Sunday, 29 June 2014

Hunt for Water and Coconuts.


I almost went to bed tonight with no note; after all, today was "just another day" with no great expedition or adventure to tell you about. Then I got thinking about what the day had held, and I decided that you might like to hear about it after all :)

Today really started yesterday, with a plaintive little voice saying, "Ohhhh, my book is ruined..." Victoria's Rainbow Loom instruction book had been stored during the passage at the foot of her bunk (top bunk bed in the port cabin). She has not actually slept in her bunk in some weeks, preferring the cockpit, or the settee in the main saloon, or even the floor of the saloon, so no one had noticed that there was water coming into that cabin (the same one where we had to do the major bulkhead repair last year) at the foot and the head of the bed.

Bright and early this morning, we removed everything from her bunk and found that the entire mattress was saturated and there were stains from (what we believe to be) two leaks from the same window: one leak comes straight down from the window glass and the other sneaks under the bulkhead covers and the ceiling "headliner" to drip down near the head of the bed. Max spent much of the rest of the morning with a tube of silicone sorting out the window frame [the full fix requires removing the window and rebedding it but the last time we did that it required a bunch of fiberglass work so this time I removed the outside plate and old caulking and resealed everything back together again); turns out that the sealant on the outside half of the frame (the windows have an outside frame and an inside frame that mate together with the side of the boat in between them) had totally dried out, and water was able to sneak into the boat. He will tackle the window gasket tomorrow. As for the mattress, it spent the afternoon soaking up UV rays and drying out. Since it was wet with salt water, I will clean it with fresh as soon as we have a plentiful supply, but in the meantime, we will keep it as dry as possible and will watch it for stains/mold. And Victoria's book? It turns out that the damaged pages are for (beginner) crafts that she has already done, and the intermediate/advanced sections are mostly OK. It is drying on the upper deck, and getting its own dose of UV. Both kids have really enjoyed using that instruction guide, so I was as disappointed as Victoria to see that it had been damaged. The experience made me grateful that I have stored most out-of-use items in dry bags to minimize damage like this. I have heard so many stories of moldy clothes and books from moisture that has snuck in where it wasn't welcome, that I am a bit paranoid about leaving our stuff for any length of time. Thankfully, this is our first major dampness attack.

Victoria and Johnathan spent much of the morning playing with Lego on the saloon table. Victoria drew a relief map of their space and then they constructed it, complete with river/waterfall (blue cape hung from the fruit hammock), green grassy area (fruit/veg sack) and lake (blue towel). The little pistachio boats took their place as dingies, and their Lego people set up their camp on the little island in the lake. The detail of their play continues to astound me ("Look Dad, this is a raft like in Huckleberry Finn; this house has a wide overhang to keep the rain off the windows; this one opens to this side to avoid the prevailing winds, etc, etc"). Sometimes I just love to stand back and listen!

As for Benjamin, he was in heaven as he got to play with Victoria & Johnathan's stuffies as they all emerged (unscathed) from their cabin. It was very cute to see him sitting on the floor surrounded by toys, and to see Victoria and Johnathan bringing them to life for him.

The main event of the day was supposed to be a coconut hunt, looking for coconuts that had been knocked down by the high winds over the last few days. Alas, there were either none to be found, or the ground was too thick with scrub to access them, so we will try elsewhere in the atoll over the next few days. [or I need to stop being lazy and climb the trees.)

The winds today were almost completely calm, which, surprisingly, brought its own challenges: we have been inundated with bog-standard house flies, and without the wind to push it back, our boat floated forward late this afternoon and wrapped a bit of chain around a coral head. The flies, we are living with (I see them as a distraction from the other bugs on the boat), but the anchor chain needed some attention. With minutes to go before sunset, Max free-dove (ie held his breath) to release the chain from the coral. Unlike a normal anchoring scenario, where there is a clear run of chain from the anchor to the boat, in the midst of coral heads, we have to put floats on the chain to keep it above any obstacles. We run as much chain as we can on a clear patch of sand, and then we fasten fenders/buoys via a line to the chain to lift it off the coral. This is an art as much as it is a science, so we are learning as we go (Soggy Paws has a good description on their website). The chain was tightly caught in the coral at almost the limit of Max's free diving capacity, so it was a relief (for both of us) when he freed it. If he hadn't been successful, and the wind had come up, we would have put out extra chain and treated the coral head as our new "anchor" site. Boats who didn't let out more chain have been lost in this scenario, because they effectively do not have enough anchor chain down for the depth.

As for me, I spent much of the day at the kitchen sink - washing laundry and washing dishes. We have a salt-water hose that we pass through the galley window so I can quickly fill the sink for laundry; I do a salt water wash and a fresh water rinse (and I sometimes do a salt-water rinse in between, depending on the amount of laundry and the amount of the day that the other two steps seem to be taking!) My wringer gets nearly daily use, and the big kids peg the clothes as I go. We seem to be keeping up with these chores, so I am hopeful that I will avoid the four-bag laundry run ashore when we get to Papeete (and the $60 price tag that came with it in Nuku Hiva!)

When Max came back to the boat and found the anchor fouled, he had just left Victoria and Johnathan ashore collecting firewood so we could have another bonfire / hotdog night. As ever, it was amazing to be sitting on the edge of a beach at the edge of the world. When we can get the kids to turn off their head torches, the night is completely dark, and we can see so many stars. It is neat to think that friends and family at home are also getting into bonfire season!

It looks like we have another day or so of calm or North winds, and then they are supposed to come around from the South again. We are thinking of heading back to the other end of the atoll, possibly near where our Swedish friends are anchored. This atoll was recommended by several different friends, so we think we will stay here quite a while before heading to another one.

Well ... this has turned into a long dit for a straightforward day. I love thinking of you reading our news with your morning coffee, wherever you may be. Thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and good wishes (and emails!). We are so blessed to be able to stay in touch. We have friends with no HF email, and they make me wonder what I would do without this daily connection.

Love to all,
At 6/26/2014 8:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°52.00'S 144°40.00'W
At 6/26/2014 8:30 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°52.00'S 144°40.00'W

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