Monday, 16 June 2014

10-14 Jun - Marquesan Wedding, Boat work, Internet and End-of-school (sort of)

Good Saturday evening!

I'll start with today and work backwards ... the week is a bit of a blur of school wrap-up and using wifi while we had it. Today, however, was unique: we attended the celebration of a Marquesan wedding :)

It turns out that it is a Marquesan tradition to include last-minute ("non-prévue") guests at their wedding receptions - they even set aside tables for them. Given the squally weather last night and today, Max and Johnathan stayed aboard. The wedding itself was private and took place at 9:00 am, while the reception began just after 11:00 am. (I told the bride that it must be true love, as she was up at 5am to prepare!) The bride's family is descended from local royalty, so she and her new husband were dressed in matching red with brilliant white flowers in their honour. Many of the ladies were wearing floral arrangements in their hair, and most of the guests were wearing nice, but practical, clothing (which was a good thing, given that the reception was outside under decorated tents, and it bucketed rain for quite a while in the afternoon). I hadn't been sure what dress code to expect (arms covered? legs covered? but it turned out that my "little blue nursing dress" with flip flops was just fine. Nice to be neither under- nor over-dressed). The feast took all day to prepare yesterday (this is where having nine sisters in the family comes in handy - everyone pitched in to help), with much of the food being prepared in an earth oven (which I didn't see). It struck me as an interesting juxtaposition of traditional and modern to see the food laden on palm-frond serving platters on the long serving table, but dispersed to the guest tables in plastic take-away type containers. I was told that part of the reason for the tradition of inviting extra guests is that there is always so much food, and they need someone to help them eat it... we didn't mind doing our share to pitch in :) We were served pork with a choice of BBQ or coconut milk sauce, goat (in coconut milk), veal (with long rib bones sticking out of the meat), octopus (in coconut curry), potato salad (very familiar to my Russian friends who enjoyed the potato/beet/corn/garlic/mayo salad as a taste of home), coconut rice, spiced rice, sweet potato, white beans (with bacon), bananas (cooked in coconut milk), and poission cru. Victoria and I tried a little bit of everything, and were even sent home with some of the leftovers :)

When we got back to the quay, we found that Max and Johnathan had been busy: Max seemed to be the only one who had noticed that one of our neighbours was dragging (even the boat downwind of them wasn't doing anything), so he got on the radio to muster a response. Thankfully the skipper had noticed from the wedding reception that his boat was moving across the bay without him, and returned in time to move it. For a single-hander, he had a rather complex, labour-intensive setup; I think he appreciated the assistance from Max, Johnathan, and the newly motivated downwind skipper. The funny thing was that at the wedding, he had been telling *me* that he thought we had dragged last night! Given the rolly, squally conditions, and the fact that the first part of the week had felt like a potential game of bumper cars (we were never too close to anyone, but we were always on alert for someone to drag), after we had him settled, we elected to move to deeper water where we could put out more chain. It is still rolly, but we are not having to keep watch every few minutes to see who we are close to now! I had forgotten what a relatively small effort could do for everyone's peace of mind.

Weddings aside, the highlight of today for the kids (and admittedly even for us) was one of our rare movie nights -- we all tucked in around the saloon table, shut the windows and hatches to the wind and the rain and transported ourselves away to Middle-Earth. We just finished Volume 1 of the Lord of the Rings, and had read The Hobbit last year, so it seemed fitting to enjoy The Hobbit (part 2) as a family. It was lovely :)

The kids love sleeping in the cockpit. Even on sqally nights, one or both typically start and sometimes even finish the night there. Last night, however, was so rainy (when he got up to check the dingy [hoisted up on a spinnaker halyard] at 4am Max could hardly see the town), that even Johnathan returned to the warmth and dryness of the cabin. I felt a cold hand on my foot at around 4:30, and woke to find a very soggy boy at the foot of the bed. Five minutes later, he was in dry clothes, wrapped in a blanket, and tucked into bed. The boat was rolling so much that it felt like we were on passage. It will be interesting to see where they end up tonight :)

There is quite a little community that gathers each day at the snack bar on the quay - unlike other places we have been in FP, there is free wifi at all the restaurants here. The snack bar reminds me of the VIP Lounge in La Cruz, but with food and drink available. The delightful owner does not seem to mind how long we stay, or how much/little we order; it seems to all come out in the wash. We have gone ashore each day this week to document/finish Victoria & Johnathan's schoolwork. We are pretty much done - a few more sheets to finish, photograph, and email for Victoria and we can call this term complete.

It will be a relief to be done with the official school year, but we are already talking about continuing with a school routine over the summer so that there is always some kind of reading/writing/reflecting going on in FLUENTA. (As an aside, at dinner yesterday, Johnathan wanted to know if it would make financial sense to skip the anchor/chain/windlass expenses and just pay marina fees. Safety aspects of being a boat and therefore needing an anchor aside, we helped him estimate and work out how many nights in a marina it would take to pay off his anchoring equipment (about 100) and he saw that anchoring, even with expensive equipment, is a pretty good deal! When he balked at doing "math" at dinner, we suggested that we would have to do more of it in the daytime otherwise, and he became pretty cooperative...). As for me, I am hoping to investigate some of the other approaches to home schooling (un-schooling, project based learning, etc) over the summer in the hopes of establishing a better-fit routine for us next year.

