Monday, 21 November 2016

Family chores and family outing in Funafuti

Hello,

I woke early this morning to the feeling of Benjamin using one of my feet as a hand-hold to climb down off the bed and to the sound of Victoria singing while she crocheted on the foredeck (turns out that she had been awake since before dawn and had already done her school for the morning). It was 7 am on a Saturday, and ready or not, my day had started :)

We thought we would go ashore in the morning, but it ended up being a really productive day on Fluenta instead. Max's first job after coffee was to re-run the pullcord on the outboard. We were bracing for taking apart the wound spring inside (described in our new Yamaha book as a "tiger in a cage") which we had just done (without a manual and with luck smiling on us) in Makogai, but thankfully, he was able fiche out the end of the pull cord and re-knot it in the handle. Whew! He also took the opportunity to change the spark plugs and we put more reflective tape on the case of the engine in the hope that we will be a bit more visible at night. The boat was a hive of activity for the rest of the morning, with Victoria & Johnathan helping to clear some of the "little jobs" off our list. Johnathan trimmed, whipped, and melted the ends of numerous rough-looking pieces of line in use around the upper decks (the comment I heard from upstairs was, "Wow, Johnathan! Great job! That's better whipping than I would have done!") Meanwhile, Victoria sewed a patch on our canvas water bucket (learning about mitered corners in the process). We finally dried our poor soggy spinnaker which had been rained on for the last two days by laying it out on the foredeck; like a crop of hay, we flaked it and turned it every so often :)

Our wind generator has been making a funny noise/vibration, so since we didn't have a ladder, Max climbed the pole by bracing his foot in a bracket padded with a coil of lines and hung on for dear life to inspect it and adjust some bolts (possibly more to follow on this one - after tightening the struts that support the pole, and tightening the bolts that hold the wind-gen on the pole, we still have more vibrations than we used to have, so we will contact the vendor with our symptoms and see if they have any insights). Somehow a component of our traveller had been bent, so Max and Johnathan straightened it. Our fridge/freezer have been running a bit warm, likely because of the hot air temperatures (generally hovering around 33 deg C every day) and warmer cooling water temperatures (I would love to tell you how warm the sea temperature is here, but the brand-new sensor that we bought as we left home stopped working back in Mexico, so we have been guessing ever since). This has meant that we lost some sausages that I had put in the upper corner of the freezer that ended up completely thawing before we ate them, so we adjusted the thermostat to see if that would help. Unlike a fridge at home, where the adjustment is just inside the door on the wall of the fridge, this tiny adjustment necessitated taking all the tall bottles of oil/vinegar/condiments from the shelf behind the stove, leaning over the stove, and reaching into a dark little space recessed at the back in order to turn two stiff little adjustor screws.

As for me, after months of being spoiled by "ladies who do laundry", or with self-serve machines, it was time to hand-wash the diapers again. As ever, I sent out thoughts of gratitude to Mom/Dad/Marilyn for the gift of the wringer before we left - and to Dad for the mounting bracket right in the galley! I was also grateful for the time I had spent yesterday keeping the dishes caught up, so I could actually see my sink to fill it with laundry today!

By late afternoon, the chores were done, the Lego good guys had won their special forces battle on our saloon floor, the afghan squares were crocheted, we had given up on Benjamin napping, and it was finally time to load the dinghy and go ashore to explore Funafuti. We had heard that the local people loved their scooters, but nothing had prepared me for the sense of being inside a merry go round with scooters going by in every direction. I had learned a few words from a lady at the market in Savusavu, so we managed to call out a few "talofa's" (hello's). People were generally friendly, but I felt a little like an observer from another planet, as everyone just kept carrying on with their day as we walked through the town. We stopped at a little store, ostensibly to buy a packet of "Timtams" (cookies), but really just to have a look around, and then we made our way past the "Funafuti International Air Terminal" (massive construction site) to the runway (where people really were hanging out and playing rugby, just as our friends on Exodus had described) and found a place with no sign out front, but numerous tables, a bar with drinks behind it, and a woman wiping tables. Yes they were open, and yes, we could stop for a drink. The place was called "Filamonas" and it had actually been our destination, thanks to Deanne's cruising notes from last year :) After we settled at the table with cold drinks, I wandered back over to a group of ladies, and asked about Internet and church. They sell wifi for $20/600MB, which is at least a bit less than $800/8GB on 3G. There are several churches, but we settled on the Tuvaluan church at 1000 tomorrow, which is where the ladies I met would be going. They haven't seen many boats this year, and one of the ladies had been away last year when Exodus was here, so they had a lot of questions for me. One woman looked to be younger than I was; I was shocked to find out that she had five children who ranged in age from a daughter who was married on the weekend to a five-month old baby! She makes our kids look very closely spaced:) We met the owner as well (Penny) and she remembered Deanne, Tim, and the boys from last year. Fun! It feels like we have made some connections that are the beginning of friendship. Time will tell.

Some people (like the young niece of one of the ladies I met) have perfect and fluent English. Some people look at us blankly when we say, "Hello!", and it seems that all they speak is Tuvaluan. It will be an interesting visit from a communications perspective!

We were anticipating the arrival of friends from NZ/Opua days to arrive at any moment in the anchorage, but we received an email from them today to say that they have not been able to come to windward enough from Vanuatu to make it to Tuvalu, and that they are in the Reef Islands of East Solomon hoping to make it to the Marshalls eventually. Their catamaran is really comfortable at anchor, but it doesn't point to windward very well. We hope we will see them later in the season. After reading about groups of boats here in Tuvalu, it is odd to be the only boat. On the other hand, it feels to me a bit like a family vacation, as there is no one to talk to or socialize with (when we are not ashore) but each other, and I am loving this emphasis on being a family.

Yet again, the boat is quiet, the news is caught up, and I will wish you well. Thanks for the emails to our sailmail account this week!

Love,
Elizabeth
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At 2016-11-17 11:19 AM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.50'S 179°11.30'E
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At 2016-11-17 8:15 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 08°31.49'S 179°11.29'E

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