a tenuous mooring. So away we went, and managed to make headway, albeit very minor, but I got some sleep between mini storms.
And after 4 very slow days, the wind picked up to 20 knots and we flew the last 60 miles straight into Niue. "Niue?" you say. What/where is that? Well, it is one of the world's smallest countries who lies about its population to keep its country status
I'll post this then write about the 8 days I have spent in Niue with my new friend and Niuan distributor for Garment Guard, Glenda.
So here's the schedule for the next legs:
07 June- 14 June- Vava'u, Tonga
20 June-08 July- Fiji
KimO Home until mid-September (Loreto for Labor Day!!!)
24 Sep- 07 Oct- Vanuatu
13 Oct-27 Oct- Solomon Islands
(Possible Papua New Guinea)
November- Australia, down to almost Brisbane
At this point, I'm going to put the boat up for sale
So if you were planning on joining me at some point, I can only guarantee that I'll have WMD up to Australia. But if I can't get a good price for WMD, then I'll keep going at the next weather window in 2009 and try to sell her again when I reach Europe.
Believe it or not, but I actually spend far less money traveling than I do while at home. To put it in perspective, I am living on a budget of $1000 per month. This covers my food, gas/diesel, any mooring or customs fees, and general boat maintenance. If anything major goes wrong, that will be blown, but thanks to God that it hasn't!
I am, however, looking forward to two months at home with a hot shower in my room, clothes and towels that don't smell like mildew, nights of uninterrupted sleep, and Schooner!