We had internet trouble earlier in the week (we had installed Virtual Private Network - VPN - software before we left Mexico, and for some reason we couldn't connect at all even though the computer thought it had an internet connection - our friend at Yacht Services turned out to be a former IT guy, so he quickly rectified the issue yesterday afternoon - for the first time a computer job actually did take "only five minutes"), but once it was resolved, I spent some time on the quay reading the blogs of some of our friends - they are so well written! It can make a person (ie me) a bit over-awed to read other people's writing, but at the same time it is fascinating to have insight into other sailing families (check out Adamaster (water-log), Rebel Heart, Bettie, and Totem to see what I mean.) I have decided to *choose* to not be over-awed (which would lead to not writing) and simply continue to keep you in the loop of our doings and musings :) I have heard somewhere before that comparisons are odious ...

As for the rest of the family, Max has been chipping away at boat jobs (engine painting, despite the rain, was on the agenda for today; dealing with the bolts that have loosened on our skeg keeps being pushed off until mañana in the hopes that the boat will not be moving so violently when he dives on it again). [The transmission is only two years old but the salt water leak from the exhaust elbow caused a bunch of corrosion onto the transmission in short order. It pained me to look at it - corrosion never sleeps - so some rust treatment and engine paint {use in well ventilated areas ha ha ha insert maniacal laughter here} and the transmission looks as good as new. Corrosion also seemed to be at work on our shore power cable. With all the overcast weather we have had to resort to using our gas powered Honda generator via our shore power connection. I noticed that the plug on the boat end was getting warmer than it should. Turns out some corrosion had built up in the plugs but a bit of sandpaper and Corrosion-X sorted that out quickly. The new autopilot has been a big improvement from the old Robertson that is now kept in reserve. However, a few times on the trip we had the "rudder response failure" alarm and Sammy the Simrad autopilot stopped driving. Resetting the autopilot got Sammy driving again but it is a bit disconcerting so I talked to Simrad about potential fixes. They are not sure why it would be happening especially we are careful to keep the sails reasonably balanced and the weather helm to appropriate levels and that I had checked the wiring, hydraulic fluid levels and the range and motion of the quadrant. They did however give us a few things to adjust in the commissioning settings so we will have to see what happens on the next passage. I spent several hours at anchor trying to make it fail but to no avail. Since I already had access to much of the steering I took the opportunity to oil the steering cables and sheaves and tighten up the steering cables a bit. Other scheduled maintenance on the windlass and main sail furler have been checked off while I wait for an opportunity to safely dive on the skeg - we are rolling up to 20 degrees and the visibility is not great with the overcast. Max]

Victoria and Johnathan have been reading, doing official "school work", watching a grown-up friend with a machete deal expertly with both coconuts and live chickens (which all eventually end up in the same stew pot), and playing the the dozen or so kids who are here in the bay. As with La Cruz, or the Sea of Cortez last year, there is a nice range of kids around their age (approx 5-14). The difference this year is that the families come from all over the world. At the moment, there are Russian, Dutch, Belgian, and Australian, and French kids here. There is enough common language (generally English) to play dodge ball, cops & robbers (and of course, mine-craft). Benjamin's rash is improved now that I have put ointment on it (Dr and pharmacy visits this week sorted that out; the pharmacist even helped me choose and obtain the homeopathic remedies I needed. When they weren't in stock, she had them sent to the snack bar the following afternoon to save me a 40-min walk each way to go get them). (On the other hand, despite poison powder and spray, I am still losing to the bugs who are stowing away onboard.) We are enjoying our growing sense of community, but we are also starting to look at weather windows to be on our way [the cause of all this rolliness in the bay is the relatively nasty conditions offshore - 'rafales 30/45 kts', 'mer forte' and 'houle courte 2.5m/3m' according to the meteo. There is a market with farm-fresh produce beside the dock, so I stocked up this morning, and we will be ready to go when the window opens. Tomorrow is stow-the-boat day again (the forward head will turn back into an organized pantry [and tool shed]- yeah!)

So -- for now, you will likely hear from us a few more times from this bay. We may go to Daniel's Bay for a night or two, and we are hoping to head to the Tuomotos Tues or Wed this week. On the advice of friends who have already done the hike, it is likely that we will give the famous "3rd highest waterfall" a miss, as it doesn't sound nice and we have already done a waterfall hike. This will give us an extra day in the Tuomotos, which we think we will appreciate more.

Love to all (and happy World Cup / Stanley Cup if you are watching ...),
At 6/8/2014 6:18 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°55.00'S 140°06.00'W
At 6/8/2014 6:18 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 08°55.00'S 140°06.00'W

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1 comment:

  1. The "stuff" dreams are made of. Great Blog and I enjoy reading every update.



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