Monday, September 1, 2014

Neiafu: peanuts and plantains

        Peanuts and plantains were my dinner tonight, along with the last of a bottle of white wine and some South Seas Rum.  One of the great things about being old is that you can eat any thing you want.
        As many of you know I don’t eat much.  That is one of the reasons I’ll never be a starving artist.  The other is that I can live on really small boats that don’t cost much.  Perhaps needless to say my comment in the last entry that I have enough money is not because I have a lot, but because I don’t need much.  I’ve never owned a boat that cost more than a mid-priced car.  Of the fifty boats presently in this harbor, I couldn’t afford more than a handful.  Which is fine.  I admire some; but I’d rather have GANNET than any other.
        Neiafu, never very busy, is on Sundays even quieter, which might in this instance be a synonym for dead.  Only the Tropicana is open, and I went there for the Internet and lunch of another excellent veggie burger which filled me to the point of not wanting a freeze dry dinner.
        Yesterday was overcast and windy with intermittent rain.  Too cool for a solar shower in the cockpit.  But today was sunny and perfect.
        After going ashore for an hour, I returned to GANNET.  Scrubbed some weed growing a few inches below the waterline and the bottom of the dinghy, finished reading DISGRACE by the South African Nobel Prize Winner, J.M Coetzee—not his best book but with some redeeming passages, showered comfortably in the cockpit, and sat on deck with wine and music and watched the light changing on water and land in the last hour before sunset which photographers know, along with that just after dawn, as ‘The Golden Hour.’
        A couple of boats came in just before sunset.  One flying the ‘Q’ flag indicating she is requesting entry clearance took the mooring just ahead of me.  She is also flying the French flag.
        The other was a 45’ catamaran.  As they picked up a mooring I observed that they need a much longer boat hook than I.
        No one nation is predominate among the boats here.  Boats from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, France and Canada are in about equal numbers, and there are also boats from the U.K, the Netherlands and Germany, plus some with flags of convenience I do not recognize.
        I  looked over the side and saw a swarm of tiny fish that are living just below the surface beside GANNET.  Sunlight reflects off them like jewels.  About an inch/2.5 centimeters long, they are more a swarm than a school.  Heads the size of a grain of rice and the rest almost constantly fluttering tails.  Life is a simple equation:  take in more energy than you expend, and live long enough to reproduce.  I have no idea what those few that survive of these hundreds of tiny creatures will become, but they are expending a lot of energy darting around and subsisting on I know not what.
        Fish often mistakenly seek shelter beneath boats.
        Years ago three no bigger than my hand made a home beneath RESURGAM in the lagoon at Bora-Bora and maintained station when we went to sea, swimming day and night without rest for hundreds of miles.  We had light winds and one afternoon trailed a line in the water which we took turns riding and saw them several days out before they surely perished.

        I saw an comment online about GANNET being ‘unsuitable.’  In context it was admiring rather than critical.  But it is not true.  GANNET is unconventional, not unsuitable.  She requires greater compromises and offers less comfort than larger vessels and has less margin for error.  But I have been living on GANNET continuously now for four months, making passages as well—and often better—than boats far larger, can fit all important parts of my life—sailing, writing, reading, music, photography—except for Carol, within her confines; and, as I noted decades ago when sailing CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, the view in harbor from a tiny boat is the same as from a huge one, perhaps better, and the experience of the sea more immediate.
        GANNET ‘unsuitable’?   Perhaps for most.  But she is perfect for me.


        The Yellowbrick’s battery was down to 68%, so I decided to charge it.  The first USB cord didn’t work, but the second did and the unit charged to 100%.  I think/hope it will work on the passage to New Zealand.
        I found in the bottom of a Blue Performance bag a forgotten LED anchor light with a long cord which has become my primary cabin light.  Although it has fifteen LEDs it registers no battery drain when I plug it in and is brighter than the washed overboard LuminAid or the NaviLight.  
        I am now in the pleasant situation of not having in port to recharge eneloop batteries, only the iTouch and Bose speaker for music and my laptop.    


        A pretty good pig picture, taken on the edge of ‘downtown’ Neiafu.  I assume that is the mother on the left studying me.  If you look closely you can see a piglet has climbed into the food pail.