Friday, August 15, 2014

Neiafu: almost perfect

        I wrote the following yesterday afternoon then went on deck for a sunset rum and tonic and brie and crackers.
        The temperature was lovely.  The water lightly rippled.
        I watched the sun intensify color on west facing hills while listening to three versions of “Raglan Road” which I’veI long had in my music library but was recently brought to my attention again by Shane who lives near Laphroaig country.  I enjoyed the lyrics more knowing the story behind them.
        It was all almost perfect.  Only lacking was Carol to share the serenity.

        Neiafu Harbor is about 1.5miles/2.4 kilometers long and .5 mile/.8 kilometer wide, almost land locked and very deep.  The entrance is narrow
and once inside you seem to be on a lake.  
        One of the many ways in which the harbor is more pleasant  now than in the past is that rental moorings are available.  I’ve anchored here.   It is one of the deepest places I’ve ever anchored.  90’ is excessive.
        After three days of overcast and rain early in the week, the sky cleared and the weather is perfect.  A breeze blowing from the south and temperatures in the low 70sF/22C are in welcome contrast to my last three ports which were at least 20°F/11°C hotter and the slightest movement resulted in sweat.  I am quite comfortable in mid-afternoon in GANNET’s Great Cabin and even sleep inside the light sleeping bag instead of on top of it for the first time since east of Hilo
        As I have mentioned before, life here is also much enhanced by several cafes onshore, chief among these The Aquarium Cafe, which doesn’t have an aquarium, but does provide trash disposal and drinking water for small fees, free Internet and reasonably priced food and cold libations.

        There are several others.  I’ve eaten tapas at The Basque Tavern, scrambled eggs at the Bella Vista, and coffee and pastry at The Tropicana, which is presently doing my laundry.
        Eating ashore is desirable because Neiafu has never been a good place to provision and still isn’t.
        There are eight or nine one-room stores.  Some pretentiously named.
  They are dark and unlit inside with two or three rows of the worst of canned goods and an abundant supply of cookies and junk food.
        The only canned tuna is “tuna flakes” which has to be the detritus left when every other part of the fish has been processed.  Mackerel is the only other canned fish available.  I haven’t had the nerve to buy any.  Nor imitation Spam or Vienna Sausages.  Nor canned corned beef.
        The only nuts available are cans of peanuts roasted in China.  These are actually rather good and haven’t killed me yet.
        This is the first place I ever recall where I can’t buy raisins—called sultanas in many countries; but unknown by either name here.
        An obvious reason why there is little canned fish or dried fruit is that they eat fresh.
        In an effort to preserve my supply of trail mix, I went to the open market and bought plantains to put on my oatmeal along with Chinese peanuts.  Quite good, but I was pleased to find at one store ‘Cake Fruit Mix’ which does contain sultanas and other dried fruit.  Though sugar has been added, it provides variety to the oatmeal.  
        I can buy oatmeal here, but may not need to.
        Unless eaten ashore, lunch presents a problem.  Again I’m trying to save my remaining cans of chicken and tuna for the passage to New Zealand.   
        I have found cheese in stores, but without refrigeration it won’t last more than three days on GANNET.  
        I have tried cooking a freeze dry meal for lunch, eating half then and the other half for dinner; but this is not appealing.
        Generally I eat lunch ashore and today had a fish burger at the Aquarium.  I bought some Brie and will have it and crackers on deck with libation and music at sunset.
        If the weather holds, after trying to make a Skype call to Carol Sunday here/Saturday in the U.S.—the Internet connection may be too slow—I’ll sail to one or more of the many fine nearby anchorages next week for a few days snorkeling.

        I’ve had several emails from Yellowbrick support who strongly advise me to keep the unit inside the cabin until I can return it to them for service.  This means that I will be sending manual positions rather than having that done automatically.  I tested earlier today and the position was successfully transmitted with the companionway closed.
        The unit is functioning, but the battery continues to drain more quickly than normal.  When not sending a position manually, I have it deactivated.  I’ll try to remember to send a position from wherever I anchor.
        On the passage to New Zealand, I’ll send a position when I get up in the morning, at local noon, and when I go to sleep at night.  More even than in the past, failure to have a position on the tracking map should lead to the conclusion not that I’m in trouble, but that the unit is not working.

        The top photo of me was taken by Rich, the tiller pilot whisperer, for which I thank him.