Thursday, September 25, 2014

Opua: a lovely evening; forgotten details; young

        Last evening was perfect.  The first I’ve sat on deck for my sunset drinks, listening to music.  On other nights I’ve sipped standing in the companionway.
        Dense fog this morning.  I could barely make out the breakwater thirty yards away and the boats on the nearest moorings.   But it burned off and I rowed the I thought unbroken floorboard ashore to take to the boat yard to have replacements made.  When I unscrewed it, I found that it too is cracked.  These might be original equipment in which case they are thirty-five years old.  I’ve not only never owned a boat that cost more than a mid-priced car; I’ve never owned one built later than 1979.
        The new floorboards will be ready Monday.


        I wrote the final entry in the Neiafu to Opua passage log four days after I reached port.  I forgot some details.
        The complete overcast Saturday morning was low, almost touching the sea, seeming to press down on GANNET and me, and so thick that light was dim, as though we were sailing across a room illuminated by one too small bulb.
        Waves were bigger than the two that knocked GANNET down on the passage from Honolulu to Apia which I estimated at ten to twelve feet.  Those on Saturday were twelve to fifteen feet, steep, and came with toppling crests.  Whitecaps were everywhere, and when the sky darkened even further with the approach of heavy rain, the wind increased by five to ten knots and with the splashes of rain drops frothed the surface of the ocean white.

        The Bay of Islands is sparsely populated.  Pahia has a population of about two thousand, Russell and Opua both less than a thousand.  There are five or six houses on Roberton Island, but none on any of the others.
        As you approach from the sea the only man made object is the light house on Cape Brett.  The hills are pristine wilderness.  This makes it perfect for birds.  All of New Zealand was before the coming of our species and the predators we brought with us, intentionally and otherwise.  One of the islets near Cape Brett is known as Bird Rock.
        I saw more birds the last fourteen miles to Opua than I had seen all the way from San Diego to that point.  Two gannets gilded directly across GANNET’s bow.
        Unfortunately no gannets are presently frequenting the skies above Opua.


        I met a man I know working in one of the two chandleries.  As noted above Opua is a small place and he was aware that I had sold THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and asked when I arrived and what kind of boat I have now.  When I told him, he exclaimed, “I saw her as I was walking to work this morning and thought:  that must belong to some young guy.”
        I could not resist, “She does.”